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21st Annual Children’s Law Institute


Speaker(s): Anastasia Rivera-Bonilla, Ari Chiarella, LMSW, Cynthia L. Rivera, Daniella E. Rohr, Dominique Day, Gary Solomon, Keith Brown, Kelley Burns, Kerry B. Mulvihill, Maria Kaidas, LMSW, Melissa Friedman, Nick Bonham, Randy A. Hertz, Raymond Toomer, Zoë Allen
Recorded on: Jul. 13, 2018
PLI Program #: 222032

Ari Chiarella is a Co-Director and Social Work Supervisor at the Center for Family Representation’s Queens Practice.  She supervises program staff in the Family Defense Practice as well as the specialty Housing and Criminal Defense areas of practice.  Ari has been at CFR for 11 years and began working for the organization in June of 2007 as a Family Advocate in the Manhattan Family Defense Practice.  She has since obtained her Masters in Social Work and worked as a staff social worker, senior social worker, and supervisor, advocating for clients in both Manhattan and Queens Family Courts.  Ari received her BA in Psychology from Barnard College and her MSW from Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.


Cynthia L. Rivera graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was an E. Nathaniel Gates Scholar.  While at Cardozo, Cynthia completed the Certificate Program in Bioethics and Medical Humanities and concentrated in Family Law.  She was the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopment and Related Disabilities Law Fellow at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she contributed to the publication of Judicial Spectrum Primer: What Judges Need to Know About Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), JUVENILE AND FAMILY COURT JOURNAL (Spring 2012).  After completing her fellowship, Cynthia started her work with The Legal Aid Society, Juvenile Rights Practice (“JRP”).  First as a legal intern with JRP’s Kathryn A. McDonald Education Advocacy Project and then with JRP’s trial attorneys.  Upon graduation, Cynthia began her career as a JRP staff attorney holding a hybrid caseload of education and child protective cases.  She currently represents JRP’s clients in their child protective cases as well as their juvenile delinquency proceedings.  Cynthia is NITA teacher trained, judges mock trial tournaments around New York City, has coached for the Thurgood Marshall Junior Mock Trial Competition, and serves as a mentor to Legal Aid Society’s law interns of color.


Dominique Day is the executive director of DAYLIGHT | Rule of Law • Access to Justice • Advocacy, an access to justice platform that works in the United States and internationally and focuses heavily on strengthening methods of grassroots and community engagement as a means of building strong legal and community-based institutions.  Dominique is a justice advocate in the United States and internationally.  Her research, teaching, and access to justice work has taken her all over the world.  Dominique has partnered with the U.S. State Department, universities, and non-governmental organizations as a subject matter expert on racial justice, legal aid, access to justice, building effective legal institutions, and rule of law.  

In 2015-2016, Dominique was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching and researching human rights and leadership at Al Quds University in the West Bank.  Prior to this, she served as the Executive Director of Justice Initiatives for the Mayor of the City of New York.  From 2009-2013, Dominique was a Senior Rule of Law Advisor for the U.S. State Department, work that involved living and working in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  In the decade prior to her overseas access to justice work, Dominique worked in New York City as a public defender in the criminal and family courts, as a federal class action litigator, and as an engaged voice on racial justice, civil rights, criminal justice, family justice, consumer protection, and substantive equality in multiple forums.  Dominique’s work is characterized by a fierce belief in communities’ potential and a commitment to promoting just rule of law and inclusive access to justice. 

Dominique graduated from Harvard College and Stanford Law School and lives in New York City.


Keith Brown currently works for the Administration for Children’s Services in the Family Court Legal Services Division as an Assistant Supervising Attorney in the Legal Support and Training Unit.  Mr. Brown’s primary responsibility is to oversee the work that Family Court Legal Services does at the borough Child Advocacy Centers.  Prior to working for ACS, Mr. Brown was a Court Attorney for the Hon. Valerie Pels in Bronx County Family Court.  Mr. Brown started his legal career with the New York City Law Department in the Family Court Division prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases for approximately six years.  Subsequently for five years, Mr. Brown was a member of the Family Court Assigned Counsel Panel in Bronx Family Court representing children and parents in abuse and neglect proceedings, proceedings to terminate parental rights, custody and visitation proceedings, paternity proceedings and child support proceedings. 


