About Us

About

Chair: Jayesh Patel
Board of Governors: Michele Wong Krause
Director: Kelly Russo
Staff Attorney: Sally Heuker

View the Commission's One-Pager

The Commission on Homelessness and Poverty is committed to educating the bar and the public about homelessness and poverty and the ways in which the legal community and advocates can assist those in need.  To achieve this goal, the Commission drafts publications and conducts training sessions across the country to equip the legal community to advocate on behalf of people who are homeless or poor.  The Commission also coordinates with national, state and local advocates and organizations to facilitate the exchange of information and resources. 

The Commission also provides policy-based advocacy on behalf of homeless and impoverished people.  The Commission, through the ABA Governmental Affairs Office, works with Congress to develop and fund programs that will address the causes of homelessness and poverty in the United States, as well as to enact laws that will protect and provide for those in desperate need of assistance.

The Commission is part of the ABA’s Center for Public Interest Law. To learn more about the Center and its other constituent entities, please visit the site.

Roster

Chair

Jayesh Patel President and Managing Attorney, Street Democracy (Detroit, MI)

Jayesh is the President and Managing Attorney at Street Democracy Detroit, where he serves as Lead Counsel for the Street Outreach Court Project and actively works on other projects including the Homeless Veterans Project, Medical-Legal Partnership, Rehabilitative Sentencing, and Court Watch. 

Special Advisors

Steve Binder Homeless Court Founder (San Diego, CA)

Steve is a Retired Deputy Public Defender with the San Diego Office of the Primary Public Defender. Steve co-founded the San Diego Homeless Court Program in 1989, which has since been replicated nationally. He also co-founded the Veterans Treatment Court in 2011. 

Ainka Sanders Jackson Executive Director, Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation (Selma, AL)

Ainka is the Executive Director of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation. She was previously the Metro Guardian ad Litem for the Metro Nashville Public Defender's Office, and prior to this a Department of Children's Services Case Manager, teacher, and Assistant Public Defender, adult division. 

Josephine McNeil Affordable Housing Advocate (West Newton, MA)

Josephine is a retired affordable housing advocate who co-founded the non-profit Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization (CAN-DO) in 1994 and served as Executive Director until 2017. Prior to CAN-DO, Josephine worked for Thomas Welch and Associates, and Brown Rudnick. 

Casey Trupin Director of Youth Homelessness Strategy, Raikes Foundation (Seattle, WA)

Casey is the Director of the Raikes Foundation’s youth homelessness strategy. Previously, Casey was the Directing Attorney for the Children and Youth Project at Columbia Legal Services. He has worked on issues related to youth experiencing homelessness in Washington State, California, the District of Columbia, and throughout Latin America. 

Board of Governors Liaison

Michele Wong Krause

Michele is an attorney with the Wong Krause Law Firm in Dallas, TX. She is a member of the House of Delegates and the Commission on Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. Michele was a commissioner for the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities from 2014 to 2017 and past president of the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association and the Dallas Asian American Bar Association.

Members

Kristen Adams Professor of Law and Director of the Dispute Resolution Board, Stetson University College of Law (Gulfport, FL)

Kristen is a Professor of Law and Director of the Dispute Resolution Board at Stetson University College of Law. Prior to Stetson, Kristen practiced with Alston & Bird LLC and Altman, Kritzer & Levick PC in Atlanta. 

Donna Boyce Independent Consultant (Morristown, NJ)

Donna is an independent consultant focusing on supporting organizations, programs, low-moderate income (LMI) communities and vulnerable/traditionally underserved populations. This includes work in disaster planning/recovery, emergency food/housing, affordable housing, sustainable economic development. 

Katie Brown Contract Consultant (Reston, VA)

Katie works as a contract writer and editor. Previously, Katie served as the Program Manager for the Education Leads Home initiative at SchoolHouse Connection. Prior, Katie was an adjunct lecturer at the University of Southern California and has also worked for the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission, the National Center for Youth Law, and the Public Counsel Law Center. 

