Maeve Elise Brown Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), manages operations, supervises staff and participates in the organization's substantive work. She has 23 years of experience as a public interest attorney at, in order, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), National Housing Law Project (NHLP) and HERA. Her experience includes administrative advocacy and litigation on behalf of residents of subsidized housing, rent controlled and other rental properties, public benefits cases, fair housing advocacy and complaints, litigation against lenders, brokers and foreclosure rescue scammers, community workshops and trainings and technical assistance for professionals. She was also lead organizer and a founder of People's Community Partnership Federal Credit Union (a community development credit union). Ms. Brown left NHLP to found HERA in 2005. She has published articles on affordable housing issues and authored a chapter in the American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development (first edition and updated). She is bilingual in Spanish and French and conversant in Japanese, Farsi, Italian and German.
Elizabeth Letcher, HERA's Director of Litigation, has practiced as a public interest attorney for over a decade. She is a 1994 graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law, University of California. After clerking for the Hon. Thelton E. Henderson on the U.S. District Court and Hon. James R. Browning of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Ms. Letcher was a Skadden Fellow at the Employment Law Center. Over the course of six years as an associate at a small civil rights firm and two as a private attorney working with other firms, she practiced extensively in both state and federal courts and provided business and employment advice and counseling. Her litigation has focused on challenges to governmental acts and policies, employment discrimination and public benefits suits, civil, administrative and criminal appeals, and employment and consumer class action cases.
Arabelle Malinis is an attorney at HERA. Ms. Malinis speaks Tagalog and Cebuano and primarily works with homeowners throughout Solano County in the areas of foreclosure prevention, advocacy, fair housing and fair lending. Ms. Malinis has clerked at Bay Area Legal Aid, specifically working in housing rights and family law. She has also clerked at HIV and AIDS Legal Services Alliance (HALSA) advocating for housing rights for people living with HIV and AIDS. Ms. Malinis has volunteered in various legal clinics that provide free legal services in the areas of immigration, tenant rights and consumer law. Ms. Malinis received her J.D. from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California. While in law school, she founded the student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a public interest organization promoting social and economic justice. She also held leadership roles in public interest organizations, which promoted human rights. Ms. Malinis received her undergraduate degree in Microbiology at University of California, Davis where she was a recipient of an oncology fellowship at the U.C. Davis Medical Center.
Adetunji Olude is a Staff Attorney at HERA where she engages in foreclosure defense and represents clients in unfair debt collection, fair credit reporting, and housing discrimination cases. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Ms. Olude is a 2009 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and joined HERA as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, focusing on improving language access and access to legal services for immigrant homeowners facing foreclosure. Prior to law school, Ms. Olude worked as a legal assistant at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco where she assisted detained unaccompanied minors in immigration matters. Ms. Olude worked previously on predatory lending issues as a law clerk at the Center for Responsible Lending in Washington, D.C. and in the Consumer Protection unit of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.
Cynthia Singerman graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida in 2003 and then from the University of Florida law school in 2006 where she earned highest honors in a trial practice training program. Throughout law school, she volunteered at a legal services organization, helping clients with family, employment and housing issues. Following law school Ms. Singerman moved to the Bay Area in May of 2006. Before joining HERA as a staff attorney in January of 2009, Ms. Singerman worked as a Public Defender in Marin County. She was the lead attorney on the Interpreter Calendar consulting with clients in Spanish. Ms. Singerman gained extensive experience addressing the needs of immigrant communities. As a bi-lingual staff attorney at HERA, Ms. Singerman works primarily with homeowners throughout Napa County focusing on foreclosure prevention services and the advocacy of social justice.
Lisa Sitkin is Managing Attorney at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA). Prior to joining HERA, Ms. Sitkin litigated civil rights, media law, intellectual property and advertising cases, as well as providing advice and counseling to newspapers, publishers, businesses and individuals on matters ranging from intellectual property to libel law to fair credit reporting. At HERA, Ms. Sitkin counsels individual clients, assists with predatory lending and related litigation, serves as a consumer advocate in communications with lenders, loan servicers and legislative bodies and assists with administration of the office. Since joining HERA, Ms. Sitkin has conducted numerous workshops and trainings regarding mortgages, foreclosures, loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams, including workshops produced by the Practicing Law Institute, the National Consumer Law Center and the State Bar of California. She is co-author of an article about post-foreclosure evictions, published in the July/August 2009 issue of the Clearinghouse Review. In the public policy arena, Ms. Sitkin has testified before the California legislature regarding the foreclosure crisis, loan modification procedures and foreclosure rescue scams. She participated in the working group that prepared San Francisco's foreclosure rescue scam ordinance and was a member of the coalition that drafted and supported SB 1275, a bill aimed at bringing greater transparency, accountability and fairness to loan modification and foreclosure procedures in California. Ms. Sitkin is a graduate of the Stanford Law School.
Notice: board members are not available to provide legal advice to the public on behalf of HERA.
