Board of Directors
Claude Mayo, Chair
Kate Boucher, Vice Chair
Stuart Warner, Secretary
Tadeo Rodriguez, Treasurer
Charleen Merced Agosto
Jaria C. Aljoe
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 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.
Jay Sicklick, JD, Deputy Director; Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Jay Sicklick, JD
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, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the Burgdorf Bank of America Health Center, Community Health Center, and provides consultation and referral services for patients at Charter Oak Health Center. Prior to his work with the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Jay was an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at UConn Law School, a senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Bronx Neighborhood Office for six years, and a private practitioner in Boston, MA. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at UConn School of Law, where he teaches courses in legal ethics and professional responsibility, and Assistant Clinical Professor at UConn School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. He is the author of Adolescent Health Care: The Legal Rights of Teens and has frequently lectured on medical-legal issues, social determinants of health and the impact of interdisciplinary advocacy on children’s health and well-being.
Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW, Director of Operations; Director, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Stacey Violante Cote, JD, MSW
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.
Nallely Acosta, Paralegal, Immigrant Children’s Justice Project
Eileen Brennan, Development and Special Events Manager
Bianca Herlitz-Ferguson, JD, Singer Fellow
Bianca Herlitz-Ferguson, JD
Bianca Herlitz-Ferguson joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in September 2021 as a Singer Connecticut Public Service Fellow. She is based in the Center’s Bridgeport Office.
As a fellow, Bianca’s project is focused on serving vulnerable youth in three areas. She is staffing the Teen Legal Action Clinic at Harding High School, where she works to alleviate legal barriers that interfere with students’ abilities to succeed in school. She is also working with the Immigrant Children’s Justice Project to represent immigrant children in Connecticut and with the Center’s Child Welfare Advocacy Project to represent older youth who are transitioning out of foster care. Bianca is passionate about child and youth advocacy and excited to start her legal career at the Center.
Bianca earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Cornell University.
Lourdes Fonseca, Community Organizer
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Lourdes joined CCA in 2019 as Community Youth Organizer. Lourdes brings her organizing and youth development skills to empower Hartford youth to become change agents. She is passionate about education, social and criminal justice. She is a believer in Youth Power and provides youth with the tools to force systemic change for a brighter future.
Sharika Forde, Office Manager
Sharika Forde, 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.
Marisa M. Halm, JD, Director, Youth Justice Project
Marisa M. Halm, JD
Director, Youth Justice Project
Marisa Halm 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.
Tasha Jackson, Finance Director
Kia Levey-Burden, MSW, Project Coordinator, Restorative Justice Project
Kia Levey-Burden, MSW
Project Coordinator, Restorative Justice Project
Kia Levey-Burden, MSW is a passionate leader and dedicated advocate who raises hard issues and works to collaboratively create solutions. Kia has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector throughout the state of Connecticut, including direct service, philanthropy, advocacy and community development. She is deeply committed to igniting the passion in people and helping people discover their voice and power. Kia’s work with young people is informed and inspired by her 2 younger brothers who were incarcerated at the ages of 15 and 16 ,and she is now raising a young son who is navigating a societal system that disproportionately marginalizes and punishes black boys and men. As the coordinator of Restorative Justice for the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Kia works toward systemic change by providing education, training and coaching for the staff and leadership of detention centers and congregant care organizations.
Kia is also the founder and President of Launch Consulting, LLC where she consults with organizations in Strategic Change Processes, Race Equity and Leadership Development.
Kia earned an MSW from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in Communications from Central Connecticut State University.
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project; Director, Speak-Up Initiatives
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer, JD
Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project; Director, Speak-Up Initiatives
Kathryn Scheinberg Meyer 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 also directs the Center’s SpeakUp Initiatives to promote youth-led advocacy and youth voice through all of CCA’s work. SpeakUp teaches youth about their legal rights and works with them to advocate for and assert those rights in their schools and communities.
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.”
Tiffany Minakhom, Intake Coordinator and Paralegal
Intake Coordinator and Paralegal
Tiffany Minakhom is CCA’s Intake Coordinator, 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.
LeeAnn Silva Neal, JD, Staff Attorney, Racial Justice Project
LeeAnn Silva Neal, JD
Staff Attorney, Racial Justice Project
LeeAnn Silva Neal is a staff attorney with CCA’s Racial Justice Project. She is based in the Center’s Bridgeport office.
