Speakers and Moderators
My name is Jessica Allen and I am a recovering addict. I am 31 years old and I have been clean and sober for 9 years on October 1st 2020. This is a very special day for me every year that goes by that I haven't picked up a drink or a drug. I have stayed clean all this time because of the Medicated Assisted Treatment Program for Opioid addiction. I was an active user since I was 13 years old. During my teenage years I went through more trauma than most people go through in their entire life and I used that as an excuse to use. After some time in MAP and living by their rules, something about the comfort of the medication, the nursing staff and councilors that has given me a life I never thought I could have. I have overcome so many obstacles and one that has opened my eyes even bigger is discrimination in the work place. I was denied a nursing job because of my history and thanks to the help of the EEOC i was able to go from being a victim to being a hero. I am so grateful for the opportunity to tell my story and hopefully through my words will open the eyes of those who are ignorant and those that need help.
Director, EEOC, Boston Area Office
Director, U.S. Office of Federal Contract & Compliance
Meris Bergquist is an attorney and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, the oldest fair housing organization in Massachusetts. She specializes in the representation of victims of housing discrimination before administrative agencies and federal and state courts. In 2005, Ms. Bergquist prevailed in a landmark Fair Housing Act case expanding fair housing rights for female victims of domestic violence. She is a frequent guest lecturer at area colleges and the Western New England University School of Law. She has written articles on fair housing issues, including a 2018 law review article, “How the Massachusetts Lead Poisoning
Prevention and Control Act Codifies Systemic Discrimination Against Families with Children in Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.” In 2011, she received the Paul F. Batch, Jr. award from the Stavros Center for exemplary service to Deaf individuals, and in 2018 she received the Drum Major Award for the Advancement of Civil Rights in Massachusetts.
Maureen Carroll Dennis
3L, WNEU Law School & Center for Social Justice
3L, WNEU Law
Prof. Matthew Charity
Prof. Matthew Charity has been teaching at Western New England since 2007. He teaches public international law courses (International Law, International Criminal Law), and researches in areas of atrocity crimes, governmental responsibility, and human rights. Professor Charity has served on the executive committees of the Association of American Law Schools Sections on Africa (Chair, 2013-14), Law and South Asian Studies, and International Law (Chair 2015-16). Professor Charity also teaches Federal Criminal Law, Contracts, Sales, and Human Rights.
Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Charity spent seven years at the New York law firms of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson, and Baker Hostetler LLP, where he worked in commercial litigation, antitrust, and business crimes and corporate investigations. His pro bono work included refugee asylum and prisoners' rights litigation.
While at Columbia Law School, Professor Charity was a member of the Human Rights Law Review, and worked with Human Rights Watch in Ethiopia, and at the Office of the Secretariat of the United Nations. He also served as a vice-president of the Public Interest Law Foundation.
Professor Charity has served a number of years on the drafting committee of the International Criminal Court Committee for the American Branch of the International Law Association. He also serves as Chair of the Human Rights Commission of the Town of Amherst, and on the Executive Committee of the Society of American Law Teachers. Professor Charity shares in the coaching responsibilities of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Team, and is the Concentration Advisor to the International and Comparative Law Concentration.
Managing Attorney, Consumer Rights Unit
Torey Cummings is an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, where she is in the Civil Rights Unit. She enforces federal civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination in the areas of housing, education, policing, disability, and employment, and prosecutes federal human trafficking and hate crimes. Prior to coming to Massachusetts, Torey was a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She has led multiple major civil rights investigations of states, universities, police departments, and school districts, among other entities. Torey has a juris doctorate and a master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
Michael J. Doherty
Clerk Magistrate, Western Division Housing Court
Jane Edmondstone is the Senior Supervising Attorney of the Housing Unit at Community Legal Aid, where she supervises a team of advocates working for housing justice. That work includes fighting for fair and equal access to housing opportunities, ensuring safe and habitable living conditions, and defending against unjust evictions and displacement.