Leslie Schweinle Ginzel Chief of Holistic Services, Harris County Public Defenders Office (Houston, TX)

Leslie is the Chief of Holistic Services at the Harris County Public Defenders Office where she works to expand access to legal and social services to clients of the Public Defenders Office while instituting systems change. Prior to the Public Defenders Office, Leslie served as Program Director at Beacon Law. 

Robert Gonzales Hylton & Gonzales (Baltimore, MD)

Bob practices at Hylton & Gonzales in Baltimore. He has previously served as a visiting professor and Director of the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law and as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau. 

Rich Hooks Wayman CEO, Volunteers of America Northern New England (Brunswick, ME)

Rich is the CEO of Volunteers of America Northern New England. Previously he served as the National Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund. Prior to CDF, Rich was the CEO of several non-profit organizations in Massachusetts and Minnesota, served as a senior policy analyst with the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and authored the Minnesota Homeless Youth Act. 

Jennifer Lamirand Crowe & Dunlevy (Oklahoma City, OK)

Jennifer is a director in Crowe & Dunlevy’s Oklahoma City office. She also serves as an Associate Justice on the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Supreme Court and has acted as an Assistant Attorney General or Assistant General Counsel for several tribal nations in Oklahoma. Previously, she worked in international litigation in Los Angeles. 

Gabriella McDonald Pro Bono and New Projects Director, Texas Appleseed (Austin, TX)

Gabriella is the Pro Bono and New Projects Director at Texas Appleseed. She began there as a Community Service Fellow. Prior to her current position, Gabriella worked as a litigator in Los Angeles at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, and then at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP, until she returned to Texas Appleseed in 2014 in her current role. 

Michelle Andrea McLeod U.S. Department of Justice (Washington, D.C.)

Michelle joined the Department of Justice through the Attorney General's Honors Program in 2010 as a trial attorney in the Voting Section and the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. Michelle has also served as a Commissioner for the Commission on Youth at Risk. 

Sara Sommarstrom VetLaw Director, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (St. Paul, MN)

Sara is the VetLaw Director at the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans. Previously, Sara was the Program Director at the Minnesota Justice Foundation. 

Mary Vosburgh Staff Attorney, One80 Place (Charleston, SC)

Mary is Staff Attorney and Homeless Court Coordinator at One80 Place where she focuses on homeless veterans’ issues. Prior to her legal career, Mary worked in the music industry. 

Matt Wechter Deputy Public Defender, San Diego Public Defenders Office (Carlsbad, CA)

Matt is the Deputy Public Defender at the San Diego Public Defenders Office. He also manages the Homeless Court-Operation Stand Down, a three-day Veterans Services Event in San Diego. Prior to the Public Defenders Office, Matt worked in private practice and for a tech company. 

Liaisons

Bob Alexander, San Francisco, CA (Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity)

Bob, a Veteran of the United States Air Force, is an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLC, at Swords to Plowshares, where he operates LGBTQ Veteran legal outreach. Prior, he worked at Special Counsel and as a judicial law clerk. 

Craig Baab, Montgomery, AL (Uniform Law Commission)

Craig is the Secretary on the Board of Directors of Rebuilding Together Central Alabama. Previously, Craig was a Senior Fellow at Alabama Appleseed. He has also worked for the American Bar Association. Craig is the Immediate Past Chair of the Commission. 

Darla Bardine, Washington, D.C. (National Network for Youth)

Darla is the Executive Director of the National Network for Youth. Previously, she created and launched the Fight Child Exploitation in Tourism Initiative in South Africa and worked to reform foster care in Washington, DC. 

Tom Bolt, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (Law Practice Division) 

Tom is the Founding Partner of Bolt Nagi, PC. Prior, Tom served as Executive Director and Legal Counsel for the Virgin Islands Law Revision Commission, Counsel to the President/Majority Leader of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, and Assistant Legislative Counsel to the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.

Leif Carlson, Omaha, NE (Law Student Division)

Leif is a 2L at Creighton University School of Law where he has interned at Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Department of Housing Justice. Prior to law school, Leif worked in hospitality in Denver, Colorado. 

Randy Chapman, Austin, TX (Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense)

Randy served as the Executive Director of the Texas Legal Services Center for thirty-two years. Prior, he worked with legal aid organizations in Pennsylvania providing legal aid in rural areas in safe and affordable housing laws and mental health law.  