Prior to joining the Center for Children’s Advocacy, LeeAnn was an Assistant State’s Attorney for the State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice. She is a first-generation Cape Verdean American, born and raised in Waterbury, CT.
LeeAnn attended Waterbury public schools, and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Legal Studies. She went on to Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, CT, where she received her Juris Doctorate Degree in 2011.
She is on the board of the George W. Crawford Black Bar Association, and is a mentor for Lawyer’s Collaborative for Diversity.
LeeAnn is a true believer that representation matters and is committed to being a positive supporter of the people she works with in the community, helping to ensure that their voices are heard.
Lori Nordstrom, JD, Director, Foundation Relations
Lori Nordstrom, JD
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.
Janet Ortiz, Administrative Assistant
Janet Ortiz 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.
Quiana Patton, Paralegal, Medical-Legal Partnership
Paralegal, Medical-Legal Partnership
Quiana Patton is a paralegal with the Center for Children’s Advocacy Medical-Legal Partnership. Quiana brings to CCA her paralegal skills and professional experience in the mental health field. She graduated from Albertus Magnus College with a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Quiana is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of all children but has a special interest in assisting individuals of lower socioeconomic status and kids with disabilities.
Alice Rosenthal, JD, Senior Staff Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Alice Rosenthal, JD
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, Director, Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Bonnie Roswig, JD
Director, Disability Rights, Medical-Legal Partnership Project
Bonnie Roswig 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.
Amy M. Saji, JD, Staff Attorney, Educational Success Project
Amy M. Saji, JD
Staff Attorney, Educational Success Project
Amy Mary Saji joined the Center for Children’s Advocacy in 2021 as the Educational Success Project Staff Attorney. She is based in both the Bridgeport and Hartford offices.
Amy earned both her JD and BA (dual honors major) from the University of Connecticut, graduating as the first woman of color in UConn’s inaugural Accelerated Program in Law, after completing her undergraduate and law school journey in 6 years. She was admitted to the practice of law in 2021.
During law school, Amy interned for CCA in its child protection clinic and MLPP, served as the teaching & research assistant for UConn’s Special Education Law class, organized the 27th Annual PILG Auction as president, and interned with UConn’s Office of Institutional Equity. Amy’s prior public interest experiences have also included the DC Office of Police Complaints, US House of Representatives (CT-5), Obama Foundation CLC, National Legal Advocacy Network, CCADV, CWEALF, CT Judicial, CTDems, and NYLawHelp.
As a child of South Indian Malayali immigrants that instilled the value of education in her at a young age, and a student raised in CT’s public school system all the way from elementary through law school, Amy understands first-hand the power that quality education holds for children of color and low-income children. She looks forward to ensuring that marginalized children have access to equitable educational services by providing legal services, training, and systemic reform advocacy regarding education rights of at risk children and youth.
Stacy Schleif, JD, Director, Child Welfare Advocacy Project
Stacy Schleif, JD
Director, Child Welfare Advocacy Project
Stacy Schleif 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.
Charlie Shaddox, Communications Director
Charlie Shaddox joined CCA in 2021 as the organization’s Communications Director. He works to create and manage communications strategies which align with the Center’s goals and mission.
Charlie’s previous experience includes over 6 years of managing communications for nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, such as the Partnership for Strong Communities and Tulane Law School. Originally from Hamden, CT, he is a graduate of Hamden High School and Tulane University with a B.A. in English.
He is dedicated to helping build a future where all children have the education, housing, and support services that they need.
Andrea Spencer, PhD, Educational Consultant
Andrea Spencer, PhD
Andrea (Penny) Spencer 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.
Susan Stein, Director of Development
Director of Development
Susan has worked in nonprofit development for 15 years. She graduated from Old Dominion University and began a career in recreation and tourism with the U.S. Navy in Norfolk, VA. After moving back to NY, Susan worked for 13 years with the Limited Inc. as a district manager in the Greater NY/CT area and eventually started her own business. Her nonprofit experience began with volunteering for area nonprofits to help them raise funds, and this developed into a new career.
Before working at CCA, Susan worked at several nonprofit organizations including the American Diabetes Association, where she was responsible for the Stop Diabetes Walk and assisted with the Long Island Tour de Cure.
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 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.
Adam Yagaloff, JD, Staff Attorney, Right Direction: Homeless Youth Advocacy Project
Adam Yagaloff, JD
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.