Joel Feldman has been a shareholder of the law firm of Heisler, Feldman & McCormick, since 1998. Mr. Feldman serves on the Access to Justice Commission of the Supreme Judicial Court where he serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Access to Attorneys group. In addition to having taught at Western New England University, he has taught housing law, fair housing law and consumer law at many conferences and workshops. He also served on the founding steering committee of Springfield No One Leaves, a grassroots group fighting bank foreclosures and organizing tenants and homeowners. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Feldman worked as a housing lawyer at legal aid offices across Massachusetts, and was the Legal Director of the Housing Discrimination Project in Holyoke. Mr. Feldman is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Columbia University.
H. John Fisher
In various ways, John Fisher has been involved with fair housing and civil rights issues for more than fifty years. John directs the Fair Housing Information Program at Way Finders, and has worked in the nonprofit housing sector in various positions on and off since the 1980s. He is the author of Property Management for Massachusetts Rental Owners, now in its sixth edition, as well as many other articles and publications on landlord and tenant issues. John also serves as a private consultant, working with tenants, landlords, and community-based organizations, as well as teaching a property management workshop which is offered throughout the state. He is, himself, a landlord.
In addition to housing issues, John also consults and writes about applied neuroscience technology. He is Managing Director for the Foundation for Neurofeedback and Applied Neuroscience.
Upon graduation, Professor Freeman clerked for Federal District Judge Michael A. Ponsor (D. MA). He was an associate at Lesser, Newman, Souweine and Nasser, in Northampton, MA, where he litigated employment, civil rights, and personal injury claims and was Of-Counsel with Attorney Wendy Sibbison focusing on appellate litigation. For 10 years, he was a Visiting Professor at the Labor Relations and Research Center, University of Massachusetts, teaching labor and employment law. In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Professor Freeman to the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board, an appellate agency body that oversees public sector labor relations in Massachusetts. Professor Freeman’s writings appear in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal and Working USA: A Journal of Labor and Society. He sits on the editorial board of Working USA and The Second Draft, a publication of the Legal Writing Institute, and is a cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts. Professor Freeman joined the law school’s faculty in 1999.
Rahsaan Hall is the Director of the Racial Justice Program for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. In this role Rahsaan helps develop the ACLU of Massachusetts’ integrated advocacy approach to address racial justice issues. Through legislative advocacy, litigation and community engagement, the program works on issues that deeply impact communities of color and historically disenfranchised communities. Rahsaan also manages the ACLU of Massachusetts' What a Difference a DA Makes campaign to educate state residents about the power and influence of district attorneys.
Prior to joining the ACLU of Massachusetts, Rahsaan was the Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice where his work included policy and legislative advocacy, community outreach, and maintaining a litigation caseload of voting rights, police misconduct and public accommodations cases. Rahsaan headed up the Voting Rights Project that included the coordination of the statewide Election Protection initiatives, voting rights litigation and his prior involvement in community coalitions on redistricting after the last decennial census.
He also served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. A significant portion of his work in the DA’s Office included his time in the Safe Neighborhood Initiative and Senior Trial Units where he prosecuted drug, gang, and homicide cases.
In addition to leading the ACLU of Massachusetts’ Racial Justice Program, he also serves on the Hyams Foundation’s board of trustees and is a member of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee.
Rahsaan is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.A.), Northeastern University School of Law (J.D.) and Andover Newton Theological School (M.Div.). He is an ordained reverend in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Executive Director of Charles Hamilton houston Institute for Race and Justice
Toni Hager Cummings
Toni Cummings (Hager), works at the Western Massachusetts Women’s Correctional Center (WCC) in Chicopee, MA and serves as a full-time teacher at the facility. Cummings teaches all subjects for ABE and HSE classes. In addition to a busy teaching schedule, Toni supports women in furthering their education by helping facilitate college classes remotely and by providing tutoring. She is also the intern coordinator at the WCC.
Nicole J. Hendricks
Nicole J. Hendricks (née Henderson) is professor and chair of the Criminal Justice program at Holyoke Community College. During her tenure she has also served as the Coordinator of the Gender and Women's Studies program. Before joining the faculty, she was a Research Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice where she conducted both federally funded and privately funded research on a range of issues. She is the author of Law Enforcement and Arab American Community Relations After September 11, 2001: Engagement in a Time of Uncertainty (2006, Vera Institute of Justice). Her research and teaching interests include the intersection of race, crime and justice, police-community relations, and discretion and decision-making in the criminal justice system. Professor Hendricks holds degrees from Wesleyan University (B.A.), in anthropology and African-American studies and New York University's Wagner School of Public Service (M.P.A.).
