Staff

Working for LAS–ELC brings the rewards of a collegial and supportive workplace, and the satisfaction of providing a high level of client service. Student law clerks and new attorneys supported by fellowships continually bring new energy and ideas to the programs of the LAS–ELC, and their contributions are highly valued.

Attorneys

  • 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.

  • Marsha Chien
    Skadden Fellow

    Marsha Chien is a Skadden Fellow with the National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program.  She represents, educates, and advises low-income, limited-English proficient (LEP) workers arbitrarily barred from equal employment opportunities.  Prior to starting her fellowship at LAS-ELC, she clerked for United States District Judge Marsha J. Pechman in the Western District of Washington.  Marsha received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and obtained her undergraduate degree in International Economics from Georgetown University.  Before law school, Marsha served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and an AmeriCorps member in Washington, D.C.

  • Lan Diep
    Shartsis Friese LLP Public Interest Fellow

    Lan Diep is a Shartsis Friese LLP Public Interest Fellow and directs LAS-ELC’s Vietnamese American Workers Rights Project, which aims to create better working conditions for low income, limited-English-proficient Vietnamese Americans. Lan organizes Vietnamese-language know-your-rights workshops and legal clinics to help Vietnamese Americans learn about and defend their rights in the workplace. Prior to coming to LAS-ELC, Lan served as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at the Mississippi Center for Justice, where he helped limited-English-proficient Vietnamese American fishermen seek compensation in the aftermath of the BP Oil Disaster. Lan earned his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and dual bachelor degrees in Political Science and History from the University of California, San Diego. He also serves as a civilian Vietnamese-language consultant to the Department of Defense as a charter member of the National Language Service Corps.

  • Michael T. Gaitley
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, Community Legal Services

    Mike Gaitley is a Senior Staff Attorney at the LAS–ELC. He manages the LAS–ELC’s Community Legal Services Program, where his primary responsibility is supervision of the LAS–ELC’s Workers’ Rights Clinics held in-person throughout the Bay Area, and statewide by telephone. Prior to becoming a Staff Attorney, Mr. Gaitley was a sole-practitioner focusing on employment-related litigation and related services. Mr. Gaitley also worked as a union official and attorney with Pan Am’s flight attendant union. Mr. Gaitley is a 1984 graduate of Pace University Law School and a 1979 graduate of the University of Michigan. Mr. Gaitley currently serves as an adjunct professor at University of California - Hastings College of the Law.

  • Gina Gemello
    Project Attorney

    Gina Gemello is a Project Attorney with the Disability Rights Program.  In addition to directing the Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Gina represents individual clients, organizes public workshops, and performs community outreach on topics of interest to workers with disabilities.  Gina received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was the co-recipient of the “Clinical Student of the Year” award, and her B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Gina has clerked and volunteered at the East Bay Community Law Center, General Assistance Advocacy Project, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, National Indian Justice Center, and the Neighborhood Justice Clinic, among others. Prior to law school, Gina was an editor and director at a nonprofit feminist press in San Francisco; she currently serves as its board president. 

  • Christopher Ho
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program

    Christopher Ho, Director of the National Origin, Immigration, and Language Rights Program, has been with LAS–ELC since 1987, first as its Félix Velarde-Muñoz Graduate Intern and then, upon his return in 1990, as a staff attorney. His primary focus has been on litigation against practices that disproportionately impact language minorities, undocumented workers, and recent immigrants. Mr. Ho has also worked on cases in the areas of race and sexual orientation discrimination, wage and hour rights and workplace privacy, and served as lead class counsel in Tracy v. Yellow Cab, which successfully enjoined unlawful employment practices in the San Francisco taxi industry affecting thousands of drivers. He was the recipient of a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2004 for his work on Rivera v. Nibco, Inc. and Singh v. Jutla, two cases that reaffirmed the right of undocumented immigrants to seek legal redress for workplace discrimination and retaliation. He also was given the Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy in 2006 by the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area, and Stanford Law School’s Alumni Public Service Award in 2007. Mr. Ho received his B.A. in political science from Yale in 1977, an A.M. in government from Harvard in 1980, and his J.D. from Stanford in 1987. In 2001, he was a Windcall Resident Fellow in Belgrade, Montana.

  • Jinny Kim
    Senior Staff Attorney
    Director, 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 Attorney
    Director, 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.

