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., and she was a founding staff member of Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco. 

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  • Headshot of Staff Attorney Alexis Alvarez

    Alexis Alvarez Staff Attorney

    Alexis is a member of our Disability Rights Program. Before joining LAS-ELC, she was a staff attorney with the Disability Rights Legal Center’s Cancer Legal Resource Center in Los Angeles, where she helped people tackle legal issues related to cancer. 

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  • Headshot of attorney Mana Barari

    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. 

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  • Headshot of attorney Marisa Diaz

    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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  • Headshot of attorney Katherine Fiester

    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. She also serves clients at semi-monthly Wage Claim Clinics held at the California Labor Commissioner offices in San Francisco and Oakland.

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  • Mike Gaitley

    Michael T. Gaitley Senior Staff Attorney

    415-864-8848

    Mike Gaitley supervises the Workers' Rights Clinic and directs our Community Legal Services Program, where he has developed and nurtured a model for providing free legal services that has been emulated by numerous legal organizations. 

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  • Headshot of Interim Attorney Jenna Gerry

    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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  • Chris Ho

    Christopher Ho Senior Staff Attorney

    415-864-8848

    As director of our Immigration and National Origin Program, 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

    Jinny Kim Senior Staff Attorney

    Jinny started her legal career at LAS-ELC as the Félix Velarde-Muñoz Fellow in 1999-2001 litigating race, disability, national origin, and gender cases. She returned as a staff attorney in 2008 following work in Washington, D.C., and in private practice. Now, as director of our Disability Rights Program, she represents clients seeking accommodation and facing discrimination by employers, educational institutions and public entities.

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  • Elizabeth Kristen

    Elizabeth Kristen Senior Staff Attorney

    Elizabeth Kristen is the director of our Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program, where she represents low-wage workers facing employment discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, military or veteran status. And, as director of our Fair Play for Girls in Sports project, with co-counsel in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union, she won the first-ever federal appellate court ruling enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments in high school. 

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  • 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.

  • Bill McNeill

    William C. McNeill. III Senior Staff Attorney

    Bill McNeill is the director of our Racial Equality Program. He has been with the LAS–ELC since 1988 and has served as managing attorney. He has been involved in civil rights issues for more than 30 years, litigating 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. 

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  • Julia Parish, staff attorney

    Julia Parish Staff Attorney

    As a member of our Work and Family and SURVIVE programs, 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 also directs the Healthy Mothers Workplace Coalition, which includes numerous government and community partners.

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  • Maria Tapia-Hernandez Workers' Rights Fellow

    Maria is helping launch the Workers’ Rights Clinic in San Diego in collaboration with the University of San Diego School of Law. The clinic will partner with local community organizations to provide legal consultation and to do outreach and community trainings about workers’ rights.

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  • Sharon Terman, staff attorney and director of our Work and Family Program

    Sharon Terman Senior Staff Attorney

    Sharon directs our Work and Family Program, where 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.

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  • Kim Turner, staff attorney

    Kim Turner Staff Attorney

    Kim works with our Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program and our 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.

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  • Carole Vigne

    Carole Vigne Staff AttorneyDirector, Wage Protection Program

    Carole Vigne is a staff attorney and the director of our 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.

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  • 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

    Diane Webb Chief Program Officer

    Diane works to ensure that LAS-ELC’s programs reflect a model of long-term sustainability consistent with the organization’s mission. Previously, as a partner with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, she focused on antitrust, fraud, unfair competition and other class action litigation; she also supervised pro bono cases pursuing asylum for political refugees, overcoming discrimination in public schools, and obtaining special visas for victims of domestic violence.

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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 as needed in the Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program at LAS-ELC.
     

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  • Professor Joseph R. Grodin Special Counsel

  • Henry Hewitt Special Counsel

  • Cacilia Kim Special Counsel

    Cacilia works with LAS-ELC’s Gender Equity and LGBT Rights program on cases relating to gender equity, the rights of low-wage women and families, and veterans’ issues. Her work has produced five published decisions to date, with one of the most recent resulting in the first federal court ruling applying Title IX to girls’ athletics in K-12 schools. The team received the California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for that work in March 2015. 

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  • Ruth Silver Taube Special Counsel

  • Daniela Urban

    Daniela Urban Special Counsel

    Daniela founded and directs the Center for Workers’ Rights in Sacramento, which strives to improve working conditions, reduce barriers to securing employment, and remedy workplace injustices for low-wage workers and their families. As special counsel for the LAS-ELC, she helps run our Workers’ Rights Clinic in the Sacramento area. She formerly represented unions in Los Angeles. 

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Program Services

  • Leslie Chaires, Community Outreach Coordinator for LAS-ELC

    Leslie V. Chaires Administrative & Community Outreach Coordinator

    Leslie provides administrative support for the Workers’ Rights Clinics, which offer free advice and counseling to low-income workers. She also coordinates community outreach efforts, does legal intakes, and provides referrals and information, translation services, and limited representation at unemployment hearings.

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  • Ruby Ponce Paralegal

    Ruby Ponce provides administrative and legal support to attorneys across all practice areas. Before joining LAS-ELC in 2013, she was an enforcement unit intern at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's district office in San Francisco.

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  • Legal Assistant Tishon Smith

    Tishon Smith Legal Assistant

    Tishon enjoys helping people and strongly believes in the power of the law to address issues of social justice. Supporting lawyers across LAS-ELC's programs, she looks up rules and prepares pleadings, subpoenas, deposition notices, spreadsheets, client correspondence, and other documents.

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  • King Szeto, Language Access Coordinator

    King Szeto Language Access Coordinator

    King provides language assistance and legal information to low-income workers with limited English capacity. He helped initiate and manages our Chinese-language phone line, and he conducts outreach on employment law weekly through Chinese-language radio and newspapers. Before joining LAS-ELC in 1996, King worked as a broadcast journalist.

External Relations and Development

  • Nan Cramer Grants Manager

    Nan writes and manages our public and private grants. She first worked for the organization from 2005-08 and returned in 2015. During her time away, she earned an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School, and she applied her quantitative and analytical nature as a consultant to nonprofits, businesses, and social enterprises on planning, project evaluation, and resource development.

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  • Steve Heimerle, Development Manager

    Steve Heimerle Development Manager

    Steve manages fundraising and development campaigns for LAS-ELC. He joined us as coordinator of our $4 million Justice Fund Campaign in 2006. He had worked for six Bay Area nonprofits, including the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Shanti, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

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  • Laura Impellizzeri, Communications Director

    Laura Impellizzeri Communications Director

    Laura 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 major news organizations, including Knight Ridder, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Associated Press. 

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  • Headshot of Development Associate Greg Medley

    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.