Our Staff

Working for LAS–ELC offers a collegial and supportive workplace and the satisfaction of providing excellent client service. Student law clerks and new attorneys working on fellowships continually bring us new energy and ideas.

  • Joan Messing Graff President

    Joan Graff has been President of the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center since 1981. She began her legal career working in the General Counsel’s office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at its headquarters in Washington D.C. Following her move to the Bay Area Ms. Graff joined Equal Rights Advocates as it was being launched and remained there for nearly a decade. The organization was one of the first nonprofit legal organizations in the country dedicated to securing equality for women and it became one of the leading proponents for women’s rights nationally. Ms. Graff has served on a number of boards and advisory committees and in 2006 was awarded the Loren Miller Legal Services Award by the State Bar of California.

    Ms. Graff received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1967 and her B.S. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1964. She is a member of the Bars of California and the District of Columbia.

  • Alexis Alvarez

    Alexis Alvarez Staff Attorney

    Alexis Alvarez is a Staff Attorney in the Disability Rights Program at LAS-ELC. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, Alexis was a Staff Attorney with the Disability Rights Legal Center’s Cancer Legal Resource Center in Los Angeles, CA, where she provided legal services to people with cancer-related legal issues. She also clerked for Judges Robert L. Hess and Barbara M. Meiers of the Los Angeles Superior Court and Judge Gilbert M. Roman of the Colorado Court of Appeals. Alexis obtained her J.D. from the University of California, Davis in 2011. While in law school, she clerked for the Disability Rights Program at LAS-ELC and participated in the Workers' Rights Clinic. Alexis received her B.S. from Colorado State University in 2007.

  • Mana Barari Staff Attorney

    As a member of our wage protection team, Mana represents workers who are coping with nonpayment of wages and other unjust employment practices, including labor trafficking. Mana came to LAS-ELC from Micronesian Legal Services Corporation, where she advocated for the rights of migrant workers and survivors of human trafficking in Palau, as the senior advocate for vulnerable workers. She also has represented low-wage and immigrant workers as an associate with Sundeen Salinas & Pyle in Oakland. 

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  • Marisa Diaz Staff Attorney

    Marisa defends and promotes the rights of workers who are immigrants or members of minority groups. Before joining LAS-ELC, Marisa was a fellow at Equal Rights Advocates, where she participated in litigation, legislative advocacy, community education, and direct legal services on behalf of women who faced gender-based discrimination in the workplace. 

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  • Katherine Fiester Staff Attorney

    Katie Fiester advises and represents clients in wage claim and unemployment insurance administrative proceedings, working in both the Community Legal Services Program and the Wage Protection Program. In addition, Katie serves clients at semi-monthly Wage Claim Clinics held at the California Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

    Katie obtained her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2014. While in law school, she clerked for the Community Legal Services Program at LAS-ELC and participated in the Workers' Rights Clinic. Before law school, Katie worked as a legal assistant with JusticeCorps, where she facilitated equal justice and fairness for pro se litigants. 

  • Mike Gaitley

    Michael T. Gaitley Senior Staff AttorneyDirector, Community Legal Services

    415-864-8848

    Mike Gaitley supervises the Workers' Rights Clinic. Since the first clinic opened in 1989, he has developed and nurtured a model for providing free legal services that has been emulated by numerous legal organizations. Our clinics provide low-income workers with expert advice by engaging highly experienced local employment law specialists and carefully selected law students as volunteers.

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  • Jenna Gerry Interim Staff Attorney

    Jenna answers calls to our Work and Family helplines and provides know-your-rights workshops and free legal services for workers struggling with family and medical crises. She also participates in legislative advocacy to expand family-friendly workplace policies, and she works with the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition and contributes to the efforts of our Medical Legal Partnerships.

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  • Christopher Ho Senior Staff AttorneyDirector, Immigration and National Origin Program

    415-864-8848

    Chris focuses on employment practices that disproportionately affect undocumented workers, language minorities, and new immigrants. In 2014, he successfully argued Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., which reaffirmed California state law protections for undocumented workers. More recently, in a civil rights case of first impression that Chris tried, the U.S. District Court in San Francisco ruled that an employer violated federal civil rights law when it disqualified a job applicant solely because he had previously used an invalid Social Security number to obtain work.

