Bios


#FHCRC2024

Plenary Speakers

Tackey Chan

Zelda Harris

Dean, Western New England University School of Law

Andrew Leland

Author

Andrew Leland is the author of The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight (Penguin Press), which was named one of the best books of 2023 by the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Lithub, and others. His writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and The San Francisco Chronicle, among other outlets. He hosted The Organist, an arts and culture podcast, for KCRW and has produced pieces for Radiolab and 99 Percent Invisible. He has been an editor at The Believer since 2003.

Emily Drabinski

President, American Library Association

Jennifer Levi

Rashida Rattray

Education and Outreach Coordinator, CT Fair Housing Center

Rashida joined the CT Fair Housing Center in 2020 as the Education and Outreach Coordinator. Her professional experience is rooted in foreclosure prevention and mitigation counseling as well as legal administration. She also has a strong background in community engagement that was fostered by her work for the City of Waterbury. At the Center, she facilitates outreach to a multitude of different stakeholders by planning and executing fair housing trainings, maintaining the Center’s social media channels, and brainstorming new ways to connect with the people we serve. She is actively pursuing her passion for advocating for people in all she does.
 
 

Additional Speakers

Jill Ashton

Northeast Regional Administrator, Women’s Bureau, US DOL

Jill Ashton serves as the Northeast Regional Administrator for the US Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau. She is a leader and activist in the women’s advancement community. From 2009-2021, she served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. In the 2015-2016 Massachusetts legislative session, Ashton led the coalition of organizations that successfully stewarded the passage of the Equal Pay Act, a piece of groundbreaking economic justice legislation that, among other provisions, prevents hiring managers from inquiring about salary history. Ashton is committed to developing talent among young women and men, having mentored more than 200 students through the commission’s robust internship program and beyond. She currently serves as the Previous Past President of the National Association of Commissions on Women, with which she has increased peer-to-peer learning opportunities to encourage the success of member commissions. A graduate of the Program for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass-Boston, she now proudly serves as a member of the Center’s advisory board.

Anastasia Doherty

Trial Attorney, US EEOC Boston Area Office

Anastasia Doherty is a Trial Attorney with the Boston Area Office of the EEOC. She represents the EEOC in prosecuting employment discrimination claims brought under federal law. Anastasia attended Northeastern University School of Law and previously worked as an associate at a plaintiff-side firm, where she represented workers asserting wage-and-hour and discrimination claims against their employers.

Caroline Foley

Staff Attorney, Immigration Unit, Central West Justice

Caroline Foley is an Immigration Staff Attorney at Central West Justice Center. Her focus is on humanitarian immigration law and working with victims of crimes, victims of trafficking, and children. She organizes free monthly consultation clinics at the Worcester Library and has done extensive work in the Central Massachusetts community to organize and educate immigrants on their rights for the past ten years. She participates in several local advocacy groups, is the New England AILA liaison for the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and a Board Member for the Worcester Historical Museum.
 
Caroline was a member of the Western New England Law review where she organized a two-day symposium on Immigration Law and Detention. She also volunteered with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigration Protection project and the Earth Refuge to research and write about climate migration.

Alison Stanton

Vice President of Community and Citizenship, Turner Construction Company

As the Vice President of Community & Citizenship of Turner Construction Company in Boston, Alison oversees Youth Engagement, Workforce Development, Community Engagement, and Economic Development Programs for Underrepresented Business Enterprises.
 
Alison works to create project-specific outreach strategies that integrate the community into projects being built in their neighborhood. Through this work, she and our teams create intentional opportunities for qualified MBEs, WBEs, and other small businesses and develop partnerships with pre-apprenticeship programs, schools and our trade partners to facilitate a more diverse and local workforce onsite. Strategies also connect Turner staff with volunteer opportunities with local non-profit organizations and enable students to come out to the jobsite to learn about the variety of careers that exist within the construction industry.
 
