Names are listed alphabetically by last name.
Anna Catlin joined the Legal Aid Society as an Accountant in June, 1996. She received her Bachelors degree in Accounting from Tennessee State University. Her interests include reading and spending time with family.
Derria L. Ford is a Doctoral candidate at Trevecca Nazarene University in the Leadership and Professional Practice Program. She is also a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University where she earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Industrial Organizational Psychology and Business Communications. Over the past seven years she has administrated a variety of grants which include federal, state, local, foundation, and private grants. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2013 as the Grants Administrator.
Valerie Hansen grew up in Pennsylvania and has a B.S. degree in Accounting from Susquehanna University. She has worked at the non-profit Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands (formerly Rural Legal Services of Tennessee) in Oak Ridge, since 1992. During her time at LAS, her job has evolved to include responsibilities as accountant, IT coordinator, grants administrator, and human resources administrator. She served on the CONTACT Care Line Board of Directors from 2005 to 2012 and again from 2014 to present, serving as President in 2015 and 2016, and acting as Treasurer in those same years. She has served on the CONTACT Advisory Board. She served as board member and Treasurer for Community Mediation Services from 2005-2009 and has been co-coordinator of the Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit CMS for a number of years.
Brittney Jerkins was named Director of Development for Legal Aid Society in May,2017. She previously served as an administrative assistant with the Volunteer Lawyers Program at Legal Aid Society since 2015. She graduated from Lipscomb University Graduate School in 2014 with an MBA degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. She completed her undergraduate degree from Lipscomb University in 2012 with a degree in business and food systems management. She has experience working with several local and international nonprofits and has a passion for helping others. Before joining Legal Aid Society, She worked for Mercy Community Healthcare as Marketing and Event Coordinator.
Adinah Robertson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University. She received a Master of Social Work degree from Tulane University.
The father she admired so much grew up in abject poverty. As a result, her entire professional life, she has worked with or on behalf of low-income people, first in hospital and public health settings, then in inner city Nashville and rural Tennessee.
She has a long history at Legal Aid Society, coordinating community education. Her specialty is translating legal information into plain English written at 5th-grade level.
Patricia Rulon has been with Legal Aid since 1988. She is a member of Middle Tennessee Association of Legal Administrators, joining in 2014. She received certification in Secretarial Studies at the former Katharine Gibbs School and majored in Music Education at Nazareth College of Rochester in New York.
Paul Swiney joined Legal Aid Society as the Director of Technology in late 2015. He is a native Tennessean and 1984 graduate of the University of Tennessee. He began his professional experience in Washington, DC working for a political consultant where his aptitude and interest in IT helped lay the foundation for a career in this field. Upon relocation to Nashville, he spent 25 years at the public accounting firm KPMG where he focused on IT support and worked for the internal Office of General Counsel managing eDiscovery projects related to investigations. Throughout his career, Paul has worked with numerous nonprofits in a consulting capacity and as a volunteer and board member. These experiences prepared him for his current role at Legal Aid Society, where he is responsible for oversight and management of all technology support, vendor relationships, and project activities. Paul enjoys hiking and traveling with his wife, Tambi and recently completed the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain with his son, Chaney.
Paige Hamby Barbeauld joined Legal Aid Society’s Clarksville office in February, 2016 after having volunteered there for over a year. Prior to this, she served as in-house counsel for Environmental Research Center in Fort Oglethorpe, GA. During law school where she was an Ellen Ewing Fellow as well as an Academic Fellow, she did work with the Oldfather Law Firm, Brandeis Law Clinic, Jefferson County Attorney’s Office and Legal Aid Society, all in Louisville. Barbeauld earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and her undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from the University of Tennessee.
Sonya Bellafant joined our Columbia office in February 2016. She manages a general caseload with a concentration on health and benefits issues and is a Gilbert Family Fellow, working on children’s issues and youth transitioning out of foster care. Sonya brings experience from several legal aid programs in Michigan and has served as Counsel on Call in Tennessee. She has a law degree from Michigan State University College of Law and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Oakland University.
Chelsea Boyd joined the Clarksville office of Legal Aid Society in July, 2017 as an attorney. She is a 2017 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. During her time at Ole Miss, Chelsea was a Staff Editor for the Mississippi Sports Law Review and co-founded the University of Mississippi Entertainment Law Organization, where she served as treasurer and secretary. She also worked as a guardian ad litem for the law school’s Child Advocacy Clinic, a student attorney for the Street Law Clinic, and a legal extern for the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors. Chelsea received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Martin and was a University Scholar graduate. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and being outdoors.
William Bush is a graduate of Princeton University and Case Western Reserve University Law School, where he was an editor of the Law and Housing Journal and of the Law Review. He was a national board member of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council and a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow with Southeast Tennessee Legal Services. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1982. He is a 2008 recipient of the B. Riney Green Award for promoting inter-program cooperation and otherwise strengthening the provision of legal aid in Tennessee. He successfully litigated one of the nation’s first private enforcement actions under the Family and Medical Leave Act. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Tennessee Bar Association, Putnam County Bar Association, National Employment Lawyer’s Association, and Tennessee Employment Lawyer’s Association, and serves as co-chair of the FMLA Subcommittee of the ABA’s Section of Labor and Employment Law. He is the Liaison to the Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service for the ABA’s Labor and Employment Law Section. He is Employee-Side Editor in Chief of The Family and Medical Leave Act, an annual treatise supplement jointly published by the ABA and Bloomberg BNA. He is a frequent presenter on employment law topics. He is past president of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association and was a founder and co-chair of the board of Dismas House of the Upper Cumberlands in Cookeville. He enjoys tennis and a variety of outdoor activities.