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  • Jinny Kim Senior Staff AttorneyDirector, Disability Rights Program

    Jinny Kim is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Disability Rights Program at LAS–ELC. Jinny joined LAS–ELC in 1999 as the Félix Velarde-Muñoz Fellow and litigated race, disability, national origin and gender cases. Thereafter, she was a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow where she served as Labor Counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy on the Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Prior to returning to LAS–ELC in 2008 as a Staff Attorney, Jinny held positions at the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, as well as Schneider, Wallace, Cottrell, Brayton and Konecky, and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian. Jinny received her J.D. in 1999 from the University of California, Davis and her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995.

  • Elizabeth Kristen Senior Staff AttorneyDirector, Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program

    Elizabeth Kristen is the Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and a Senior Staff Attorney at the LAS–ELC. She represents workers in employment discrimination cases including cases involving discrimination on the basis of gender, pregnancy, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, and race as well as cases in which employers have violated family and medical leave laws. She also engages in community education, negotiations, litigation and policy work on behalf of female students who have not been afforded equal athletic opportunities under Title IX. Prior to beginning her work at LAS–ELC in 2002 as a Skadden Fellow, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. She graduated from Berkeley Law in 2001 where she was selected for the Order of the Coif. She also served as an Editor for the California Law Review. Ms. Kristen is a member of the American Association of University Women, the National Employment Lawyers Association and the California Employment Lawyers Association and a past Board member of the Pride Law Fund. In 2012-13, she served as a Harvard law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow.  She was a lecturer at Berkeley Law School from 2008-2013.  She is currently a member of CELA Voice.

  • Rachael Langston Staff Attorney

    Rachael Langston is a Staff Attorney in the Gender Equity and Disability Rights Programs. Rachael joined the LAS–ELC in 2008. She advises and represents workers with disabilities, with a primary focus on disability discrimination and failure to accommodate in the workplace. Rachael also provides community education regarding the rights of employees with disabilities, and participates in legislative advocacy to expand the rights of workers who have familial care giving responsibilities. She received her J.D. in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. from Texas Tech University in 2005.

  • William C. McNeill. III Managing AttorneyDirector, Racial Equality Program

    Bill McNeill is the Managing Attorney and Director of the Racial Equality Program at the LAS–ELC. Bill has been with the LAS–ELC since 1988 and served as the Managing Attorney since 1998. He has been involved in civil rights issues for more than 30 years, and has litigated a number of cases designed to advance the rights of minorities, including Davis v. City and County of San Francisco, which resulted in the integration of the fire department, increased opportunity for people of color in hiring and promotions, and the appointment of the first black chief in the City’s history. Bill began his legal career in 1971 as a public defender with the Roxbury Defenders Committee in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He then worked as an attorney with the Atlanta Regional Litigation Center for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as the director of the Title VII Project at the San Francisco Office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and as regional counsel for California Rural Legal Assistance. He has received two honors from the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. for his litigation work combating employment discrimination. Bill received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1971 and his A.B. in Economics from Oberlin College in 1965. He is a member of the California, Georgia, and Massachusetts Bars.

  • Julia Parish Staff Attorney

    Julia Parish is a Staff Attorney with the Work and Family and SURVIVE Projects and is the Director of the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition. Julia assists with the project helplines and provides legal advice, know-your-rights workshops and direct legal services for workers struggling with family and medical crises. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 2011 as well as her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from the university. She also has a M.S. in Teaching from Pace University. Julia was previously a legal intern with the Gender Equity Program at LAS–ELC, and has training in family legal issues from her legal internship at East Bay Community Law Center. Prior to Law School, Julia was a High School Spanish teacher and sports coach.

  • Sharon Terman Senior Staff AttorneyDirector, Work and Family Program

    Sharon Terman is the Director of the Work and Family Program and a Senior Staff Attorney at LAS-ELC. She represents workers with family and medical leave claims as well as claims of pregnancy, gender, and disability discrimination. She also provides legal advice to low-income workers, engages in community education, and participates in legislative advocacy to expand workers’ rights. Sharon received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1998 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2004. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2004-2005. She joined LAS–ELC as a Skadden Fellow in 2005 and became a Staff Attorney in 2007.

