2019 AFFIRMATIVE LEADERS FELLOWS
Staff Counsel, CA Department of Fair Employment & Housing
Francisco V. Balderrama is a staff attorney at the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) of the State of California. He primarily litigates cases involving discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in employment. He also advises DFEH staff on compliance with the California Public Records Act. Francisco received his undergraduate degree in 2009 from CSU Fullerton and his law degree in 2013 from UC Irvine School of Law. After graduation, Francisco completed a yearlong civil rights fellowship at DFEH. Upon completion of his fellowship, DFEH hired him as a permanent staff attorney.
Assistant City Attorney, Columbus City Attorney's Office
Charles Campisano graduated from Capital Law School in Columbus in early 2016. After graduation he clerked on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Alan E. Norris. In January of 2018, he joined the staff of Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein as an assistant city attorney in the general counsel section. Along with representing several departments of the litigation projects for the City Attorney's Office. For example, he was involved in the City's lawsuit to keep the Crew in Columbus, the City's current lawsuit against President Trump and his administration for violations of the Affordable Care Act, and the City's recently filed lawsuit against Ohio's firearm preemption statute.
Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office
Connie Chan has been a deputy city attorney at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Affirmative Litigation Division, since August 2018. Previously, she was an associate at Altshuler Berzon LLP from 2012 to 2018, where she represented workers, labor unions, and nonprofit organizations. Ms. Chan served as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California from 2011 to 2012 and at the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit from 2010 to 2011. She earned her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Yale Law School.
Assistant Attorney General, District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General
Randy is an Assistant Attorney General at the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General. His work primarily focuses on advancing affirmative litigation to protect workers' rights, and includes enforcement of the District's wage theft and consumer laws. Prior to joining the Office, Randy was an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and before that, a public school teacher in Prince George's County, MD. Randy is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Duke University.
Cynthia Cheung-Wun Weaver
Senior Counsel, New York City Law Department
Cynthia Cheng-Wun Weaver is a Senior Counsel at the New York City Law Department’s Affirmative Litigation Division. Previously, she had clerked for the Honorable Christian F. Hummel in the Northern District of New York and worked as a Senior Attorney at Manhattan Legal Services’ LGBTQ/HIV Unit, where she litigated both affirmative and defensive cases in state and federal court in a variety of areas including tenant’s rights; civil rights and anti-discrimination laws; immigration; health law; LGBTQ/HIV law; government benefits; and administrative law. She is the recipient of the 2015 Pioneer Spirit Award from Asian Americans for Equality for her work on a group case fighting tenant harassment and the co-author of 43 Essex Street: A Case Study in Shutting Down Tenant Harassment and Displacement with Community Organizing and Lawyering, 21 CUNYLR, Issue Number 2 (Fall 2018). She holds a Juris Doctorate from CUNY Law, a Master of Science from the University of Glasgow, and a Bachelor of Art from Rutgers University.
Assistant Solicitor, Baltimore City Department of Law
Aaron DeGraffenreidt is an Assistant Solicitor with the Baltimore City Department of Law. Aaron’s current primary responsibilities include pursuing eminent domain cases, which are jury trials in Maryland, representing various City agency’s on judicial review of their decisions. Aaron recently began working with the Affirmative Litigation Group where he is working on a variety of matters and different portions of the litigation process. Aaron previously worked in legal services and he is active in several bar associations. He and his wife live in Northeast Baltimore City with their two children and two cats.
Senior Attorney, St. Paul City Attorney's Office
Tony Edwards is a senior attorney in the Civil Litigation division of the Saint Paul City Attorney’s Office. Tony represents the City in litigation, including defense of claims related to civil rights and other constitutional issues, employment, contracts and personal injury. Tony serves as head of City’s affirmative litigation team, instituting affirmative cases for the protection of the City and its residents. Prior to joining the City, Tony was a partner with the Minneapolis law firm of Parker Daniels Kibort (previously Parker Rosen). In that capacity, Tony handled scores of various litigation disputes, including victories in numerous employment, business, and police civil rights cases before state and federal trial and appellate courts. Before entering private practice, Tony was an active-duty Air Force JAG officer, where he litigated dozens of civil and criminal trials in military and civilian courts.
Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, City of Philadelphia Law Department
Benjamin Field is the Divisional Deputy City Solicitor in the Affirmative and Special Litigation Unit. Ben joined the Unit in 2016 after a decade of practice with large Philadelphia law firms. Through his role representing the City in affirmative litigations, Ben has worked extensively on the City’s lawsuit regarding the opioid epidemic as well as the City’s action seeking to combat discriminatory mortgage lending practices. Ben’s practice also includes the litigation of high profile matters such as the Department of Human Services dispute with Catholic Social Services over the latter’s refusal to evaluate same-sex foster parent applicants and the defense of the City’s Wage Equity Ordinance. In addition, Ben defends the City on a variety of complex commercial and contractual lawsuits as well as election law related matters. Ben, a 2018 recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” awards, is a 2005 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he was Articles Editor of the Law Review. Ben also holds an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Political Science from Vassar College.
Assistant City Attorney, Seattle City Attorney's Office
Erica joined the Seattle City Attorney's Office in 2016. As an Assistant City Attorney in the Government Affairs section, she works on a wide range of issues. After receiving an undergraduate degree in political science from Yale, Erica participated in the New York City Urban Fellows program, a fellowship program for recent college graduates with an interest in local government. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She then went on to clerk for (then) Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen at the Washington State Supreme Court. Prior to joining the Seattle City Attorney's Office, she spent several years as a litigation associate at a large law firm.
Assistant City Attorney, St. Paul City Attorney's Office
Megan Hafner has been practicing in civil litigation for several years. She recently joined the Civil Litigation division of the Saint Paul City Attorney's Office and is looking forward to expanding her practice to include affirmative litigation and more community involvement.
Deputy Division Chief, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General
Shafaq joined the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in October 2018, when he moved to Boston after working in New York City for 12 years as a public interest attorney focusing on housing law and tenants’ rights. In New York, Shafaq was the director of the Goddard Riverside Law Project, a legal services and community organizing program that works with low-income tenants around housing-related issues. Previously, Shafaq worked at the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, which provides legal assistance to grassroots community-based organizations and their members. Shafaq attended law school at Boston University School of Law and obtained his undergraduate degree from Yale University.
Managing Assistant City Attorney, City of Albuquerque Legal Department – Office of Civil Rights
Torri is the Managing Assistant City Attorney for the City of Albuquerque’s newly established Office of Civil Rights. She is developing the City’s initiatives related to documenting and addressing reported civil rights violations. Additionally, she provides legal guidance to the City of Albuquerque in an effort to develop, promote, and implement policies that reflect the City’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Before joining the City of Albuquerque, Torri served as the Director of the Center for Self Help and Dispute Resolution for the Second Judicial District Court where she further developed and managed the settlement facilitation program, arbitration program, and services to self-represented litigants. She received a BS Degree in psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana, a MA degree in psychology from the University of Tulsa, and her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
Acting Deputy Corporation Counsel, City of Chicago Department of Law
Steve Kane graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor on the Georgetown Law Journal. Following graduation, Steve clerked for Judge Frank J. Magill on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. Steve then worked in the Supreme Court and Appellate practice at Mayer Brown for 17 years, the last 9 as a partner. In 2018, Steve joined the City of Chicago's law department in its newly formed affirmative litigation division, which he currently heads as the Acting Deputy Corporation Counsel.
Senior Counsel, New York City Law Department
Eric Lee is a Senior Counsel in the Appeals Division of the New York City Law Department. Before working for the City, he served as a law clerk on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and practiced at Arnold & Porter in New York. He is a graduate of Boston University School of Law and Harvard University.
Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles Office of County Counsel
Peter is a deputy county counsel in the Los Angeles Office of County Counsel’s Affirmative Litigation and Consumer Protection Division (ALD) handling consumer protection, cannabis, and code enforcement cases. He previously represented the Los Angeles County’s Department of Auditor-Controller in both litigation and general advice in areas including redevelopment dissolution, property tax, state mandate SB 90 claims, and audits. Prior to joining County Counsel, he was a public defender at the Committee for Public Counsel Services providing holistic juvenile representation in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice
Jessica Mar is a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice Tobacco Litigation and Enforcement Section in the Division of Public Rights. Her work focuses on protecting the public health and safety of all Californians, especially youth, from the devastating effects of tobacco use. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Jessica was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Berkeley, where her work emphasized public health, environmental health, and mental health issues impacting the community, as well as open government, campaign finance, and election reform. Jessica clerked for Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. She previously litigated as an associate in the San Francisco office of an international law firm, served as an Executive Fellow in the California Department of Finance, and worked as a Pat Cox Fellow in the Office of Dr. Wolf Klinz in the European Parliament. She has assisted with representation of survivors of the Khmer Rouge before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and worked on anti-trafficking issues in Cambodia. Jessica earned her J.D. from University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and her B.A. from Brown University.
Assistant City Solicitor, City of Holyoke Law Department
Attorney Marshall serves the City of Holyoke, Massachusetts as an Assistant City Solicitor. Her practice areas are litigation, real estate, and issuing legal opinions to the mayor, city council, and city departments & boards. Attorney Marshall earned her Juris Doctor from Western England University School of Law where she served in various leadership roles in the Black Law Students Association, Alternative Spring Break Club, and National Lawyers Guild. She spearheaded many projects at the School of Law including Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline Project, Implicit Bias Testing, and Balancing Your Passion & Your Budget: Working in Public Interest. After graduating from law school in 2016, Attorney Marshall defended indigent people in criminal cases as a public defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Prior to attending law school, Attorney Marshall obtained her real estate broker’s license and gained invaluable experience in property management, leasing, and sales. Attorney Marshall is a proud 2010 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University from which she holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management. Attorney Marshall is a member of the board of directors of the Western New England University School of Law Alumni Association and serves as Chair to the Nominations and Elections Committee. In addition, Attorney Marshall serves her local community as a member of the Lambda Beta Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and frequently volunteers her free time on projects related to underprivileged youth, cancer awareness, and SIDS awareness.
Deputy County Counsel, Los Angeles Office of the County Counsel
Katherine McKeon is a Deputy County Counsel in the Affirmative Litigation and Consumer Protection Division of the Los Angeles Office of the County Counsel. In this role, she represents the County of Los Angeles and the People of the State of California in protecting consumers from fraudulent and illegal practices. Previously, she practiced in the fields of trust and estate and intellectual property litigation. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where she served on the Michigan Law Review, and of the University of Southern California, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering.
Deputy City Attorney, Oakland City Attorney's Office
Malia has been working in the Oakland City Attorney's Office Community Lawyering and Civil Rights Units since 2017, first as a Stanford Public Interest Fellow and now as a Deputy City Attorney. Malia graduated from Stanford Law School in 2016 and went on to clerk for U.S. District Court Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California. Prior to law school, Malia was a clinical research associate at a medical device company and helped run clinical trials for stroke and aneurysm treatments. Malia received her bachelor of science degree in Biochemistry and Public Health from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!)
City Attorney, Santa Fe City Attorney's Office
Erin K. McSherry was appointed City Attorney to the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July of 2018. Prior to representing the City, she worked in each of the three branches of the New Mexico State government, including serving as General Counsel to New Mexico's Department of Health, Department of Cultural Affairs, and Tourism Department. Erin received her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law and two undergraduate degrees from New Mexico State University. Outside of work, Erin reads, runs, bike, dances, and performs with "Improv Santa Fe".
Assistant Attorney General, Minnesota Attorney General's Office
Jonathan Moler is an Assistant Attorney General in the Minnesota Attorney General's Office whose practice focuses on economic and social justice issues. Jonathan represents the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and has argued in federal district court, at the Eighth Circuit, and at the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of the people of Minnesota. Prior to beginning his work at the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, Jonathan advocated for workers rights as an attorney at Nichols Kaster, PLLP and for human rights as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda, as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Minnesota, and as a clerk at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Assistant City Attorney, Salt Lake City Attorney's Office
Allison Parks is an Assistant City Attorney with the Salt Lake City Attorney's Office. She primarily works on land use issues and civil litigation. Allison joined Salt Lake City in 2016. Her previous work experience was based on the Navajo Nation and in Navajo tribal courts, including working as an Attorney for the Navajo Nation’s Department of Justice and providing free civil legal services for a legal aid organization that principally served the Navajo Nation. Allison attended law school at Tulane Law School in New Orleans where she was Senior Managing Editor of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal. She received a BA in English with a minor in Environmental Studies at Westminster College.
