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2015 Webinar Speaker Bios
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2015 Webinar Speaker Biographies

 

James M. Baron, Esq. is a member of the bar in MA, NH, and FL, as well as the U.S. District Courts in MA and NH. James earned a B.A. degree from Brandeis University, an M.Ed. from Emmanuel College, and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. He has published an article in the Suffolk Law Review entitled, “When Good Intentions Go Bad: The MCAS Graduation Requirement and Special Education Children.” James has presented on various special education law and law practice issues for COPAA, Mass. Advocates for Children, the Asperger’s Society of New England, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), Northeastern University Law School, Suffolk Law School, and Starting Out Solo (SOS). He has also served as a Guardian Ad Litem / Education Advocate for the Massachusetts Juvenile Court. James is a co-founder and current President of Starting Out Solo (SOS), a support and networking group for attorneys who started their own law practice as the first career step after law school. James also serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Waltham ARC and the Waltham Community Foundation.

 

Susan Bruce is an education coordinator and parent trainer for the SC Parent Training & Information Center, PRO*Parents. Susan has trained over 4000 parents and professionals on the IDEA, empowering them to effectively advocate for appropriate services for students with disabilities. She has been published by Wrightslaw, NICHCY and Education Week. Her articles appear in PTI newsletters all over the country. Susan has also conducted CLE trainings on the IDEA for new attorneys in collaboration with Appleseed Legal Justice Center.  Susan, a mother of 3 children with disabilities, is a dedicated and passionate advocate for her children and others. Susan has trained under some of the leading experts on special education law. Susan, an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and sits on the COPAA Board of Directors as the Board Secretary.  Susan has received certificates in Non Profit Management from Duke University, Winthrop University along with an ISEA certificate from William Mary School of Law and Wrightslaw. 

Alexis Casillas, Esq. is a special education attorney practicing in California. She has spent time working for the American Civil Liberties Union in Orange County on issues of educational equity and discrimination, and was a member of the Youth and Education Law Project, a Stanford Law School clinic devoted to providing free legal assistance to low-income special-needs students. She was an extern for the Department of Health and Human Services; later, she was a post-bar clerk for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office, where she conducted research on the admissibility of testimony by individuals with language deficits and disabilities. Alexis also served as an extern to the Honorable Kim Ward law on the Ninth Circuit. Alexis began her own practice in 2009, in which she exclusively served special-needs students and their parents. Having grown up with a sibling with disabilities, Alexis vividly remembers her family's experience with school districts, regional centers, and other government agencies, and brings those experiences to all of her cases. She approaches each case with the empathy born of that experience. She is also broadly interested in policy affecting special-needs populations, and she works with groups interested in developing programs for adults with autism.

 

Mary Eaddy is the Executive Director of Parents Reaching to Parents of South Carolina (PROParents of SC)  the South Carolina parent training and information agency.  She has been affiliated with PRO-Parents for 24 years and has been advocating for children and adults with disabilities and development delays with an emphasis on early intervention and education for over 30 years.  She has served on numerous state and federal agency boards and groups related to special education, including work on education policy at the state and federal level. Mary’s most significant work has been as the parent of two children with disabilities and the grandparent of grandchildren with disabilities.   

 

Mandy Favaloro, Esq is an attorney at A2Z Educational Advocates.  Mandy graduated magna cum laude from the University of Redlands with a B.A. in Government, and then attended law school at Pepperdine University, where she graduated with a Juris Doctor degree.  While at Pepperdine, Mandy participated in the Special Education Advocacy Clinic, where she worked with families involved in the IEP process.  Since joining A2Z Educational Advocates Mandy has advocated for parents of students with disabilities at all stages of the process including IEP meetings, mediations, due process hearings and in federal court. Mandy prepared and delivered oral arguments in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving a school district’s denial of a student’s access to school, obtaining a favorable opinion from the Ninth Circuit on the precedent setting issue of mootness of an IDEA claim upon the death of a student.  Mandy is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors and is a Co-Chair of the Training Committee and a Co-Chair of the Conference Committee.  Mandy has presented at previous COPAA conferences and in webinars on a variety of special education topics, and has given presentations for other organizations.  Mandy is currently one of the instructors for COPAA’s SEAT program. 