  • Kim Turner Staff Attorney

    Kim Turner is a Staff Attorney with the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and the Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project. Through litigation, education and policy work, Kim advocates for equality, with a specific focus on athletic opportunities for female youth—particularly in low-income communities. Since graduating from Cardozo Law School in New York City in 2008, Kim has practiced a mixture of Title IX, employment and housing law, including as a Staff Attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid. She received her B.A. from Brown University in 2002, double concentrating in Public Policy and Sociology. At Brown, Kim also played for the varsity women’s volleyball team. Before law school, Kim worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein and the National League of Cities in Washington D.C. 

  • Carole Vigne Staff AttorneyDirector, Wage Protection Program

    Carole Vigne is a Staff Attorney and Director of the Wage Protection Program. She provides information, advice, and representation to workers on their employment rights, with a focus on wage and hour and unemployment insurance issues. Carole also trains and supervises legal advocates to represent clients at administrative wage claim hearings and unemployment insurance appeals and engages in community education. Carole was previously a Skadden Fellow with LAS–ELC’s National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, working to expand the rights of immigrant workers and serving San Francisco’s immigrant, limited-English-proficient, Latino workers through a workers’ rights clinic. She also litigated employment law cases at Rukin, Hyland, Doria & Tindall, LLP, and previously worked at the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Carole received her B.A. from Brown University in 2001 and her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2007.

  • Stacy Villalobos

    Stacy Villalobos Skadden Fellow

    Stacy’s fellowship project focuses on representing low-wage, immigrant women workers in Fresno, Calif. She provides free legal services through our Workers' Rights Clinic and through our Gender Equity and LGBT Rights and Immigration and National Origin programs. It’s the kind of advocacy that drew her to become a lawyer: supporting low-income workers, especially immigrant women, as they combat discrimination, sexual harassment, and other injustices in the workplace through litigation and direct legal services. 

     

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  • Diane Webb Chief Program Officer

    Diane Webb is the Chief Program Officer at LAS-ELC, where she oversees the organization's programs and works to ensure that they reflect a model of long-term sustainability consistent with the organization’s mission. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, Diane was a litigation partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, focusing on complex litigation matters with an emphasis on class actions concerning antitrust, unfair competition, false advertising, interference, and fraud. She was also part of Morgan Lewis’s Pro Bono Committee where she represented bono clients and supervised attorneys working to obtain U-Visas for victims of domestic violence, pursuing asylum for political refugees, overcoming discrimination at various California schools, and expunging and sealing criminal records.

    As a John A. Sutro Public Service Fellow at LAS-ELC from 1998-1999, Diane developed a legal services program that concentrated on child labor issues and the rights of youth in the workplace. She also litigated select cases dealing with wage and hour, sexual harassment, and workplace safety and health issues, and she developed a youth employment law curriculum and conducted “know-your-rights” trainings at high schools and other sites. Diane has taught legal ethics as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in Spring 2013 and at the University of San Francisco School of Law for several semesters. She earned her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law. 

Special Counsel

  • Robert E. Borton Special Counsel

    Bob Borton is a former partner with Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe, where he concentrated on complex commercial litigation, with an emphasis on class actions, consumer, civil rights, real estate, and banking. He has extensive court and jury trial experience and has litigated a wide variety of civil rights, immigration, and landlord/tenant cases. He served on LAS-ELC’s board of directors for more than 25 years and now consults on litigation issues as needed in the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program at LAS-ELC.
     

