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Staff

Ernesto Berkowitz Groennou, Staff Attorney/Bart Gordon Fellow, joined the Law Center in November 2017, after relocating from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Ernesto earned his B.A. in Psychology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While coursing his B.A., he completed an Internship at the New Orleans Children’s Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center, where he worked directly with children and adolescents suffering from a wide spectrum of mental health disorders. This experience led Ernesto to earn his M.A. in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in Children and Adolescents from William James College, located in Boston, M.A. While completing his M.A., and considering his bicultural and bilingual background, Ernesto focused his mental health counseling on Latino children and families served by Martha Elliot Health Center and West Roxbury High School. Upon completing his M.A., Ernesto relocated to San Juan Puerto Rico where, as part of the Boys and Girls Club, he directed the violence and drug prevention program in a housing project called “Las Margaritas.” It was there that Ernesto became passionate about becoming an attorney as he directly witnessed the devastating results that income disparity and lack of access to affordable and appropriate education have on low income families in such communities. Ernesto received his J.D. from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Law School, cum laude. Since coming to the Children’s Law Center, Ernesto has served as a Bart Gordon Fellow, through which he provides education legal advocacy services to children in the Lawrence Public schools and surrounding communities.

Jessica Berry, Deputy Director, joined the CLCM in September, 2009 as recipient of a Skadden Fellowship. Jessica earned her B.A. from the University of Chicago, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, and has an M.S.W. from the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Following law school, Jessica clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel M. Gorton of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and then for the Honorable Diana Gribbon Motz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. As a fellow at the CLCM, Jessica focused on representing adolescents in child welfare, education, and mental health matters. In her current role as Deputy Director, Jessica represents youth ages 0-22 in child welfare and education matters.

Yajaira Chavez, Administrative Assistant, joined CLCM in April of 2014. A native and resident of Lynn, she is presently balancing her work at CLCM, her criminal justice studies at North Shore Community College, and raising her son.

Jacklyn Gurany, Staff Attorney, joined the Children’s Law Center in January 2018. She represents children in federal immigration proceedings as well as before the Asylum Office. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California (B.S. 2006) and Northeastern University School of Law (J.D. 2010). Prior to joining the Children’s Law Center, Jacklyn practiced in San Antonio, Texas, where she represented both children and adults in immigration proceedings, focusing on asylum and removal defense.

Robyn L. Laukien, Staff Attorney/Pro Bono Coordinator, began her tenure at the Children's Law Center in July 1999 as a volunteer advocate and then joined the staff that fall. Robyn is a graduate of Wellesley College and Boston College Law School. Upon graduating from B.C. Law, she joined the Boston firm of Widett, Slater & Goldman as a corporate associate. After four years of practicing business law, she left to work part time at Bruker Instruments, Inc. as in-house Corporate Counsel. During her six years at Bruker, she also focused on raising her two children, volunteered as a foster care case reviewer, participated in an outreach program through the New England Aquarium with Head Start preschoolers, and served as a Trustee and President of the Aquarium's Council. Robyn was Co-Chair of the Aquarium's 30th Anniversary Gala and is an annual member of the corporate fundraising committee. Currently, she is an Overseer and a member of the Aquarium Development Committee. Robyn's experiences as a parent and volunteer led her to her work with the Children's Law Center.

Jay McManus, Executive Director, joined the Children's Law Center in March 1999. A graduate of New England School of Law, he previously worked as staff counsel to the state's Department of Children & Families, and as Assistant General Counsel to AFSCME, Council 93, a public employee labor union. Between 1991 and 2007, he also directed the Massachusetts chapter of the IPPCH-Because of the Children Program, a not-for-profit that provided relief to children of Irish political prisoners and to families affected by the conflict in the North of Ireland.

Melina L. Muñoz, Staff Attorney, joined the Law Center in January 2017 and is focusing on education law with our Medical-Legal Partnership with MGH Chelsea Healthcare Center. Melina earned her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Social Justice, summa cum laude, from Simmons College. Upon graduation, she worked as a legislative aide for Massachusetts State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz and as the Forensic Legal Advocate at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. These experiences prompted Melina to attend law school. Melina graduated from Boston College Law School as a Public Service Scholar. At BC Law, she participated in the Juvenile Rights Advocacy Clinic and the Immigration Clinic, and interned with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and Boston Public Schools Office of Legal Advisor. Upon graduation, she joined the Central West Justice Center as a medical-legal partnership attorney, focusing her practice on various issues ranging from immigration to education to housing.

Emily Paradise, Staff Attorney, joined the CLCM in September 2017. Emily focuses on representing children in care and protection cases, at both the trial and appellate levels, and in delinquency cases. Before joining CLCM, she practiced on her own handling care and protection cases and criminal appeals, served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, and worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office . She is a graduate of Cornell University and The George Washington University Law School.

Claire Valentin, Staff Attorney, joined the CLCM in September, 2013 as a recipient of Harvard Law School’s Irving R. Kaufman Fellowship. Claire focuses on representing immigrant children on whose behalf petitions for guardianship or care and protection need to be filed as a first step to ensuring their safety and well-being. Claire represents youth in state Juvenile and Probate Court as well as federal immigration proceedings. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association. Claire earned her B.A. from Brown University and J.D. from Harvard Law School. Following law school, Claire clerked for the Honorable A. Franklin Burgess Jr. of the District of Columbia Superior Court and the Senior Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.


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