September 28, 2018
July 21, 2018
Keana Williams is a Staff Attorney with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP). Keana focuses on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability issues. She represents individuals on SSD and SSI appeals before Administrative Law Judges and the Appeals Council. Keana is a graduate of Hampton University (2011) and The Pennsylvania State University: Dickinson School of Law (2015). She is licensed to practice in New York (2016).
Louise M. Tarantino is a senior staff attorney with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) Unit in Empire Justice Center's Albany office. She focuses her practice on Social Security and disability law. Louise is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bars. She is a contributing author of the NYSBA Committee on Disability Rights publication, Representing People With Disabilities. She is also a contributing author of Benefits Management for Working People with Disabilities: An Advocate's Manual. Louise is a frequent lecturer and trainer on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income issues. She is a graduate of Nazareth College and the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law.
Senior Staff Attorney
Cheryl Keshner is a Senior Paralegal/Community Advocate with the Empire Justice Center in the Long Island office, where she assists indigent people, particularly immigrants, in obtaining assistance from the Department of Social Services and other government agencies. She is active in advocating for the rights of people with limited English proficiency and has provided training and technical assistance to other advocates throughout the state. She is the founder and coordinator of the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition (LILAC), a coalition of individuals and organizations based on Long Island working to attain equal access to programs and services, such as healthcare, law enforcement, social services, education and justice through the courts, for persons who are limited English proficient. The coalition was successful in obtaining passage of executive orders in both Nassau and Suffolk counties mandating county agencies to provide comprehensive language access. Cheryl was the recipient of the 2013 Suffolk County Civil Liberties Union Equality Award. Prior to joining the Empire Justice Center, Cheryl worked for fifteen years as a social worker with Nassau/Suffolk Law Services where she assisted numerous homeless individuals and families, challenged work rules disqualifications and provided representation at fair hearings, and engaged in community education regarding welfare reform. She has also worked as a community organizer with the NYC Commission on Human Rights . Cheryl is fluent in Spanish and has an MSW from Hunter College School of Social Work.
Jennifer Karr is a staff attorney at the Empire Justice Center in the Rochester office. She represents clients appealing the denial of disability benefits before ODAR and the Appeals Council. Prior to joining Empire Justice, she practiced disability law at the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York and worked for the New York State Department of Labor. She is admitted to practice in New York, and is a member of the state and women’s Bar Associations. She graduated from the David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC) and the George Washington University.
Keith Jensen is a Disability Advocacy Paralegal with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) in Empire Justice Center’s Rochester office. Before joining Empire Justice Center, Keith was a student at the University of Rochester. As a student, he interned with US Senator Kirstin Gillibrand’s regional Rochester office. Keith is also a graduate of the New Visions Law & Government Program, which allowed him the opportunity to intern with the Broome County Family Court system, an Educational Law firm, and The City of Binghamton’s Office of Corporate Counsel.
Linda Hassberg is a senior staff attorney in Empire Justice Center's Long Island office. Linda's primary responsibility is impact litigation to bring about systemic change, primarily in the areas of public benefits, civil rights, health and family law. Linda joined the Empire Justice Center in 2007 to help open the Long Island Office. Prior to that time, she served as litigation counsel of the not-for-profit Western New York Law Center in Buffalo, New York, where she conducted individual and class action impact litigation on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in the areas of public benefits, health care, education, housing discrimination, and civil rights. Her other legal experiences include association with a private law firm in a practice devoted to the rights of people with disabilities and special education law. She also maintained a practice in union-side labor and employment law. Linda graduated magna cum laude from the University of Buffalo Law School in 1992 and clerked for the Hon. John T. Curtin, USDJ for the Western District of New York from 1992-95. Prior to law school, Linda was a union activist, educator, and organizer for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees "AFSCME" and holds a Masters degree in U.S. Social and Labor History.
Senior Staff Attorney
Angela Hale (Angie) is a paralegal with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) Unit in Empire Justice Center's Rochester office.
Don Friedman is the managing attorney of the Empire Justice Center Long Island office. He is part of the Government Benefits, Family & Health Unit. Don's primary focus is in public benefits policy advocacy. This work strives, at all levels of government, through legislative and administrative change, to ensure that benefits are adequate and accessible to those in need. Before joining Empire Justice in 2007, Don had been a staff attorney at legal services offices in Queens and Manhattan, the public benefits coordinating attorney at Legal Services for New York City, and a policy analyst at the Community Food Resource Center and the Community Service Society, both in New York City. He is a co-founder of Project FAIR, a member of the boards of Hunger Solutions New York and the Public Utility Law Project and a member of the Suffolk County Welfare to Work Commission. He is the author of An Advocate's Guide to the Welfare Work Rules, available on the Empire Justice Center website.
