Board of Directors
Claude Mayo, Chair
Kate Boucher, Vice Chair
Stuart Warner, Secretary
Reginald Harwell, Treasurer
Charleen Merced Agosto
Kathryn Emmett (ex officio)
Laura Ann Froning
Stephane J. Kirven
Martha Stone (ex officio)
L. Philip Guzman
Stanley A. Twardy, Jr.
Martha Stone, JD, Executive Director
Martha Stone, JD
Martha Stone (she/her) is Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Children’s Advocacy. Prior to founding CCA in 1997, Martha served as Associate Director of Children’s Rights, Inc., a national organization engaged in foster care litigation throughout the United States; and for 18 years previously, she was Legal Director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union.
Martha is responsible for bringing class action lawsuits resulting in Consent Decrees involving DCF (Juan F.), CT juvenile detention centers, and access to community-based mental health services for the juvenile justice population (Emily J.). She is co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Sheff v. O’Neill, the Hartford school desegregation case. She is an Adjunct Professor at the UConn School of Law, where she teaches a course in child advocacy.
Martha is the recipient of many awards for distinguished service, including the Gault Guardian Award, Division of Public Defender Services, Community Partner Award, Capitol Region Education Council, NAACP Wilber G. Smith Award, Excellence in Civil Rights Advocacy Award, CT. Bar Association Charles Parker Legal Services Award, Bank of America Local Hero Award, Wheeler Clinic Advocacy Award, and the Champion of Children Award from the Village for Families and Children. She was also named to the “Fifty Most Influential” list in Hartford Magazine.
She received a JD and LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.
Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW, Deputy Director; Director, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW
Deputy Director; Director, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Stacey Violante Cote (she/her) was appointed Director of Operations in 2018, providing support for CCA staff, improving practice, and increasing the Center’s footprint in Connecticut. In 2023, Stacey was appointed the Deputy Director.
Stacey’s work focuses on advocating for youth who are experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness. She supervises CCA attorneys and paralegals who work with youth throughout the state, and oversees two of CCA’s innovative outreach methods: the Center’s Mobile Legal Office, and CCA’s Teen Legal Action Clinics at Bridgeport’s Harding High School. Stacey and her team work to remove barriers that prevent youth from completing school, and address civil legal issues that are obstacles to long term independence and success.
Stacey works closely with youth/young adults and statewide partners to remove systemic barriers to youth accessing safe and stable housing.
Nallely Acosta, Paralegal, Immigrant Children’s Justice Project
Karrol-Ann Brown, JD, Director, Racial Justice Project
Karrol-Ann Brown, JD
Director, Racial Justice Project
Karrol-Ann Brown (she/her) is the Director of the Center’s Racial Justice Project. She leads the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (“RED”) Reduction Committees in five Connecticut cities with high racial and ethnic disparities in chronic absenteeism and juvenile justice involvement. The RED committee analyzes data and identifies and reforms local levels policies and practices that result in the youth of color being treated more harshly by those cities’ education and juvenile justice systems. Karrol-Ann facilitates the work of committee members, including the school system, law enforcement, child welfare, and juvenile court personnel. She also represents children and youth in the juvenile justice system on child welfare issues and is involved with systemic and legislative advocacy on juvenile justice issues. Karrol-Ann provides training to parents, legal professionals, and advocates regarding children’s legal rights and discrimination; and participates in the Center’s training programs.
Before her work at CCA, Karrol-Ann spent 19 years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut, representing the Department of Children and Families in orders of temporary custody, child abuse, neglect, termination of parental rights, and juvenile justice. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University and Quinnipiac University School of Law.
Carol Beebe-Mestel, Finance Director
Eileen Brennan, Development and Special Events Manager
Dr. John Ducksworth, Director, Restorative Justice Project
Dr. John Ducksworth
Director, Restorative Justice Project
Dr. John Ducksworth (he/him) was born in New York City and attended the NYC Public School system. Completing his Doctor of Ministry degree at New York Theological Seminary as well as having a master’s degree in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, an earlier master’s degree from seminary in pastoral care and counseling. Spending seventeen years as an Officer/Clergy in The Salvation Army rising to the rank of Captain, he has served in various administrative and social justice appointments throughout the Northeast and New England states. He has provided leadership to Court based programs, Community Corrections, Probation and Juvenile Justice Agencies, private corrections corporations, and social services agencies. His various roles have expanded from being directly impacted to providing direct service, to middle and senior management positions, to government agency Executive Team. He is a licensed trainer and facilitator of Restorative Justice Principles and Practices and a Board of Directors member of the non-profit organization Restorative Justice Initiative. He has until recently served as a Board member to the National Multifaith Campaign Ending Mass Incarceration (EMI). He has been published and is married to Joan and they have two teenage daughters.
