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Staff

Management Team

Matt Strieker
Executive Director
Gladys La Torre
Director of Legal Services
Diane Trunk
Director of Evaluation, Policy & Practice
Carmen McDonald
Supervising Attorney
Michelle Carey
Supervising Attorney
Karinne Elson
Director of Finance & Administration
Jenny Farrell
Director of External Relations

Staff

Name Position
Staff Attorney
Staff Attorney
Staff Attorney
Senior Legal Advocate, DACA Project Manager
Staff Attorney
Senior Attorney
Legal Advocate
Staff Attorney
Legal Advocate
Human Services Coordinator
Office Administrator
Staff Attorney
Legal Advocate
Legal Assistant
Staff Attorney
Legal Assistant
Staff Accountant
Staff Attorney
Staff Attorney
Legal Advocate
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Executive Director

Matt Strieker

Matt was previously the Deputy Director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. As Deputy Director, he helped double the Institute’s budget and endowment and raise the Institute’s profile among community leaders, policymakers and the bar. Previously, Matt was a staff attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), where he represented Latino and immigrant clients in constitutional class action litigation and regularly promoted MALDEF priorities to policymakers, the media and the public. Matt graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law. After law school, he worked as a research associate at the Institute on Race & Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School. He has also worked as a legal editor and as a communications and development consultant to youth services agencies and health clinics.

Director of Legal Services

Gladys La Torre

Gladys oversees LACLJ’s four legal program areas: Domestic Violence, Teen/LA, Access to Justice and Immigration. During her long career at LACLJ, Gladys has held roles as a Paralegal, Attorney and Senior Attorney, providing legal services in family law and domestic violence matters. Gladys has worked closely with court personnel, including Judicial Officers and Court Administrators to develop and enhance LACLJ partnership projects with the Los Angeles Superior Court. Gladys received her law degree from Western State University, College of Law and her Bachelor of Science in Business/Finance at Cal State University, Los Angeles. Gladys is fluent in Spanish.

Director of Evaluation, Policy & Practice

Diane Trunk

Diane oversees all evaluation and data-related functions and manages the Community Care Advocacy Program. Prior to joining LACLJ, Diane was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) where she coordinated the Domestic Abuse Self Help (DASH) project, operating four court-based domestic violence restraining order clinics assisting thousands of domestic violence litigants each year. As a part of this work, she designed, implemented and presented on an extensive evaluation of DASH services, which included focus groups, court file review, personal interviews and surveys. In addition to coordinating the DASH project, Diane represented survivors of domestic violence at the Valley CARES Family Justice Center. After receiving her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, Diane moved to California and worked as a staff member on state and federal political campaigns. She received her J.D. from University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Prior to working in the public interest field, Diane was a research attorney in a Los Angeles Superior Court civil trial court for several years before working in a boutique litigation firm focusing on employment and real estate trial and appellate litigation. Diane is also a yoga teacher and a UC-certified Master Food Preserver.

Supervising Attorney

Carmen McDonald

Carmen supervises LACLJ’s Access to Justice and the Teen/LA programs. Carmen also provides supervision and training for LACLJ’s chief pro bono program, ADVOCATE, which pairs pro bono attorneys with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault seeking representation at their restraining order hearings. Carmen also supervisors the family law portion of LACLJ’s SIJS/Immigration project. Prior to working at LACLJ, Carmen was an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County where she represented survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in family law and immigration matters, and worked in the Shriver Housing Project assisting tenants with unlawful detainers. Carmen also worked at Break the Cycle where she represented teen survivors of domestic violence in family law matters. Carmen graduated from California Western School of Law and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Women’s Studies at the University of Central Florida. Carmen is fluent in Spanish.