Antonia Fasanelli, Baltimore, MD (Veterans Legal Services; Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice)

Antonia is the Executive Director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project. Prior, Antonia worked for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless in the Affordable Housing Initiative, an expansion of her Equal Justice Works Fellowship. Antonia was an advisor to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development on affordable housing preservation. She has also served as a judicial law clerk in Texas.

Jamie Forman, Minneapolis, MN (Solo, Small Firm, and General Practice Division)

Jamie is Co-Owner and attorney at Oberman Thompson. Previously, he worked at Rider Bennett, LLP. Jamie is also an ABA Fellow. 

Paul Freese, Los Angeles, CA (Veterans Legal Services; Health Law Veterans Task Force)

Paul, a Veteran of the United States Army, is a Board Member of the Human Trafficking Legal Network. Previously, Paul served as Vice President of Public Counsel. 

Marilyn Harbur, Salem, OR (Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice)

Marilyn works for the Oregon Department of Justice and is a former member of the ABA House of Delegates. She has previously worked for the Marion County District Court. 

James Heaton, Plantation, FL (MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project of Legal Aid Service of Broward County)

James is the Supervising Attorney for MISSION UNITED. He serves on the Board of the Broward county Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and is the project leader for the FLAdvocate’s Veteran’s Practice Section. 

Renato Izquieta, Laguna Niguel, CA (Veterans Legal Services)

Renato works for the Internal Revenue Service; prior, he worked for the Orange County Superior Court and as the Directing Attorney of the Santa Ana Office of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. 

Aimee Majoue, Oklahoma City, OK (Crowe & Dunlevy)

Aimee is an associate at Crowe Dunlevy in Oklahoma City. Prior to her legal career Aimee worked as a high school teacher and campus minister. 

Hon. Michael Malamut, Boston, MA (Business Law Section)

Hon. Malamut is a judge with the Eastern Division Housing Court Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court. Prior, he served as Senior Counsel to the Division of Housing Stabilization and Administrator of the Affordable Housing Preservation Program in Boston. Before this, he was Senior Attorney and counsel at various firms. Judge Malamut has also served as a judicial law clerk.

Cathleen Rhodes, Alexandria, Virginia (Salvation Army)

Cathleen is General Counsel at the Salvation Army National Headquarters. Previously she was a staff attorney at the Salvation Army, and she has also worked for the American Bar Association.

Jeremy Rosen, Chicago, IL (Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law)

Jeremy is the Director of Economic Justice at the Shriver Center. Previously, he served as Director of the ALU of Iowa, spent time doing legal and lobbying work in D.C., and worked as a benefits attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami.

Robin Runge, Washington, D.C. (Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice)

Robin is the Senior Gender Specialist in the Equality and Inclusion Department at the Solidarity Center and a professorial lecturer in law at The George Washington University Law School. Prior, Robin worked for the U.S. Department of Labor, the University of North Dakota School of Law, as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Beijing, China, as well as for the D.C. Employment Justice Center and as an Equal Justice Fellow at the Legal Aid Society of San Francisco. 

Michael Santos, Oakland, CA (Bay Area Legal Aid)

Michael is a Senior Staff Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid. Previously, he worked for HomeBase, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, The Clinton Foundation, and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. 

Dina Schlossberg, Glenside, PA (Forum on Affordable Housing)

Dina is the Deputy Director/Senior Attorney for Multi-Family Housing at RHLA. She is a former Associate Practice Law Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Visiting Professor of Law at Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law. 

Tisha Tallman, Atlanta, GA (National Association on the Education of Homeless Children and Youth)

Tisha is the Executive Director of NAEHCY. She has formerly as President & CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; SE Regional Director, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund; and volunteer State Director – LULAC. Tisha also served as a fellow and public policy analyst at the University of Minnesota Law School and has served as part-time adjunct faculty at two law schools and a technical college, and as a part-time municipal judge. Tisha has served on various boards and commissions at the request of former U.S. and Mexican presidents. 