Andrew A. Feinstein, Esq. has represented children with disabilities and their families pursuing appropriate educational programs for the past fifteen years, first in Hartford with David C. Shaw, and since 2008, as a solo practitioner in Mystic, Connecticut. He is co-chair of the Government Relations Committee for the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the preeminent national special education advocacy organization and an adjunct professor of special education law at Central Connecticut State University.  Attorney Feinstein was graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 and the New York University School of Law in 1975.  He completed the Senior Manager in Government Program at the Kennedy School, Harvard University, in 1983.  He has served as a professional staff member of the House Committee on Armed Services and Chief Counsel of the House Civil Service Subcommittee.  

Charlie Fox, Esq. set his sights on becoming a lawyer, he never envisioned himself as a specialist in education law, supporting the needs and rights of children and young adults.  But, as a veteran special education attorney, Fox has found his path with the beacon light of his son Cole, now 19, guiding the way. The “catalyst and defining principle” for Fox when he entered special needs law was his then two-year-old son, who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy who needed an advocate.  Now considered “my hero” by Cole, Fox works to assure that his son and other children with special needs receive an appropriate public education. 

 

Aimee Gilman, Esq. is in her 30th year practicing law. She began her legal career practicing largely in the area of commercial litigation, both in Ohio and Florida. In 1998, Aimee began practicing special education law, supporting children with special needs and their families. Aimee co-founded Special Education Services (SES) in 2001, a non-profit agency whose mission was to help families understand their children’s special education needs and legal rights, as well as to educate parents and provide technical assistance. After eight years of working for Special Education Services, Aimee went back into private practice, continuing to focus on special education law. Aimee is actively involved in due process hearings and federal court proceedings on a variety of special education and civil rights matters. She frequently lectures at various places in Ohio including John Carroll University, The Ohio State Law School, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, The Cleveland Clinic, the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities. As the parent of an adult child with autism, Aimee knows first-hand the challenges that parents face and is dedicated to helping them navigate the system in order  to best serve their child’s needs. Aimee is the author of the “Lighter Side of Special Education” articles which have appeared online for a number of years. In 2002, Aimee was named a Woman of Valor "aishet chayel" for community service to Cleveland's special needs families.   

 

Judith Gran, Esq. Judith is a founding member and past Board Member of COPAA and an active member of the COPAA Government Relations Committee.  Judith is perhaps best known within COPAA for providing her invaluable annual case law review at each conference.  Prior to joining Reisman Carolla Gran, Judith practiced law at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia from 1984 to 2009. She served as Director of Disability Projects from 1998 to 2009. She has conducted class action litigation to obtain community services for institutionalized persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, California, Illinois, and Tennessee. Her work as counsel for the Arc of Pennsylvania and the plaintiff class during the implementation phase of the consent decree in Halderman v. Pennhurst from 1986 through 1998 led to significant improvements in community service systems in Philadelphia and other counties. Ms. Gran represents special education students in administrative and judicial proceedings in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other states, including the class action suit, Gaskin v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a case – currently in its implementation phase - brought to enforce the least restrictive environment mandate of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

 

Janet E. Haury, Esq. has served as an attorney with the Zimring Law Firm with a primary practice in education law since 2011. Ms. Haury has a business degree from Emory University and a law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law. Ms. Haury’s prior legal practice included mergers and acquisitions and hostile takeovers, with a special focus on negotiating difficult transactions.  Her special education experience includes representing students with all disabilities, as well as lobbying and litigation.  Ms. Haury is a frequent speaker to parent groups about their rights regarding special education, including how to prepare and overcome obstacles when presented in the IEP process.Ms. Haury has specific expertise in developing programs for students that require maximum services in the LRE.  In 2005, she founded an 501(c)(3) to benefit an inclusion preschool for special needs children. Its endowment has been used to provide training for teachers and therapists, including Orton-Gillingham, Lindamood-Bell and PROMPT speech interventions, as well as to build capital improvements such as a handicapped accessible nature trail and treehouse.  This school and diagnostic center remain as a highly coveted placement for students in the district as well as an inclusive model to emulate in Georgia.  She believes that parents must take an active role in maximizing the inclusiveness of their child’s school and community.   She is also the proud mother of three children, ages 19, 17, and 14. 

