Martha Stone, JD, Executive Director
Martha Stone 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 previous to that, 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 Ct. Bar Association Charles Parker Legal Services Award, Ct. Youth Services Association Advocacy Committee Award, the Bank of America Local Hero Award, The Wheeler Clinic Advocacy Award, and the Champion of Children Award from the Village for Families and Children. She received a JD and LLM from Georgetown University Law Center.
Jay Sicklick, JD, Deputy Director; Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Deputy Director; Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Jay has directed the Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project (MLPP) since April, 2000, overseeing the growth of the project from its beginnings as the second program of its kind in the United States. The Center’s MLPP has offices at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center and Yale-New Haven Hospital, and provides consultation and referral services for patients at Charter Oak Health Clinic, Community Health Services and the Hospital of Central Connecticut. Prior to his work with the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Jay was a senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Neighborhood Office for six years, and was a private practitioner in Boston, MA. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at the UConn School of Law, where he teaches courses in legal ethics and professional responsibility, and Assistant Clinical Professor at the UConn School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.
Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW, Director of Operations; Director, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Director of Operations; Director, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Stacey Violante Cote was appointed Director of Operations in 2018, providing support for CCA staff, improving practice, and increasing the Center’s footprint in Connecticut.
Stacey’s work focuses on advocating for youth who are experiencing homelessness or at risk for homelessness. She supervises CCA attorneys, case managers 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 and at Norwalk 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 also chairs the Youth and Young Adult Homelessness Workgroup of Connecticut’s Reaching Home Campaign, working with statewide partners to end youth homelessness in CT.
Bonnie Berk, Director, Communications
Bonnie Berk joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in 2000. Her work at the Center includes marketing, communications, event and seminar/webinar management, media relations, website and social networks. She is responsible for the Center’s print and online media and works with the development team to coordinate donor communications efforts. Prior to joining the Center, Bonnie held a managerial position in Emery Air Freight’s marketing department; and oversaw fine arts auction catalog production at Sotheby’s New York office. She has a background in marketing and design and holds a BFA. Bonnie’s marketing work at Emery Air Freight won her an Effie Award for clear, creative and effective advertising.
Maria Cosgrove, Case Manager, Mobile Legal Office
Tayla Fauntleroy, Paralegal
Shereffia Francis, Administrative Assistant
Marisa Halm, JD, Director, TeamChild Juvenile Justice Project
Director, TeamChild Juvenile Justice Project
Attorney Halm is the Director of the TeamChild Juvenile 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.
Maria Illescas, Paralegal, Immigrant Children's Justice Project
Tasha Jackson, Finance Director
With over ten years of senior level experience in the financial arena, Tasha Jackson has directed finance (CFO), information technology and human resources at Hartford-area nonprofits. She holds a BS in Insurance and Finance and an MBA in Leadership.
Sara Kennedy, Communications and Development Associate
Kia Levey-Burden, Project Coordinator, Restorative Justice Project
Project Coordinator, Restorative Justice Project
Kia Levey-Burden is Project Coordinator for the Center’s Restorative Justice Project, working to reduce arrest of youth in Connecticut’s juvenile justice facilities – a practice that is counter to the rehabilitative purpose of these facilities.
Patricia Marealle, Staff Attorney, Immigrant Children's Justice Project
Staff Attorney, Immigrant Children's Justice Project
Patricia Marealle joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy as staff attorney for the Immigrant Children’s Justice Project, working to protect immigrant children in Connecticut. She was formerly a legal analyst with the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, and worked with the Connecticut Legislative Commissioners’ Office drafting public health bills for the 2018 legislative session.
She was born and raised in Tanzania, and lived in various countries during her youth, moving to the United States to attend college at age 17.
After receiving her bachelor’s in political science from Columbus State University, she worked as a clerk for a probate court judge, overseeing guardianship and conservatorship of minors and incapacitated adults. She also served as a mentor with the Truancy Intervention Project and a speaker for DARE to Dream, where she spoke to high school students about the challenges teens face concerning diversity, race relations, leadership development and personal responsibility.
During law school, Patricia worked with nonprofit organizations including the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, CT Legal Services and CT Fair Housing, focusing on immigration and civil rights issues and helping children and families from low-income populations.
Patricia earned her JD from UConn School of Law, and a master’s in Public Policy from Northeastern University.
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer, JD, Director, SpeakUp Initiatives
Director, SpeakUp Initiatives
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in September 2009 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Her work with the Center’s SpeakUp Initiatives promotes youth-led advocacy and youth voice through all of CCA’s work. SpeakUp teaches young people about their legal rights and works with them to advocate for and assert those rights in their schools and communities.
