COPAA Summer Webinar Presenters
Selene A. Almazan, Esq.
Selene is the Co-Executive Director and Director of Advocacy Services of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education (MCIE), a non-profit organization founded in 1988. For the last twenty years, Selene has represented parents in special education matters with a primary focus on Least Restrictive Environment issues. As the Director of Advocacy Services, she directs the only legal services project devoted solely to the issue of Least Restrictive Environment in the country. The Advocacy Project has represented over 3,500 individual students in the last twenty years throughout the state of Maryland. Selene represents families at IEP team meetings, state complaint proceedings, mediations, due process hearings, suspension/expulsion proceedings, and federal court proceedings, including matters involving violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Selene is a former Supervising Attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland where she represented children in the foster care system, including representation in special education matters. She has extensive experience training families, teachers, school administrators, attorneys, and advocates on legal issues related to special education law as well as disability discrimination issues. Selene taught a course in school law as an adjunct faculty member of the graduate school of education at Johns Hopkins University. Selene is a member of COPAA and TASH. She was the Chair of the Board of Directors for COPAA for 2006-2007, and is currently Treasurer and Co-Chair of the Amicus and Conference Committees.
Andrew A. Feinstein, Esq.
Andy 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 COPAA Government Relations Committee and an adjunct professor of special education law at Central Connecticut State University. Andy 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.
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.
Laurie Markus, Esq.
Laurie is an Education Advocate at the Southfield Center for Development, working with parents and families in securing educational rights for their children with disabilities. In addition to her varied work with schools and parents, Laurie has received extensive training on proven advocacy strategies and effective programming for children with disabilities. She has provided advocacy services to over 75 families. Laurie is a member of COPAA, the Council of Exceptional Children, the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, and the Fairfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association. Laurie graduated with a B.A. from Brandeis University and has a J.D. from Emory University School of Law. Prior to working as an advocate, Laurie practiced as a Litigation Attorney and is admitted to the Connecticut, New York and Florida Bar Associations. Laurie resides with her husband, son, and daughter in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Ann is the Managing Director and an Education Advocate at The Southfield Center for Development. In her role as Managing Director, Ann is responsible for the Southfield Center's strategic and business planning efforts. Ann holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University and worked for over a decade in marketing and public relations prior to entering the field of special education advocacy. Ann is the also the founder of Advocacy for Kids, which became the education advocacy arm of The Southfield Center in October 2009. She has provided advocacy services to over 200 Connecticut families as well as supervising the Center's advocacy team. In addition to her direct work with schools and parents, Ann has completed hundreds of hours of training related to special education advocacy. She has presented to a number of groups regarding effective advocacy strategies, including the Association of School Nurses in Connecticut, SPED*NET Wilton, Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, and at the 2011 School Health Conference of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Catherine Merino Reisman, Esq.
Catherine is a founding partner of Reisman Carolla Gran LLP, a firm that specializes in special education counseling and litigation. She is a member of COPAA’s Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and Governmental Relations Committee as well as Co-Chair of the Amicus Committee. Catherine served as Chair of COPAA from 2011-2012. Prior to starting her own practice, Catherine was the Co-Chair of the Special Education Practice Group at Montgomery McCracken in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Catherine graduated from Yale Law School and received her B.A. from New York University School of Law. Catherine, who is also the mother of a child with special education needs, speaks regularly to parent and attorney groups on special education law. She is licensed to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Jennifer Rodriguez-Fee, Esq.
Jenny earned her J.D. from Southwestern Law School and her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in English from UCLA. Jenny joined the Children’s Rights Clinic in 2010 as its inaugural Clinical Fellow, providing assistance to the Director in the teaching and supervision of clinic students. In 2011, Jenny became a permanent member of the Children’s Rights Clinic team, as Supervising Attorney and Adjunct Associate Professor of Law. In this role, Jenny supervises law students in representation of youth in special education, school discipline, and early intervention cases. Additionally, Jenny assists with the development of course curricula, expansion of the Clinic into areas including regional center advocacy, and teaching of the Clinic and special education seminars. Prior to joining Southwestern, Jenny practiced for nearly two years as an associate at Woodsmall Law Group. There, she represented families in the area of special education and early intervention and advocated on behalf of youth with special needs.
Jonathan Zimring, Esq.
Jon’s practice focuses on education law, special education, and civil rights. Jon is a 1974 graduate of Duke University School of Law. He began his practice as Special Counsel at Dorothea Dix Hospital, Raleigh, N.C. In 1976, he began as education law and mental health law specialist with the Georgia Legal Services Program and was Director of the Georgia Mental Disability Law Project. Since 1982, Jon has been in the private practice of law. He has served as chairman of the State Bar of Georgia Mental Health and the Law Committee, the ABA/Younger Lawyer's Section on the Law and the Handicapped, and Chairman of the School and College Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. He has lectured in numerous CLE programs for judges, attorneys and educators on educational rights, special education, and civil rights issues. Jon served as guardian ad litem in Olmstead v. L.C. and E.W. exrel Zimring, 527 U.S.581 (1999), which established the definition of discrimination under the ADA.