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Leadership

President & Attorney-In-Charge
General Counsel
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer; Director, Pro Bono & Volunteer Unit
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Managing Attorney
Associate Director, Matrimonial & Family Law
Director, Matrimonial & Family Law
Project Director, LGBTQ Law Project
Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)
Associate Director, Tenants’ Rights
Associate Director, LegalHealth
Associate Director, Consumer Protection Unit
Associate Director, Immigrant Protection Unit
Director, Special Education & Holocaust Compensation Units
Director, Tenants’ Rights Unit
Director, Financial Counseling Division
Project Director, Mobile Legal Help Center
Director, Public Benefits Unit
Director, Human Resources
Director, Philanthropy
Director, Communications & Marketing
Director, LegalHealth
Director, Consumer Protection Unit
Director, Foundation & Government Relations
Co-Director, Special Litigation Unit
Co-Director, Special Litigation Unit
Project Director, Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants
Director, Immigrant Protection Unit
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Beth Goldman

President  & Attorney-In-Charge

Beth came to NYLAG in 2015 after a 20-year career in government service. She was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 to be the Commissioner of the Department of Finance, where she previously served as Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel at Finance. Prior to City government, Beth spent 15 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, notably as deputy chief, and as Chief of the Environmental Protection Unit. She represented the United States in Federal District Court and appeals in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in employment, tort, First Amendment, fraud, civil RICO, national security, and other areas.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Harvard Law School, J.D
Yale University, B.A.

Randal Jeffrey

General Counsel

Randal has worked at NYLAG for the past 20 years, first as a staff attorney in the Special Litigation Unit, then as a unit director, and now as general counsel. As general counsel, he provides assistance to the President, senior management team, and program directors on contract, personnel, and compliance issues. Randal also serves as an in-house resource for all staff on matters of professional legal ethics and works with NYLAG’s Board on matters of nonprofit governance. He also oversees legal matters involving NYLAG as a party. Prior to coming to NYLAG, Randal was a pro se law clerk with the Second Circuit’s Staff Attorney’s Office and a Georgetown fellow at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Columbia Law School, J.D.
Harvard University, B.A.
New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient

Caprice Jenerson

Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer; Director, Pro Bono & Volunteer Unit

Caprice leads a team of volunteer management professionals who work to expand NYLAG’s capacity to serve a greater number of people with unmet civil legal needs. The team builds relationships with corporations, law firms, and law schools to advance organizational goals and meet the needs of the clients we serve. Prior to joining NYLAG, Caprice was a criminal defense lawyer for 21 years and spent two years in Washington, D.C. as the senior resource counsel of Clemency Project 2014 – a collaborative effort to engage and train more than 4,000 lawyers to prepare clemency petitions for individuals incarcerated in federal prisons. Caprice was appointed by Chief Judge DiFiore to the Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council and serves as co-chair of the Law School Subcommittee of the New York City Bar Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Georgia State University College of Law, J.D.
Rutgers University, Douglass College, B.A.

Alison Lavan

Chief Financial Officer

Alison joined NYLAG in 2016 with 15 years of experience in accounting, auditing, and financial management in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining NYLAG, Alison held positions at Credit Suisse and Ford Models. She served as Vice President of Finance at Jitasa, an outsourced accounting firm focused on nonprofits, where she gained extensive experience and passion for managing the complex financial challenges facing nonprofits. She worked with over 50 organizations in this capacity, including charity: water, New York Cares, and the Battery Park Conservancy.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Lehigh University, B.S.

Sara Meyers

Chief Operating Officer

Sara manages administration and operations for NYLAG, including human resources, information technology, and office management. She is responsible for developing and maintaining office-wide systems to track outcomes and improve productivity, works closely with the Finance Department to monitor budgets and reporting, and provides senior management with leadership and guidance, including multi-year strategic planning. Sara also oversees NYLAG’s development team, which is responsible for the organization’s revenue generation.

Most recently, Sara was Assistant Vice President, Institutional Advancement at Hunter College, where she built a leadership team and developed organizational strategies for the Hunter College Foundation (HCF). Before joining Hunter College, Sara served for over ten years at two City of New York agencies. Earlier, she was Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Finance, and an Assistant Commissioner of the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York University, M.P.A.
Connecticut College, B.A.