Eric Tars, Washington, D.C. (National Homelessness Law Center)

Eric is the Legal Director for the National Homelessness Law Center (formerly the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty). Prior, Eric was a Fellow with Global Rights’ U.S. Racial Discrimination Program and consulted with Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute and the US Human Rights Network, where he currently serves as vice-chair. Eric is also an adjunct professor at Drexel University School of Law. 

Hon. Mary Vasaly, Minneapolis, MN (Judicial Division)

Judge Vasaly is a Hennepin County District Court Judge currently assigned to civil cases. She was formerly a partner practicing appellate and civil litigation with Maslon LLP. Before her legal career, Judge Vasaly was a Registered Nurse. 

Angela Vigil, Miami, FL (Baker McKenzie)

Angela is Baker McKenzie’s Partner and Executive Director of the Pro Bono Practice. Prior, Angela worked for the Children and Family Justice Center, Bluhm Legal Clinic of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law as the Director of Children’s Law Pro Bono Projects. She also worked as an attorney, director and clinical teacher at Northwestern Law School Legal Clinic. 

Brooke Weitzman, Santa Ana, CA (Commission on Youth at Risk)

Brooke is the Co-Founder and Directing Attorney of the ELDR Center. Prior, Brooke provided legal services for veterans as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow. 

Jeff Yungman, Charleston, SC (One80 Place Legal Services)

Jeff is the Director of One80 Place Legal Services. Jeff is also an adjunct professor at the Charleston School of Law. Before attending law school, he began at One80 Place as clinical director. Prior to this Jeff worked for the New Orleans Police Department. 

The Commission's Jurisdiction

In 1991, the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty was established by the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association (ABA).  The Commission is charged with the following tasks:

(1) Educating members of the bar and the public about legal and other problems of poor and homeless people and ways in which lawyers can assist in solving or ameliorating them;

(2) training lawyers in areas needed to provide pro bono legal assistance to homeless people and those at risk of becoming homeless;

(3) working with all ABA entities on issues arising in their jurisdiction that affect poor and homeless people; and

(4) engaging in such further activities as may be necessary and proper for the fulfillment of these responsibilities, including working with state and federal executive branches and legislative bodies concerning matters relating to the poor and homeless. 

These tasks are carried out by one staff attorney and 13 volunteer members appointed by the ABA President.

History and Mission

“Lawyers have power: power to challenge injustice,
to change society, to help those in need, and
to make lasting contributions to the betterment
of our communities and our world.”

Honorable Dennis Archer, ABA President , 2003-2004
Mayor of Detroit, MI, 1994-2001

In 1986, the ABA passed a resolution expressing the ABA ’s support of legislation and programs which protected the rights of homeless people, created housing and other programs to aid homeless people in their battle for self-sufficiency, and urged pro bono legal representation of homeless clients.  To implement this resolution, the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities created the Representation of the Homeless Project, which in turn provided technical assistance to bar association pro bono homeless programs, educated the profession about homelessness and the needs of homeless people, and drafted policy for the ABA House of Delegates (the ABA ’s legislative body). 

Building on the work of the Project, in 1991, the ABA created the Commission on Homelessness and Poverty to demonstrate the Association’s commitment to addressing the legal needs of homeless and impoverished people.

In carrying out its mission, the Commission provides policy-based advocacy on behalf of homeless and impoverished people.  The Commission, through the ABA Governmental Affairs Office, works with Congress to develop and fund programs that will address the causes of homelessness and poverty in the United States , as well as to enact laws that will protect and provide for those in desperate need of assistance.   

The Commission is committed to educating the bar and the public about homelessness and poverty and the ways in which the legal community and advocates can assist those in need.  To achieve this goal, the Commission drafts publications and conducts training sessions across the country to equip the legal community to advocate on behalf of people who are homeless or poor.  The Commission also coordinates with national, state and local advocates and organizations to facilitate the exchange of information and resources.

Partners

The Commission on Homelessness and Poverty is housed within the ABA's Center for Public Interest Law. Learn more about the Center for Public Interest Law and our ABA partners.



Contact Us

American Bar Association
Commission on Homelessness and Poverty
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202/662-1693
Fax: 202/638-3844 
homeless@americanbar.org