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MLRI Staff

MLRI's staff is composed of highly experienced attorneys and advocates who are widely recognized as national and statewide experts in their respective fields.  A recent independent peer review of MLRI noted our outstanding staff, stating:

"MLRI has attracted and retained exceptionally talented, highly motivated staff.  In addition to their substantive expertise, MLRI advocates must be versatile enough to be leaders, litigators, coalition builders, strategists, trainers, writers and team players. Most organizations are fortunate to have one or two advocates with a few of these skills.  MLRI is replete with staff that possess all.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:

Georgia Katsoulomitis
617-357-0700 ext. 314
gkatsoulomitis@mlri.org

Georgia Katsoulomitis joined MLRI as Executive Director in March 2011 (succeeding Allan Rodgers, after his 41-year tenure as MLRI’s Eexecutive Director).  Georgia is an attorney with significant nonprofit management, business development, strategic communications and public policy experience.  Her policy interests include: structural and intergenerational poverty; community based cross-sector antipoverty initiatives; racial- and gender- based income inequality; and child poverty. After completing post-law school judicial clerkships at the D.C. Superior Court and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Georgia served in the Clinton Administration as a Special Assistant to U.S. Labor Secretaries Robert B. Reich and Alexis Herman.  She was a Vice President at Robinson Lerer and Montgomery, a New York-based international communications firm, where she specialized in strategic philanthropy, government affairs and crisis/litigation communications.  Upon returning to her native state of Massachusetts, she served as the Managing Director of the Boston Bar Foundation and as the Interim Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston. Georgia is a graduate of Tufts University and the Catholic University School of Law.  A LeadBoston 2004 Fellow, she is active in many community organizations. In 2014, Georgia was appointed by Senator Edward Markey to serve on the Massachusetts Federal Judicial Nominations Advisory Committee.

BENEFITS:

Patricia Baker, Senior Policy Analyst 
617-357-0700 ext. 328
pbaker@mlri.org

Patricia Baker joined MLRI’s Benefits Unit in 1983. As a Senior Policy Advocate at MLRI, Pat works on a range of legislative, administrative, and policy matters that affect low-income families, elders and persons with disabilities. Prior to joining MLRI, Pat was a paralegal in Western Massachusetts Legal Services from 1977 to 1983 where she focused on disability, unemployment, and public benefits cases. Since 2002, under her leadership as chair of the Massachusetts Food Stamp Improvement Coalition, the Coalition has negotiated extensive policy changes to restore significant federal nutrition benefits to the Commonwealth. She has been a contributing author and edited numerous publications, including the Food Stamp Advocacy Guide, EAEDC Advocacy Guide, and TAFDC and EA Advocacy Guide; as well as the original Down and Out Advocacy Guide and the benefits section of Legal Tactics, 4th and 5th Editions.

Deborah Harris, Senior Staff Attorney
617-357-0700 ext. 313
dharris@mlri.org

Deborah Harris joined MLRI as Staff Attorney in the Benefits Unit in 1990 and specializes in public benefits and child support issues. From 1976 to 1990 she was a staff attorney at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Her work at MLRI has encompassed numerous challenges to federal, state and local rules denying benefits, services, and jobs to low-income people, and advocacy to persuade state agencies to adopt policies and practices that further the state’s goals of protecting vulnerable populations and promoting economic stability. She also provides technical assistance to legislators and advocates on federal and state laws and regulations regarding welfare and other benefits for low-income persons. In addition to many analyses and articles on welfare and child support issues, she is the author, together with other MLRI and legal services advocates, of the TAFDC and EA Advocacy Guide and the Food Stamp Advocacy Guide.

CHILD WELFARE:

Susan Elsen, Staff Attorney
617-357-0700 ext. 332
selsen@mlri.org

Susan Elsen joined MLRI’s Family Law Unit in May 2001. She currently focuses on children and family issues including child custody and child welfare issues and directs her advocacy towards ensuring that children grow up in homes that are safe, financially secure, and provide a foundation for a healthy, productive adulthood. Before joining MLRI, she had a private family law practice from 1996–2006, was a staff attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn from 1991-1996 and at South Middlesex Legal Services starting in 1988, and was an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York from 1984-1988. She graduated from Columbia Law School.

EMPLOYMENT LAW:

Margaret Monsell, Staff Attorney 
617-357-0700 ext. 304
mmonsell@mlri.org

Margaret Monsell joined MLRI in January 1999 and was MLRI's Legislative Director until September 2007. She now a Staff Attorney, practicing employment law in areas including unemployment insurance, the earned income tax credit program and low-wage worker protections, and she is a co-author of the Unemployment Advocacy Guide. Prior to joining MLRI, she worked as a law clerk at the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, as an Assistant Attorney General in the state Attorney General’s office, and as General Counsel for the Senate Committee on Ways and Means in the Massachusetts Legislature. She graduated from Boston College Law School.