Lisa Rivera

Managing Attorney

Lisa is part of NYLAG’s senior leadership, overseeing our legal programs, professional training programs for staff, and strategic planning. She joined NYLAG in 2003 as a staff attorney, and since then has held numerous positions, including acting director and associate director of the Matrimonial & Family Law Unit, where she supervised a team of dedicated advocates representing survivors of intimate partner violence in family, matrimonial, and immigration law matters, and director of strategic initiatives. Earlier, Lisa worked at the National District Attorney’s Association where she assisted in developing trainings on domestic violence, sexual assault, and forensic evidence. Lisa co-directs the Domestic Violence Clinical Center in conjunction with St. John’s University School of Law, where she is an adjunct professor.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Bucknell University, B.A.
New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient
Courtroom Advocates Award, recipient
Lawyer’s Committee Against Domestic Violence, member
Family Court/Family Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association, former member

Shani Adess

Associate Director, Matrimonial & Family Law

Shani is the associate director of NYLAG’s Matrimonial & Family Law Unit, and the project director of Project RISE. Shani works with survivors of intimate partner violence, abuse, and sexual assault, both adults and immigrant youth. In addition to her own practice, Shani supervises staff who serve these populations through direct representation in matrimonial law, family law, and immigration law matters. Shani leads trainings and participates in panels on related substantive law; working with survivors of trauma and abuse; trauma’s psychological, physical, and physiological impacts; and provision of client-centered trauma-informed representation. Previously, Shani was the senior supervising attorney for Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project, and an advocacy and communications officer with Jesuit Refugee Services in the Southern Africa Region.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Georgetown University Law School, J.D.
Emory University, B.A.
New York Women’s Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Committee, co-chair
Lawyers Committee Against Domestic Violence, member
ICE Out of Courts Coalition, member
New York City VAWA Advocates Group, member

Amanda M. Beltz

Director, Matrimonial and Family Law Unit

Amanda first came to NYLAG as a law student in NYLAG’s Domestic Violence Clinical Center. After graduating from law school, Amanda received a Skadden Fellowship to provide holistic family and immigration law services to survivors of intimate partner violence from Africa and the Middle East.  Amanda returned to NYLAG in 2009 as a staff attorney, representing survivors in family, matrimonial, appellate, and immigration matters. She became a supervising attorney in 2015, and associate director in 2016. Amanda provides trainings to staff and the community in substantive legal issues related to domestic violence, family, and immigration law.

Amanda also co-directs the Domestic Violence Clinical Center, where law students litigate family offense, custody, and visitation cases under a student practice order. The clinic collaborates with St. John’s University School of Law, where she is an adjunct professor.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

St. John’s Law, J.D., cum laude
Fordham University, B.A.
Domestic Violence Committee, NYC Bar Association, chair

Heather Betz

Director, LGBTQ Law Project

Heather supervises a team of attorneys and paralegals representing LGBTQ New Yorkers in a range of civil legal matters, including family law, housing and employment discrimination, immigration, and name and gender marker changes. She also leads the project’s systemic advocacy and public education efforts. Prior to joining NYLAG, Heather directed the Dreamer Pro Bono Project at Cornell Law School. She was previously a senior staff attorney at the HIV Law Project, where she represented people living with HIV/AIDS. Heather was also an Echoing Green Fellow at Immigration Equality and began the organization’s in-house representation of LGBTQ and HIV+ immigrants seeking asylum and other relief from deportation.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

CUNY School of Law, J.D.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A.
Echoing Green Fellow

Valerie Bogart

Director, Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program (EFLRP)

Valerie directed EFLRP at Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. from 2002 through its move to NYLAG in April 2013. EFLRP is a comprehensive legal services program that advocates for access to long-term care and other health care services for seniors and people with disabilities through a combination of direct representation, policy advocacy, professional legal education, and online resources through the website NYHealthAccess.org. Earlier, Valerie was a litigator and trainer on Medicaid long-term care for the Legal Aid Society Brooklyn Office for the Aging and Legal Services for the Elderly in Manhattan (part of Legal Services-NYC) and was a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at the Legal Aid Society in Minneapolis. She lectures and writes extensively for bar and social services organizations and has taught adjunct courses at CUNY and Fordham law schools.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Law Journal’s Lawyers who Lead by Example Award, recipient
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Felix A. Fishman Award for ExtraordinaryAdvocacy, recipient
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys’ President’s Award, recipient
Access to Justice Award of Project FAIR, recipient
New York State Bar Association Elder Law Section’s Medicare Committee, co-chair
Board of Neighbors Together in Brooklyn, member
New York University School of Law, J.D.

