Leadership Team

Our executive leadership team brings more than 250 years of combined law experience together to work for justice in the bay area.


Alex R. Gulotta

Executive Director

Alex Gulotta, Executive DirectorAlex, a veteran legal aid attorney, joined BayLegal in January 2014 following the departure of founding director Ramón Arias. With twenty-eight years of experience as a poverty law advocate and nineteen years as an executive director Alex brings a wealth of experience to BayLegal.

Alex is nationally recognized as a leader in the civil justice and anti-poverty movement. “Alex’s reputation as a determined, ethical, spirited, optimistic, creative and devoted equal justice advocate is nationally acknowledged by his peers and colleagues,” said Clint Lyons, past NLADA president and CEO.

A life-long social justice advocate, Alex practiced as a legal aid lawyer in Appalachian Kentucky and in Wisconsin before moving to Virginia in 1994 to become the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC). As Executive Director of the LAJC, Alex earned a national reputation for his tenacity and creativity in overcoming the severe restrictions put on federally funded legal aid programs in 1996 by the U.S. Congress. Under his tenure the one-office, eight person program with a $350,000 budget grew into a four-office, forty person program with a budget of approximately $4 million. The program also gained a reputation for its hard-hitting advocacy and close connections to its client communities.

Alex also has extensive experience as a consultant assisting legal aid and other advocacy programs with strategic planning, quality improvement and peer review assessments. He has performed consulting work in eighteen states.

Education: Marquette University Law School, JD (1984); Marquette University, BA (1981)
Awards:  Virginia State Bar’s Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award in 1999, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s Charles Dorsey Award in 2003, a resolution of commendation from the Virginia General Assembly in 2004, and was named a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation in 2005.
Bar Admissions: Kentucky, Virginia, Wisconsin
Professional Affiliations: Vice-Chairperson and Treasurer, Board of Directors, National Legal Aid and Defender Association


Haydée I. Alfonso

General Counsel and Managing Attorney, Legal Advice Line and Health Consumer Center

Haydee AlfonsoHaydée joined Bay Area Legal Aid in early 2008 as the Managing Attorney for our Legal Advice Line. In this role she manages 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. She has been dedicated to serving the low income and disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area for over 20 years.

Haydée 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 Haydée 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.Prior to joining BayLegal, Haydée 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.

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


Rebekah Evenson

Director of Litigation and Advocacy

Rebekah-head-shot-1-e1460567031630-300x224Rebekah joined Bay Area Legal Aid as the Director of Litigation and Advocacy in May 2016. Rebekah is a seasoned social justice litigator with nearly 20 years of experience in public interest law. She will deepen BayLegal’s litigation capacity and directly oversee all complex, far-reaching litigation.

 

 

Prior to joining BayLegal, Rebekah was a senior staff attorney with the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit organization focused on enforcing the constitutional and legal rights of prisoners. Rebekah 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.At the labor and civil rights law firm, Altshuler Berzon LLP, Rebekah litigated human rights, civil liberties, environmental, and labor cases. She was a Skadden fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she focused on addressing barriers to employment faced by people moving from welfare to work, and juvenile justice issues. Rebekah is a graduate of Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to 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.


Elizabeth A. Hom

Pro Bono Counsel

Elizabeth-Hom-photo-300x233Elizabeth joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2015 as Pro Bono Counsel, overseeing the day-to-day involvement of private attorneys in meaningful pro bono opportunities, which provide critically needed legal services in the community. Elizabeth facilitates the recruitment, training and support for pro bono attorneys, volunteers and law clerks, and works closely with the development team to steward pro bono attorney and donor relationships.

Prior to joining BayLegal, Elizabeth served as the Director of Access Programs at the Alameda County Bar Association where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of two public service programs: the Lawyer Referral Service and the bar association’s pro bono program, Volunteer Legal Services Corporation (VLSC). During her ten-plus year tenure, Elizabeth was responsible for developing and improving pro bono projects, building strong relationships with local legal services providers, the court, and the private bar as well as fiscal oversight, including budget monitoring, developing and executing a diverse fund development plan and grants management. Elizabeth has also worked extensively on board relations, board development and strategic planning, and is a graduate of the OneJustice Executive Fellowship Program for Nonprofit Management.Elizabeth is committed to developing, evaluating, and shaping policy and programs to promote and advance social justice. Elizabeth participates regularly in regional and statewide pro bono forums. She has served on the board of directors for Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) and on the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Standards Review Team.

Education: Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2003; Loyola University Chicago, MSW 2004; University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A. Psychology and Legal Studies
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California


Ariella Hyman

Managing Attorney, Alameda County

A-Hyman-picAriella 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 possess 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.


Mary Jaeckel

Executive Assistant

M-JaeckelMary joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2007 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director. She serves in a critical role working very closely with the Executive Director, the Board of Directors and the Management Team in all facets of the firm’s mission.