Kerry B. Mulvihill is a Partner of Rosin Steinhagen Mendel, PLLC.  Kerry has extensive experience representing clients in cases involving guardianship, custody, visitation, adoption, assisted reproductive technology and foster care litigation.  Prior to her work with RSM, PLLC, Kerry served as a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, where she represented children in child protective matters and delinquency proceedings.  Kerry is a graduate of Georgetown University and Fordham University School of Law.   Kerry is a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and a former member of the Family Court &Family Law Committee of the City Bar.


Maria Kaidas earned her M.S.W at Columbia University School of Social Work and completed the Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) certificate course. While in graduate school, Maria interned at short-term suspension high school where she provided individual and group counseling to students and at Legal Services NYC where she advocated for clients’ educational rights. Prior to entering graduate school, Maria worked at a therapeutic day school. During her time at Legal Aid, Maria participated on interdisciplinary panels and co-facilitated office roundtable discussions on topics that included mental health best practices in child welfare and the importance of a significant adult connection for youth transitioning out of foster care. Maria graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois.


Melissa Friedman is a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice doing child protective and delinquency representation. Prior to this role, Ms. Friedman was a Skadden Fellow focused on The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children at the Legal Aid Society. As a part of her fellowship, Ms. Friedman conducted a number of trainings for the Legal Aid Society as well as outside organizations, including a plenary presentation at The National Association for Children’s Counsel annual conference in 2017. She is also the incoming chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Children and the Law. Ms. Friedman received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.


Nick Bonham is a staff attorney in the Criminal Practice at the Center for Family Representation (CFR), practicing in Queens and New York counties.  He represents parents accused in family court of abuse and neglect  on their companion criminal cases.  He was previously a staff attorney in CFR’s Family Practice and still maintains a small family court caseload in addition to his criminal caseload.  Prior to CFR, Nick was a public defender in rural Northern California.  He received his B.A. from U.C.L.A. and his J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, and is a member of both the California and New York State bars.


Raymond C. Toomer, Esq. is currently an Associate Commissioner at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).  Ray leads the Office of Strategic Program Support (OSPS) within the Division of Family Permanency Services.  OSPS provides macro level technical assistance to foster care provider agencies to improve safety, permanency and well- being outcomes for children and families in the foster care system.  In addition to the Technical Assistance and Support unit, OSPS consists of ACS’ Office of Employment and Workforce Development Initiatives, Office of Education Support and Policy Planning, Office of Title IV-E Waiver Implementation Support and the Office of Foster Parent Support and Recruitment.

Ray began his career in child welfare, a decade ago, as an Agency Attorney in ACS’ Division of Family Court Legal Services where he represented ACS on Article 10 Abuse and Neglect cases.  Prior to becoming an Associate Commissioner at ACS, Ray was an Assistant Commissioner and Regional Director of Child Welfare at the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) where he was responsible for oversight of ACS’ child welfare programs, Runaway and Homeless Youth shelters run by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and Domestic Violence shelters operated by the NYC Human Resources Administration.

Ray is a graduate of Binghamton University and St. John’s University School of Law.  He is married with two children.


Zoë Allen is the Director of Child Welfare Training at the Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice, where she has practiced as an attorney since 2000.  As Director of Child Welfare Training, Ms. Allen is responsible for training JRP’s staff at all levels of practice.  Prior to holding this position, Ms. Allen worked in the Brooklyn and Manhattan trial offices of the Juvenile Rights Practice where she was a staff attorney, an attorney supervisor, and most recently, Deputy Attorney-in-Charge of the Manhattan office.  Ms. Allen has lectured and served on panels on a number of child welfare topics, including the role of the child’s attorney, foster care, visitation, and family reunification.  She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan and her B.A. from Columbia College.


Gary Solomon is the Director of Legal Support for The Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice. In that capacity he participates in the training of staff and acts as a supervisor, consultant and advisor to staff; prepares practice memoranda and other continuing legal education materials and maintains the Juvenile Rights Practice’s electronic legal research system; and works closely with the Juvenile Rights Practice’s Appeals Unit and, in that capacity, has handled appeals raising important practice issues and prepared and edited amicus briefs.