 

Caroline J. Heller, Esq.
Caroline is a shareholder in the Litigation Practice of Greenberg Traurig's New York office. Caroline focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation and business disputes on a nationwide basis in the fields of professional liability, partnership disputes, securities litigation, and entertainment disputes. She has litigation experience in federal and state courts and arbitration experience before the American Arbitration Association. Since 2006, Caroline has represented children with disabilities and their families pursuing appropriate educational programs on a pro bono basis. Caroline is the Pro Bono Coordinator for Greenberg Traurig. She has also represented COPAA, as Amicus Curiae, in three cases appealed to the Second Circuit.

 Mark Kamleiter, Esq. A graduate of Old Dominion University in Virginia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and the College of William and Mary (Marshall-Wythe School of Law-1978) in Virginia with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence.  Completed additional course work at the University of South Florida to earn a teaching certificate in Special Education, Varying Exceptionalities.Mark has taught regular education (History, Geography, Government) at the middle school and high school level and for several years taught a course in Law and Politics at the University of South Florida.  He spent eight years in Europe establishing Counseling and Drug Rehabilitation Centers in London and Paris. He taught in the Pinellas County School system for five years, teaching the profoundly mentally handicapped and the autistic and serving as a behavior specialist.   Having practiced law in both Virginia and Florida, Mark has established a law firm in St. Petersburg and is presently engaged in a general practice of law, with a major part of his practice being reserved for the representation of individuals with disabilities. Having been actively involved in advocating for the rights of students with disabilities for a number of years, Mark is on the administrative board of the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA).  A frequent national speaker and presenter on issues related to the education of children with disabilities, Mark represents children with disabilities, in due process and Federal Court, in an effort to obtain for them an appropriate education in the public school systems.

 

Sonja D. Kerr, Esq. is the Director of Disability Rights for the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. Ms. Kerr, a 1987 graduate of Indiana University School of Law, and the first chair of COPAA, joined PILCOP in 2009. Ms. Kerr has litigated special education cases on behalf of students with a variety of disabilities, in nine different states, gaining a national reputation for groundbreaking litigation in this area of law. She regularly represents parents who have disabilities as well as parents who experience Limited English Proficiency. Recent cases include a class action against the State of Pennsylvania to ensure funding for an impoverished school district, and a class action and favorable partial judgment on behalf of students with autism in the School District of Philadelphia requiring parental participation in school placement decisions. In addition to litigation, Ms. Kerr is committed to providing information and training to all persons involved in the IEP process, but especially parents, and the Law Center offers a yearlong training program for that purpose. She has been a reviewer for Wrightslaw, published or edited chapters of books, and written various law review or other professional articles about special education topics. Ms. Kerr is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, where she completed her B.A. in Psychology, and completed a Masters in Counseling Psychology at Purdue University. Ms. Kerr is admitted to practice in Minnesota (non-active by choice), Indiana, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and specially admitted in various other states and jurisdictions. She is also admitted to the 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 9th circuit courts of appeals as well as various federal district courts in those circuits, the U.S. Court of Claims and the United States Supreme Court.  

Michele Kule-Korgood, Esq. is the founder and managing attorney of Kule-Korgood & Associates, P.C. Michele has devoted twenty years in private practice to representing parents of children with disabilities in order to secure an effective education for their children.  While studying psychology as an undergraduate, Michele became a personal care assistant for a classmate with cerebral palsy.  Her classmate’s refusal to be defined by his disability inspired Michele to pursue a career in teaching special education.  Years later, as a special education teacher, Michele’s efforts to help a student obtain assistive technology, so he could have a voice in the world, again changed the course of her life.  In order to effect change for a greater number of people, she decided to attend law school and become a legal advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.  Today, Michele is one of the most well-known, respected attorneys in the field and has successfully handled thousands of matters in special education, ensuring that every child receives equal access to the high quality education to which he or she is entitled.  Her experience working closely with other professionals in the field, as well as her extensive knowledge of educational programs, allow Michele to assist parents in finding and accessing appropriate placements and services.  As a former special educator, Michele brings unique insight into the complex issues related to obtaining effective opportunities for children.As a leading national authority on special education law and policy, Michele is highly sought after as a speaker.   She has chaired many conferences, and presented on various topics in special education law at numerous conferences, including those held by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), the New York State Bar Association, the Practising Law Institute, and Lehigh University, and at various agencies which provide education and advocacy services.Michele also serves as a board member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), and the Center for Learning Differences. Michele has argued and presented cases involving novel issues in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Eastern and Southern District Courts, the Appellate Division and state Supreme Court.  She has a number of published decisions in various courts in special education and additional education-related areas of law. Michele earned her Juris Doctor Degree from Hofstra University School of Law and prior to that obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Special Education and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Boston University. Michele lives on Long Island with her husband and two sons, balancing her career in special education law with her family and community involvement. 