FAMILY HOMELESSNESS:

Ruth Bourquin, Staff Attorney
617-357-0700 ext. 333
rbourquin@mlri.org

Ruth Bourquin joined MLRI in 1998 as a Staff Attorney in the Benefits Unit and then in the Housing Unit. At MLRI, she specializes in public benefits, including cash assistance and family shelter, and has engaged in legislative and administrative advocacy, as well as litigation, that has expanded access to income supports for needy families and access to emergency assistance for homeless families. Prior to joining MLRI, Ruth was the Deputy General Counsel at the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means, an employment discrimination and union-side labor lawyer, a Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, and a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. She graduated from Harvard Law School.

Liza Hirsch, Staff Attorney, Family Homelessness & Housing
617-357-0700 ext. 321
lhirsch@mlri.org

Liza Hirsch joined MLRI as a Skadden Fellow in January 2013. She became an MLRI staff attorney in September 2013, focusing on the areas of family homelessness and housing. At MLRI, Liza engages in administrative and legislative advocacy to retain shelter and expand affordable housing for homeless families with children. She provides direct representation to homeless families, and specializes in obtaining accommodations for those with physical and mental health disabilities. Before joining MLRI, Liza was a fellow at Medical-Legal Partnership | Boston where she represented low-income clients in matters relating to eviction, housing conditions, housing subsidies and reasonable accommodation. Liza is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law. 

FAMILY LAW & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:

Susan Elsen, Staff Attorney
617-357-0700 ext. 332
selsen@mlri.org

Susan Elsen joined MLRI’s Family Law Unit in May 2001. She currently focuses on children and family issues including child custody and child welfare issues and directs her advocacy towards ensuring that children grow up in homes that are safe, financially secure, and provide a foundation for a healthy, productive adulthood. Before joining MLRI, she had a private family law practice from 1996–2006, was a staff attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services in Lynn from 1991-1996 and at South Middlesex Legal Services starting in 1988, and was an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of New York from 1984-1988. She graduated from Columbia Law School.

HEALTH CARE:

Neil Cronin, Senior Policy Advocate 
617-357-0700 ext. 309
ncronin@mlri.org

Neil Cronin joined MLRI in 1989 as an advocate on health care issues. At MLRI, he specializes in Medicaid and other public health assistance programs. Prior to coming to MLRI, Neil was a paralegal in Western Massachusetts Legal Services from 1975 to 1989 where he focused on public benefits programs.

Victoria (Vicky) Pulos, Staff Attorney 
617-357-0700 ext. 318
vpulos@mlri.org

Vicky Pulos joined MLRI in 2000 as a health law attorney. Her work concentrates on assuring low-income people access to health care, through advocacy, training, technical support, and litigation. Prior to joining MLRI she did children’s health work at Families USA in Washington D.C. and prior to that worked as a managing attorney at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School. She is the author of MLRI's MassHealth Advocacy Guide. Her current work focuses on implementation of Massachusetts' 2006 health reform law to benefit low-income people. She has also worked extensively on immigrants' eligibility for health care programs.

HOUSING:

Annette Duke, Staff Attorney & Director of Housing Publications
617-357-0700 ext. 334
aduke@mlri.org

Annette Duke joined MLRI as director of publications in 1988 and as a staff attorney in the Housing Unit in 1989. She specializes in tenants' rights, public housing, and court reform and has authored and edited numerous publications including: Legal Tactics: Tenants Rights in Massachusetts; Residents Guide to Public Housing Agency Plans; and a Know Your Rights Series on Public Housing, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants, which includes: Using Your Public Housing Grievance Procedure, Understanding Your Lease in Public Housing, Transfers in Public Housing, and Creating Memorandums of Understanding. Prior to joining, MLRI from 1984-1988, Annette worked at the Massachusetts Poverty Law Center (MLRI’s then publishing arm), and as an attorney private practices focusing on general civil matters. She graduated from Antioch Law School.

Judith Liben Senior Staff Attorney

617-357-0700 ext. 327
jliben@mlri.org

Judith Liben joined MLRI’s Housing Unit in 1989. Prior to this, she was Chief Counsel at Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services from 1987-1989 and a housing attorney as Merrimack Valley Legal Services from 1976-1987. She graduated from Northeastern Law School. She is currently concentrating on how to mitigate the effect of the foreclosure crisis on tenants. She works in local, state and federal forums with a variety of allies to slow down the spread of abandonment and stabilize hard hit communities by keeping tenants in their homes after foreclosure. Her work has also included litigation and other advocacy to stop public housing demolitions and to insert fair housing principles into the state's housing programs.