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  • Professor Joseph R. Grodin Special Counsel

  • Cacilia Kim Special Counsel

  • Ruth Silver Taube Special Counsel

  • Daniela Urban Special Counsel

Program Services

  • Leslie V. Chaires Administrative & Community Outreach Coordinator

    Leslie Chaires is the Administrative and Community Outreach Coordinator for the Community Legal Services Program. She provides administrative support for the Workers’ Rights Clinics, which offer free advice and counseling to low-income workers. In addition, she coordinates community outreach efforts and provides legal intakes, referrals and information, translating services, and limited representation at unemployment hearings. Leslie received her B.A. from San Francisco State University in 2008, double majoring in Broadcast and Electronic Communications Arts and Latino/a Studies. As a student, Leslie was an active member of organizations dedicated to promoting social justice for undocumented immigrants and was involved in efforts to advocate for higher education for low-income students throughout California.

  • Ruby Ponce Paralegal

    Ruby Ponce is a Litigation Paralegal that has been with LAS–ELC since 2013. She graduated from Sonoma State University in 2012 with a B.A. in Philosophy concentrating in Pre- Law Studies, and later completed the Paralegal Studies Program at San Francisco State University in 2013. Ruby provides administrative and legal support to attorneys across all practice areas. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, Ruby was an Enforcement Unit Intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's San Francisco District Office. Ruby was also a Legal Intern at the Law Offices of Svetlana M. Shirinova and The Law Offices of Adam Neufer.

  • King Szeto Language Access Coordinator

    King Szeto is the Language Access Coordinator for the Community Legal Services Program and has been with LAS-ELC for 16 years. He provides language assistance to workers with limited english capacity who seek legal help from LAS-ELC. King helped initiate and now manages LAS-ELC's Chinese language phone line, and he has been conducting weekly educational outreach on employment law via Chinese language newspapers and radio programs for over 10 years. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, King worked as a broadcast journalist.

External Relations and Development

  • Nan Cramer Grants Manager

    Nan Cramer rejoined LAS-ELC in 2015. She first worked for the organization from 2005-08, also writing and managing our public and private grants. During her time away, Nan earned an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and applied her quantitative and analytical nature to consulting with nonprofits, businesses, and social enterprises on projects including business planning, project and impact evaluation, and resource development. She worked earlier for the California and Texas IOLTA programs administering grants to legal services organizations in each state. Nan holds a bachelor of science in public policy from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington. 

  • Steve Heimerle Development Manager

    Steve Heimerle is LAS-ELC's Development Manager and has been with LAS-ELC since 2006, when he became coordinator of the $4 million Justice Fund Campaign. He attended Iowa State University’s School of Architecture and worked for two national design firms in Chicago, Fountain Valley, Palo Alto and San Francisco for 14 years prior to beginning a career in non-profit marketing and development. Before joining LAS-ELC, he worked for six Bay Area non-profits, including the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Shanti and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

  • Laura Impellizzeri Communications Director

    Laura Impellizzeri edits writing by attorneys and others on staff, manages the organization's social media and leads its media relations, website and messaging in other formats. She came to us with more than 25 years as a staff writer and editor for news organizations including Knight Ridder (the Contra Costa Times), the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Associated Press. Most recently, she was a producer for the breaking news app Circa and served as news editor and roundtable moderator for California Lawyer magazine. 

  • Greg Medley Development Associate

    Greg manages LAS-ELC's donor database and collaborates with other members of the development team on fundraising appeals and events. He joined us from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, where he held several positions, including admissions manager and database administrator. In those roles, he promoted museum programs, hired and supervised front desk employees, entered and managed donor data and generated reports, and supported three annual fundraising events, among other responsibilities. 

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  • Lily Schultze Development Associate

    Lily gives a patient, helpful boost to all of LAS-ELC's development work, including the 100th Anniversary Campaign to Grow Our Workers' Rights Clinic, special events, our annual fund, and our centennial gala. She coordinates and tracks fundraising solicitations and follow-up, tracks funds raised, helps draft and complete related correspondence, and helps support the board of directors

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Administration

  • Howard Chen Chief Administrative Officer

  • Ana E. Flores Receptionist

  • Scott Neilson Network Administrator

    Scott Neilson is the Network Administrator for LAS-ELC, where he has focused since 1999 on optimizing the technology in the office to enable staff to assist their clients. Scott is a San Francisco native who attended Archbishop Riordan High School and San Francisco State University. He is proud to contribute his talents to the work of such an important San Francisco institution.