 

Marissa Lavette, Esq. has spent her career working on behalf of individuals with disabilities. After graduating with a bachelor's degree with Distinction in Psychology from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Marissa worked as the director at a group home serving the needs of adults with developmental disabilities.   Marissa received her Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law in 2010. While at DePaul, Marissa served as the Publications Director for the student board of the Health Law Institute and the Authorities Editor for the DePaul University Journal of Health Care Law. She received the CALI Award for Excellence in Estate Planning and was on the Dean’s List.  During law school, Marissa was a law clerk with Children's Law Group, LLC, where she focused primarily on special education matters, with an emphasis on children with cochlear implants and children with autism spectrum disorders. Following graduation from law school, Marissa worked as an associate attorney with Children's Law Group, LLC, where she represented clients in special education matters and adoptions. Marissa also served as the supervising attorney for the DePaul University Domestic Violence Project, where she coordinated and supervised a law student volunteer program that aided victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection.  In 2014, Marissa helped develop and teach a new introduction to special education law course at Roosevelt University. Marissa has volunteered with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services as a Guardian ad litem in adult guardianship cases and with The Center for Disability and Elder Law to assist clients in estate planning and probate matters.  Marissa joined Legal Advocacy Center in 2012 and continues to represent clients in special education, mental health and disability, and adult guardianship cases. 

 

Mandy Leigh is a partner at the Leigh Law Group. She handles cases in education law, special education law, expulsions and suspensions of students.  Mandy heads litigation in special education administrative due process hearings, the firm's law and motion practice in state and federal court and has appeared before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of children with disabilities. She has worked nationally representing students in IDEA, Section 504 and education related matters.

Stacey Neumann, Esq. joined the law firm of Murray Plumb & Murray in 2013, having previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Portland, Maine.  Prior to her experience as a federal prosecutor, she was a criminal defense attorney in Vermont.  Stacey has extensive trial experience and a wealth of knowledge regarding dispute resolution.  Stacey has developed a growing practice in education and disability law since joining Murray, Plumb & Murray.

Richard O’Meara, Esq. is a shareholder and director in the law firm of Murray, Plumb & Murray in Portland, Maine, which has the largest practice in Maine representing families of students with disabilities. He received his B.A. summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, an M.Sc. with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Virginia School of Law. Richard has been involved with the ACLU of Maine since 1987 and with COPAA since its inception. As part of his civil litigation practice, he regularly represents families of children with disabilities in disputes arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Maine Human Rights Act. Richard is the president of the Board of the Disability Rights Center, Maine’s federally-funded protection and advocacy agency, and a member of COPAA’s Amicus Curiae Committee.

 Jill Rowland Esq. is the Director of the Education Program at the Alliance for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit legal organization that advocates for safe and stable homes, health care, and education for youth in foster care in California.  She holds a JD from UCLA School of Law.  She has practiced special education law since 2004, initially at a private firm before joining the Alliance in 2006.  At the Alliance, Jill provides direct legal representation to ensure foster youth’s general and special education rights are protected and pursues policy change to improve the educational outcomes for foster youth in California.  