Attorney Meyer also works with the Center’s Educational Success Project, which provides legal support to help children and youth succeed in school. She is based at CCA’s Bridgeport office, where she focuses on eliminating barriers that prevent academic success. These may include barriers to special education services, school discipline problems, housing issues, DCF concerns, mental health issues, homelessness or immigration, among others.
Kathryn has co-counseled a variety of 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.”
Lori Nordstrom, JD, Director, Foundation Relations
Director, Foundation Relations
Lori Nordstrom 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.
Alice Rosenthal, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Alice is the on-site attorney for the Center for Children’s Advocacy Medical-Legal Partnership office at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She represents children and families on legal issues affecting the health and well-being of children, such as housing, public benefits, healthcare access, and education. Alice has always been committed to social justice work, working as an advocate for disadvantaged children since she was in high school and providing legal representation for children and families since she graduated from law school in 2007.
Alice grew up in the City of New Haven and attended New Haven Public Schools. Prior to working at the Center for Children’s Advocacy, she worked as an education law attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, representing children involved in the child welfare system on access to appropriate education. Alice received a B.A. in Psychology and Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School-Newark. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and New York.
Bonnie Roswig, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Bonnie Roswig is Senior Staff Attorney for the Center’s Medical-Legal Partnership Project, with an office located at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Prior to joining the Center, Bonnie worked as a legal aid attorney in Georgia, and was a supervisory attorney at Statewide Legal Services in Middletown, CT. Bonnie is an Adjunct Professor in the Legal Process Program at the UConn School of Law. She is a graduate of Bennington College and Antioch School of Law.
Bonnie Roswig was selected as a 2011 Health Leadership Fellow by the Connecticut Health Foundation. About 20 Fellows are selected each year through a competitive process for a one-year knowledge and skill-building program designed to create leaders who represent a variety of public and private sectors in public policy, health practice, health care administration, community, law, business and commerce, advocacy, academia and other related fields. In addition to education sessions and training, Fellows participate in a project of their choosing which demonstrates leadership ability and influence to take collective actions that eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.
Stacy Schleif, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Child Abuse Project
Senior Staff Attorney, Child Abuse Project
Stacy Schleif is a senior staff attorney for the Center’s Child Abuse 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.
Leon Smith, JD, Director, Racial Justice Project
Director, Racial Justice Project
Leon Smith is Director of the Center’s Racial Justice Project, which represents youth of color and advocates for new laws and policy changes to address racial inequities in educational services, school discipline and treatment by the juvenile justice system. Leon also leads the Center’s work on alternative schools reform to ensure that vulnerable students receive appropriate educational supports to increase the rate of high school graduation. Alternative schools are a safety net for vulnerable students, and Attorney Smith has been successful in crafting legislation that requires the State Department of Education to standardize these programs throughout the state.
Prior to his work at the Center, Attorney Smith was an attorney and advocate in the juvenile justice system for 11 years, working with system-involved youth from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds. He began his career in 2001 as a juvenile court public defender, first in Rhode Island and later in Massachusetts. He subsequently managed his own law practice devoted primarily to juvenile court advocacy and ensuring services and assistance for youth who could not access the aid they needed. He worked on local and national public policy issues in New York City, using his familiarity with reforms and interventions to benefit youth in the education and juvenile justice systems.
Leon Smith is a 1995 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH and a 1999 graduate of New England School of Law in Boston, MA.
Andrea Spencer, PhD, Educational Consultant
Susan Stein, Director of Development
Sabrina Tavi, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Child Abuse Project
Senior Staff Attorney, Child Abuse Project
Sabrina Tavi is a senior staff attorney with the Center’s Child Abuse Project. She began her career as a staff attorney 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. Sabrina then 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.
Ann Tremont, Office Manager
Adam Yagaloff, JD, Staff Attorney, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Staff Attorney, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Adam Yagaloff works with youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. He provides legal representation and advice on issues affecting access to education, housing, healthcare, and many other areas. The Center’s Mobile Legal Office travels the community to reach at-risk youth who need CCA’s legal support and advocacy.
Interactions with individual youth inform systemic issues, and Adam addresses statewide problems affecting homeless youth in Connecticut.
Prior to working at the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Adam worked for the Minnehaha County Public Defender in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Before law school, Adam worked as Community Economic Development Volunteer for the Peace Corps in Cameroon, Africa. He received a B.S. in Business Management from Babson College and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is admitted to practice in Connecticut and South Dakota.
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