Special Counsel for Civil Rights, Connecticut Attorney General
Joshua Perry is Special Counsel for Civil Rights in the office of Connecticut Attorney General William Tong. He has been Deputy Director of Connecticut Legal Services; Executive Director of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights; and General Counsel at the New Orleans Public Defenders. He is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Harvard College.
Assistant City Attorney, Santa Fe City Attorney's Office
Michael Prinz is an Assistant City Attorney in Santa Fe, NM. Before joining the City Attorney's Office, Mr. Prinz clerked for Justice Petra Jimenez Maes at the New Mexico Supreme Court. Mr. Prinz has a variety of legal experience including as an Assistant District Attorney in Albuquerque and Taos and representing homeowners in foreclosure. Michael attended the University of New Mexico and received his law degree from Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, California.
Associate Chief Counsel, California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
Melanie L. Proctor is an experienced attorney with a long public service career. She entered the U.S. Department of Justice through the Honors Program, first working for two years as an attorney adviser for eighteen immigration judges at the San Francisco Immigration Court. Melanie next worked as a civil Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern and Northern Districts of California. In the Northern District, she handled matters that included the landmark settlement in Dept. of Fair Employ. and Housing v. Law School Admissions Council to address systemic failure to accommodate students with disabilities; United States v. Provident Funding Associates, which involved racial discrimination in mortgage lending; and a settlement with a transit network company that did not accommodate wheelchair users. Melanie now serves the people of California as an Associate Chief Counsel with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Her practice is focused on systemic and high impact litigation. Prior to entering law school, Melanie worked in the Clinton Administration at the White House and at the Department of Defense. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis School of Law, and Westmont College.
Deputy City Attorney, City of Santa Monica, City Attorney's Office
Autumn Rindels is a Deputy City Attorney with the City of Santa Monica. Autumn recently joined the Code Enforcement team within the Consumer Protection Division. Before joining the Consumer Protection Division, she was a criminal prosecutor in our Criminal Division. She has been with the City Attorney's Office for approximately five years. Prior to the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office, Autumn spent 4 years in private practice focusing on civil litigation matters ranging from employment to personal injury . And before that, she started her law career as a Deputy District Attorney with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office. Autumn is originally from Boise, Idaho and has lived in Southern California for the last 10 years. She is married and has two 10 month old twins.
Chief; Advice, Business & Complex Litigation Division - Civil Actions Bureau, Office of the Cook County State's Attorney
Jessica M. Scheller serves as the Chief of the Advice, Business & Complex Litigation Division of Civil Actions Bureau in the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney. She obtained her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2004 and her M.B.A in 2007. Jessica is a civil litigator with experience in both private practice and the public sector. Her litigation expertise ranges from commercial litigation to defending regulations from constitutional challenges. She has successfully worked on significant impact litigation issues including defending campaign finance regulations from challenges in the trial court as an Illinois Assistant Attorney General, and she awaits a decision on her recent Seventh Circuit argument against a Second Amendment challenge to the Cook County Blair Holt Assault Weapons Ban.
Deputy Attorney General, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
Aimee Thomson is a Deputy Attorney General in the Impact Litigation Section of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, where she currently works on matters regarding the policies and actions of the federal government. Prior to joining the Pennsylvania OAG, Aimee clerked for Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Judge Berle M. Schiller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She had previously worked as the Appellate Advocacy Fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Aimee graduated magna cum laude from New York University School of Law, where she was a Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow.
Melanie R. Tobias
Deputy Chief of Staff - Prosecution, Columbus City Attorney
Melanie R. Tobias is a graduate of The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. She has worked as an attorney for the Columbus City Attorney's Office for the past 20 years, in the prosecution and general counsel divisions. She is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff at Prosecution overseeing a staff of 80 people and is helping to develop the office's first affirmative litigation department.