Jessica Berry, Deputy Director, joined the CLCM in September, 2009 as recipient of a Skadden Fellowship. Jessica earned her B.A. from the University of Chicago, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, and has an M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Following law school, Jessica clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel M. Gorton of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and then for the Honorable Diana Gribbon Motz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. As a fellow at the CLCM, Jessica focuses on representing adolescents in child welfare, education, and mental health matters.
Yajaira Chavez, Administrative Assistant, joined CLCM in April of 2014. A native and resident of Lynn, she is a national certified phlebotomist from North Shore Community College. She is presently balancing a full time and part time job as well as parenting.
Paul Easton, Staff Attorney, joined the CLCM in 2014 as a recipient of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship sponsored by Biogen Idec and Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C. Paul graduated magna cum laude from Boston College law School after earning his B.A. from Duke University and his M.Ed. in special education from Arcadia University. Before joining the CLCM, he clerked for the Honorable Paul J. Barbadoro of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Paul taught special education to middle school students in Philadelphia and served in the U.S. Navy prior to law school. As a Fellow at the CLCM, Paul is coordinating a medical-legal partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital – Chelsea Healthcare Center as a means to advocate for at-risk children in educational matters.
Allie Horwitz, United Way Americorps Member, joined the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 years. Her previous experiences include working with Spanish-speaking clients at the Quinnipiac Law School Civil Justice Clinic and volunteering as a cultural companion and case management assistant at Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services. After graduating from Amherst College in 2012, where she received a B.A. in psychology, Allie spent a year working for a youth development non-profit, Soccer Without Borders, as a Team Leader and External Relations Associate. There she worked to increase opportunities for underserved females ages 12-18 through team building, workshops, education programs and civic engagement projects. Allie is excited to join the team at CLCM to learn about the challenges facing immigrant youth and to work together with CLCM staff to empower them to succeed.
Robyn L. Laukien, Staff Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator, began her tenure at the Children's Law Center in July 1999 as a volunteer advocate. She came on staff in the fall of 1999. Robyn is a graduate of Wellesley College and Boston College Law School. Upon graduating from B.C. Law in 1988, she joined the Boston firm of Widett, Slater & Goldman as a corporate associate. After four years of practicing business law, she left to work part time at Bruker Instruments, Inc. as in-house Corporate Counsel. Robyn worked part time at Bruker for over six years while raising her two children, but still found time to volunteer as a foster care case reviewer, participate in an outreach program through the New England Aquarium with Head Start preschoolers, and serve as President of the Aquarium's Council from 2002-2006. Robyn was Co-Chair of the Aquarium's 30th Anniversary Gala, and is an annual member of the corporate fundraising committee. While President of the Aquarium Council, Robyn served as a Trustee. Currently, she is an Overseer and a member of the Aquarium Development Committee. Robyn's experiences as a parent and volunteer led her to her work with the Children's Law Center.
Sharon Mason, Director of Development, joined CLCM in April, 2015 following six years in the same capacity with Habitat for Humanity’s Merrimack Valley affiliate. A fundraising professional with an extensive background in small business management, corporate and non-profit resource and grant development, communication, and RBS, Sharon is also active in the community, serving on the board of a variety of community organizations and children’s advocacy groups including the Andover Cultural Council, Parent to Parent, and the Andover Special Education Parent Advisory Council. She brings her skills and dedication to meeting the mission and vision of the Children’s Law Center.
Jay McManus assumed the position of Director of the Children's Law Center in March 1999. A graduate of New England School of Law, he previously worked as staff counsel to the state's Department of Children & Families, and as Assistant General Counsel to AFSCME, Council 93, a public employee labor union. Between 1991 and 2007, he also directed the Massachusetts chapter of the IPPCH-Because of the Children Program, a not-for-profit that provided relief to children of Irish political prisoners and to families affected by the conflict in the North of Ireland.