IMMIGRATION:

Iris Gomez, Senior Staff Attorney
617-357-0700 ext. 331
igomez@mlri.org

Iris Gomez joined MLRI as an immigration attorney in March 1992, is a nationally-recognized expert on asylum and immigration law, and directs MLRI’s Immigrants Protection Project. Prior to joining MLRI, she was a Senior Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services. She also worked as a law school lecturer, a public defender, a farm worker lawyer, and has been the Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Immigration Law Center. She graduated from Boston University School of Law.

RACE EQUITY:

Francisca (Fran) Fajana, Staff Attorney 
617-357-0700 ext. 329
ffajana@mlri.org

Fran Fajana joined MLRI as a Staff Attorney in 2001. Before joining MLRI, Fran worked for eight years at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts in Worcester, where she specialized in housing and litigating complex housing discrimination cases in federal and state courts. She holds an LL.M. (Masters in Law) from Boston College Law School and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. At MLRI, Fran directs the Race Equity Project, which heightens awareness about, and addresses the intersection of, race, racism, and poverty. Fran’s primary areas of concentration, resulting from a comprehensive examination of the critical legal issues facing low-income communities of color, are education, employment, and the civil consequences of criminal records. Since joining MLRI, in addition to influencing various policy changes, Fran has successfully challenged unlawful criminal records dissemination practices impacting victims of identity theft.

FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION:

Jacqueline Humbert, Chief Financial Officer
617-357-0700 ext. 324
jhumbert@mlri.org

Jacqueline Humbert is MLRI's Chief Financial Officer. She joined MLRI in 2005. Prior to that, she was for many years an organizational development and business management consultant for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Peter Smick, Technology Director
617-357-0700 ext. 320
pgsmick@mlri.org

Peter Smick joined MLRI in September 1987 and is currently MLRI’s Information Technology director for MLRI. In addition to managing MLRI network systems, he performs similar functions for other legal services offices who engage MLRI's computer consulting services. Prior to MLRI, Peter was an attorney at the law firm of Bernstein & Smick. He graduated from Boston College Law School.

Sharon D. Armour, HR & Administration Manager
617-357-0700 ext. 322
sarmour@mlri.org

Sharon D. Armour rejoined MLRI in August 2011. She served previous roles with MLRI in the Training and Technology units. She oversees human resources and employee benefits, office operations as well as supervises the support staff.  Sharon has an extensive background in management, technology and training, serving the staff and the general public of non-profit, governmental educational and community organizations.

Lena (Bee) Wilson, Administrative Assistant
617-357-0700 ext. 319
lwilson@mlri.org

Bee Wilson joined MLRI is an administrative assistant in 1999. She provides administrative support to advocates working in the areas of benefits, legislation, criminal offender record information (CORI) and serves as the administrative assistant to the Executive Director. Bee also assists with the postings for the Massachusetts’ legal services websites.

MASS LEGAL WEBSITES PROJECTS:

Rochelle Hahn, Director, MassLegalServices
617-357-0700 ext. 342
rhahn@mlri.org

Rochelle Hahn is an attorney who joined MLRI in 2005 to focus on food stamps advocacy. In May of 2007, she became MLRI's Website Project Coordinator for http://www.masslegalservices.org/, the statewide website for Massachusetts legal services advocates. Prior to joining MLRI, she was the Executive Director of the Legal Advocacy & Resource Center (a legal services hotline), a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, a litigation associate at WilmerHale, and a federal law clerk. She graduated from New York University School of Law.

Caroline Robinson, Director, MassLegalHelp 
617-357-0700 ext. 310
crobinson@mlri.org

Caroline Robinson joined MLRI in September 2004 as the Websites Project Coordinator for http://www.masslegalhelp.org/. MassLegalHelp is a statewide online legal information site for clients and advocates. As website coordinator, Caroline supports Massachusetts legal services in our collaborative effort to promote justice through accessible online information for both English and non-English speaking low-income people.

LANGUAGE ACCESS PROGRAM

Kendra Sena, Language Access Fellow
617-357-0700 ext. 350
ksena@mlri.org

Kendra Sena comes to MLRI from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, Low-Wage Immigrant Worker Project.  Kendra is a graduate of Harvard Law School and recipient of the Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship for Public Interest, through which she worked as an attorney in the Employment Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services and at the Lawyers' Committee.  As a student at HLS, she directed the launch of the Harvard Immigration Project. Before becoming an attorney, Kendra coordinated a family literacy program for migrant farmworkers through a Migrant Head Start agency, and spent time in social services for refugee families.  She is bilingual in English and Spanish.