Attorney Justin J. Hurst is a lifelong Springfield resident, currently the President of the Springfield City Council and serving his fourth term on the Council. Attorney Hurst taught English in the Springfield public schools for more than six years and also led a literacy initiative in the Springfield public schools. He is an adjunct professor at Springfield College and Cambridge College and is currently the manager for London Realty, LLC. He is a graduate of Western New England University School of Law.
Ms. Kemple has worked with people of color and low-income communities for over three decades. In 1985, she was admitted to legal practice in Massachusetts, where she specialized in representing low income individuals and families with housing and benefits complaints. She then spent 14 years as founder, legal director and executive director of the Housing Discrimination Project, a private fair housing organization serving all of central and western Massachusetts. Since 2003, Ms. Kemple has served as Executive Director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center. While at the Center, she has advised state and local officials regarding the implementation of policies and plans to overcome impediments to fair housing choice. Ms. Kemple is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and the College of the Holy Cross.
Curran Berger and Kludt
RI Legal Services
Sita Magnuson is the co-founder of Dpict, a facilitation firm specializing in process design, visualization, and collaborative environments (online and in-person). She has two decades of experience supporting communities and organizations across geography and sector.
She currently leads Dpict’s learning initiatives and organizational experimentation in civic stewardship and futures-based community development. She co-founded Easthampton Co.Lab and Fort Future as spaces to experiment and collaborate locally, spawning an in-depth investigation into blanket forts and the power our physical environments have on cognition and community. She lives with her husband and two children in Easthampton, Massachusetts.
Mediator, EEOC, Boston Area Office
Executive Director, Action for Equity
Representative Brandon L. McGee Jr., community activist and architect of social solutions for the people of Connecticut, is serving his fourth term representing areas of Windsor and Hartford. Brandon is the House chairman of the legislature's Housing Committee and the chairman of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.
Sonia Mendez is a poet, artist, and current student in the social work program at Westfield State University. She is a long-time member of the group Voices From Inside and Voices Carry, an organization which offers performances and readings designed to bring the stories of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women to the public. She was recently a cast member in “What Our Voices Carry,” an original play created in conjunction with local playwright Trenda Loftin. The play aims to encourage audiences to confront the human cost of U.S. incarceration policies, dearth of social and health services, and response to the current opioid crisis.
Sonia is in pursuit to make a difference in her community. She has volunteered at many social justice organizations like Voices From Inside, Neighbor to Neighbor, Arise for Social Justice, Pioneer Valley Project and at the Greater New Life Christian Center. Her experiences before, during and after incarceration have influenced her educational goals. Since her release Sonia has graduated from the Women's fund of Western Massachusetts Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (2017). Sonia graduated from Holyoke Community College with an associates degree in Liberal Arts and Science in June of 2019 and received a Certificate in Human Services in January of 2020. Sonia completed the Addiction Recovery Coach Certificate Program offered at Westfield State University in December 2019. She worked as a recovery coach alongside Narcotics Intervention Officers for the Hart/Reach program through the Behavioral Health Network at the Holyoke Police Community Center from November 2019-Feb 2020. Sonia aspires to obtain a juris doctorate and serve the community long term in that role.
Kristina Mensik joined Common Cause Massachusetts in April 2019 as the Assistant Director. She helps manage campaigns to strengthen democracy in the Commonwealth.
Prior to joining Common Cause Massachusetts, Kristina helped researchers translate their work into accessible and useful policy briefs for policymakers and civic leaders in her role as a Senior Research & Policy Fellow at the Scholars Strategy Network. In addition, she worked on projects around civic engagement, academic freedom, and criminal legal reform. She holds a BA in Peace & Justice Studies from Tufts University, where she concentrated in Israel/Palestine and US Policy.
Kelly Moore joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut (ACLU-CT) in 2019. As the ACLU-CT’s policy counsel, Kelly promotes greater societal justice and liberty by planning and implementing policy initiatives, specifically through legislative policy research, analysis, drafting, and advocacy. Prior to joining the ACLU-CT, Kelly was president of a legal research and writing consulting firm. Before that, she was in private practice, where she accrued significant experience in the courtroom and in arbitration. Contemporaneously with her professional endeavors, Kelly served as the Deputy Florida Leader for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and has been a community organizer for faith-based justice initiatives and immigrants’ rights. Kelly received her J.D. from the University of Florida, where she served as research editor of the Florida Law Review.
