Our executive leadership team brings more than 250 years of combined law experience together to work for justice in the bay area.
Genevieve L. Richardson
Genevieve Richardson is a social justice attorney who has been committed to advancing the civil legal rights of low-income families throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for over 17 years. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Genevieve served as Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s regional offices in Contra Costa, Marin, and Napa Counties. As Managing Attorney, she supervised a team of 20 staff attorneys, legal advocates, and volunteers who represent clients in matters involving housing, social safety-net benefits, healthcare access, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, and consumer protection, as well as wrap-around legal help to low-income immigrants, veterans, seniors, formerly incarcerated individuals, and youth in foster care.
Genevieve joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2001 as a staff attorney in Contra Costa County representing survivors of interpersonal violence. In 2005, she became BayLegal’s first Director of Pro Bono Activities establishing and overseeing the firm’s regional pro bono program. As Director of Pro Bono Activities, Genevieve coordinated pro bono activities across seven counties by recruiting and training private attorneys and volunteers to provide much-needed pro bono assistance to expand access to the civil justice system for low-income families. Richardson also works on a regional and statewide basis to address systemic poverty and inequality issues, and is a former Board member of the Legal Aid Association of California. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law in 2000 after graduating magna cum laude from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Education: University of Colorado School of Law, 2000; University of Colorado, B.A., Philosophy: Law and Society
Practice Area: Family Law and Immigration
Bar Admission: California, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Publications: Divided Societies: Northern Ireland’s religious struggles and the racial struggles in the United States. International Journal of Education Policy, Research and Practice. Vol. 1 No. 4, 2000
Haydée I. Alfonso
General Counsel and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
As General Counsel and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Haydée Alfonso, is responsible for stewarding BayLegal’s strategic planning and implementation. Ms. Alfonso’s primary areas of focus are:
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – Ensuring that our shared values of social equity and racial justice are implemented at all levels of the firm and in our work
- Compliance – Ensuring firm-wide understanding and compliance with federal and state rules and regulations, ethical rules, and HIPPA
- Developing and Overseeing Firm-Wide Business Coordination – including Disaster Preparedness and Response
Ms. Alfonso joined Bay Area Legal Aid in early 2008 as the Managing Attorney for our Legal Advice Line. In this role, she managed Northern California’s only civil legal advice hotline – an advanced telephony system serving seven counties and over 24,000 callers annually in over 40 languages. In 2013, she created BayLegal’s Health Consumer Center which serves all consumers facing barriers to health care.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Ms. Alfonso had a successful career as an attorney at Gordon & Rees as a member of the Business Transactions team. She was recruited by the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Volunteer Legal Services Program (VLSP) to develop what was to become a national model for pro bono business law projects. At VLSP she designed, implemented, and managed one of the nation’s first business law projects to address the ever-increasing complex legal needs of nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Alfonso earned a joint JD/MBA from Santa Clara University’s School of Law and School of Business in 1993. Ms. Alfonso is a graduate of OneJustice’s Executive Fellowship Program for Nonprofit Management, has served on the faculty of the Shriver Center – presenting a course on Essential Skills for Hotline Supervisors, and has served on the California State Bar’s Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. In April 2013, Ms. Alfonso was one of six experts invited to speak on technology’s role in expanding access to civil legal aid at President Obama’s White House Forum on Increasing Access to Justice.
She has been dedicated to serving the low income and disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area for over 20 years.
Education: Santa Clara University School of Law, JD/MBA 1992; University of California, Berkeley, B.A. Social Science
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Publications: “Mortgage Fraud Prevention Program,” VLSP; Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 2000; “Building a Future”, Business Law Today, 2003
Director of Development & Communications
Senior Litigation Counsel
Pro Bono Director
Director of Litigation and Advocacy
Rebekah is the Director of Litigation and Advocacy at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she oversees all BayLegal impact litigation, including a statewide challenge to the DMV’s practice of suspending the drivers’ licenses of people who cannot afford to pay traffic fines, an action challenging San Jose’s failure to follow state law regarding development of affordable housing, a suit on behalf of low income San Francisco residents fighting to maintain affordable housing, and others.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Rebekah was a senior staff attorney with the Prison Law Office, where she served as lead counsel in numerous institutional reform cases, including a case on behalf of more than 100,000 prisoners who successfully challenged the practice of imposing race-based lockdowns in California prisons (Mitchell v. Cate), and a case filed under the ADA on behalf of more than 8,000 prisoners with disabilities (Armstrong v. Brown). She was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Brown v. Plata, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that California must reduce prison crowding by approximately 50,000 prisoners. Before the Prison Law Office, Rebekah was an associate at the labor and civil rights law firm, Altshuler Berzon LLP, where she litigated human rights, civil liberties, environmental, and labor cases, and before that she served as a Skadden fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Rebekah is a graduate of Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to the former Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Education: Yale Law School, JD (1999); Barnard College, Columbia University, B.A.