Doris is a senior paralegal with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) Unit in Empire Justice Center's Rochester office. She is a bilingual paralegal representing individuals on SSI appeals before Administrative Law Judges and the Appeals Council. Doris has been with the DAP Unit since 1996.
Catherine M. (Kate) Callery is a senior staff attorney with the Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) Unit in Empire Justice Center’s Rochester office. Kate focuses on Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability issues. Kate previously served as the Supervising Attorney of the DAP Unit at the Public Interest Law Office of Rochester (PILOR) and the Unit Supervisor of the DAP Unit at Monroe County Legal Assistance Corporation. Kate serves as coordinator of the Western New York DAP Task Force and has presented trainings for NOSSCR, the New York State Bar Association, the Monroe County Bar Association and various DAP conferences. She has represented numerous clients before the Social Security Administration and in federal court. Kate is a graduate of Smith College and the University of Connecticut Law School.
Senior Staff Attorney
Susan Antos focuses her work on public assistance benefits, child care, and child support as it pertains to low income individuals, and has a special interest in the equal protection and due process rights of low income families and individuals. Ms. Antos has represented low income individuals in numerous class actions in both state and federal court. She began her career with Empire Justice as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in two federal court class actions establishing the right of public assistance recipients to notice and opportunity to be heard in the IV-D child support context first, with respect to the child support pass through (Schwartz v. Perales) and then regarding excess support (Broniszewski v. Perales). She also was co-counsel in Velazquez v. State, 7 A.D. 3d 449 (First Dep't 2004), a statewide class action regarding the rights of indigent respondents in child support proceedings to rebut their ability to pay a monthly minimum order. Ms. Antos was co-counsel in Doe v Doar, a statewide class action that restored public assistance benefits to 27,000 households containing children and disabled family members. She has also successfully challenged the lack of notice in the recovery of public assistance benefits through the tax offset process in Dantzler v. Wing. Most recently she has been involved in a number of cases which resulted in federal court orders requiring local social services districts to comply with application processing timelines for public assistance, SNAP, and medical assistance applications. She was also co-counsel in Torres v. Blass, a case which successfully challenged inadequate notices sent to recipients of child care subsidies who would have lost their benefits when the County lowered eligibility levels. She represented the plaintiff in Carver v. State of New York, in which the New York State Court of Appeals held that participants in welfare work experience programs must be given credit for the value of their work when the local social services district attempts to recover properly paid public assistance. Ms. Antos is the author of a number of publications on issues of interest to attorneys representing low income individuals, including: New Law Provides Uniform Standard for Assessing Medical Child Support and Protections for Low Income Parents, "Family Law Review, A Publication of the New York State Bar Association, Spring, 2010; What's New in Child Support? A review of the provisions in the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 which become effective in 2008 and 2009, Legal Services Journal, February 2008; Child Support Desk Reviews: New State Procedures Frustrate Those Seeking Relief, Legal Services Journal, June, 2007; and S. Antos and M. Smyth, "Public Benefits and Child Support Arrears," NYU Review of Law and Social Change, Volume 30 Issue 4, (2006).
Senior Staff Attorney
Saima Akhtar is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Public Benefits Unit in the Albany office of Empire Justice Center. She works on issues that include supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits (food stamps), emergency assistance, cash public assistance, and subsidized child care. Saima represents low income clients both in court and in administrative proceedings. She provides legal representation to her clients by handling individual cases and through class action litigation, challenging laws or administrative policies and practices that harm low income people. Saima has served as counsel to the class in a number of cases in New York's State and Federal Courts including Richard C. v. Proud, Brooks v. Roberts, and Karamalla v. Devine. She has also provided continuing legal education sessions for the New York State Bar Association, The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Practicing Law Institute, and the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association on topics such as SNAP basics, emergency assistance benefits in New York, and basic lawyering skills for new attorneys. Saima currently serves as the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee for the Board of Directors of New York's Early Care and Learning Council. She is a graduate of Albany Law School of Union University and holds a masters degree in Public Policy from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy from the University at Albany.
Senior Staff Attorney