Supervising Attorney

Michelle Carey

Michelle represents undocumented youth and survivors of interpersonal violence in immigration matters and supervises staff in the Immigration program. Michelle received her B.A. from Cornell University in English and Women’s Studies and her J.D. and M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA. While at UCLA School of Law, Michelle completed the Epstein Public Interest Program in Law and Policy and graduated with a concentration in Critical Race Studies. Before attending law school, she taught 9th and 12th grade English at Locke High School in Watts. In her previous work as a Staff Attorney at the Immigration Center for Women and Children, the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Neighborhood Legal Services, and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Michelle represented hundreds of low income, undocumented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other violent crimes in their immigration matters. Michelle is also Adjunct Faculty at the USC Price School of Public Policy where she teaches an undergraduate course on immigration policy and at the USC School of Social Work where she teaches a graduate course on domestic violence. Michelle speaks Spanish.

Director of Finance & Administration

Karinne Elson

As the Director of Administration, Karinne oversees LACLJ’s human resources, facilities and operations and provides grants management support to the Director of Legal Services. As a professional nonprofit administrator, Karinne brings to LACLJ unique expertise in program design, evaluation and organizational development. Prior to joining LACLJ, Karinne managed government grants and education compliance programs for an international nonprofit organization and has held talent acquisition, researcher and project and program management roles in the nonprofit and private sectors. Karinne graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University where she studied political science and earned her Master of Public Administration degree from New York University’s, Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. She is a certified human resources professional and holds the PHR credential from the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and the SHRM-CP credential from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She is a native Spanish speaker.

Director of External Relations

Jenny Farrell

As Director of External Relations, Jenny serves in a hybrid role functioning as the organization’s Director of Development, Director of Communications, and Director of Pro Bono & Volunteers.  Jenny is responsible for designing and executing the overall fund development and marketing strategy for LACLJ, including Annual Fund, Major Gifts, Special Events, and Law Firm and Corporate Sponsorships. Jenny oversees LACLJ’s communication strategies and works closely with LACLJ’s Board of Directors and Leadership Council to increase financial and volunteer resources for LACLJ’s core services and raise awareness of LACLJ among leaders in the legal, business and philanthropic communities. Jenny also connects private law firms and practitioners to LACLJ by supervising the placement of family law and immigration cases with these attorneys.  Finally, Jenny recruits, trains, and mentors dozens of law students who volunteer with LACLJ every year both during the academic year and over the summer.

Prior to joining LACLJ, Jenny was an attorney at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, where she focused her practice on litigating complex personal injury, wrongful death, product defect and policy brutality cases. Jenny received her Bachelor’s degree in Government at Smith College, where she graduated cum laude in 2003. She spent five years working at non-profit organizations for environmental, consumer and public health issues before heading to law school. She received her J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2011. While in law school, Jenny was named the 2011 Public Interest Student of the Year and awarded the Mason C. Brown Award for her commitment to public interest issues and talent for trial work.

Staff Attorney

Alex Zúñiga

Alex represents parents in high conflict custody cases through the Shriver Family Law Project. Prior to joining LACLJ, Alex worked with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles running the Long Beach Self-Help Legal Access Center for seven and a half years. The Center assisted self-represented litigants navigate through the court system. At the Center, Alex supervised and trained staff and volunteers in the various areas of law the Center assisted people with, including family law and landlord-tenant law. Alex graduated from California State University, Long Beach with degrees in Political Science and English Literature. He received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. Alex is fluent in Spanish.

Staff Attorney

A. Tyler Adler

A. Tyler Adler advocates for teens and young adults experiencing domestic violence and young parents in high-conflict disputes. Before joining LACLJ, A. Tyler Adler was a staff attorney at House of Ruth Maryland Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, representing survivors of intimate partner violence in restraining order cases against their abusers. A. Tyler Adler graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. A. Tyler Adler earned her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. While at the University of Maryland, A. Tyler Adler was awarded the Maryland Public Interest Law Project Public Service Award for her commitment to community service and public interest activities.