Ed Campanelli

Associate Director, Tenants’ Rights

Ed joined NYLAG as associate director of the Tenants’ Rights Unit (TRU) in August 2017, the same month that the right to counsel for tenants became law in NYC. Ed supervises TRU’s Queens team and helps guide new and recent law school graduates in becoming part of the next generation of attorneys providing NYC tenants with a fair shake at preserving their homes, keeping their families stable, and averting homelessness. Ed started his legal career at the AIDS Center of Queens County representing indigent HIV-positive individuals in Housing Court, Family Court, and before various administrative tribunals. Immediately prior to NYLAG, Ed was a staff attorney at the community-based nonprofit Housing Works, Inc., where he focused almost exclusively on housing-related matters for clients.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

City University of New York School of Law, J.D.
New York University, B.F.A.

Julie Brandfield

Associate Director, LegalHealth

Julie coordinates the training curriculum for hospital partners, establishes new clinics, and supervises LegalHealth’s staff attorneys. Julie has extensive experience in employment and insurance law, key focuses of her LegalHealth practice. Before joining LegalHealth in 2002, Julie was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. She clerked for the Honorable Alfred J. Lechner of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Julie served as secretary of the Federal Courts Committee of the New York City Bar Association from 1995 to 1998 and contributed to Trial Ready: A Manual for Pro Se Litigants Appearing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (1997).

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Chicago, B.A.
Fordham University School of Law, J.D.
New York City Bar’s 24th Annual Legal Services Award, recipient

Rose Marie Cantanno

Associate Director, Consumer Protection Unit

Rose Marie Cantanno has represented homeowners in all aspects of foreclosure litigation since 2010. In addition, she advocates for homeowner protections on both the state and city level. Before working at NYLAG, she was a partner for twelve years in the real estate law firm of Liotta & Cantanno, LLP, which specialized in representing buyers, sellers, and lenders in residential real estate transactions.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Brooklyn Law School, J.D.
Hunter College, B.A.

Melissa Chua

Associate Director, Immigrant Protection Unit

Melissa provides legal and programmatic guidance to the Immigrant Protection Unit’s (IPU) team in all areas of the unit’s wide-ranging practice. She began her career at NYLAG in 2008, serving for more than seven years as a staff attorney and supervising attorney in IPU. In those roles, Melissa worked on a wide range of immigration matters, including removal defense, asylum, and relief for survivors of violence. In 2015, Melissa joined the International Rescue Committee (IRC) as the director of immigration, where she was responsible for developing agency-wide policies and practices on immigration and supervising the oversight of immigration field staff in the IRC’s 24 field offices.Melissa later served as an adjunct professor at Cardozo Law School, where she taught the course on Immigration Law. Melissa rejoined NYLAG in 2019.

Following law school, Melissa spent three years as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, handling a range of complex commercial litigation and pro bono matters, including detained and non-detained asylum cases.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Georgetown University Law Center, J.D.
Colgate University, B.A.

Laura Davis

Director, Special Education and Holocaust Compensation Units

Laura worked for almost 20 years as a social worker. After graduating law school and working in private law, she came to NYLAG in May 1999. During her time at NYLAG, she has worked with Holocaust survivors to help them receive the compensation to which they were eligible, and with children with disabilities to ensure that they receive the free appropriate public education guaranteed them by federal and state law.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of California at Berkeley, M.S.W.
Cardozo Law School, J.D.

Jonathan Fox

Director, Tenants’ Rights Unit

NYLAG’s Tenants’ Rights Unit represents New York City tenants with low incomes and strives to preserve safe and affordable housing for its clients by defending them in eviction cases and by asserting their rights affirmatively under tenant protection laws. Before becoming director, Jonathan served as a supervising attorney in TRU. Prior to that, Jonathan was a supervising attorney in NYLAG’s Storm Response Unit representing Sandy-affected families in consumer-related legal matters, especially issues related to unscrupulous home improvement contractors. Before joining NYLAG, Jonathan worked at The Financial Clinic, where he handled consumer law cases for New Yorkers experiencing poverty and survivors of intimate partner violence in the areas of foreclosure defense, debt collection defense, tax, and bankruptcy.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

University of Connecticut School of Law, J.D.
Columbia University, B.A

Mario Gutierrez

Director, Financial Counseling Division

Mario leads a division that is responsible for financially empowering NYLAG clients and New Yorkers in general. He has been in the field for eight years, mainly as a financial counselor and coach, as well as a project lead, trainer, and technical assistance provider. He oversees a team of 13 counselors and coaches serving more than 3,000 clients a year.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

City College of New York, M.A.
Baruch College, B.B.A.