Attorney Ndidi N. Moses
Attorney Ndidi N. Moses is an Assistant United States Attorney, and the Civil Rights Coordinator for the Civil Division at the United States Attorney's Office. Attorney Moses develops and conducts extensive outreach to educate the community and institutions about civil right violations. She has provided civil rights and cultural competency training to other federal agencies across the country, summer camps, afterschool programs, hospitals, police departments, banks, credit unions, state agencies, advocacy groups, and community members.
Mary Orisich joined the Critical Cultural Studies Department at Holyoke Community College in 2006 as its Economics faculty member. During her tenure at the college, she has served as Department Chair of Critical Cultural Studies as well as Chair of the Gender and Women's Studies program. Prior to joining the faculty at HCC, she was a Research Analyst with the California Nurses Association, a Research Associate with the National Priorities Project and a contract Research Associate for the Western Massachusetts Coalition to End Homelessness, whereby she conducted federally funded and privately funded research on various economic and social policy issues. Her research interests within the discipline can broadly be described as “technology studies” and focus on the implications and outcomes of choices (at the firm, institutional and social levels) made regarding technologies of production, consumption and distribution, most notably regarding the class, race and gender of communities affected by such technological choices. Professor Orisich holds degrees from Purdue University (B.S.) in Economics, (B.S.) in Psychology and a (B.A) in Philosophy, as well as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (M.A.) Economics.
After nearly twenty years as a web designer and layout artist, POPS PETERSON has successfully forayed into the world of fine art, best known for his works on the theme of Civil Rights and Freedom. His photos and giclee prints have been featured in solo exhibitions at Sohn Fine Art and Lauren Clark Fine Art, in the Berkshires, as well as group exhibitions in the Berkshires and New York City. Currently he is represented in the international tour, ""Reimagining the Four Freedoms,"" curated by the Norman Rockwell Museum, currently at The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn MI. His portraits and landscapes also hang in upscale hotels and fine homes from England to Palm Beach Florida.
In 2015, Pops debuted his reknown collection, ""Reinventing Rockwell."" In this critically acclaimed project he reimagines the iconic works of Norman Rockwell as if they were painted in the current day. Celebrating the diversity in today's America, the series has won Pops a great deal of press coverage, as well as an award from the Northeast Regional Conference on Fair Housing and Civil Rights. He has also been named the first Artist in Residence of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The Norman Rockwell Museum has embraced the project, presenting Pops' work and two lecture at standing room only events in their main gallery, one of the best attended events in the history of the museumNorman Rockwell Museum's international tour, THE FOUR FREEDOMS: ENDURING IDEALS, RE-IMAGINING THE FOUR FREEDOMS
Anthony M. Pino, Jr.
Anthony Pino, Enforcement Supervisor for the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is almost an eleven-year veteran of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Boston Area Office. Anthony started with the Commission in December of 2009 as an investigator and was promoted to Enforcement Supervisor in October of 2014. Anthony has an extensive law enforcement background as a Sergeant in the United States Marie Corps, Deputy Sheriff for Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Air Marshal and served as an adjunct hand to hand combat instructor for the agency, and Police officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Anthony has experience investigating complex, systemic, pattern and practice and class cases for the EEOC. Anthony has received many awards during his tenure with the EEOC to include but not limited to, the District Directors Award and Sustained Performance Awards.
Alex serves as the Policy and Communications Manager at MassVOTE. He has discussed issues like vote by mail, ranked choice voting, and the 2020 census on networks including NBC 10 Boston, 22 News, and Western Mass News. Prior to joining MassVOTE, Alex served in the Washington office of Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), as well as on the Chris Pappas for Congress campaign in New Hampshire's First Congressional District. Alex graduated from the American University in Washington, DC, where he studied political science and history.