 

Roberta Savage, Esq. while working as a behavior analyst, Ms. Savage frequently witnessed parents being overwhelmed and short-changed by the IEP process. Parents were having difficulties obtaining an appropriate education for their special needs child. There were severe inconsistencies in the information provided to parents concerning their rights, the rights of their child, and service options available to meet the educational needs of their child. Ms. Savage saw a need to help and support parents with children in a failing education program. She has dedicated her career to representing children with disabilities. As a special education attorney, Ms. Savage represents children with disabilities and their parents in program disputes with local education agencies. The goal of her work is to help parents navigate through the process of obtaining a free appropriate public education for their special needs children. 

 

Michele G. Scavongelli, Esq. joined the EdLaw Project as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Bingham McCutchen, LLP in September 2012, and will continue on as a staff attorney starting September 2014. Michele has successfully represented over fifty families in the past two years in both school discipline and special education matters.  She has built a pro bono panel for The EdLaw Project and has trained hundreds of delinquency, child welfare, firm, and in-house counsel, as well as parent and community groups in special education advocacy and school discipline rights.  Michele graduated Northeastern University School of Law in 2012. During law school, Ms. Scavongelli was a recipient of a Rappaport Fellowship at the Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate and a recipient of a Hennessey Fellowship at the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee. She interned at the Lowell Juvenile Court as well as at the law firm of Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP with a particular focus on special education law. Ms. Scavongelli also assisted victims of domestic violence at the Dorchester and Roxbury Municipal Courts and at Boston Medical Center and St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. She has served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and as a Special Education Surrogate Parent. Prior to attending law school she spent 29 years as an executive in the life insurance industry. She is on the board of Bottom Line, an organization that is dedicated to helping disadvantaged students get in to college, graduate from college, and go far in life. She earned her S.B. in Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979. 

 

Stefanie Shabman, Esq.  is the legal director at Student Advocacy, Inc. in Elmsford, New York. Student Advocacy, Inc. is a nonprofit  legally based advocacy agency that represents approximately 1, 000 students and their families a year in school related matters; including at superintendent’s, MDR’s and CSE Meetings. Student Advocacy’s mission is to keep kids on track for school success. Stefanie Shabman is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and has been a member of the New York State Bar since 1986. Upon graduation from law school, Stefanie Shabman served the New York State Court System as a Court Attorney for 12 years. In addition to her work at Student Advocacy, Inc., Ms. Shabman continues to champion the rights of children as an active member of the Attorney for the Child Panel in Westchester, New York.  Ms. Shabman has presented on suspensions and related matters throughout Westchester County and represented many children and families to address school discipline problems. 

Sande Shamash, Esq. has devoted his career to working with children and families.  He started in 1993 as an Assistant Cook County Public Guardian and Attorney successfully representing over 800 children alleged to have been abused or neglected.  He was subsequently appointed by the governor as an Administrative Law Judge, and later Chief Judge of the formerly named Illinois Department of Public Aid.  Sande also served as an Assistant General Counsel and Bureau Chief for the same agency through 2003.  During that period, he presided over paternity establishment, child support, medical vendor, mental health and Medicaid appeal cases. Sande has been affiliated with Roosevelt University since 1996.  He’s developed courses and taught classes as an adjunct professor for the University’s paralegal program in the subject areas of commercial law and bankruptcy law, and more recently developed and taught a first ever introduction to special education law course.  Sande currently serves on Roosevelt University’s Faculty Advisory Board.  Sande was engaged in private practice since 2004, focusing on education, business, estate, non-profit, real estate and social security disability law and now serves as the Director of the Legal Advocacy Center for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.  In that capacity, Sande runs a non-profit program specifically dedicated to assisting clients with special education legal issues.  Sande also serves on the Attorney General’s Committee on Special Education. Sande received his law degree from DePaul University (1993) and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin (1990). 