 

Doug Quattrochi

Executive Director, Massachusetts Landlords, Cambridge MA

Doug Quattrochi is the Executive Director of MassLandlords, Inc., a Massachusetts-based 501(c)6 nonprofit trade association with a mission to create better rental housing. As part of this work, he sits on the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) Energy Efficiency Advisory Council (EEAC) Equity Working Group, which evaluates decarbonization and energy efficiency efforts in rental housing. The MassLandlords newsletter and website receive over 300,000 unique site visitors annually and were the first real estate publication in the state to identify (in 2018) that the operating cost of heat pumps can be below natural gas for correctly selected equipment.
https://masslandlords.net/heat-pump-vs-furnace/

Rusty Polsgrove

Environmental Justice Organizer at Arise for Social Justice Springfield

Rusty Polsgrove (they/them) is the environmental justice organizer at Arise for Social Justice. Rusty comes from a background of work in arts nonprofits, makerspaces, machine shop design and management. Rusty studied Integrated Community Development and Civic Engagement at UMass Amherst. Carrying Arise’s tradition of “making good trouble” Rusty’s work includes: Livewell Health’s Community Choice Energy initiative, organizing resistance against the eversource gas pipeline, retaining co-convening membership of the Massachusetts EJ table, and spear-heading legislative and mutual aid efforts to mitigate the effects of mold and poor air quality. Rusty is a member of the state Commission of Clean Energy Siting and Permitting, Rusty is pushing for equitable benefit distribution and generative community engagement during the clean energy transition. Rusty is an out and proud transgender individual and advocate of ten years.
 

Maureen St. Cyr

Executive Director, Massachusetts Fair Housing Center

Pamela Heller

Staff Attorney, Co-Director of Fair Housing Enforcement, CT Fair Housing Center

Pamela Heller joined the CT Fair Housing Center in 2011. As staff attorney and co-director of fair housing enforcement, Ms. Heller advocates for clients and litigates cases involving housing discrimination and other tenants’ rights’ issues at all stages of the legal process. She is a graduate of University of Connecticut School of Law (JD ’08), University of Connecticut School of Social Work (MSW ’08), and Stanford University (B.A. Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity ’02). Ms. Heller completed clerkships for Connecticut Superior Court and Connecticut Appellate Court prior to joining the Center. Ms. Heller also has experience adjunct teaching and is a board member of the University of Hartford Paralegal Studies program.

Nan Sibley

Coordinated Entry Coordinator Three County Continuum of Care Community Action Pioneer Valley

Nan Sibley (She/Her) serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Resilience Hub in Northampton, MA. In this role, she focuses on supporting houseless individuals and those facing the risk of eviction or other destabilizing events. Drawing from her rich and multifaceted lived experience, Nan brings a unique perspective that extends beyond the label of survivor, allowing her to deeply understand the nuances of building trust and fostering connection within the community. Central to Nan’s work is her commitment to transformative community building, an ethos that permeates her interactions with individuals navigating challenging circumstances. Beyond merely addressing immediate needs, Nan strives to create an environment that fosters lasting change and empowerment. Nan is actively involved in the Re-imagining Interim Housing Project, a testament to her dedication to redefining the current systems in place. This commitment is rooted in her valued connections with community members, as she collaborates with them to navigate and challenge the existing structures, ensuring that the solutions proposed are grounded in the lived experiences of those they aim to support. Nan’s multifaceted approach, informed by her intricate understanding of resilience, positions her as a compassionate and effective advocate for positive community transformation.

Maria Cuerda

Fair Housing Testing Coordinator, CT Fair Housing Center

A graduate of Smith College, Ms. Cuerda began her legal career as a paralegal at Western Mass. Legal Services in 1990. Working there for 20 years, she represented individuals in SSI, TAFDC, food stamp and unemployment hearings. During that time, she began to advocate for migrant and seasonable farmworkers and became involved in organizing and supporting undocumented immigrants with local community organizations. She began working at the CT Fair Housing Center in 2010, focusing on casework, running the Center’s test program, and supporting community organizing.

Elizabeth Alfred

Staff Attorney - EA Shelter Greater Boston Legal Services

Harris Freeman

Staff Attorney - EA Shelter Greater Boston Legal Services

Sheldon Lyke

Associate Professor, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Jillian Fisher

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Alison Bitterly

Trial Attorney, US EEOC New York District Office

Alison Bitterly is a Trial Attorney with the EEOC’s New York District Office, based in the Boston Field
Office. Ms. Bitterly has been with the EEOC since September 2022. Before then, Ms. Bitterly worked in
private practice, where she gained experience in civil rights litigation and prisoners’ rights work. Since
arriving at the EEOC Ms. Bitterly has worked on cases involving the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Ms. Bitterly received her J.D. from
Fordham University School of Law in 2016 and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University
in 2011.