Sharika Forde, Hartford Office Manager
Hartford Office Manager
Sharika Forde (she/her), Office Manager, joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in 2020. Sharika earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Albertus Magnus College and brings to CCA many years of professional office experience in the nonprofit sector. She has previously held positions with 1199 New England Healthcare Benefit Fund, The Village for Families and Children and the YWCA of the Hartford Region.
Nate Fox, Staff Attorney, Right Direction Youth Homelessness Project
Staff Attorney, Right Direction Youth Homelessness Project
Nate (he/him) is the new Staff Attorney for the Right Direction: Youth Homelessness Advocacy Project. Even though Nate is new to the Center, he isn’t new to the work, having spent the past 15 years in various advocacy, organizing and community outreach roles related to homelessness and housing injustice. Prior to obtaining his JD from UConn School of Law in 2021, Nate obtained his MSW from the UConn School of Social Work in 2013, organized the Beat of the Street “street newspaper” and Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau, and helped to pass a Connecticut Homeless Bill of Rights.
He also operated a housing navigation and resource center, where he worked to facilitate shelter access for folks living on the street. In his role at the Center, Nate works to address the legal rights of youth faced with homelessness and unstable living situations through individual casework; “know your rights” and other trainings for impacted youth, parents, and providers; and systemic and legislative advocacy. Nate is especially passionate about working and organizing with people most impacted by regressive and racist policies, and is excited to work for and alongside Connecticut youth to address systems that continue to fail them.
Marisa M. Halm, JD, Director, Youth Justice Project
Marisa M. Halm, JD
Director, Youth Justice Project
Marisa Halm (she/her) is the Director of the Youth Justice Project at the Center for Children’s Advocacy.
She represents children and youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system or at risk of involvement, and works to ensure that they receive the education they are entitled to, whether in the public schools, in alternative or therapeutic programs, in juvenile justice facilities or adult correctional facilities.
Marisa is a passionate advocate for her clients and a staunch opponent of the school-to-prison pipeline. She strenuously opposes unfair discipline practices and policies that facilitate youth push out from school. She identifies systemic barriers and inequities that impact her clients’ education and successful re-entry into the community, and develops strategies to eradicate those barriers and inequities. Her advocacy includes legislative initiatives, administrative advocacy and facilitating policy change as well as the filing of complaints against school systems violating students’ basic educational rights.
Prior to working at the Center, Attorney Halm was in private practice where she represented children with disabilities and their parents against school districts.
Marisa earned her J.D. from the UConn School of Law and her B.A., with honors, from Mount Holyoke College. She was admitted to the practice of law in 2006.
Alanna Herskowitz, Paralegal
Alanna Herskowitz (she/her) is the paralegal for the Racial Justice and Educational Success Projects. Additionally, she provides support at Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) meetings across Connecticut and is the liaison for the CCA clinic at Warren Harding High School. She obtained her B.S. in Criminal Justice in 2020 and her MPA in 2021 from the University of New Haven. She aspires to go to law school and continue to use her work to bring about meaningful change.
Sarah Mervine, JD, Director, Yale New Haven Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Sarah Mervine, JD
Director, Yale New Haven Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Sarah Mervine (she/her) is the Director of the Yale-New Haven Health Medical-Legal Partnership. In her role at Yale, Sarah works with Pediatrics throughout the YNHH system, including the hospital, specialty clinics and primary care. Sarah assists patients with legal needs in education, housing, disability discrimination, benefit denials and guardianships. In addition to working directly with patients, Sarah works with Yale residents, nurses, and social workers to help them understand and screen for social determinants of health in their own work. Sarah joined CCA officially in September of 2022, but before that time she volunteered on several cases for CCA’s MLPP. Prior to her work with CCA, Sarah was a staff attorney in the housing unit of New Haven Legal Assistance Association, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School and a staff attorney and Skadden Fellow at Chicago Legal Aid.
Tiffany Minakhom, Senior Paralegal, Medical Legal Partnership Project
Senior Paralegal, Medical Legal Partnership Project
Tiffany Minakhom (she/her) is CCA’s Senior Paralegal, working with youth, parents and agencies to coordinate legal advocacy and representation for children and youth. She joined CCA in 2019 as a Paralegal to support the Youth Justice Project, assisting youth who have been impacted by the juvenile justice system and supporting their return to the community.
Tiffany is dedicated to ensuring that all youth have access to quality education, healthcare, and housing. She is passionate about ending mass incarceration, and advocates for youth voice in a system that oppresses them to ensure that they are not silenced.
Tiffany received her Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies at Manchester Community College, where she was President of the MCC Paralegal Association. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Bay Path University, where she graduated with honors.