Allison Cooley is a graduate of the Charlotte School of Law. She completed her undergraduate degree at Loyola University in New Orleans in 2007. She was a Charlotte School of Law Post-Graduate fellow with the Nashville office of the Legal Aid Society for six months before joining the staff in 2012. Since 2012, Allison has represented victims of domestic violence in Orders of Protection and in divorce cases in Davidson, Williamson, Macon, Wilson and Sumner counties and in the TN Court of Appeals. Allison is a recipient of the 2016-2018 American Bar Association Family Law Section Fellowship. She is a member of the Nashville Bar Association Leadership Law Class of 2016. Allison is co-chair of the Lawyers Association of Women Domestic Violence Committee. She also is a board member of the Nashville Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Allison and her husband, Lane, have two young daughters, Ruby and Eliza Lou.
Attorney Andrae P. Crismon is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was Associate Editor of the Journal of Transnational Law. Crismon joined the Gallatin Office of Legal Aid Society in 2007, and thereafter was promoted to Managing Attorney of the Murfreesboro Legal Aid Office in 2011. Crismon’s past work includes work with the Office of General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Health and clerking for the Honorable Inez Smith Reid, District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
He has been an active member of the Murfreesboro Noon Lion’s Club and serves as past chair of the Rutherford-Cannon County Bar Association Public Service Committee and serves on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee. He is a former member of the Leadership Middle Tennessee, Class of 2013. He received the Nashville Business Journal's 2014 Rutherford County Impact Award. His personal interests include golf, fishing and reading John Grisham novels. He serves as pastor of a church in Murfreesboro.
Kerry Dietz joined Legal Aid Society in January, 2017 and is practicing the areas of mortgage foreclosure, housing, and consumer law in our Gallatin Office. Kerry graduated from the Belmont University College of Law where she was Editor in Chief of Law Review. During law school, she spent time working with Congressman Jim Cooper, and interned with Magistrate Judge John Bryant in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Kerry also worked with Ozment Law and The Immigrant Legal Resource Center on an update to their guide on how to protect the constitutional rights of immigrants during removal proceedings.
Kevin Fowler is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 1990 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Before joining the Legal Aid Society in 1993, he worked in private practice and with Memphis Area Legal Services. At MTSU he received the Norman L. Parks Award in Political Science and at UNC he received the American Jurisprudence Award for Torts. In 2010 the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed him to its Access to Justice Commission’s Committee on Pro Se Forms, on which he still serves. The Committee is making key recommendations to the Court on how self-represented litigants can use the judicial system more effectively.
Mary Michelle Gillum has an accounting degree from the University of Tennessee and is a 2000 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She began working with the Legal Aid Society in 2000 with a full fellowship from Equal Justice Works. Her work as an Equal Justice Works fellow has been nationally recognized and she was inducted into 2014 Equal Justice Works Alumni Hall of Fame. While in law school, she was active in Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law. In 1998 she received an award from EJW as one of the nation’s outstanding public interest interns. She received the law school’s William Leech Jr. Public Service award. Before attending law school she worked as an accountant and as a teacher in welfare-to-work programs for low-income women. She is co-chair of the ABA Section on Taxation’s Low Income Taxpayer ESL Taxpayer Subcommittee. Ms. Gillum is former Chair of the Campbell County School Board. In 2004 she received the B. Riney Green Award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, for outstanding efforts to promote collaboration among legal aid programs. The IRS regularly invites her to present training to examiners on how to work with low-wage and limited-English proficient taxpayers during audits and Offers in Compromise. She has also been invited to advise the Commissioner of the IRS on systemic issues related to low-income taxpayers. She was a participant in the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2006 Leadership Law program for outstanding young lawyers. She is a former member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education Committee. She is from LaFollette.
Alysse Gregory joined Legal Aid Society as a Rule 7 attorney in April 2017. She previously worked with Legal Aid Society as the Pro Bono Project Coordinator before a brief stint at the Administrative Offices of the Courts. Alysse also worked at the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center as an advocate with high legality victims of domestic violence. Alysse holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of TN at Chattanooga in Women’s Studies and Foreign Languages and is currently a student at Nashville School of Law. While in law school, Alysse has practiced under TN Supreme Court Rule 7 under direct supervision of DarKenya Waller. A native Spanish speaker, Alysse is the daughter of missionary parents and was reared in Argentina.
Dean Hinton joined the Gallatin office as a staff attorney in September, 2016. Dean graduated from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Dean was in private practice handling a vast array of legal issues for clients across Middle Tennessee in both local and federal courts. He has also served as a contract paralegal for the Unites States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee Financial Litigation Unit. Dean is a former investigative journalist, and of great significance, served in the United States Air Force.
Iska Hoole is a 1997 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. She did her undergraduate work at the University of the South in Sewanee, where she was a member of the Order of the Gown, the academic honors society. While in law school she was active in the Tennessee Association for Public Interest Law. She served as a summer intern with the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services and as a volunteer tax preparer. She worked as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in the Tullahoma office from 1998 to 2003. She worked in private practice from 2006 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2013. She was a public school teacher in Winchester, Tennessee from 2008 to 2010. She is a Rule 31 Listed General Civil and Family Mediator.