Sirrah Harris Dobbert

Director, Mobile Legal Help Center

Sirrah Harris is the supervising attorney and project director for the Mobile Legal Help Center, which travels to sites in NYC’s five boroughs, Long Island, and Westchester, to provide civil legal information, resources, and representation to individuals who otherwise may not have been able to access legal assistance. She supervises the team of lawyers, paralegals, and volunteers who are committed to the mission of providing quality legal services within communities that may not be reached by traditional legal offices.

Previously, Sirrah worked as the onsite NYLAG attorney at the Legal Hand office in Crown Heights to provide legal resources, information, and referrals to unrepresented community members in a walk-in storefront office. Before that, Sirrah was a staff attorney in NYLAG’s Storm Response Unit, where she worked primarily with people affected by Superstorm Sandy on consumer issues. Before joining NYLAG, Sirrah worked at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow and staff attorney in their Workers’ Rights Project.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Fordham University School of Law, J.D.
New York University, B.F.A.

Maria Hunter

Director, Public Benefits Unit

Maria Hunter leads the Public Benefits Unit (PBU), which works to ensure that families, children, and the elderly experiencing poverty, and those with disabilities, veterans, and other vulnerable populations, have access to the public benefits to which they are entitled, including public assistance, veterans’ benefits, SNAP benefits, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Income. PBU also provides life planning assistance in order to help clients access and maintain these critical benefits in the future. Maria was previously the supervising attorney for the Elder Law Practice where she led a team that represented senior clients on issues regarding access to public benefits, advance planning, and elder abuse.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York University School of Law, J.D.

Dora Mendez

Director, Human Resources

Before joining NYLAG, Dora served as HR director at The Bridge, Inc., leading the HR integration of affiliate organization Weston United. She also was the director of Training, Workforce Planning and Development at WIN. Dora’s career in public service includes working as an investigator for the NY State Division of Human Rights—Office of Sexual Harassment Issues and at HELP USA’s Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC). During her tenure at FHJC, she developed and facilitated a unique training program on housing rights for survivors of intimate partner violence. She was previously director of the District Office for former NYC Councilmember Gale A. Brewer and a paralegal specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office EDNY.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, M.P.A.
Iona College, B.A.
Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), member since 2012

Helen Murphy

Director, Philanthropy

Helen is responsible for individual and corporate giving. Helen partners with NYLAG attorneys and staff to increase support for and visibility of our vital programs. Prior to joining NYLAG, Helen worked in both programmatic and development capacities in leadership roles at Children’s Academy, INCLUDEnyc, and The Glaucoma Foundation.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Columbia University, M.S.W.
College of the Holy Cross, B.A

Brian Pacheco

Director, Communications & Marketing

Brian leads NYLAG’s marketing communications strategy and oversees the organization’s campaign development, branding, press relations, social media, website, and other forms of digital media. Brian has more than 10 years of experience in strategic marketing communications and fundraising. He created a viral video (110 million+ views) for actor Terry Crews and Safe Horizon, spearheaded a multi-media LGBTQ youth campaign that was featured on American Eagle’s Time Square billboard space, and has secured stories in multiple top-tier news outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, The Today Show, and many others.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Middlebury College, B.A.
POSSE scholar

Randye Retkin

Director, LegalHealth

Randye Retkin, Esq., is currently the director and founder of LegalHealth, a Division of NYLAG. LegalHealth is the country’s largest medical-legal partnership, serving hospitals and community-based health organizations, including some VA hospitals. Prior to joining NYLAG, Ms. Retkin served as director of legal services for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the nation’s oldest and largest organization serving people with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Retkin served as a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS), where she established the VOLS Immigrants’ Rights Project. She is a co-author of New York States’ Standby Guardianship law and helped spearhead the recent expansion of the law to assist immigrant families. She is also an author of New York’s Health-Related Legal Services law.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Immigration Coalition, founding member
National Cancer Legal Services Network, founding member
OneCityHealth Executive Committee, member
New York City Bar Association Ethics Committee, memberd

