Staff

Administrative & Supervisory Staff

Jeanette Zelhof, Executive Director
Elise Brown, Deputy Director & Director of Litigation for Economic Justice
Montel A. Cherry, Supervising Attorney
Carolyn E.  Coffey, Supervising Attorney
Mallory Curran, Supervising Attorney
Kevin M. Cremin, Director of Litigation for Disability and Aging Rights
Maia Goodell, Supervising Attorney
Barbara Graves Poller, Supervising Attorney
Michael J. Grinthal, Supervising Attorney
Christopher Schwartz, Supervising Attorney
Lindsay Bascom, Controller
Juliette Dayana Bistoury, Director of Operations
Anu K. Garfield, Management Administrator
Dolores Schaefer, Director of Development and Communications

Staff Attorneys

Jacqueline Adorno
Nicole Arrindell
Sara Baez
Peter Barker-Huelster
Jason Blumberg
Jota Borgmann
Donna Chiu
Ernie Collette
Lisa Collins
Maro Constantinou
Evan Denerstein
Aleah Gathings
Sandra Gresl
Chantal Hernandez
Chloe Holzman
Bernadette Jentsch
Linda Jun
Tanya Kessler
Shafaq Khan
Ariana Lindermayer
Dinah Luck
Elizabeth Lynch
Matthew Main
Ernie Mui
Orier Okumakpeyi
Joseph Rebella
Anamaria Segura
Nahid Sorooshyari
Scott Stamper
Brian Sullivan
Maria Tihin
David Ureña
Shelly Weizman

Social Work Coordinator

Sarah Heller, LCSW

Paralegals/Organizers

Fanny Chan
Brandon Davis
Timothy Deal
Raquel Namuche
Una Perkins
Daniela Robles

Support Staff

Jessica Cepin, Administrative Assistant
Karla Diaz, Administrative Assistant
Ruby Kennedy, Administrative Assistant
Elizabeth Perez, Administrative Assistant

Extern Fellows

Provided by:

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Fellowships

Provided by:

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
Skadden Fellowship Foundation
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz

MFY’s Leadership

Jeanette Zelhof, Executive Director

Jeanette Zelhof has been the Executive Director of MFY Legal Services, Inc. since September 2011.  A long-time member of MFY’s legal team and force behind MFY’s pioneering advocacy on adult home reform, Ms. Zelhof directs MFY’s legal practice that annually serves more than 8,000 poor, low-income and disabled New Yorkers. Under Ms. Zelhof’s leadership, MFY has expanded the scope and depth of its programs by developing projects to serve homeowners in foreclosure, low-wage workers, seniors, consumers, people with disabilities, and residents of three-quarter houses and nursing homes. She has held a number of positions at MFY, including supervising MFY’s affirmative litigation. Ms. Zelhof is the recipient of the Coalition of Institutional Aged and Disabled Adult Home Residents’ award (1998), the New York County Lawyers’ Association Award for Outstanding Public Service (1999), the Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services’ Public Policy Leadership Award (2002), and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Legal Services Award (2005).  She is co-author of Protecting the Rights of Litigants with Diminished Capacity in the New York City Housing Courts, 3 Cardozo Pub.L.Pol’y & Ethics J. 733 (2006), Ensuring a Fair Hearing for Litigants with Mental Illnesses, 17 J.L. & Pol’y 455 (2009), and Mental Health-Legal Partnerships, 44 Clearinghouse Rev. 535 (March/April 2011).  Ms. Zelhof is a 1985 graduate of Brooklyn Law School.

Elise Brown, Deputy Director & Director of Litigation for Economic Justice

Elise Brown supervises MFY’s Foreclosure Prevention Project, which handles cases in state and federal courts. She oversees outreach, training, and public policy work at the local, state and federal levels and is responsible for coordination with partner organizations. Ms. Brown obtained CLE certification for the organization and manages its CLE program, which entails identification of specific programmatic needs, recruitment of speakers, and detailed review of written materials for approximately 20 CLE presentations annually on a wide range of substantive and procedural topics of import to the organization’s attorneys. Prior to joining MFY in 2008, she practiced complex commercial litigation in state and federal courts and handled a wide range of legal matters as commercial real estate litigation, business torts, RICO, antitrust, insurance coverage, copyright, railroad law, and construction law. Following her graduation from law school, Ms. Brown served as a law clerk for the Hon. John M. Duhé, Jr. of the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Montel A. Cherry, Supervising Attorney

Montel A. Cherry is the Supervising Attorney of the Government Benefits Project (GBP) at MFY Legal Services, Inc. GBP assists individuals with legal problems relating to Public Assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid/Medicare, and Disability Benefits.  This assistance includes representing clients in state and federal courts, and at administrative hearings, as well as assisting clients with the application process, and advocating for clients at the applicable government agency.  GBP conducts monthly on-site clinics with various community based organizations, and scheduled trainings for the community at large. Prior to coming to MFY, Ms. Cherry was a Disability Law Specialist at Manhattan Legal Services, where she represented adults and children with physical and mental impairments in appealing their denial of disability benefits.  Initially she was hired at the former Harlem Legal Services, as a staff attorney for the government benefits unit specializing in both welfare and disability law.  She also worked as a decisions editor at the New York Law Journal. Ms. Cherry received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law and a B.A. in Sociology and African Studies from SUNY Stony Brook.   