Mr. Solomon participates in New York State Appellate Division-sponsored training programs for assigned counsel, and Unified Court System-sponsored training programs for judges and court attorneys.

Mr. Solomon prepares the weekly JRD Newsletter, a compilation of annotated court decisions which is made available to judges, lawyers and other professionals throughout New York state and elsewhere, and is the principal author of Volumes One, Two and Three of the Practice Manual for Children’s Attorneys. He has authored chapters on child abuse and neglect and termination of parental rights proceedings which appear in West Publishing's New York Family Court Practice.

In 2003, Mr. Solomon was awarded the Howard A. Levine Award For Excellence in Juvenile Justice And Child Welfare by the New York State Bar Association, Committee on Children and the Law.  In 2006, Mr. Solomon received the Kathryn A. McDonald Award For Excellence in Service to Family Court from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. In 2007, Mr. Solomon received the Orison Marden Award For Outstanding Service and Dedication to the Organization and to the Clients from The Legal Aid Society of New York City.


Anastasia Rivera, Esq., joined CFR as a Litigation Supervisor in February 2011.   Ms. Rivera  is a 1996 graduate of City University of New York School of Law.  In July 1999 she joined ACS as an agency attorney and, later as an Assistant Supervisor.  Upon leaving ACS in 2008, Ms. Rivera, went into the private sector and handled matrimonial work in upstate New York.  Prior to joining CFR, Ms. Rivera was a member of the 18B Panel in Bronx Family Court where she represented parents and children in all Family Court proceedings.   Ms. Rivera received her Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Pace University.


Daniella Rohr is a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP), where she represents children and adolescents in child protective proceedings. From 2015-2017, Ms. Rohr was a Skadden Fellow at JRP, focused on improving outcomes for clients with mental health needs. Ms. Rohr has developed and conducted trainings on representing this population for JRP attorneys and social workers across each of New York’s five boroughs. While in law school, Ms. Rohr was a member of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization, where she served as a student attorney in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic and the Advocacy for Children and Youth Clinic. Ms. Rohr received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.


Kelley Burns is the Director of Training in the Legal Support and Training Unit at Family Court Legal Services, a division of the Administration for Children’s Services.  Family Court Legal Services provides legal representation for Children’s Services in the five Family Courts of New York City in child abuse and neglect proceedings, custody and juvenile delinquency proceedings.  The Legal Support and Training Unit provides litigation support and legal training to attorney and casework staff as well as other types of support to the Division.   Prior to joining the Legal Support and Training Unit, Ms. Burns practiced in the Administration for Children’s Services, Family Court Legal Services in Queens Family Court as a staff attorney since 2001.  Ms. Burns received her undergraduate degree from Fordham University and received her Juris Doctorate from Cardozo School of Law.


Randy Hertz is the Vice Dean of N.Y.U. School of Law and the director of the law school’s clinical program.  He has been at the law school since 1985, and teaches the Juvenile Defender Clinic, first-year Criminal Law, and a simulation course titled “Criminal Litigation.”  Before joining the N.Y.U. faculty, he worked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, in the juvenile, criminal, appellate and special litigation divisions.  He writes in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice and is the co-author, with Professor James Liebman of Columbia Law School, of a two-volume treatise titled “Federal Habeas Corpus Law and Practice”; the co-author, with Professor Anthony G. Amsterdam of N.Y.U. Law School, of “Trial Manual for the Defense of Criminal Cases”; and the co-author, with Professor Amsterdam and N.Y.U. Law Professor Martin Guggenheim, of “Trial Manual for Defense Attorneys in Juvenile Delinquency Cases.” He is an editor-in-chief of the Clinical Law Review.  In the past, he has served as the Chair of the Council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar; a consultant to the MacCrate Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap; a reporter for the Wahl Commission on ABA Accreditation of Law Schools; a reporter for the New York Professional Education Project; and the chair of the AALS Standing Committee on Clinical Legal Education.  He received NYU Law School’s Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010; the Equal Justice Initiative’s Award for Advocacy for Equal Justice in 2009; the Association of American Law Schools’ William Pincus Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Legal Education in 2004; the NYU Award for Distinguished Teaching by a University Professor in 2003; and the American Bar Association’s Livingston Hall award for advocacy in the juvenile justice field in 2000.