Daphne Schlick

Director, Consumer Protection Unit

In her role at NYLAG, Daphne oversees the Foreclosure Prevention Project, The Office of Financial Empowerment’s Debt Collection Project, and the Access to Justice of the NY State Courts’ Volunteer Lawyer For a Day Project (VLFD) in the Bronx, Queens, and Richmond counties. She is also a vocal public advocate for consumer economic justice and legislative
change, both through local NYC coalition groups and a variety of community workshop presentations. Daphne previously practiced family law at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation legal services, representing survivors of intimate violence in their orders of protection, custody, and visitation proceedings, as well as advocating for survivors’ consumer rights. She also previously interned at NYLAG’s Family Law Unit. Daphne has worked for a variety of government and nonprofit agencies, including the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Legal Aid Society, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Chicago Public Arts Group.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York County Lawyers’ Association’s Public Service Award, recipient
National Association of Consumer Advocates Education Committee, member

Jennifer Schwarzchild

Director, Foundation & Government Relations

Jen heads up NYLAG’s institutional giving program, working to secure and maintain funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. She also leads NYLAG’s government relations strategy, communicating with elected officials and city, state, and federal agencies to coordinate funding and advance legislation. Prior to coming to NYLAG, Jen worked at a government consulting firm and interned at the Office of the Mayor of New York City.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Fordham University, M.A.
Fordham University, B.A.

Jane Greengold Stevens

Co-Director, Special Litigation Unit

Jane Greengold Stevens has worked in civil legal services, representing indigent clients in civil matters since 1969. Since the mid-seventies she has specialized in class actions enforcing the rights of people with disabilities, public  assistance recipients, students harmed by for-profit schools, and others denied benefits due to them under federal and state law. She was director of litigation and then deputy project director at South Brooklyn Legal Services for twelve years. She then co-taught the federal litigation clinic at Brooklyn Law School, while maintaining her class action caseload. She has been at NYLAG since 2001, and became director of litigation in 2007.

Highlights of Ms. Stevens’ earlier career include her victory before the United States Supreme Court in 1974, vindicating the rights of “illegitimate” children to receive benefits on their fathers’ Social Security accounts; her role as lead plaintiff in a case resulting in a Second Circuit decision in 1982 finding the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit Authority in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for failing to make public transportation accessible to people with mobility impairments; and successful cases on behalf of people with mobility impairments against the New York City Board of Elections and the New York City Housing Authority.

She also maintains a parallel career as an artist, using the name Jane Greengold.

Danielle Tarantolo

Co-Director, Special Litigation Unit

Danielle Tarantolo joined NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit in May 2011, became the Unit’s associate director in 2015, and a co-director in 2017. She has litigated complex class actions on behalf of consumers who are low income, individuals with disabilities, recipients of public benefits, student loan borrowers, and others.

Before joining NYLAG, Danielle spent three years as an associate at Jenner & Block, where she was honored with the firm & pro bono award for her outstanding work on behalf of indigent clients in immigration, discrimination, prisoners’ rights, criminal law, and other areas. She also represented commercial clients in complex litigation matters, including securities fraud and contract disputes. Danielle clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for the Honorable Jed S. Rakoff on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Yale Law School, J.D.
Williams College., B.A.

Robyn Tarnofsky

Director, Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants

Robyn is the director of NYLAG’s Legal Clinic for Pro Se Litigants in the Southern District of New York. She came to NYLAG in 2016, after a 20-year career as a litigator specializing in complex commercial litigation and government investigations at a major New York law firm. At the firm, she performed substantial pro bono work. Before starting at the firm, she clerked for the Honorable Sandra L. Lynch of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Honorable Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

Harvard Law School, J.D.
Harvard Law Review, Executive Editor
Yale University, B.A.
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society

Jodi Ziesemer

Director, Immigrant Protection Unit

Jodi leads a large team of innovative and passionate immigration advocates. In addition to overseeing staff, she works with senior management to establish and implement a strategic vision for the unit, undertakes the management and reporting on grants and deliverables, and develops effective programs to meet client needs. Prior to joining NYLAG, Jodi was a supervising attorney at Catholic Charities in their Unaccompanied Minors Program. In addition, she has worked for the past ten years representing a wide variety of immigrants in front of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (Immigration Court) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Jodi worked as a Board of Immigration Appeals representative for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago and as a paralegal at Fitzgerald and Company, LLC in Boston. Jodi served an adjunct professor at St. John’s University.

Education, Awards, & Affiliations:

New York Law School, J.D., summa cum laude
Fletcher School of Law, M.A. in Law and Diplomacy
Grinnell College, B.A.