Maria Hardy Benjamin has designed and implemented housing programs in the non-profit sector for over twenty years. She established Community Housing Development Corporation's First Time Homebuyer Program in 2002. Under her leadership, CHDC has become a HUD approved homeownership center serving over 1500 clients annually. She is a leader in foreclosure and predatory lending prevention activities throughout the Bay Area. Additionally, she was instrumental in the implementation of CC - MATCH (Contra Costa - Moving Assets Toward Community Hands) a financial education and Individual Development Account program. Prior to joining CHDC, Ms. Benjamin served as Program Director for East Bay Housing Organizations, a regional affordable housing advocacy organization. She has worked as a consultant to both East Bay and Peninsula Habitat for Humanity and the City of Alameda Housing Authority. For almost 10 years, Ms. Benjamin assisted hundreds of homeowners as Program Director for the Northern California Land Trust where she designed and implemented a cooperative housing and homeownership program and provided training on the land trust model to community organizations and faith based groups on a national level. She currently sits on the Steering Committee for the Northern California HUD Housing Counseling Network and is a member of the Board of Directors of several community based organizations. Ms. Benjamin has recently joined the faculty of the National Community Land Trust Network and NeighborWorks America Training Institutes. She earned her bachelors degree from New College of San Francisco. Maria and her husband of 28 years have raised three children and live in Richmond.
Scott Chang is an attorney specializing in representing plaintiffs in fair housing cases. For more than a decade, Mr. Chang has been a frequent workshop trainer and speaker at national fair housing conferences and events. Before entering private practice, Mr. Chang was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County. Thereafter, Mr. Chang managed his own practice and represented both individual clients and fair housing organizations in a variety of housing discrimination cases. Throughout this time, Mr. Chang made available his expertise to several non-profit legal service providers throughout California, serving either as primary or co-lead counsel on seminal fair housing cases of which some have resulted in published decisions. Mr. Chang has served on the State Bar of California Standing Committees on Federal Courts and the Delivery of Legal Services, and he is a past president of the Silicon Valley Asian Bar Association. In 2005, Mr. Chang joined Relman and Dane, a civil rights law practice in Washington D.C.
Relman & Dane
1225 19th Street
Washington D.C. 20036
Elizabeth Hom is managing attorney of the Volunteer Legal Services Corporation of the Alameda County Bar Association (VLSC). The VLSC provides free legal assistance to low-income and poor people in Alameda County with certain non-criminal legal issues. Before becoming managing attorney, Elizabeth served as pro bono coordinator for the Alameda County Bar association. In addition to her legal training, Elizabeth has a Masters in Social Work from Loyola University in Chicago.
Marina Jimenez is a victim witness consultant with the Alameda County District Attorney's Office specializing in cases involving Elder /Dependent Adult Abuse and Real Estate Fraud. In 2007, Marina was one of the recipient's of a scholarship offered by the AARP Foundation, National Legal Services Training Project, to attend the National Law and Aging Conference held in Arlington Virginia. In 2002, Marina was hired by the Superior Court of California, Alameda County as the Elder Abuse/ domestic violence case manger to develop the Elder Protection Court, which is a model court for the State of California. Prior to 2002, Marina worked for Legal Assistance for Seniors as a senior legal assistant and Volunteer Legal Services Corporation, of the Alameda County Bar Association as pro bono placement case manager. Marina holds a paralegal certificate from Saint Mary's College and has worked as a public interest paralegal for the last fourteen years.
Elizabeth A. Renuart Elizabeth A. Renuart is a law professor at Albany Law School in New York. Before that time, she served as a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) for over 15 years. Elizabeth is a nationally-recognized consumer law expert who focuses on predatory lending, truth in lending, consumer credit and sustainable homeownership issues. She co-authored two of NCLC's treatises, Truth in Lending and The Cost of Credit: Regulation and Legal Challenges, as well as NCLC Report: Credit & Usury. She is the principal author of the new Stop Predatory Lending: A Guide for Legal Advocates. Ms. Renuart advocates on behalf of low-income consumers before the Federal Reserve Board, HUD and other federal agencies. She teaches consumer law to legal services, private and government attorneys and other advocates around the country. She has been a legal services attorney since 1977.
Roxanne Romell (President)is a private attorney, based in Oakland, California. Her areas of expertise include tenant law, commercial real estate, and residential real estate law. For the last 10 years, she has operated her firm with a focus on social justice for low-income tenants. She is licensed to practice in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, as well as California State Court and is a member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, National Legal Aid & Defenders Association, East Bay Tenant's Bar Association, ACORN and local bar associations in the East Bay. Her litigation experience includes representation of 39 low-income, immigrant families in a habitability case against a slumlord who owns 18 properties in Oakland, and representation of four Chinese-American families in a suit against a multi-millionaire developer.
Law Office of Roxanne Romell
1814 Franklin St., Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94612
Edwin Wilson is a skilled litigator, running his own law practice in Oakland. He has defended hundreds of claims and has achieved significant verdicts and settlements as plaintiffs' counsel in cases involving employment discrimination, sexual harassment, personal injury, road design, product liability, civil rights violations, police misconduct, medical malpractice, predatory lending and fire cause liability. Ed's clients have included, attorneys, law firms, health care professionals and organizations, educational institutions, public entities and public officials, construction contractors and professionals, to name a few. Ed has represented numerous public officials in their individual and/or official capacities in complex and high profile civil and criminal matters. Additionally, he has been retained as a consultant to conduct internal affairs investigations for the city of Pasadena and a special investigation for the city of Sacramento. Ed has served as an attorney representative for the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association and the Alameda County Superior Court, as well as acting as an Early Neutral Evaluator for the United States District Court-Northern District of California's Alternative Dispute Resolution program and as a commissioner for the Alameda County Superior Court's Early Disposition and Settlement Programs.