Gary Housepian is a graduate of Houghton College and a 1977 graduate of the University of Detroit Law School. He became Executive Director of LAS in July 2007. From 2002 to 2007 he was Managing Attorney of the Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee (the state’s protection and advocacy program). From 1997 to 2001 he was managing attorney with LAS’s Murfreesboro office. He has also worked as a trial attorney in private practice and as the General Counsel to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and then as General Counsel to the Tennessee Department of Human Services. He has worked as a staff attorney with the Tennessee Justice Center, the Legal Aid Society in Knoxville and as a VISTA attorney with Legal Services to Migrant Farm Workers in El Mirage, Arizona. He has served as a Hearing Committee Member for the Board of Professional Responsibility and as Chair of the Board of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. He has received many awards and recognitions, including the Arc of Tennessee Outstanding Community Leadership Award in 2005. He is a Fellow of the Nashville Bar Foundation. He is also a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission’s Resource Development Committee. His interests include playing basketball and softball and following the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers.
Allison Jones joined Legal Aid Society in July, 2016 as the Middle Tennessee Medical-Legal Partnership attorney. She most recently served as a law clerk for Senior Judge John T. Nixon of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. She is a 2013 graduate of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Allison received her Master of Social Work from Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work. While receiving her advanced degrees, she worked as a legal intern and did her social work practicum at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. Her undergraduate degree in History was earned at Brown University.
Patricia Jones is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2005 graduate of Washington and Lee University School of Law. While at law school, she served as Executive Editor of the Race Ethnicity Ancestry Law Journal and regularly volunteered with a local juvenile detention center, where she helped young men study for their high school equivalency exams. She began working as a staff attorney with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc. in 2005, focusing on family and landlord tenant law. In 2007, she began to defend homeowners in foreclosure cases. While in Florida, she was active with the Ocala chapter of the D.R. Smith American Inn of Court and served on the executive board of the Marion County Homeless Council. She also ran a marathon on behalf of the American Heart Association, raising over $5,000 for the organization. In 2012, she left Florida and moved back home to east Tennessee. While in east Tennessee, she volunteered with Legal Aid of East Tennessee and acted as a guardian ad litem to children within the juvenile court system. She joined the Legal Aid Society in June 2014 as an attorney with the Columbia office. She is also a veteran of the United States Army, having enlisted in 1995. After serving in Germany and Texas, she was honorably discharged in 1999. In her spare time, she enjoys playing board games, reading, and traveling.
Samuel Keen is a graduate of DePaul University College of Law. He completed his undergraduate work at Middle Tennessee State University. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Sam worked for a plaintiff’s-side employment law firm advocating for victims of employment discrimination and wage theft. During law school, he worked as an Illinois Supreme Court Rule 711 licensed attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, defending low and moderate-income renters and homeowners facing eviction or foreclosure.He also completed an externship with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and was a devoted participant in DePaul’s Poverty Law and Civil Rights clinics. Sam spent his weekends in Chicago running a legal help desk for Chicago’s homeless which focused on sealing and expunging criminal records and helping clients obtain state identification. Sam was the recipient of several scholarships, fellowships, and honors for his service to his community and DePaul, including the Faculty/Staff Endowment Scholarship, the Benjamin L.Hooks Distinguished Service Award, and the Senior Service Award. In 2013, Sam was honored as a top 10 national finalist for the PSJD Pro Bono Publico Award.
David Kozlowski is a 1974 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He was a clinical instructor at the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic from 1975 to 1980, at which time he joined the Legal Aid Society. In 2001 he worked with the Tennessee Justice Center on several class action cases. In 2002 he became Assistant General Counsel to the Legal Aid Society. He has been lead counsel on many significant state and federal court decisions in Tennessee involving prisoner and juvenile rights and is one of the leading appellate court advocates in Tennessee. He is the author of leading reference works on Tennessee unemployment security law and chapters on appeals from juvenile and general sessions courts in Tennessee Appellate Practice and Tennessee Law of Children. He is a frequent presenter at local, state and national training events. David received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award as the Public Service Attorney of the Year in 1998. In 2011 the Tennessee Supreme Court reappointed him to a second three-year term on its Advisory Commission on Rules and Practice and Procedure. He was a hearing officer for the Board of Professional Responsibility from 2002 to 2008. He and his colleague Rae Anne Seay have been invited by the Tennessee Supreme Court to co-chair the civil subcommittee of the Court Improvement Committee for the purpose of revising rules and practices related to juvenile courts. He was for many years a certified high school soccer referee.
Amelia Miller Luna is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and a 2003 graduate of the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She joined the Legal Aid Society upon graduation. While at law school, she worked with the Elder Law Clinic. She was also an editorial board member of the Tennessee Journal of Practice and Procedure and a member of the Moot Court Board, Phi Delta Phi and the Christian Legal Society. She was the District Seven Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. In 2015, she was inducted into the TBA fellows division. In 2014, she received the President’s Distinguished Service award and the Star of the Fourth Quarter Award from TBA YLD for her work on service projects during that year. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She received the Nashville Business Journal's 2014 Rutherford County Impact Award. She is a member of the Rutherford County Noon Lions Club, participates in the Rutherford County Domestic Violence Advisory Board, and participates with the TN-0 program in Rutherford County. She is also treasurer for her high school alumni association and an active member of her church. Her interests are spending time with her family and spending time outside.
Chris Martin joined the Nashville office of Legal Aid Society in October, 2017 and focuses on criminal re-entry cases. He is a 2013 graduate of University of Memphis School of Law. Chris previously work at the Shelby County Public Defenders Office. where he spent two years doing general defense work, and another two years specifically focusing on Juvenile Defense.