Mary began her career in the legal profession in 1981 with the prominent Los Angeles trial attorneys Greene, O’Reilly, Agnew & Broillet. After ten years as a legal secretary, she transitioned into the role of litigation paralegal. Her sixteen years of litigation experience includes toxic torts, product liability and medical malpractice. Before moving to the Bay Area and joining BayLegal, Mary spent a number of years working in the Long Beach Unified School District as an office administrator.

Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. American Literature & Culture


Linda S. Kim

Director of External Affairs and Pro Bono

linda-300x187Linda joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2015 as the Director of External Affairs and Pro Bono. In her oversight of the Pro Bono Program, she works closely with law firms to expand social justice opportunities for our colleagues in the private sector. In her brand management role, Linda is developing BayLegal’s communications strategy and engaging a broad cross-section of partners in the dialogue to end poverty and spread the word that #CivilLegalAid makes a difference to the health and future of the Bay Area.

Linda currently serves on the National Legal Aid & Defender Association’s (NLADA) Civil Policy Committee and the University of San Francisco School of Law’s Board of Governors. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and is a graduate of the OneJustice Executive Fellowship Program for Nonprofit Management. She has clerked with the State Bar of California Office of Chief Trial Counsel, mediated in Small Claims Division of San Francisco County Superior Court, and lobbied at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Linda’s international work includes developing legal advocacy projects in Cambodia and Indonesia, and working as a translator in Costa Rica with the Central American Human Rights Commission. Before attending law school, she worked in the outdoor apparel manufacturing and technology sectors.

Prior to joining BayLegal, Linda was the Deputy Director of OneJustice where she was responsible for expanding operational processes to ensure scalable infrastructure and organizational growth. Linda also oversaw all programs, focusing her advocacy on federal legislation, funding, and regulations that affect the capacity of California nonprofit legal organizations to serve clients.

Education: University of San Francisco School of Law, JD 2001; University of Colorado, Boulder, B.A. International Affairs and Environmental Conservation
Bar Admissions: California, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Awards: Legal Services Corporation Duane Vieth Leadership Award, 2016; USF School of Law Public Interest Law Foundation Award for Excellence, 2016; California Bench-Bar-Coalition Advocate of the Year, 2009


Jerel McCrary

Managing Attorney, San Francisco County

Jerel-McCrary-picJerel joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 1989 as a Staff Attorney in our San Francisco office and served as the Regional Counsel, Domestic Violence beginning in 2001. Jerel was elevated to Managing Attorney of the 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 an active member of the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, and the National Family Law Institute. He is also 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
Bar Admission: 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

Bay-Legal-071714-6472-newstromLisa 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


Protima Pandey

Regional Counsel for Immigration and Managing Attorney, San Mateo County

Protima-e1459975039775-300x208Protima has been with BayLegal since 2011 as a staff attorney working on family law and immigration cases for survivors of domestic violence, including divorce, paternity, custody, support, division of property, U visa relief, VAWA petitions, humanitarian parole and adjustment of status. She has also provided legal services in the areas of housing, consumer law, and public benefits that affect survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She accepted the position of Managing Attorney in the San Mateo County Office in 2015 and in 2016 Protima began leading the firmwide post-graduate Fellowship program to shepherd and develop fellowship proposals through the national selection process. In fall 2016 Protima added Regional Counsel for Immigration to her portfolio.

Protima serves on several committees for the San Mateo County Bar Association, very recently chairing the Diversity committee and currently serving on the client relations committee. She is a member of the Domestic Violence Council for San Mateo and represents BayLegal on the Legal Process of committee of the council. She is also one of 17 lawyers nation-wide appointed in 2015 as a Commissioner to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence to work on issues impacting delivery of legal services to survivors.

Protima is trained faculty for the ABA Commission as well and has trained lawyers nationally on legal representation of survivors in family and immigration law as Commission faculty. She also serves as faculty for Practicing Law Institute in San Francisco, training on issues relating to housing rights for immigrants and representation of domestic violence survivors in family courts. She also trains on understanding personal bias, working with diverse populations and on domestic violence awareness.

Prior to joining BayLegal, Protima was the Public Policy specialist for California Partnership to End Domestic Violence in Sacramento, California where she worked on legislation and advocacy on behalf of agencies serving survivors and their families.