Marlies Spanjaard, Esq. is the Director of Education Advocacy for The Edlaw Project, an initiative of the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and the Committee for Public Counsel - Children & Family and Youth Advocacy Divisions. EdLaw advocates for the education rights of Massachusetts’ highest risk children. As the Director of Education Advocacy, Ms. Spanjaard is responsible for supervising staff attorneys and interns, making program-wide policy decisions, and conducting state-wide trainings on education-related issues with a specific focus on representing court-involved youth. Prior to serving as coordinator Ms. Spanjaard was a staff attorney at the Edlaw Project and, in that role, represented students in school disciplinary hearings, special education team meetings, and administrative hearings before the Bureau of Special Education Appeals. Ms. Spanjaard has trained a wide variety of audiences including parents, youth workers, students, and lawyers. Ms. Spanjaard also serves as an adjunct instructor at Wheelock College in the Juvenile Justice and Youth Advocacy Department.  She earned her J.D. and her M.S.W. at Washington University Law School and George Warren Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Tracey Spencer Walsh, Esq. opened her own private practice last year after working has a partner at Mayerson and Associates, and a 1994 graduate of the Fordham University School of Law. She joined Mayerson & Associates in 2008 after 21 years of solid experience with Skadden, Arps, et al., Mendes & Mount, Sullivan & Worcester, and Griffin, Coogan & Veneruso. Tracey’s unique experiences have included service as the Dean of Students at a private school in Westchester, and working for Prime Minister Edward Heath, acting as a liaison with the House of Commons. Tracey is admitted to practice in New York and Connecticut and also is admitted to the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the Second and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. Tracey is widely published on a variety of special education law issues, including tuition reimbursement, funding for home services, and bullying. In addition to her writing, Tracey often is a featured speaker at national autism conferences as well as the annual conferences sponsored by the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). In March, 2014, Tracey gave two, full-day presentations at COPAA’s annual 2014 national conference.

Dr. Lauren Stevenson is a licensed clinical psychologist, with a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. Dr. Stevenson is currently the clinical director and founder of Capstone Psychological Services, which is an outpatient mental health clinic focusing on the treatment and assessment of individuals with a wide range of anxiety, mood, and depressive disorders, as well as disorders of learning, attention deficits, and behavioral problems. Dr. Stevenson’s clinical experience focuses on a wide range of clients, including students and young adults with emotional disturbances and behavior problems, individuals with serious and persistent mental health illnesses, and individuals with co-occurring and substance abuse disorders. Dr. Stevenson also conducts psychological assessments for a variety of referral questions, including diagnostic clarification, learning disability and ADHD evaluations, and psychoeducational evaluations. Dr. Stevenson has extensive experience as a primary assessment supervisor for doctoral students who are learning to conduct psychological evaluations, and provides consultation to professionals in the area of evidenced-based intervention strategies. She has also conducted research and presented in national conferences in the areas of forensic practices in psychology and program evaluation in outpatient settings.  

Lisa Syron has been a child advocate since earning a MA in Applied Philosophy in 1983. As the Education Director at the Center for Public Advocacy Research, she addressed sex and race equity issues in N.Y.C. public schools, for example, successfully compelling the gender desegregation of the city’s 21 vocational/technical high schools. She also consulted for NOW/LDEF’s Project on Equal Education Rights. She joined Student Advocacy’s staff in 1989 and became Executive Director in 1991. Since then, she has developed many new projects and initiatives; co-authored Student Advocacy’s publication “101 Answers: Getting Help at School for your Child with a Disability” and, most recently, “Solutions Not Suspension: A Call for a Better Approach to School Discipline” with Karen Blumenthal; and created the agency’s unique Overcoming the Odds Awards program to recognize youth who have made their education a priority despite significant obstacles. Student Advocacy serves approximately 1,000 children each year successfully getting the majority of children served on track to school success.

 

Danielle Tenner, Esq. is an education attorney with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, a nonprofit legal organization that advocates for access to safe, stable homes, health care and education for foster youth in California.  Danielle provides direct legal representation to ensure that youth receive appropriate educational services.  Before joining the Alliance, she practiced complex business litigation.  Danielle received her JD from Harvard Law School.  Prior to law school, Danielle taught middle school in the Los Angeles Unified School District, serving her first two years as a Teach For America corps member.  She earned an MA in Education from Loyola Marymount University and holds a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley. 