Rachel Moses is a 1999 graduate of Centre College and a 2002 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. In law school she was the founder and coordinator of the Family Justice Project and the Pet Project (which assisted victims of domestic violence by establishing a network of veterinarians and others who could keep pets) and was coordinator of the VITA taxpayer assistance program. She was a student attorney at the UT Legal Clinic and clerked for two summers and one semester with the Legal Aid Society’s Oak Ridge office. She is Past President of the Putnam County Bar Association. She is President of the Upper Cumberland Trial Lawyers Association. She served as a District Representative for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division from 2004-2012, and coordinated the YLD’s local high school mock trial competition and the local Wills for Heroes pro bono project, which provides free wills to emergency first responders. In 2012, she was elected as Vice President of the TBA YLD and will serve as President in 2014-2016. She is a 2010 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She founded the Upper Cumberland Young Lawyers Association, which became an affiliate of the TBA’s YLD in 2010. She received the YLD’s Public Service Day Project of the Year Award in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 she received the State YLD President’s Award for “tireless dedication to the improvement of the legal profession and the TBA YLD.” She serves on the Pro Bono Advisory Committee of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission. She is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association's Public Service Committee and is Chairperson of the YouTube Video Contest Subcommittee, which operates a civics-themed video contest for middle and high school students each year. She is a board member for the Upper Cumberland Family Justice Center. She is past President of the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club and served as an Assistant Governor for Rotary International District 6780. She is the Chairperson for Inbound Rotary Youth Exchange Program for international students who study in Tennessee High Schools across East and Middle Tennessee. She is also the past President of the Cookeville Evening Lions Club and is the lead screener for the KidSight Program in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Children's Eye Clinic, in which she screens the eyes for children between the ages of 1-6 years old in Putnam County schools and daycares. She coaches youth basketball and has served on the Board of Directors for Girls Incorporated of Oak Ridge and the Putnam County Youth Basketball League. She is a 2011 graduate of the Leadership Putnam Program.
Janet Mynatt is a 1993 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School. While in Law School she served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Politics. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 2001 as an AmeriCorps attorney working with victims of domestic violence. She previously worked with a private law firm representing Social Security disability claimants. She edits and updates the Legal Aid Society’s Sixth Circuit Social Security Manual. In 2005-2006 she was a National Consumer Law Center Fellow. She is a 2009 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She served as Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Disability Law Section during 2013-14. She is a Governing Council member of the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. She is past President of the Anderson County Bar Association and is from Oak Ridge.
Zac Oswald is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and a 2013 cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law. While at law school, he also earned a Master of Music in Music Business and Entertainment Industries and acted as the Student Director of Business Affairs for Cat 5 Music Publishing. While awaiting his bar exam results, he worked as a grill cook at Chipotle Mexican Restaurants and still cuts chicken faster than most Tennesseeans. He started at Legal Aid Society in 2014 as a University of Miami Legal Corps Fellow, working primarily in the Family Law Unit. He currently works in the Nashville Office, practicing Housing and Consumer Law, and is the Team Lead for the firm’s Housing Practice Group. He was the 2016 recipient of the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Service’s New Advocate of the Year award.
Russ Overby is the Lead Attorney of the Health, Income and Education Practice Group of Legal Aid Society. He is a graduate of Wheaton College and a 1974 graduate Vanderbilt Law School. He worked at the Legal Aid Society in Nashville from 1974 until 1993 and was lead counsel in several significant federal and state cases involving public benefits and the rights of children in state institutions. He was a Clinical Instructor at Vanderbilt from 1974 to 1977. In 1993 he became managing attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro office. From 1997 to 2005 he worked as the Welfare Reform Lawyer at the Tennessee Justice Center. He rejoined the Legal Aid Society in 2006, where he handles health and public benefits cases. He has written extensively about public benefits issues and conducted training on the topic for national audiences. He received the State Advocate of the Year Award from the Tennessee Conference on Social Welfare in 1998 and the Harry Chapin Advocacy Award from MANNA in 1997. In 2008 the Tennessee Bar Association awarded him its Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year Award. In 2011 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave him its B. Riney Green Award for his commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. His interests include following the Chicago White Sox and swimming.
Michael Parker joined our Oak Ridge office as a staff attorney in January 2017. He focuses on family law and housing issues. Michael is a graduate of the Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law. He earned his B.S. in History from Austin Peay State University. During law school, he worked as a research assistant, editing a textbook on TN family law, handled pro bono dependency and neglect cases through guardian ad litem appointments as a participant in his law school’s juvenile law clinic, and interned as a law clerk for a juvenile court judge.
Emma Sholl is a magna cum laude graduate of Colgate University and 2014 graduate of Tulane University Law School. While in law school, she had an externship with the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she worked on a special education class action lawsuit. She was also a Juvenile Justice fellow at Children at Risk in Houston, TX, a New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center intern, and an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps summer fellow at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. At Tulane, she was involved in the Disability and Health Law Society and served as a managing editor of the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property. Her comment, “Exhibit Facebook: The Discoverability and Admissibility of Social Media Evidence” was published in 2013. She joined Legal Aid Society upon graduation. She works on health and benefits and special education cases. She is the leader of Legal Aid Society’s Health and Elder Law Program (HELP) and the co-chair of the Harris Gilbert Family Fellowship. She is also a member of the Nashville Council on Aging’s Leadership Council.
Matt Silvey joined Legal Aid Society in January 2017 as a VOCA attorney in the Cookeville office. Matt is a 2016 graduate of the Nashville School of Law. He has a background in counseling/social work, having earned his M.S. in Social Work in 2008 from the University of Tennessee. He has worked with both the Davidson and Knox County Public Defenders’ offices in the past. Prior to joining Legal Aid Society, Matt operated a solo practice in Cookeville where he handled mostly court-appointed cases.