Since co-founding MassLandlords in 2013, Doug Quattrochi has scaled the organization from a core of 160 members in Worcester to over 1,900 dues paying businesses from Pittsfield to the Cape. He has been instrumental in advancing democratic governance mechanisms, including score voting for policy priorities and a staggered and democratically elected Board of Directors. MassLandlords' mission is to create better rental housing in Massachusetts. Doug holds a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Central West Justice
Catherine Ratté, Principal Planner is the co-Manager of the Land Use/Environment section at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Catherine is an experienced manager, facilitator and strategic planner, establishing connections and collaborations across disciplines with a focus on sustainability and an emphasis on racial equity. Catherine’s been with the PVPC for 22 years. Previously she worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the United States Peace Corps in Cameroon and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Catherine has two Master's degrees, Urban and Regional Planning and Social Work, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an undergraduate degree in Literature and Society from Brown University. Catherine specializes in inter-disciplinary initiatives focusing on climate action and social justice. She grew up in Amherst, left the region for 23 years, and is now happily settled in Springfield.
Professor Ravenell joined Villanova Law School in 2006 and began serving as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development in June of 2019. She teaches Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Civil Rights Litigation, and Police Conduct. Professor Ravenell's scholarship focuses on § 1983, the federal civil remedy for constitutional deprivations, and examines the points at which § 1983 jurisprudence converges with other areas of the law. She is an expert on qualified immunity, municipal liability, and federal civil rights litigation against police officials. Her articles have been published in Villanova Law Review, Temple Law Review, and Seton Hall Law Review. Her most recent piece, Policing Symmetry, will appear in the North Carolina Law Review.
Professor Ravenell received her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. While at Columbia, she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Following law school, Professor Ravenell was an associate with Wilmer, Cutler, & Pickering in Washington D.C. and clerked for the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson of the United Stated District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia before joining the College of William and Mary law faculty as a Visiting Assistant Professor.
Amy R. Romero
Amy R. Romero is an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island, focusing on enforcement of federal civil rights laws. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Romero represented individuals in housing and employment discrimination cases at Rhode Island Legal Services and Community Legal Aid in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ms. Romero grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, graduated from Swarthmore College and University of Pennsylvania Law School, and clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Luke is a partner at the Northampton law firm of Sasson, Turnbull, Ryan and Hoose. He received his law degree, magna cum laude, from Western New England in 2005. During law school, Luke served as editor-in-chief of the Law Review and published a note on the necessity defense. From 2005 to 2007, he clerked for United States District Judge Michael Ponsor. Since entering private practice, Luke has represented criminal defendants at the trial and appellate level and plaintiffs in civil rights litigation. Luke has published articles on the rights of criminal defendants to access internal affairs files in self-defense cases, challenging search warrants in drug cases, and abusive police interrogation practices. He has been active in many community organizations over the years including Out Now, Arise for Social Justice, Elevated Thought, and Springfield No One Leaves. In 2016, Luke was recognized as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in the area of criminal defense and began serving on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He currently serves on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Luke’s work was recently featured in the Netflix documentary “How to Fix a Drug Scandal.” He has also received awards from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the Massachusetts chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Massachusetts Bar Association.
Luke is the creator of #ThisDateInTheDrugWar – an ongoing anti-prohibition Twitter project. He can be found @LukeRyanLawMA
Eric Shupin joined CHAPA in 2013, and became the Director of Public Policy in 2016. He is responsible for directing CHAPA’s affordable housing advocacy agenda and policy team, which includes CHAPA's policy committees, the Policy Leadership Council, and CHAPA's federal advocacy through the New England Housing Network. Prior to CHAPA, Eric was a student-attorney at legal clinics in Washington, DC, where he represented clients in Housing Court. Eric has worked with many housing and community development nonprofit organizations while serving for two years in the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. Eric has a B.A. and J.D. from The George Washington University and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
Attorney, Morgan Brown & Joy
Maureen St. Cyr
Community Legal Aid
Boston Housing Authority
Central West Justice
Jules Torti is the Civil Chief and Civil Rights Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont. In addition to overseeing defensive litigation and the office’s affirmative fraud enforcement practice, Ms. Torti’s own case work focuses on enforcement of federal civil rights laws, including prosecuting federal hate crimes. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Torti litigated police misconduct cases with a civil rights law firm in New York City. Ms. Torti grew up in Vermont, graduated from Duke University and New York University School of Law, and clerked for Judge Schiller of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Judge McKee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Springfield No One Leaves