Carolyn E. Coffey, Supervising Attorney

Carolyn E. Coffey supervises the Consumer Rights Project, which provides advice, counsel, and representation to low-income New Yorkers on a range of consumer problems. In addition to supervising the project, Ms. Coffey represents clients in state and federal courts in both defensive and affirmative cases, conducts trainings on consumer law, engages in legislative advocacy to help pass pro-consumer laws in New York City and New York State, and has co-authored several reports concerning the debt collection industry. Ms. Coffey was previously a staff attorney in MFY’s Workplace Justice Project and Consumer Rights Project for four years and, before joining MFY, clerked for the Hon. Deborah A. Batts in the Southern District of New York.

Kevin M. Cremin, Director of Litigation for Disability and Aging Rights

Kevin M. Cremin supervises MFY’s Adult Home Advocacy Project and coordinates and directs MFY’s affirmative advocacy and litigation involving the rights of people who are elderly or have disabilities.  He has litigated with co-counsel cases such as Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson, which resulted in a finding that New York State discriminated against approximately 4,300 individuals with disabilities.  In 2006, Mr. Cremin received a fellowship to conduct a study to determine whether law and public policy should be reformed to facilitate better community-based services for individuals with psychiatric disabilities in India.  He has also worked for the West Side SRO Law Project and Legal Services NYC.  After clerking for a federal district court judge and a federal appellate court judge, he was a Trial Attorney for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.  Mr. Cremin has published numerous articles on the rights of individuals with disabilities, and he is an adjunct at Cardozo Law School and Columbia Law School.

Mallory Curran, Supervising Attorney

Mallory Curran is the Supervising Attorney of the Mental Health Law Project (MHLP) at MFY Legal Services. MHLP provides civil legal services to persons living with mental illness in partnership with mental health providers in a variety of in-patient and out-patient locations throughout New York City. When Ms. Curran joined MFY in 2012, she brought extensive experience in providing civil legal services in a medical-legal partnership (MLP) setting. From 2011-2012, Ms. Curran helped coordinate a medical-legal partnership (MLP) which serves LGBTQ patients in New York City. From 2002-2010, Ms. Curran was the legal director of the Community Advocacy Program (CAP), an MLP in Cleveland, Ohio which serves children, the elderly, immigrants, and formerly incarcerated people. Currently, Ms. Curran is President of the Board of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership.

Maia Goodell, Supervising Attorney

Maia Goodell is Supervising Attorney of the MFY Legal Services Workplace Justice Project.  Previously, she was a partner at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, representing employees in wage, discrimination, and other employment matters.  She also has experience as a fellow at Equality Now, advocating for women’s human rights, and a litigation associate at Foley Hoag LLP.  She clerked for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Maia holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Yale Law School, a J.D. from the University of Michigan (2001) and a Bachelor of Science from Stanford University (1993).  Before attending law school, Ms. Goodell was a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, serving in USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN and USS PORT ROYAL.  She is currently Chair of the New York City Bar Military Affairs and Justice Committee and a board member of Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW).

Barbara Graves-Poller, Supervising Attorney

Before joining MFY Legal Services, Ms. Graves-Poller was an Emerging Political Leaders Fellow with the Office of Public Advocate and a clerk to the Hon. George B. Daniels in the Southern District of New York.  She also was an associate at the law firms of Shearman & Sterling LLP and Friedman, Kaplan, Seiler & Adelman LLP where she focused on complex commercial litigation.  She received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law where she received the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize for Clinical Law Work, served as an editor on Journal of International Law and Politics, and was a member of the Negotiation Team.  Prior to obtaining her law degree, she received a Master’s Degree in International Education from New York University and taught in New York City public schools through Teach for America. Ms. Graves-Poller coordinates MFY’s pro bono program and supervises the Pro Bono Kinship Caregiver Law Project.

Michael Grinthal, Supervising Attorney

Michael Grinthal is the Supervising Attorney for MFY’s Lower Manhattan Justice Project and the Manhattan Seniors Project.  Before coming to MFY, Michael worked as a housing attorney at South Brooklyn Legal Services, where he specialized in group representation and collaboration with community organizations.  Michael received a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, after which he clerked for the Hon. Nancy Gertner of the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts.  Prior to attending law school, Michael  worked for six years as a community organizer in cities across the country. 

Christopher Schwartz, Supervising Attorney

Christopher Schwartz oversees MFY’s Neighborhood Preservation Project and East Side SRO Project, supervising a team of dedicated attorneys who provide advice, counsel and representation to low-income clients facing loss of their housing or public benefits, and who work actively with neighborhood-based housing organizations and tenant groups to address systemic problems. Mr. Schwartz joined MFY in 2003 as a Staff Attorney for the Neighborhood Preservation and SRO Projects, and quickly earned a reputation for expertly handling a large docket of housing court cases while assisting local tenant groups fighting to save affordable housing. Prior to joining MFY, Mr. Schwartz was a litigation associate at a private firm specializing in commercial law.

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