Alyssa Golden

CORI/Reentry Senior Supervising Attorney, Community Legal Aid

Alyssa Golden is the Senior Supervising Attorney of the CORI/Reentry Unit at Community Legal Aid. She is based out of Northampton, but works across Central and Western Massachusetts. Alyssa and her team represent people facing a variety of civil consequences of the criminal court system. Prior to joining CLA seven years ago, Alyssa was a public defender in Fall River, Mass.
 

Rafael Irizarry-Fields

Staff Attorney, Public Defender Division, Committee for Public Counsel Services

Rafael started working as a staff attorney at the Public Defender’s Office in Holyoke, MA after graduating from Western New England University School of Law in 2023. During law school, Rafael worked with three bar advocates doing adult criminal and care and protection cases, and both the Holyoke and Springfield Public Defender Offices. He also did pro bono work with the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Mass Fair Housing Center, and with the Center for Social Justice Consumer Debt Initiative and Legal Kiosk Project. Before going back to law school , Rafael worked as an educator, a carpenter, a luthier, and at a falafel restaurant.

Madeline Weaver Blanchette

Senior Supervising Attorney, Family Preservation Project, Community Legal Aid

Maddy joined Community Legal Aid after a decade in a law firm she co-founded specializing in the zealous defense, at trial and on appeal, of parents and children facing the overwhelming power of the Department of Children and Families. Maddy also holds a Master of Social Work degree. Immediately after law school, she served as a law clerk to the justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court. In 2021, she received New England Innocence Project’s “Arc of Justice Award” for her work in freeing and exonerating James Watson who served forty years for a wrongful murder conviction.

Samantha Hamilton

Director of Coalition Building and Community Engagement for the Public Health Agency of Western Massachusetts

Michelin Alvarez

Coordinating attorney, Community Legal Aid

Michelin Cahill is a Coordinating Attorney at Community Legal Aid in Worcester. She focuses on fair housing issues: representing clients in housing discrimination cases, defending against evictions or terminations where fair housing issues play a role in the case, and advocating for reasonable accommodations in housing. Prior to Community Legal Aid she worked at Victim Rights Law Center
assisting victims of sexual violence with their civil legal needs related to privacy, safety, and housing. She also worked as the Intake Attorney at the ACLU Pennsylvania, assessing and investigating civil rights violations and overseeing a robust team of volunteers and interns. During law school she interned at
Mazzoni Center Legal Services representing LGBTQ+ clients who experienced discrimination. Ms. Cahill
attended law school at Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and earned her undergraduate degree at The George Washington University.

Jane Edmonstone

Staff Attorney in the Housing Law Unit, Community Legal Aid

Ashley Grant

Director of Fair Housing Enforcement and a Clinical Fellow with the Housing Discrimination Testing Program and Accelerator to Practice Program at Suffolk University Law School

Matthew Doherty

Consultant, Matthew Doherty Consulting

Matthew Doherty has nearly 30 years of leadership experience in both the private and public sectors, focused on ending homelessness and the creation and integration of housing, services programs, and economic opportunities. Through his consulting practice, Matthew now provides expert guidance to national, state, and local organizations seeking effective solutions to housing needs and homelessness. Matthew previously served, from 2015 to 2019, as the Executive Director for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), the federal agency charged with coordinating the federal response to homelessness and with creating national public-private partnerships to end homelessness across the nation, having served in other roles at USICH starting in 2012. Matthew also previously held leadership positions at the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the San Diego Housing Commission, the King County Housing Authority in Washington State, and other organizations. Matthew has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Washington.

Pamela Heller

Staff Attorney, and Co-Director of Fair Housing Enforcement, CT Fair Housing Center

Claudia Quintero

Central West Justice Center, Seasonal and Migrant Farmworker Unit Attorney and WNEU School of

Claudia Quintero, Esq. is a dedicated advocate to social justice, in practice and as a law professor; she teaches Law and Social Change, and Legal Research and Writing at Western New England University School of Law. She also leads the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Project, at Central West Justice Center, in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she provides direct representation to MA farmworkers in immigration, wage, family, and housing matters, and conducts community know-your-rights trainings across the state. She advocates for farmworkers on a national and state level, engaging in legislative advocacy to pass the Fairness for Farmworkers Act, legislation she co-drafted that would entitle farmworkers to earn the state minimum wage and overtime pay. Quintero was selected for the Businesswest Class of 2021 40 under 40 for her professional contributions and awarded with the Adams Pro Bono Publico Award from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services in 2017. A Los Angeles native, Quintero earned Communication/Rhetoric degrees from California State University, Los Angeles (BA, ‘10), and the University of Utah (MS ‘13), and law degree (cum laude) from WNE Law (‘17).
 