Chris Moore, Graphic Designer
Chris Moore (he/him) is an award-winning graphic designer and the new Graphic Designer with CCA. After graduating from UConn, he worked as the Art Director at the Hartford Courant and Hartford Magazine. He has years of design experience in magazines, newspapers, books, and online.
Lori Nordstrom, JD, Director, Foundation Relations
Lori Nordstrom, JD
Director, Foundation Relations
Lori Nordstrom (she/her) is a graduate of Yale College (1989) and Yale Law School (1994). While in law school, Lori co-founded a not-for-profit accredited child care center for teen parents based at a New Haven high school. She chaired the organization’s Board for six years and is currently responsible for program and fund development. After graduating from law school, Lori founded the Legal Organization For Teens (LOFT) in New Haven, Connecticut and for eight years represented homeless New Haven youth, provided consultation and representation to youth through a school-based legal clinic at a New Haven transitional high school, and provided legal rights training to youth at schools and juvenile justice programs. In addition to coordinating the Center for Children’s Advocacy’s foundation funding, Lori works with Casey Family Services in New Haven on research projects regarding foster care and adoption.
Ilana Ofgang, Staff Attorney, Educational Success Project
Staff Attorney, Educational Success Project
Ilana Ofgang (she/her) joined CCA in 2023. She previously worked as a community organizer with Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT), an inter-faith broad-based community organizing non-profit that most recently led the campaign to get Clean Slate legislation passed in CT. Prior to her work with CONECT, Ilana was an associate attorney at Kirschbaum Law Firm, where she focused on habeas and criminal appeals. She is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law. In recent years, she has developed a passion for education law and disability rights advocacy.
Janet Ortiz, Bridgeport Office Manager
Bridgeport Office Manager
Janet Ortiz (she/her) joined CCA in 2019 as the Office Administrator in CCA’s Bridgeport office. She is a lifelong resident of Bridgeport and has been an advocate for children and families for many years.
For 20 years, Janet was the Program Director for The Nehemiah Commission, a DCF and DPH program that provided therapeutic services for children with serious behavioral challenges.
Janet’s passion for her work at CCA is a great resource to the families served. She is very knowledgeable about a wide variety of community resources and is able to connect families with the assistance they need.
Janet is a graduate of Harding High School, and received her degree in Human Services from the University of Bridgeport.
Maggie Prendergast, Director of Development
Director of Development
Maggie Prendergast (she/her) joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in May 2022 as the Director of Development. She is responsible for cultivating and stewarding donor relations and community partnerships to advance the Center’s organizational and programmatic capacity. She is based in both the Bridgeport and Hartford offices.
Prior to joining CCA, Maggie worked at Friends Center for Children in New Haven as their Development & Communications Associate. She previously served as the exclusive Fundraising Consultant to the Visionary Program and Impact Transfer team for Ashoka Austria, as the International Fundraising Consultant at the Museum of Applied Art & Design in Vienna, and as the Director of Stewardship and Donor Relations at the Hotchkiss School.
Maggie graduated from Miss Porter’s School and then earned a BA from Smith College in Philosophy. She also earned an MA in Philosophy from New York University and a MA in Nonprofit Management at the City University in London.
Michelle "Stella" Rose, Speak Up Coordinator
Michelle "Stella" Rose
Speak Up Coordinator
Stella Rose is the Youth Advocacy Coordinator for CCA’s Speak Up initiative which trains youth in systemic advocacy strategies and facilitates a group of Hartford youth who are advocating for systemic change for themselves and their communities. With over 15 years of experience, Stella is a dedicated professional who is highly motivated to lead, guide, and enrich the lives of under-served youth. She is passionate about helping young people reach their full potential and is trained in professional school counseling based on the American School Counseling Association’s standards, competencies, mindsets, and behaviors.
Bonnie Roswig, JD, Director, Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Bonnie Roswig, JD
Director, Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Bonnie Roswig (she/her) works with the Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project, and is Director of the MLP’s Disability Rights Project. Her office is located at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Prior to joining the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Bonnie worked as a legal aid attorney in Georgia, was a Managing Attorney at Statewide Legal Services, and was an Adjunct Professor at the UConn School of Law. She is a graduate of Bennington College and Antioch School of Law.
Attorney Roswig was named the Connecticut Law Tribune’s 2019 “Giant Slayer,” for her success, nationwide, to secure access to KinderCare facilities for children with diabetes. Bonnie also received a Connecticut United States Attorney Award in 2018 for her successful efforts to ensure access to playgrounds for children with disabilities and for her body of disability rights work.
She was a 2011 Health Leadership Fellow with the Connecticut Health Foundation for leaders who represent public and private sectors in public policy, health practice, health care administration, community, law, business and commerce, advocacy, academia and related fields, to take collective action that eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.