Bar Admissions: California Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Northern District of California, Eastern District of California, Central District of California
Practice Area: Litigation
Select Publications: “Lessons from Brown v. Plata for Prison Overcrowding Litigation,” Thompson Reuters Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fee Handbook (2012); co-author “Know Justice” handbook for the Center for Young Women’s Development, an advocacy tool for youth and their families in the juvenile justice system.
Director of Program and Advocacy
Ariella Hyman joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 1992 as a staff attorney in our San Francisco office (Formerly San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation). She practiced in San Francisco in the areas of family law and public benefits, and was co-founder of our Legal Barriers to Employment Project. Ariella engaged in cutting-edge advocacy at the local, state and national levels on the health care system’s response to domestic violence and on welfare reform and domestic violence. She assumed the responsibility of managing attorney for the Alameda county office in 2001. As the managing attorney, she supervises a team of nearly 20 staff and various volunteer attorneys and law student interns, providing services to our clients in housing, economic justice, health access, domestic violence (family law and immigration), and youth justice.
Ariella possesses over 20 years of experience in domestic violence advocacy. She educates professionals and engages in policy work in domestic violence and its intersections with various areas of poverty law (i.e., welfare, housing, immigration, family law, health).Education: Harvard Law School, 1991; Brown University, B.A. Law and Public Policy, and Computer Science
Practice Areas: Domestic Violence (incl. intersections with family law, public benefits, housing and immigration)
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: Named in “Top 20 lawyers under 40″ in California by Daily Journal, 2002.
Publications: Ariella’s articles have been published in Clearinghouse Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, Western Journal of Medicine, Fordham Urban Law Journal, and the Western Center of Law & Poverty’s CalWORKs Manual, among others.
Director of Grants & Contracts
Managing Attorney, Napa County
Managing Attorney, San Francisco County
Jerel McCrary has worked in legal aid since 1989, when he joined the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation as a Staff attorney representing survivors of domestic violence. He became Bay Area Legal Aid’s Regional Counsel, Domestic Violence in 2001. He served as the temporary Executive Director in 2006. Jerel was selected as the Managing Attorney of BayLegal’s San Francisco County office in 2014. With over 35 years’ experience in family law/domestic violence issues, Jerel provides guidance, training and support to the entire family law staff within BayLegal.
Jerel has been an LGBT advocate for many years and has shared that passion and experience to benefit our clients. He is a member of the National LGBT Bar Association and the National (LGBT) Family Law Institute. He has been a frequent lecturer for the Management Information Exchange. Prior to joining BayLegal, Jerel worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Center for Public Interest Law and served as a founding member of Gay Rights Advocates.
Education: University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1977; Stanford University, B.A. History, phi beta kappa
Practice Area: Family Law; Domestic Violence; LGBT Clients
Admissions to Practice: 1977 California: U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium- Tanya Neiman Social Justice 2006; Legal Aid Association of California – Outstanding Legal Services Family Law Attorney 2004
Publications: The Homosexual in the Military and National Security Employment, Haworth Press, 1980; “A House Divided: Policies on Housing, Domestic Violence Must Not Undercut Each Other”, Berman and McCrary, San Francisco Daily Journal, 1999; Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Providing Family Law Services to LGBT Clients at a Legal Services Organization, MIE Journal, Volume XXVI No 1, Spring 2012
Lisa M. Newstrom
Managing Attorney, Santa Clara County
Lisa Newstrom joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2009 as a Public Benefits Attorney in the Santa Clara County office and accepted the position of Managing Attorney for that office in 2013. Lisa began her legal career at BayLegal as a volunteer Public Benefits advocate while she was awaiting her California bar results. Her practice focuses on safety-net programs such as SSI, CalWORKS, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal and General Assistance.
Lisa serves on several regional task forces including the Court for the Individual Treatment of Adolescents; South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking and the Santa Clara County Public Benefits Task Force. She has trained hundreds of attorneys, advocates, and social services workers on legal issues in public benefits, particularly for noncitizens and survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Lisa was a Teach for America corps member and taught in low-income schools in Texas for several years, specializing in Bilingual/ESL and Special Education.
Education: Cornell Law School, 2008; Northwestern University, B.A. Writing
Practice Area: Public Benefits, Health Access
Bar Admission: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: Sarah Betsy Fuller Social Justice Award, 2010 and 2013
Publications: The Horizon of Rights: Lessons from South Africa for the Post-Goodridge Analysis of Same-Sex Marriage, 41 Cornell Int. L. J. 2007
Managing Attorney, San Mateo County and Regional Counsel for Family Law
Managing Attorney, Contra Costa & Marin Counties
Director of Human Resources
Mohammad Z. Sheikh
Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer
Mohammad Sheikh joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2002 as Director of Finance and Administration bringing over 25 years of financial management experience to Bay Area Legal Aid. In his role, Mohammad directs all fiscal activities of BayLegal including accounting practices, budgeting, financial analysis, grants management and contracts, and monitoring of financial performance.
Prior to joining BayLegal, Mohammad held positions as Director of Finance for STAND! Against Domestic Violence, and as Controller for the Sierra Club Foundation.
Education: University of Texas, Arlington, B.A. Accounting; Passed the uniform CPA exam in 1995