Michelle “Miki” Brady Sisco is a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law. Prior to law school, she received a joint master’s degree in Anthropology and Women’s & Gender Studies at Brandeis University, and a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at Bates College. Miki primarily practiced family and employment law at the Justice Bridge Legal Center in Boston, MA before moving to back to her home state of Tennessee. Miki has committed her legal and anthropological career toward advocacy of women’s and LGBT rights and, in particular, empowering domestic violence survivors to reclaim their lives and safety. Miki enjoys yoga, animals (especially pugs), and travel.
Lucinda Smith is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a 1976 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. After clerking for the Davidson County Chancery Court and practicing with the State of Tennessee and in private practice, she served as Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Family Law Section from 1987 to 1990. From 1991 to 2003 she was with the firm of Dodson, Parker Dinkins & Behm. She was Nashville’s Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year in 1995. She returned to the Legal Aid Society to direct The Nashville Pro Bono Program, a joint venture of the Legal Aid Society and Nashville Bar Association. She has taught family law as an adjunct professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School. She is former Chair of the Metro Human Relations Commission and is active in the Nashville Bar Association, having served as First Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee and the Tennessee Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.
Rae Anne Smith is a 2008 graduate of the Nashville School of Law, where she received the Founder’s Award for being first in her class. She has a Bachelor in Social Work degree from Harding University and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Tennessee. Before attending law school, she worked for ten years in the public child welfare system. She is a member of the Cooper’s Inn Honor Society and was a student member of the Harry Phillips American Inn of Court. At law school, she was the recipient of the Angela Ash Camp and the Lance Bracey Scholarships. While in law school she interned with the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ General Counsel’s Office; clerked with the Tennessee Office of the Attorney General; and worked full-time in the Legal Aid Society’s Nashville office through the end of 2008 as a law clerk and grant writer. She joined the Legal Aid Society’s Columbia office in 2009 and transferred to the Tullahoma office in 2012. She is past Chair and a current Executive Council member of the Juvenile and Children’s Law Section of the Tennessee Bar Association. She is President of the Tennessee Children’s Justice Task Force and past Chair of that organization’s Court Improvement Committee. She is also a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Court Improvement Program’s Law Committee, which focuses on laws and rules affecting children. She served as co-chair of the committee that revised the Tennessee Rules of Juvenile Practice and Procedure. She is a member of the Coffee County Foster Care Review Board. In 2011 she received the Hope House Outstanding Attorney Award for her work on behalf of victims of domestic violence.
Theresa-Vay Smith is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law and the Tennessee College of Business MBA program. She joined the Legal Aid Society in 1997. While at law school, she was a member of a National Trial Team and Moot Court Board and active in the legal clinic. Upon graduation, she was a volunteer attorney with the Knoxville Legal Aid Society. She is past president of the board of directors of CASA of the Tennessee Heartland and past president of Community Mediation Services of Anderson County. She is chair of the Foster Care Review Board for Anderson County. She is a 2005 graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program for outstanding young lawyers. She was appointed as a member of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Steering Committee for 2009 and 2010. She is on the editorial board of the Clearinghouse Review, a national publication of the Shriver Center on Law and Poverty. The ARC of Anderson County, a United Way agency, has honored Theresa-Vay Smith as one of its recipients of the Dove Award in 2011 and 2014. The annual award recognizes individuals in the community who have gone above and beyond in their assistance to children or adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities. In 2014 the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services gave her its B. Riney Green Award for her commitment to improving collaboration among public interest advocates in the state. She previously served on the board of directors of Chalet Ice Rinks, Inc., in Knoxville, where she also coached and taught competitive ice skating. She is from Loudon County.
Tiffany Tant-Shafer joined Legal Aid Society in February 2017. Her previously experiences include working with the Legal Services of Southern Missouri and the Legal Aid of Western Missouri. She also practiced law at the Law Office of Craig D. Ritchie, P.C. handling family and appellate cases. While practicing law, Tiffany was also an Adjunct Professor of Legal Studies with Missouri Western State University, where she taught courses to paralegal and criminal justice students. Most recently Tiffany had her own private practice in which she focused on family and juvenile cases.
David Tarpley is a 1971 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He joined the Legal Aid Society in 1971 and became managing attorney of the Consumer Section in 1974. He holds the Herman O. Loewenstein Chair, named for the donor of a generous endowment to support consumer advocacy in Nashville. He has practiced extensively in the field of consumer law and is a frequent presenter at local, state and regional training. He served for 26 years on the Board of Directors of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Middle Tennessee. He has been an affiliate faculty member of the Vanderbilt University Law School since 1986 and teaches a course on consumer credit protection. He is on the faculty of the Nashville School of Law, where he teaches a course in Consumer Protection. In 1997 he received the Tennessee Bar Association’s award for the Public Service Attorney of the Year. In 2003 the Nashville Business Journal identified him as one of the outstanding 100 lawyers in the Nashville bar. In 2013, the Nashville Business Journal named him one of three finalists for the 2013 Best of Bar in consumer law. David is an avid amateur musician and plays French horn with the Trevecca Symphony Orchestra and sings in the choir at Vine Street Christian Church.
Joshua Thomas is a graduate of Yale University and a 2011 graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School. He formerly worked as a felony prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney in Gulfport, Mississippi, and as a legal fellow in the Office of General Counsel at The University of Southern Mississippi in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While in law school, he served as an Articles Editor for the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, interned at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., and worked as a summer law clerk with the law firms of Barrett Johnston in Nashville and Butler Snow in the greater Jackson, Mississippi area. Prior to law school, he worked in management for a Canadian-based nonprofit in Mississippi and Louisiana. His personal interests include running and biking. He joined Legal Aid Society in March 2013 and became Managing Attorney of the Columbia office in March 2017.