 

Bill Newman

ACLU of Massachussetss

A pretty good guy.

Kimberly Jacobsen

Managing Director, Employment, Commission Counsel, Legal Division

Kimberly Jacobsen earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Delaware and a J.D. from Western New England University, School of Law.
 
Kimberly began her career in State Service with the Commission on Human Rights (CHRO) as a housing discrimination investigator. Thereafter, Kimberly served as a Staff Attorney for the Workers’ Compensation Commission where she concentrated on appellate issues and served as the Attorney General’s designee for that agency.
 
Kimberly rejoined the CHRO as a member of the legal division as a litigation attorney for the Commission where she represented the Commission at administrative hearings held before the Commission’s Public Hearings Office and in a variety of litigation before State Courts. Her work also included appellate litigation and she has argued before the State’s Appellate Court.
 
Kimberly was promoted to Managing Director and Commission Attorney/ Employment matters at the CHRO. She manages attorneys, investigators, and support staff. Additionally, she serves as a resource for the agency’s regional offices and is involved in the preparation of the agency’s legislative proposals. She has a special interest in housing discrimination, breastfeeding rights, disability law and mediation.
 
In recent years, Kimberly has been speaking publicly about living well with Parkinson’s Disease in many different forums. She has written an article for the Connecticut Lawyer’s Magazine Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Column titled “My Disability Makes Me a Better Lawyer” which can be found at: ctl-janfeb-22—dei.pdf (ctbar.org). She has also been appointed to the town of West Hartford’s Disability Commission.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chelsea Donaldson

Staff Attorney, Connecticut Veterans Legal Center

Passionate about access to justice and trauma-informed practice, Chelsea has chosen to dedicate her life to serving the community that requires legal aid the most: low-income individuals struggling with mental illness and trauma. Her primary practice at CVLC is heavily focused on Veterans struggling from severe mental health diagnoses accessing the healthcare and services that they need to heal.
 
Chelsea earned her J.D., cum laude, from Western New England University School of Law and her M.S.W. from Springfield College. She is admitted to the Connecticut State Bar and Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (CAVC). She is also a licensed Master Social Worker through the State of Connecticut. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmdonaldson/
Website: https://ctveteranslegal.org/

Chiedza Rodriguez

Attorney, CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

Chiedza is a Human Rights Attorney for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and is CEO of her consulting firm GARO Consulting LLC. Chiedza holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Puerto Rico, a master’s in human services from Springfield College, and a Juris Doctorate from Western New England University School of Law with a focus on public interest law, as well as gender & sexuality law.
 
Chiedza’s interest revolve around combatting oppression and injustice wherever it rears its ugly head, with a special focus on its impact on our most vulnerable communities and youth.

Alvin Mallette

Coordinator, New York District

Alvin Mallette is the Outreach & Education Coordinator at the New York District Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency dedicated to eradicating employment discrimination in the workplace. He has been with the agency for over 14 years and held several roles including Investigator, Enforcement Supervisor, and Intake Supervisor. Mr. Mallette has also served with the NJ Air National Guard for over 25 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University.

Elizabeth Marcus

Mediator, EEOC Boston Area Office

Elizabeth A. Marcus is a Mediator at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency dedicated to eradicating employment discrimination in the workplace. Elizabeth mediates hundreds of discrimination cases each year, totaling thousands over the span of her career. Complaints raise issues such as harassment, hostile work environment, disparate treatment, reasonable accommodation and retaliation. A large proportion of the employees and some of the employers in her cases are pro se. Elizabeth mediates both public and private sector cases. She has a strong working knowledge of EEOC federal sector complaint process.
 
Since completing her formal education at the University of Connecticut and New England Law | Boston, Elizabeth has worked exclusively in the area of employment law, first with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and then with the EEOC. She has completed formal mediation training with New York University School of Law, Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and Mediation Works, Incorporated. Elizabeth is an engaged and enthusiastic mentor both as a mediation clinic placement and as an adjunct professor or mediation. She is a regular presenter in discrimination and mediation forums including EEOC Technical Assistance Programs, the Harvard Program on Negotiation, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Boston Law Collaborative.