Jessica Rubin-Willis, Staff Attorney, joined the EdLaw Project as a Skadden Fellow in October 2014. Her project focuses on ensuring that young children in the child welfare system have access to Early Intervention and preschool services that will give them a strong foundation for school success. Jessica graduated from New York University School of Law in 2012. After law school, Jessica worked at Advocates for Children of New York, where she provided direct representation to obtain educational services for low-income preschool children and conducted trainings for parents and preschool providers across New York City. She also spent a year serving as a law clerk in the Eastern District of New York before coming to EdLaw. Jessica gained child welfare experience during law school as a student in NYU’s Family Defense Clinic and as a summer intern in the Children and Family Law (CAFL) Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Boston. Jessica earned her B.A. from Harvard University in 2006 and worked for several years at Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association before attending law school.
Michele Scavongelli, Staff Attorney, has been with the EdLaw Project since 2012 when she joined the project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Michele graduated Northeastern University School of Law. A recipient of a Rappaport Fellowship at the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate and a recipient of a Hennessy Fellowship at the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee, Michele brings a wide range of experience to the Project. In addition to serving EdLaw, Michele is on the board of Bottom Line, an organization that is dedicated to helping disadvantaged students get into college and on the board of CASA, an organization that recruits, trains and supports volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children before the Suffolk County.
Vineesha Sow, Education Attorney, joined CLCM in December 2015 as a staff attorney focusing on education matters, specifically special education rights and school discipline. Vineesha, a Boston-native, earned her B.S., cum laude from Suffolk University and graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2014. During law school, she demonstrated her commitment to represent underserved communities through internships with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and Wasacz, Hilley and Fullerton LLP, a small law firm specializing in child welfare cases. She developed an interest in education while interning at the Office of Academics for Boston Public Schools (BPS) where she assisted in developing and drafting a school turnaround plan for an underperforming elementary school. Her focus on the youth and education is also relevant in her personal life as an active member of the Parent Advisory Council at her son’s school and a mentor of students and recent college graduates.
Marlies Spanjaard, Director of Education Advocacy, is responsible for supervising staff attorneys and interns, making program-wide policy decisions, and cultivating relationships with other individuals and agencies in an effort to promote the Edlaw Project mission. Prior to serving as Director, Ms. Spanjaard gained valuable experience as a staff attorney on the EdLaw Project during which time she represented students in school disciplinary hearings, special education team meetings, and administrative hearings before the Bureau of Special Education Appeals. Marlies has provided trainings on education related issues throughout the state and before a wide variety of audiences including parents, youth workers, students and attorneys. In 2007, Marlies began teaching at Wheelock College as an adjunct instructor in the college's Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Concentration. She earned her J.D. and her M.S.W. at Washington University Law School and George Warren Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis, MO.
Claire Valentin, Staff Attorney, joined the CLCM in September, 2013 as a recipient of Harvard Law School’s Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship. Claire focuses on representing immigrant children on whose behalf petitions for guardianship or care and protection need to be filed as a first step to ensuring their safety and well-being. Claire represents youth in state Juvenile and Probate Court as well as federal immigration proceedings. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association. Claire earned her B.A. from Brown University in 2006 and J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2011. Following law school, Claire clerked for the Honorable A. Franklin Burgess Jr. of the District of Columbia Superior Court and the Senior Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Bryna Williams, Senior Staff Attorney, joined The EdLaw Project in August, 2006. During her tenure, she has gained broad experience with representing students in the areas of school discipline, special education rights, and access to school. She is primarily responsible for consulting with and supporting attorneys working in the juvenile courts to effectively advocate for their clients in schools, for representing court-involved clients in complicated education matters, and for developing and leading trainings about education rights to present to attorneys, community groups, and child advocates throughout the Commonwealth. She regularly attends community meetings and forums focused on public education and services for marginalized students. During law school, she gained valuable experience in client advocacy through internships with the Public Guardian of Cook County in Chicago and the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, and as a student clinician at the Loyola Civitas ChildLaw Clinic. Additionally, she served as the managing editor of the Children's Legal Rights Journal, as the president of her law school's Public Interest Law Society and, as a volunteer teaching students about their legal rights in the Chicago Public Schools and at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. She earned her A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998 and her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2005.