Shaina Thompson is an attorney in the Family Law Section of the Nashville office, joining the firm after volunteering and working as a contract attorney there since October 2015. She has worked as an intern in a private practice and as an elementary school teacher. Of note, Thompson participated in the creation of an all girl’s high school in Nairobi, Kenya, while serving as a Board Member of Reach One Mission International in Marietta, Georgia. Thompson is a May 2015 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law. She received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Arts in Executive Leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. During her law school career, she worked at the Family Violence Clinic and the Probate Court in Athens, Georgia.
DarKenya Waller is a 1999 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. She earned a Masters of Business Administration from Belhaven College in 2005. Mrs. Waller was a solo practitioner in Jackson, Mississippi, where she specialized in domestic law and real estate. She also worked with Chinn & Associates, PLLC, one of the premier domestic relations firms in Mississippi. From 1999 to 2001 she worked with the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, Division of Medicaid. She established and ran a Technology and Communications company that represented clients such as the City of Atlanta and the National Conference of Black Mayors. Mrs. Waller is a member of the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2008 and has been the Managing Attorney of the Nashville office in 2010. Her legal practice is focused on family law. She was a member of the 2011 class of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law Program for outstanding young lawyers. She serves on the Tennessee State Domestic Violence Coordinating Counsel, the Tennessee Bar Association Family Law Code Committee and the Williamson County Pro Bono Committee.
Marla K. Williams is the Managing Attorney for the Cookeville office of Legal Aid Society and is also the Lead Attorney for the Consumer Practice. She is a l988 graduate of the University of Louisville School of Law. She joined Legal Aid Society in 1988. She served as a District representative on the Board of the Tennessee Bar Association's Young Lawyer Division from 1995 to 2000. She coordinated the YLD’s high school mock trial competitions in her district. She has served on the advisory boards of the Tennessee Vocational Training Center and Consumer Credit Counseling. She serves on the boards of Putnam County Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. She is a graduate of Leadership Putnam and has been a member of its Board of Trustees since that time. Marla has taught law and paralegal studies at Volunteer State Community College. From 1997 to 2003 she served as a member of the Hearing Committee of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility. She is from Clay County.
Amy Allen, intake specialist in our Cookeville office, joined Legal Aid in 2004. She brings more than twenty years of experience as a legal assistant to our firm. Originally from Jackson, Tennessee, Amy has lived in Cookeville since 1996 when her husband was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy. Her hobbies include reading, boating, and spending time with her family. She is a graduate of Jackson Christian High School, and has attended Tennessee Technological University and Jackson State Community College.
Teri Bess began working at Legal Aid Society as a paralegal in the Health Benefits unit after she graduated from Kaplan College’s ABA Accredited Paralegal program in 2010. Prior to her work with Legal Aid Society, she worked for 17 years as an office/service manager at a heating and cooling company in Michigan. Teri moved to Nashville in 2008.
Guadalupe “Lupe” Betanzos became the bilingual victim advocate in the Nashville office in January 2015. Previously, she worked as a correctional officer in the Alaska Department of Corrections and the Robertson County Detention Facility, where she translated for non-English speaking detainees.
Sue Bolling joined Legal Aid Society in 1986 and is the secretary/intake worker for the Consumer section in our Nashville office. Sue also provides support for forms on our Legal Files case management system.
Tracey Brown, Office Manager of the Clarksville office, has worked in the legal field for over 30 years. She joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. Tracey has been married since 1998 and has 5 children. She enjoys horseback riding and spending time with her family.
Amelia Bruckner joined Legal Aid Society in September, 2017 as a Project Coordinator and Paralegal in the Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Kathy Burns joined Rural Legal Services (predecessor to Legal Aid Society) in 1993 as an Administrative Assistant and became Office Manager in 2003.
Karen has been with Legal Aid Society’s Murfreesboro Office since 1993 and is currently a legal assistant/secretary. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a minor in marketing from Middle Tennessee State University. She assists the office with performing intakes, preparing the distribution of community education materials, administering accounts payable for our office, drafting client communications and generally helping the attorneys and other office team members as needed. Karen is married and has two beautiful children. Karen has an affinity for pets as her family boasts 3 cats and 2 dogs.
Janice Campbell, a native of Anderson County, joined Legal Aid Society in 2012 as a secretary. She previously worked for American Red Cross, Director of Service to the Armed Forces with local military units, families and veterans. Janice also serve on the board of the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council. She currently volunteers with the Employee Support of the Guard and Reserves. Janice has two sons and seven grandchildren. She enjoys snow skiing and mountain biking.
Tina E. DeLacy has been employed at Legal Aid Society since late 2005. In 2003, she completed the paralegal program at Draughon’s and received an Associate’s Degree. Tina began working in the legal field in 1995, and has worked at various law firms as a legal word processor, legal secretary, paralegal, and receptionist. Legal Aid has been her favorite place to work because she truly enjoy helping people. When Tina is not working at Legal Aid Society greeting and assisting clients, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.
Heather Duggan joined Legal Aid Society in April 2017 as a Paralegal in the Cookeville office working primarily with the Mortgage Foreclosure Team. Heather earned an Associates Degree in Paralegal/Legal Assistant Studies from Palm Beach State College, located in Lake Worth, FL. She has approximately 10 years experience as a paralegal assisting attorneys working in many areas of law. Heather moved to Tennessee from Florida in 2008 and resides with her family in White County.