John Fisher

Fair Housing Manager, Way Finders

In various ways, John Fisher has been involved with fair housing and civil rights issues for more than fifty years.  John directs the Fair Housing Information Program at Way Finders, and has worked in the nonprofit housing sector in various positions on and off since the 1980s.

He is the author of Property Management for Massachusetts Rental Owners, now in its seventh edition, as well as many other articles and publications on landlord and tenant issues.  John also serves as a private consultant, working with tenants, landlords, and community-based organizations, as well as teaching a property management workshop which is offered throughout the state.  He is, himself, a landlord.

In addition to housing issues, John also consults and writes about applied neuroscience technology.  He is Managing Director for the Foundation for Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience.

Melanie Alvarez

Director of Programs, The Friendship Center

Melanie Alvarez obtained her Bachelor’s Degree of the Arts in Spanish from the University of Connecticut and has completed graduate studies at the University of Hartford’s Master’s in Science of Operational Psychology. She is a passionate advocate who has served in the private nonprofit sector for almost two decades with varied direct experience in the areas of homelessness, HIV/AIDS education, harm reduction counseling, outreach, and case management. The last several years, as a Program Director and Community Health Worker, Melanie has worked with an array of programs and initiatives related to community health work, as well as integrating housing and medical based social service delivery systems.

Shaundell Diaz

Coordinated Entry Coordinator Three County Continuum of Care Consultant, National Coalition for the Homeless

Shaundell Diaz (she/her), is a resilient Latina with a profound Lived Experience of Homelessness, currently serves as the Coordinated Entry Coordinator for the Three County Continuum of Care/Community Action Pioneer Valley. Beyond her professional role, she actively contributes to social justice initiatives, co-chairing the Communities that Cares Coalition’s Racial Justice Workgroup and co-founding the Hampden County Resource Network. Shaundell’s national influence is evident through her consultancy with the National Coalition for the Homeless, where she shapes policies to combat homelessness on a broader scale. Engaged in the “Re-imagining Interim Housing Framework Project,” she advocates for innovative solutions to housing challenges. Serving as a Board Member for FCRHRA Rural Development Inc. and on the Board of Directors for
 

Tim McCarthy

Executive Director, Craigs Doors

Tim McCarthy (He/him) is a master’s student in the Mental Health Counseling program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is a member of the bioethics and human rights lab run by Lisa Cosgrove Ph.D. He is the Executive Director for Craig’s Doors – A Home Association Inc, a non-profit network of shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Western Massachusetts. In the past year Craig’s Doors has worked to expand their emergency shelter and support capacity, including working with DPH on a Low-Threshold Housing initiative and creating the Fare Access program to offer free public transportation. Attributing the success to his incredibly dedicated team, Craig’s Doors aspires to re-imagine the ways that we think of interim housing/emergency shelter, and how community and compassion can serve as truly mitigating factors in ending cycles of homelessness

Bob Terrell

Alexandra Bonazoli

Coordinating Attorney, Immigration Unit

Maya McCann

Central West Justice Center, Seasonal and Migrant Farmworker Unit, Farmworker Medical Legal

Maya McCann is an Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Project at the Central West Justice Center (CWJC). Through her fellowship, Maya has launched a Farmworker Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) between CWJC and La Cliniquita, the Farmworker Program at the Baystate Brightwood Health Center. The MLP provides accessible legal services in housing, employment, and benefits matters for farmworkers. Maya grew up in  Springfield and earned her B.A.
from Smith College, and her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Maya has experience working with other organizations dedicated to housing and other civil rights issues.

Malcolm Peyton-Cook

Associate Director for Affirmative Enforcement

Riley Smith

HOD Program Manager, Justice 4 Housing

Leslie Credle

Founder, Executive Director of Justice 4 Housing

Leslie Credle, a Northeastern Alumni, 2022 ECHO Green & 2023 Social Innovator Forum Fellow, is committed to racial equity and social justice in housing access. A survivor of incarceration who has dedicated her leadership, her voice, and lived experience to reforming inequitable systems. As the Founder and Executive Director of Justice for Housing (J4H), Leslie unites communities impacted by incarceration and domestic violence to challenge biased policies that deny housing security.