Staff Attorney

Melissa Viramontes

Melissa represents parents in high conflict custody cases, and survivors of domestic violence through the Shriver Family Law Project. Melissa has extensive experience working in family law and public interest. During law school, she volunteered for two consecutive summers at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA). At NLSLA, Melissa represented litigants in their family law matters as a certified law student. After law school, Melissa volunteered at LACLJ and also litigated as a certified law student. She began her professional career as an Associate Attorney at Fusco and Clarke, a law firm that practices primarily Family Law, Dependency cases, and Minor’s counsel. Melissa has represented clients and litigated their family law matters including dissolution of marriage, paternity, custody/visitation, child support, spousal support, restraining orders and guardianships. Melissa holds a B.A. in Sociology with an option in Law and Society from Cal State L.A., and earned her Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Cal Poly Pomona. She received her J.D. from Whittier Law School where she participated in the Center for Children’s Rights Program. Melissa is fluent in Spanish.

Senior Legal Advocate, DACA Project Manager

Teresa Vargas Valdes

Teresa Vargas Valdes has an LL.M. from UCLA with a specialization in Public Interest Law and Policy. Teresa has worked as a volunteer, advocate and extern in several organizations dedicated to providing services to underserved populations on issues related to Family Law, Homelessness Prevention, Domestic Violence and Immigration.

Staff Attorney

Angela McNair Turner

Angela assists young survivors of sexual assault with a variety of civil legal issues. Prior to joining LACLJ, Angela was a Skadden Fellow at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), where she provided comprehensive services to families who were homeless or at risk of being homeless. She then became a Staff Attorney at LAFLA, representing low-income tenants in eviction actions through the Shriver Housing Project. Angela earned her law degree from Berkeley School of Law. Angela graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at San Antonio Honors program with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Angela speaks Spanish.

Senior Attorney

Sarah Reisman

Sarah represents survivors of domestic violence primarily in family law and immigration matters. Prior to joining LACLJ, Sarah was a pro bono attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles working in the Immigration and Family Law Units. Prior to that, Sarah was a senior litigation associate in the New York offices of Proskauer Rose, LLP, where she represented clients in a broad range of commercial and criminal disputes in federal and state court. Sarah received her B.A. in History and Political Science from University of California, San Diego and her law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School. At Vanderbilt, Sarah received the Carl J. Ruskowski Clinical Legal Education Award for her work in the school’s domestic violence clinic. Sarah speaks Spanish.

Legal Advocate

Carlos Olivares

Carlos graduated from Cal State L.A. with a BA in History. Prior to Joining LACLJ, Carlos worked for the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) working primarily with victims of domestic violence in their immigration matters. Carlos also worked for Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project as part of their Legal Orientation Program in the Adelanto Detention Center. There, Carlos assisted detainees with extensive criminal backgrounds in their removal proceedings.

Staff Attorney

Angelica Ochoa

Angelica represent litigants in high conflict custody cases and litigates domestic violence cases through the Shriver Family Law Project. Prior to joining LACLJ, Angelica worked at the the Working Peoples’ Law Center where she represented litigants in dissolution. As an East Los Angeles native, Angelica attended James Garfield High School. She received her Bachelors’s degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College and her JD from UCLA law. Angelica is a native Spanish speaker.

Legal Advocate

Rosi Leon

Rosi Leon is a Legal Advocate and provides direct services to clients, primarily in family law matters. Before joining LACLJ, she was a member of the JusticeCorps AmeriCorps program at the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) Self-Help & Resource Center, where she helped pro se litigants navigate the family law court system. Rosi has also worked with various public projects in Community Coalition’s Civic Engagement Program, where she outreached and engaged residents in her South LA community to vote on initiatives that made a positive impact in education. Rosi holds a B.A. in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA. She is fluent in Spanish.

Human Services Coordinator

Sylvia Gribbell

Sylvia Gribbell is LACLJ’s Human Services Coordinator. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice, providing therapy to children, adolescents, and families. She is experienced as a bilingual outpatient mental health provider serving at-risk youth, trauma survivors, and children with disabilities. In addition, she remains involved as a disability rights advocate, assisting families with accessing educational, medical and community services. Sylvia earned her Master of Social Work from USC School of Social Work and graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

Office Administrator

Marilyn Florentino

Marilyn received her B.A. from the University of California, Riverside in English with a minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, she worked as a Research Assistant, where she participated in research that studied cultural identity in young teens. She also took on a leadership role in an on-campus organization, Mujeres Unidas, which sought to empower young Latinas through educational events and programs. She grew up in Los Angeles and loves her city . She is very excited to be in LACLJ and continue to serve her community.