 

Marcy J.K. Tiffany, Esq. graduated from UCLA Law School in 1977, where she was Order of the Coif, and an editor of the UCLA Law Review and also received a M.A. in Economics from UCLA in 1978.  She clerked for the Hon. Marianna Pfaelzer, USDC, Central District, California and for the Hon. Abner Mikva, USCA, D.C. Circuit.Ms. Tiffany has served in a variety of government positions, including the Federal Trade Commission, United States Trustee’s Office and as counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.  She has practiced law at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, in Los Angeles, and at Hughes, Hubbard and Reed, in Washington D.C., and also served as General Counsel of Hughes Electronics.  She has had an extensive federal court litigation practice, including arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in FTC v. Indiana Federation of Dentists, 476 U.S. 447 (1986). Ms. Tiffany began practicing special education law in 2001, and was a founding partner of Wyner & Tiffany in 2003, which specialized exclusively in representing students with educational disabilities.  In 2006, Ms. Tiffany was awarded the California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (CLAY) Award in the area of civil rights.  In 2011, Ms. Ms. Tiffany formed Tiffany Law Group, P.C. where she continues to focus on special education cases as a solo practitioner.  In 2014, Ms. Tiffany was honored as a Southern California Super Lawyer for the seventh time.  Ms. Tiffany is married to the Hon. Alex Kozinski. 

Julie Welsh, Esq. is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.  She has over a decade of experience working with special needs children and their families at Association House Legal Services, the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian and now with Charlie Fox.  She is very happy to be part of the COPAA family. 

Carrie Watts, J.D.  graduated from the University of Georgia with Bachelor's Degrees in English and Speech Communications. She then moved to California to attend law school at Pepperdine University School of Law, where she obtained a Juris Doctor, as well as the Strauss Institute's Certificate in Dispute Resolution.  Carrie has a background working in child welfare and conducting oversight investigations of child protective services cases and foster care cases, and published an article on the liability of social services workers in cases involving child abuse related deaths.  Carrie participated in the Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic in law school, where she worked with parents on preparing for and attending IEP meetings for their children.  Following that experience, she pursued her passion for special education law and children's rights, joining A2Z Educational Advocates. While at A2Z, she has assisted hundreds of parents of students with disabilities in school districts throughout Southern California, working with the A2Z team of special education attorneys and advocates to represent parents throughout all stages of the process, from IEP meetings to Due Process hearings.  She has also been actively involved in research and writing for A2Z's cases at the Federal District Court and 9th Circuit levels.   Carrie is a frequent speaker on topics related to special education, and has presented a several prior COPAA conferences.  Carrie is also an active COPAA member, and has served on its Board of Directors since 2011.  She is currently the Chair of COPAA for the 2014-2015 year. 

Jonathan A. Zimring, Esq. is a principal in the Zimring Law Firm with a primary practice in education law. Mr. Zimring a 1974 graduate of Duke University School of Law was Director of the Georgia Mental Disability Law Project, a program funded by the ABA Commission on Mental Disability to provide representation to persons with disabilities. He was education law specialist for the Georgia Legal Services Program. He has been chairman of the State Bar of Georgia Mental Health and the Law Committee, the ABA/Younger Lawyer's Section on Handicapped and the Law, and Chairman of the School and College Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia.  He has presented in numerous Continuing Legal Education programs for judges, attorneys and educators on educational rights, special education and civil rights issues. He was guardian ad litem in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. ex rel Zimring, 527 U.S. 581(1999), which established the definition of discrimination under the ADA.A sample of other cases under the special education laws include: Georgia Ass’n. for Retarded Citizens v. McDaniel,  716 F.2d  1565 (11th  Cir.1983) (extended school year services for children); Georgia Conference of Branches of NAACP v. State of Georgia, 775 F.2nd  1403  (11th  Cir. 1985) (inappropriate placement of children of color in special education classes);  Mitten v. Muscogee County School District, et. al., 877 F.2d 932 (11th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1072 (1990) (independent claim for attorney fees and costs);  Greer v. Rome City School Dist., 950 F.2d 688(11th Cir. 1991) (least restrictive environment);Walker County School District v. Bennett, 203 F.3d. 1293 (11th Cir.), cert denied, 121 S.Ct. 670 (2000) (procedure for the trial of IDEA cases);Georgia Department of Education v. Derrick C., 314 F.3d 545 (11th Cir. 2002) (provision of services to 3 year old disabled students). Mr. Zimring is on the COPAA Board of Directors and co-chair of COPAA’s publication committee.  

 

 

 

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