Tabitha Faulconer moved to the Nashville Area in 2016 and began working at Legal Aid Society in May of the same year as a Community Outreach Advocate/ Paralegal for the Mortgage and Foreclosure team. She mainly works in the Nashville office but also works on cases from the Gallatin, Clarksville and Columbia offices. She graduated from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky in 2014 with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Tabitha developed a passion for working with the under-served and lower income population when she volunteered for the Center for Women and Families, a domestic violence shelter in Louisville. After college, she spent the summer working as a Boy’s Side counselor at a seven week sleepaway athletic camp in New York. When she returned, Tabitha began working at a personal injury firm in Louisville, Adams Legal Group. She enjoys kayaking, volleyball and cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball.
Pete Frierson is a paralegal in the Columbia office, having joined Legal Aid Society in 1982. He is a cum laude graduate of Columbia State Community College with an AA in marketing.
Pete was awarded the Outstanding Civil Rights Advocate Award by the Columbia State Community College and the Make a Difference Award by the South Central Abuse Coalition. He is a member of Cambridge “Who’s Who”. Pete has served the Boys and Girls Club of America as past president of the Maury County chapter and past president for the State of Tennessee. Pete is a lifetime member of the Disabled Veterans, Fleet Reserve Association, Camping World and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 2015, he was a recipient of the Nashville Business Journal’s Veterans Award.
Pete is retired from the navy and enjoys traveling, camping, riding motorcycles and helping people.
Kathy Hardiman began working on a part-time basis for Legal Aid Society providing transcription services for attorneys before joining the firm in September, 2016 in a full-time role as Secretary in the Columbia office. She previously worked as a a financial counselor for The Surgical Center. Other former employers include St. Thomas Medical Group and Ford Motor Credit Co.
Pat, a native of Nashville, has been with Legal Aid Society since 1973, first as a legal secretary to Walter Kurtz who was then Director. In her career with LAS as a paralegal, she has worked in several areas, including family law, benefits and consumer law. She is an avid animal advocate, and she has one son, Blake, who has also worked for LAS in the past.
Jessica Jernigan, an advocate in our Tullahoma office, joined Legal Aid Society in 2002. She previously has worked as a licensed social service worker with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Active in the community, Jessica has volunteered with Your Community Connection (YCC) as a trained rape crisis and domestic violence worker and also has served on numerous non-profit boards including Families in Crisis, the Grundy County Health Council, and the Regional Health Council. Her interests include theatre, anything outdoors and gardening. Jessica holds a bachelor’s of science in social work from Weber State University.
Maudie LeBlanc joined Legal Aid Society in 1989 as the main receptionist for the Nashville office.
Marletta Lilly has been with Legal Aid Society for 14 years. She graduated from Miller-Motte College with an Associate’s Degree as a Paralegal in 1995. In 2001 she became a Certified Legal Assistant/Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals. She has been a member of the National Association of Legal Assistants/Paralegals since 2001 and the Smoky Mountain Paralegal Association since 2005. She has served as Clarksville’s Office Work Place Coordinator for United Way for the past 7 years. Her free time is devoted to her family and church.
Lorna McCandless-Moss re-joined Legal Aid Society in Nashville in November 2016 as paralegal with the Family Law Unit. Lorna previously worked in the LAS Columbia Office from 2014-2016 before moving to the Nashville area. Lorna has a Bachelor’s Degree from UT Chattanooga and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Tennessee State University. She worked for the Legal Aid Bureau in Riverdale, Maryland, before coming to work for LASMTC in 2014. Previously, Lorna worked as an education consultant developing curriculum and conducting trainings and presentations for Girls, Inc. of Chattanooga. She enjoys the arts in all its forms including dance, theatre and music.
Sonja McGregor is a born and raised Middle Tennessean. She worked for Buffaloe and Associates from January 1994 to April 2015 as a paralegal. While working at Buffaloe and Associates, she had opportunities to work with attorneys and staff within Legal Aid Society. At Buffaloe, Sonja felt the need to work with defending and aiding consumers rather than representing the creditors. She came to Legal Aid in April of 2015 with over 20 years of legal experience. Since working for Legal Aid Society, she has been involved in community outreach and enjoys the opportunity of helping people in the Gallatin service area. Sonja provides legal assistance to the Gallatin Staff attorneys, the Housing/Consumer practice groups, meets with clients, conducts intakes, assists in office management, completes dictations and filings. Sonja has two daughters, Meagan and Sara, and one grandchlid.
Melba McNairy is a 1963 high school graduate, from Maury County, but has lived in Davidson County for 50 years. She grew up on a farm and has driven a tractor. Prior to working at Legal Aid Society, Melba worked at the Meharry Community Mental Health Center, the State of Tennessee Department of Personnel, Division of Research, and in a doctor’s private practice office. She attended Tennessee State University for a brief period of time.
She started working at Legal Aid Society in 1978 as a Legal Secretary and worked full time until 2010 when health problems forced her to to change to a part-time schedule. Melba currently works as an eligibility screener and intake specialist for the Nashville Health and Benefits Section interviewing clients by telephone.
Ian Montgomery joined the Nashville office of Legal Aid Society in May, 2017 as a Housing Paralegal. He most recently worked as an English instructor at Bursa Technical University in Bursa, Turkey, where he taught students through an English-immersion program.
After achieving a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and French language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Montgomery received his CELTA Certification in 2016 from the University of Cambridge/University of Texas-Austin. Montgomery also attended institutions in both China and France.