Education: Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law, 2001; National Law School of India University
Practice Area: Family Law, Immigration Law
Bar Admission: California, 2003; India, 1999
Awards: South Asian Bar Association Northern California Community Impact Award (2014), South Asian Bar Association Northern California Foundation Public Interest Attorney of the year (2012), Woman of Color Scholarship from National Network to End Domestic Violence (2007)
Publications:

  • Protima Pandey, Immigration Voices: Out of the Shadows-U Nonimmigrant Visa Status: Creating Safer communities and bringing justice for all, Guest Blog Post, https://lnkd.in/bUipDtW, 2014
  • Monique Farris & Protima Pandey, Housing and immigrants: Types of Immigration Status, Eligibility of Subsidized housing for immigrants, and advocating for immigrants’ housing rights, Practicing Law Institute, San Francisco, CA; 2014.
  • Protima Pandey, Crimes of violence against women and evidence laws- the need for a gender sensitive approach, Student Advocate; NLSIU, Bangalore; 1997
  • Harish B.N. & Protima Pandey, Supreme Court, complete justice and Article 142: Scope for unlimited Judicial Action, Student Advocate; NLSIU, Bangalore; 1996
  • Researcher, Report on Gender Sensitization for judges (Sakshi, India, 1997); Report on Islam in the Third World countries (Women Living under Muslim Laws, 1996)

Jaclyn Piñero

Director of Development

pinero-jaclynJaclyn Piñero is the Director of Development at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she provides leadership and direction in all grant and contract procurement and management for offices across a seven-county service region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Over Jaclyn’s 11-year tenure at BayLegal she has grown BayLegal’s grants and contracts portfolio from 32 grants totaling $5.8 million to a portfolio of over 70 grants totaling $8.8 million. Jaclyn and her team secure grants in each of BayLegal’s five priority areas of law (family law/dv/immigration; housing; health access; benefits access; consumer advocacy) and for target populations including transitional age youth, reentry populations, immigrants, Veterans, and many others.

Education: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona – B.S. International Business and Spanish.


Genevieve L. Richardson

Managing Attorney, Contra Costa, Marin, and Napa Counties

G-Richardson-picGenevieve was selected to serve as Managing Attorney of the Contra Costa, Marin and Napa County Offices in July 2014. As the managing attorney, she supervises a team of nearly 20 staff, as well as volunteer attorneys and law student interns, providing services to our clients in housing, economic justice, health access, family law and immigration, re-entry and youth justice.

 

Genevieve joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2002 as a Family Law Staff attorney in our Contra Costa office. From 2005 to 2014 she served as the Director of Pro Bono Activities, developing and coordinating pro bono opportunities in all seven counties by recruiting and training private attorneys to provide much-needed pro bono assistance to expand access to the civil justice system for low-income families.

With over 15 years of experience Genevieve brings a wealth of expertise. She also works on a regional and statewide basis to address systemic poverty and inequality issues, and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Association of California. Prior to joining Bay Area Legal Aid, Genevieve worked for the Office of the Colorado Public Defenders as a legal intern and student attorney while at the University of Colorado School of Law.

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


Mohammad Z. Sheikh

Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer

M-Sheikh-picMohammad 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


Sacha Steinberger

Director of Project Legal Link

sacha-steinbergerSacha joined Bay Area Legal Aid as the Director of Project Legal Link in October 2016. Sacha is an experienced litigator who pivoted in 2014 to begin this project with Tipping Point Community. Legal Link, started in San Francisco, works to more closely link clients of poverty-fighting social service providers with the legal services they need. Sacha joined BayLegal to unite our efforts to make the legal world more understandable, navigable, and accessible. Sacha will continue to direct Legal Link, now based out of the San Francisco office.

Prior to BayLegal, Sacha did worker’s rights and civil rights litigation for seven years at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C. in Oakland and clerked for Federal District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins. During law school she externed for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Marsha S. Berzon, interned at the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center, Bay Area Legal Aid’s Legal Barriers to Employment Project, and the General Assistance Advocacy Project, and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal. Prior to law school, Sacha spent four years doing community organizing and electoral politics in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Education: University of California, Hastings College of the Law, JD 2007; McGill University, BA 2000, Women’s Studies and Geography Jt. Honors
Bar Admission: California, Northern District of California, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Awards: Northern California Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2013-2016


Adam Stone

Director of Information Technology

Adam_stone_headshotAdam Joined BayLegal in 2016 as our Director of Information Technology. Adam has served in technology leadership roles in higher education and architecture for over 15 years. He has a long history of enabling sustainable technological change through understanding organizational priorities and forging strong relationships. Adam takes up the task of managing all network,telephony and database systems for BayLegal, as well as providing support and training to our seven bay area offices.

Prior to joining BayLegal, Adam served as the Executive Director of Technology for San Francisco State’s College of Extended Learning and a Director of Technical Systems for Syracuse University.

Education: Trinity College Dublin, MSc Neuroscience, 2008; Syracuse University iSchool C.A.S. Information Systems and Telecommunications Management; Syracuse University, BA, English and Textual Studies/Psychology


Nina Vasquez

Manager of Human Resources

Mcgeorge-photo.2015-300x229Nina joined Bay Area Legal Aid in 2016 as the Manager of Human Resources. Nina comes to BayLegal with over a decade of Human Resources experience. Her areas of specialty include employee retention programs, employee and labor relations, designing recruitment programs and overall improvement of Human Resources processes.

Before joining BayLegal, Nina had successful tenures in the hospitality industry as well as a large accounting firm. Nina serves as the Human Resources point of contact and resource for all seven BayLegal offices.

Education: Master of Science in Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, California State University, Chico