Remla Parthasarathy is the Project Leader of the Crime Victims Legal Network, a federally-funded partnership between the New York State Office of Victim Services, the Empire Justice Center, Pro Bono Net, and the Center for Human Services Research at the State University of New York at Albany. The goal of the Project is to connect victims of crime with the civil legal services they need through the development of new technology solutions. The Network is expected to be operational in late 2018. Since graduating from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, Remla has worked in a variety of capacities primarily in the field of intimate partner violence. She served as an attorney representing domestic violence victims in Family Court, a systems advocate for a domestic violence shelter and county-wide coalition, a coordinator of a misdemeanor domestic violence court, a coordinator of a safe-home network, and a Domestic Violence in the Workplace Educator. Prior to joining Empire Justice, Remla worked for ten years as the Clinical Instructor for the Women, Children, and Social Justice Clinic at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School. There, she supervised and taught students placed in agencies that work in the areas of intimate partner violence, elder abuse, child abuse, and human trafficking, and provided assistance to coalitions and task forces in the Western New York area to enhance their communities' response to intimate partner violence. She also teaches as an adjunct professor, and works as a consultant and trainer. Remla has presented workshops at several national and state-wide conferences. She has served on the Board of Directors of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the International Institute of Buffalo, the YWCA of Western New York, and the Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence. She is a recipient of the Sr. Karen Klimczack Peace and Justice Award from the Erie County Coalition Against Family Violence, and the Trailblazer Award from the SUNY Buffalo Law School Students of Color Committee.
Staff Attorney -Crime Victims Legal Network Project
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.
Laura is the Immigrant Rights Paralegal for the Long Island office. Laura is fluent in both English and Spanish. Laura assists immigrant clients in applying for immigration benefits, provides translations and interpretation, and conducts intakes. Laura also assists the Liberty Defense Project Manager and Senior Immigration Attorney in grant reporting and case tracking. Laura has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Stony Brook University. Prior to working at Empire Justice, Laura was a legal intern at SEPA Mujer and a Graduate Coordinator for Off-Campus Living at Stony Brook University. Laura is also a singer and performer in her spare time.
Immigrant Rights Paralegal
Prathiba Desai is a Staff Attorney with the Immigration Unit working out of our Yonkers office. Prior to joining the Empire Justice Center, Prathiba represented victims of domestic violence and human trafficking from the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City region in immigration proceedings. She also has experience representing young people seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Prathiba is a graduate from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. As a law student she was a part of the International Women's Human Rights Clinic. Prathiba is a graduate of St. John's University, earning a Master of Arts in Political Science and International Law & Diplomacy and Rutgers University, where she earned her undergraduate degree.
Maria DeGennaro joined Empire Justice Center as a Staff Attorney with the Consumer Finance and Housing Unit of Empire Justice Center, and is the Long Island Regional Coordinator for its Anchor Partner Program for the Office of the NYS Attorney General's Homeownership Protection Program ("HOPP"). Maria provides and coordinates legal services and housing counseling services related to HOPP out of the Central Islip office at Touro Law School's Public Advocacy Center. Maria's previous experience includes being the Foreclosure Prevention Program Manager for Long Island Housing Services, Inc. ("LIHS"). Maria worked at LIHS and built their foreclosure prevention program while attending law school. After graduating from Touro Law School, Maria worked in legal private practice handling a range of litigation cases. Prior to attending law school, Maria worked for two decades in business, banking and lending institutions. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.S. in Business Administration and received her M.B.A. from Sacred Heart University.
Unit Director, HOPP Regional Coordinator
Robert Cisneros is a senior staff attorney with the Immigration Unit at the White Plains office of Empire Justice. He practices primarily immigration law. Prior to joining Empire Justice, he practiced immigration law at Central American Legal Assistance, a not-for-profit law firm located in Brooklyn, New York, where he represented Central and South American refugees, and in the private sector. Rob is a graduate of Saint Lawrence University and the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law.
Senior Staff Attorney
Meredith Bloch, a 2010 graduate of Cornell Law School, is an Immigrant Rights Attorney in the Yonkers, NY office of the Empire Justice Center. Meredith was previously a staff attorney at the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project in St. Louis, MO. A participant in a US Fulbright Project in the Dominican Republic in 2004-05 and having spent time in Paris with an international arbitration group, Meredith is fluent in Spanish and French. She provides direct legal assistance to immigrants in the Hudson Valley and participates in community education and Know Your Rights efforts.
Linda A. Bennett-Rodriguez is a staff attorney with the Immigration Unit at the White Plains office of the Empire Justice Center. She primarily practices immigration law. Her areas of representation include filing VAWA Self-Petitions for victims of domestic violence, Battered Spouse Waivers, U visas, Adjustment of Status, Naturalization Applications and general family based applications. Prior to joining the Empire Justice Center, she earned her law degree from Pace University School of Law and her Bachelors from New York University.
Senior Staff Attorney