Mallory James Sanchez, Legal Fellow, LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project
Mallory James Sanchez
Legal Fellow, LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Project
Mallory James Sanchez (they/she) is a Herbert & Nell Singer Fellow with CCA. Their project, LGBTQ Youth Advocacy, aims to increase CCA’s capacity to represent queer and trans youth and to create systemic change across Connecticut. Mallory works closely with the Yale Gender Program as part of CCA’s Medical Legal Partnership Project at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Mallory is passionate about the MLP model and the possibilities of interdisciplinary work to address legal needs and health inequities. Prior to joining CCA as a fellow, they were a student intern in the Medical-Legal Partnership Project and worked with the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale on issues around harm reduction and homelessness. Mallory received their JD from Yale Law School and their BA in Sociology from the University of Vermont.
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer, JD, Director, Yale Child Study Center Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer, JD
Director, Yale Child Study Center Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer (she/her) joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in September 2009 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow.
She is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership at Yale Child Study Center, one of the first behavioral health Medical-Legal Partnerships in the country. Attorney Meyer works with Child Study Center clinicians to address individual and systemic health-harming legal needs that affect children at risk in the New Haven region. The collaboration also provides education and training opportunities to pediatric providers and behavioral health clinicians throughout the state.
Attorney Meyer has co-counseled systemic and legislative efforts including systemic statewide complaints, Office of Civil Rights complaints, and state legislation concerning the education of vulnerable children.
She is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was a teaching assistant at Columbia’s Child Advocacy Clinic. She has been named one of the Connecticut Law Tribune’s “40 Under 40,” as well as one of the Fairfield County Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”
Stacy Schleif, JD, Director, Child Welfare Advocacy Project
Stacy Schleif, JD
Director, Child Welfare Advocacy Project
Stacy Schleif (she/her) is the Director of the Center’s Child Welfare Advocacy Project. She represents children in the areas of abuse and neglect, and is involved with systemic and legislative advocacy on child welfare issues. Stacy teaches and supervises law school students as part of the Center’s child advocacy clinic; provides pre-service training to attorneys new to juvenile court practice; and participates in the Center’s training programs.
Prior to her work at CCA, Stacy spent 14 years representing children and families in varying capacities. She was a supervising staff attorney for the Children and Family Law (CAFL) division of the public defender’s office in Springfield, MA, where she represented children and parents in child welfare cases, and supervised newer attorneys in their representation. She also worked in CAFL’s Salem, MA office.
While in law school, Stacy clerked for the Honorable Jay D. Blitzman in the Lowell Juvenile Court, interned at Greater Boston Legal Services, and assisted juveniles in their delinquency cases at the Youth Advocacy Project in Roxbury, MA. Stacy holds a JD from Northeastern University School of Law, and a BA in Philosophy from Haverford College.
Andrea Spencer, PhD, Educational Consultant
Andrea Spencer, PhD
Andrea (Penny) Spencer (she/her) is CCA’s Educational Consultant. She works with the Center’s legal staff to conduct assessments of children and youth who need additional supports to succeed in school.
Penny is Associate Professor of Education and Director of Off-Campus Programs at the University of St. Joseph.
She holds a PhD in Special Education from the University of Connecticut, and MEd in Special Education from the University of Maine.
Sabrina Tavi, JD, Pro Bono Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Immigrant Children's Justice Project
Sabrina Tavi, JD
Pro Bono Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Immigrant Children's Justice Project
Sabrina Tavi (she/her) is a senior staff attorney and pro bono director of the Center’s Immigrant Children’s Justice Project.
She began her career with the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City, where she represented hundreds of children in child protective and juvenile delinquency proceedings, and spent 12 years as a senior attorney in the Special Litigation Unit of the New York Legal Assistance Group, conducting systemic reform and impact litigation on behalf of low-income and indigent clients. At NYLAG, Sabrina’s cases focused on ensuring individuals’ access to government benefits and services.
Sabrina received her B.A. from Barnard College and J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar. She clerked for the Honorable John T. Nixon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Prior to law school, Sabrina worked for United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Briana Wahl, Digital Communications Manager
Digital Communications Manager
Briana (she and they) grew up in Colorado and studied film at the University of Colorado and has a Master’s Degree in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute. Starting their career in nonprofits in 2018 they have experience in fundraising, nonprofit management, event planning, and communications. They joined the CCA team in December of 2022 with an interest in bringing their skills in visual design and communications to an organization focused on addressing systemic inequities. Since moving to Bridgeport, CT, Briana has volunteered with local schools, community fridges, community gardens, and serves as a Board Member for a Bridgeport nonprofit; Park City Compost Initiative.