  • Shira Levine
    Stanford Public Interest Law Fellow

    Shira Levine is a Stanford Public Interest Law Fellow in the Wage Protection Program. She represents low-wage workers in state and federal court with wage theft claims. She also directs the Wage Claim Clinics, onsite clinics at the California Labor Commissioner’s San Francisco and Oakland offices. Prior to starting her fellowship at LAS-ELC, Shira clerked for the Honorable Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2012-2013. Shira received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 2005 and her J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2012. Before law school, Shira taught bilingual first grade in the Bronx.

  • William C. McNeill. III
    Managing Attorney
    Director, 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
    Project Attorney

    Julia Parish is a Project 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 Attorney
    Director, 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
    John and Terry Levin Fellow, Fair Play for Girls in Sports

    Kim Turner is the John and Terry Levin Fellow for the Fair Play for Girls in Sports Project.  Through litigation, education, and policy work, Kim advocates for equality in athletic opportunities for female youth—particularly in low-income communities—based on Title IX and AB 2404.  Since graduating from Cardozo Law School in New York City in 2008, Kim has practiced a mixture of employment and housing law, most recently 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.

  • Carole Vigne
    Staff Attorney
    Director, Wage Protection Program

    Carole Vigne is a Staff Attorney in the Community Legal Services Program 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.

  • 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

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.

  • Jerome Nakagawa
    Program Assistant

    Jerome Nakagawa is a Program Assistant at LAS-ELC, where he administors legal software applications including Concordance, CompuLaw and Amicus Attorney Premium Edition. He attended the University of California, Berkeley and received a B.A. in Political Science.

  • 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.

  • Kathleen Sheppard
    Paralegal

    Kathleen Sheppard is a Litigation Paralegal and has been with LAS–ELC since January 2014. She graduated from UC Davis in 2009 with a B.A. in Communication, and later attended the Paralegal Studies Program at San Francisco State University from 2013-2014. Kathleen provides administrative and legal support to attorneys across all practice areas. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, Kathleen was a Paralegal Intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's San Francisco District Office.

  • 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 14 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

  • Jacqueline Adams
    Development Associate

    Jackie Adams is a Development Associate at LAS-ELC and has previously worked at San Francisco non-profits including the ACLU, Project Open Hand and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She currently volunteers at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, caring for sea lions and seals. Jackie is an advocate for social justice in all arenas and aspires to raise her nine year old son in a just and fair world. 

  • Sara Feldman
    Communications Manager

    Sara Feldman is the Communications Manager at LAS-ELC, where she designs and implements communications strategies to increase the reach and impact of the organization. Previously, Sara worked as a Policy Advisor with Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where she focused on policy analysis and advocacy on behalf of refugees, human trafficking survivors and unaccompanied children. She also has considerable experience conducting research and providing direct services to refugee and immigrant populations in the U.S. and internationally. Sara holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Oregon, and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

  • 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.

  • Mario Lemos
    Development Associate

    Mario Lemos is a Development Associate at LAS-ELC, where he manages the Raiser's Edge database and collaborates with the development team on various fundraising efforts. He has worked for over ten years at San Francisco non-profits including the San Francisco Opera, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Art Institute and Grace Cathedral. Prior to joining LAS-ELC, he served as the Development Information Manager at The Conservatory of Music. He has served on the advisory board for the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery and currently serves as a board member for Southern Exposure. Mario is also a visual artist and curator. 

Administration

  • Howard Chen
    Director of Human Resources
  • Ana E. Flores
    Receptionist
  • Thomas V. Keane, Jr.
    Finance Manager

    Tom Keane is the Finance Manager at LAS-ELC and has been with the organization since April 2004. He graduated from San Francisco State with a B.A. in Business and a B.A. in Psychology. He has 37 years of experience in a variety of accounting positions and industries. At LAS-ELC, Tom is responsible for day-to-day accounting functions, the annual audit and the 990 tax return.

  • 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.

  • Christine Todd
    Chief Operating Officer

    Christine Todd is the Chief Operating Officer at LAS-ELC, where she has oversight responsibility for the organization’s finance, human resources, technology and administrative functions. Chris joined LAS-ELC in 1997 as the Director of Administration, and has since 2000 held the responsibilities of her current position. She enjoys supporting the efforts of a wonderful group of talented and dedicated lawyers while enabling the organization to assist marginalized communities and effect social change.

    Prior to entering legal administration in public interest law, Chris worked for fifteen years in the investment banking industry, with various responsibilities including human resources, administrative management and investor relations. She has completed the OneJustice Executive Fellowship, is a member of the Association of Legal Administrators and the Society for Human Resource Management, and holds a B.A. in Economics from San Francisco State University.