Education Law Center Staff
Rhonda Brownstein joined ELC as its executive director in June 2012. Prior to ELC, Ms. Brownstein led the nationally respected Southern Poverty Law Center’s legal program through the development and implementation of major strategic and operational changes. Under her leadership, the legal department expanded from five attorneys in Alabama to 25 in five states spread over the Deep South.
She was lead and co-counsel in many complex class action federal and state lawsuits on behalf of public school students, children in the criminal justice system, and other at-risk populations. Most of the cases she litigated in her 25 years of practicing law were strategically designed to have the broadest impact.
Christine Gaffney, Associate Director
Chris has been Associate Director of ELC since 1999. Her responsibilities are financial management, fundraising, and a variety of management functions that support ELC’s program. Before joining ELC, Chris was Director of a national community development finance coalition, and Associate Director of an international immigration and refugee organization.
Janice Jackson, Administrative Assistant, Legal Secretary, Intake Coordinator
Janice Jackson (a/k/a “JJ”) has been with ELC since November 1978. She started as a Legal Secretary, and over the years has held many different jobs, including Legal Secretary for all ELC attorneys; Administrative Assistant for the Directors and Associate Director; Office Manager; and Bookkeeper’s Assistant. Since September 2008, she has also worked as the Intake Coordinator, working directly with parents and callers to ELC’s HelpLine.
Deborah Gordon Klehr, Staff Attorney
Deborah Gordon Klehr focuses on access to public education, fairness in school discipline, improving school climate, and other school improvement issues. Deborah joined ELC in 2005 after clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie in the Eastern District of New York. Before law school, Deborah taught kindergarten and first grade in Hoboken, NJ. Deborah is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
David Lapp, Staff Attorney
David Lapp has been a staff attorney at the Education Law Center since January 2009. He works on a variety of cases and projects, but his main focus has been on improving school climate. He advises and represents students and parents in school discipline disputes and advocates for the elimination of “zero tolerance” policies and other punitive discipline measures in schools. Prior to graduating from Temple Law in 2008, he taught high school social studies in Philadelphia for nine years.
Maura McInerney, Staff Attorney
Maura McInerney’s education law practice focuses on the legal rights of students who are homeless or in foster care, including issues relating to prompt enrollment, school stability, special education and transfer/graduation requirements. Maura is also involved in policy work at the federal, state and local level. She has been a litigator in the private and public sectors for almost 20 years and has conducted numerous trials and appeals at the federal and state level. Maura previously clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland. Prior to entering law school, she worked at Covenant House in New York City. In 1990, she co-founded a transitional housing program in Columbia, M.D. that provides housing, legal support and social services for homeless families.
Eliza Presson , Maria, Robert and Gabriella Skirnick Fellow
Eliza Presson joined ELC in September 2012 as a Harvard Law School Skirnick Fellow. Her fellowship includes all areas of education advocacy, with a particular focus on increasing charter school accountability and ensuring the rights of English language learners and their families. Eliza is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School.
Hallam Roth, Independence Foundation Fellow
Hallam Roth joined ELC in September 2011 as an Independence Foundation Fellow. Her project focuses on improving educational outcomes for children in foster care, particularly advocating for proper special education identification, supports, and services as well as ensuring school stability and prompt enrollment for children in foster care. Prior to law school, Hallam worked for Community Attention and the Commission on Children and Families in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hallam completed her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Virginia.
Brett Schaeffer, Communications Director
Brett Schaeffer joined ELC in 2009. He is responsible for the organization's internal and external communications.
Brett handles media outreach, and works with staff and partnering organizations on message development and implementation. In addition, he oversees the organization's various Web sites and electronic newsletters. Brett is a member of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook's Leadership Board. He graduated from New York University with a degree in Journalism.
Nancy A. Hubley, Managing Attorney
Nancy A. Hubley has been with ELC since 1985. She is the Managing Director of our Western Pennsylvania office located in Pittsburgh. Nancy has handled cases and projects in all major areas of education advocacy, with an emphasis on educating the youngest children with disabilities. Nancy graduated from Antioch School of Law and received her undergraduate degree, with honors, from Denison University. Nancy served as a judicial law clerk in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia before coming to ELC. Both of Nancy's daughters graduated from the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Nancy Potter, Staff Attorney
Nancy E. Potter joined ELC in 2012. She is a Staff Attorney in our Western Pennsylvania office located in Pittsburgh. Nancy works on cases and projects in all major areas of education advocacy, focusing on school climate issues and library improvement. Nancy graduated from University of Pittsburgh School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University. She served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Oliver J. Lobaugh. Prior to joining ELC, Nancy represented abused, neglected and at-risk youth in the foster care system.
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