Staff Attorney

Erika Diaz

Erika Diaz represents survivors of domestic violence primarily in family law matters. Erika began her career as a staff attorney at Holguin, Garfield, Martinez, and Quinones, APLC (HGMQ). While at HGMQ, Erika represented unions in labor and employment law litigation and assisted union members with family, immigration, bankruptcy, and housing matters. Erika later became a staff attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA), where she assisted in the successful implementation of the Los Angeles City Homeless Prevention Program. Erika then worked at Inner City Law Center (ICLC) as a trial attorney for the Shriver Housing Project, where she helped families remain in their low-income housing. Erika holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA and a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.

Legal Advocate

Krystal De Santiago

Krystal De Santiago is a Legal Advocate. She graduated from UCLA in 2011, receiving her B.A. in Sociology and History. Before joining LACLJ, Krystal worked at a litigation firm as a clerk in their toxic tort department. She also volunteered as a research assistant at UCLA’s Psychology of Social Justice Lab, participating in research that investigated social disparities in an effort to ensure equity in law enforcement. She currently volunteers at a domestic violence emergency shelter. She is fluent in Spanish.

Legal Assistant

Erica DeSantiago

Staff Attorney

Erica Carroll

Erica provides family law services and education to pregnant and parenting foster youth, helping these young parents retain custody of their children and break the intergenerational cycle of foster care. Erica obtained her law degree and a Master of Social Welfare from UCLA, where she participated in the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Prior to attending law school, Erica volunteered for two years at LACLJ, her placement through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. During that time she served as a paralegal to the Teen/LA program and assisted in coordinating LACLJ’s pro bono domestic violence restraining order project. Erica is fluent in Spanish.

Legal Assistant

Anabel Cardenas

Staff Accountant

Jane Byun

Staff Attorney

Mariliz Aquino

Mariliz represents survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes, as well as vulnerable youth, in their U-Visa, VAWA, Adjustment of Status, or DACA petitions. She obtained her J.D. from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. At Southwestern, she helped clients at the Southwestern Immigration Law Clinic to prepare their U-Visa and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) petitions. Mariliz was also a member of a team of students participating in the Southwestern Appellate Practicum who filed a successful brief on behalf of a Mexican national before the Ninth Circuit seeking to reverse his removal. She has also volunteered with other organizations which provide legal assistance to the immigrant community, including Bet Tzedek, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense). Mariliz has an M.A. in Latin American Studies from California State University, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in Journalism from Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso Sul, Brazil. Prior to emigrating to the United States, she worked as a journalist and in public relations in Brazil. She speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish.

Staff Attorney

Monica Arellano

Monica Arellano represents survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other victims of crime primarily in immigration matters as a staff attorney.  Before joining LACLJ, Monica served as a post-bar law clerk for the Law Offices of Elsa Martinez and Riverside Public Defender’s Office.  Monica holds a B.A. in History and B.A. in Chicano Studies from UCSB and a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.

Legal Advocate

Natalia Rodriguez-Khanh

Natalia Rodriguez-Khanh is a Legal Advocate who provides direct services to clients in immigration law matters. She graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Sociology with a minor in Applied Psychology and LBGTQ Studies. Before joining LACLJ, she was a Legal Assistant at a private law firm in Los Angeles, where she helped with family-based applications and removal defense in immigration court matters. Natalia was also an Organizer at Restaurant Opportunities Center of Los Angeles (ROC-LA), where she assisted low-wage restaurant workers to organize their workplace to improve their working conditions. She also coordinated a healthcare cooperative and workforce development training classes for low-wage restaurant workers. She is fluent in Spanish.