Mary Novak previously worked for Bellsouth/ AT&T for 30 years until she retired July 3, 2000. She took a buy-out instead of a pension and invested it in a diversified fund and lost a majority of it in the 911 attack. She tried to stay at home but found that that was not for her. She is a people person and loves to help the down trodden so she volunteered at Teen Challenge and did jail ministry. She went to work at Child Support for about 5 1/2/ years until they lost their contract with the state of Tennessee. Novak has been a Bilingual Intake Specialist at Legal Aid Society since September 30, 2014.
Jennifer Pegram has worked as a Legal Assistant in the Murfreesboro office since 1990. She has found that no other job provides the satisfaction that she receives from working with Legal Aid Society clients. After all these years, she still finds her work rewarding and interesting. When she is not at work, she likes to paint, make candy, and spend loads of time with her grandbabies.
Peggy Pellett joined Legal Aid Society in July, 2017 as an Administrative Assistant with the Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Angela Ridings is a graduate of Alcoa High School. Angela began working in the Tullahoma office as a temporary receptionist in 2004; became a full time employee in 2005; and became the office manager in 2011. Prior to coming to work for Legal Aid Society, she worked 7 years in a private law office in North Carolina. During Angela’s husband military service they were stationed in Germany where Angela volunteered at the Army Community Service (ACS) on the military base. She helped military families prepare for a move overseas and connected them with resources when they arrived. This is where Angela’s love of helping people began.
Janet Rosenberg began working with Legal Aid Society in 1984. Janet has worked in numerous positions throughout Legal Aid Society, but she has been the full-time paralegal for the housing department in the Nashville office since 1997. Janet’s work focuses on assisting tenants living in public or subsided housing. She regularly gives presentations on Renters’ Rights, Fair Housing, and she is an outreach advocate regarding Legal Aid’s work in the community. Janet is a former president of the Nashville Coalition for the Homeless, a network of providers working to reduce homelessness. Janet finds her work both interesting and challenging. Above all, she enjoys her co-workers, a group of people dedicated to making life better for those who have little voice.
Krista Scruggs is a Gallatin native and attended Gallatin High School. In 2006 she decided to better herself so she could provide a better life for her 3 children. She graduated from the Sumner County Adult Education program in 2006 which she now sits on the Board. She graduated from Volunteer State Community College in 2008 with an Associate of Applied Science Degree specializing in Paralegal Studies. She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2011 with a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. She came to Legal Aid Society in 2007. She is also over the Contract Attorney Program (CAP) in the Gallatin Office and clinics for the Gallatin office. Krista provides case management assistance to the two Family Law and Health and Benefits lawyers. Krista performs paralegal duties to support the activities of the staff attorneys, including drafting and typing legal documents, conducting intake, researching, compiling and drafting discovery, making telephone calls, transcribing dictation, data processing, case file maintenance, meeting with clients, and record keeping. Krista assists in educating and advocating for low-income people. Krista has been with Legal Aid Society since 2007.
Sandy Seiber joined the Oak Ridge office of Legal Aid Society in June, 2017.
Adria Sharp joined Legal Aid Society in May 2017 as a Paralegal in the Tullahoma office. She worked for 5 years for a private practice attorney in Shelbyville. She grew up in Oklahoma and currently lives in Shelbyville with her husband.
Dresden Suits joined Legal Aid Society as a VOCA Advocate in December 2016. She previously work for HomeSafe of Wilson County as an Advocate for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence. Dresden received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee. She has been a supporter of victims at the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center where her family’s flower shop regularly donated flowers. She also volunteered at the Nashville Sexual Assault Center with their Hospital Accompaniment Program. Dresden also worked for Howard Mobley Hayes and Gontarek as an Administrative Assistant.
Pat Sullivan is a 1970 graduate of Tullahoma High School. She was a stay at home Mom for several years, but as her children grew Pat decided to enter the work force. Pat worked for Centerstone Mental Health Center in Tullahoma from 1996 to 2010. She was promoted to office manager in 1997 and continued in that role until her retirement in 2010. After 7 months of retirement Pat decided to return to work and accepted a position with Legal Aid Society in April, 2011. Pat enjoys greeting the clients, and helping them through the intake process. When Pat isn’t at work she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren.
Tabitha Tackett is a graduate of Austin Peay State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Ms. Tackett joined Legal Aid Society in 2011 as a Victim Advocate working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Before coming to Legal Aid Society, she was a deputy clerk with the Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. She served as a board member of Safehaven, a domestic violence women’s shelter in Cheatham County from 2014 to 2016. In her free time she enjoys antiquing, photography, and volunteering.
Brett Tidwell joined Legal Aid Society in May, 2017 as the Receptionist / Secretary for our Columbia office.
Paula Murphy Trujillo is an Outreach Community Paralegal of the Tennessee Taxpayer Project. She has a bachelor degree in Political Science and a Masters in J.D. from La Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, Peru. She is a licensed attorney in Peru. In 1998, she began with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands as a volunteer helping Spanish speaking clients while attending the University of Tennessee College of Law. She is a member of The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Latino Taskforce, board member of Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee (CEDNET) and former board member of Centro Hispano of East Tennessee.
Dorie M. Williams joined Legal Aid Society in April 2017 as a Legal Assistant. During the previous two years, Dorie worked as a legal assistant for two private law firms. Prior to working in private practice, Dorie served as a volunteer for the Murfreesboro office of Legal Aid Society for approximately 11 months from November 2014 through September 2015 assisting with intake, answering the phones and typing.