Leadership & Staff
Joanna Allison has been the Executive Director at Volunteer Lawyers Project since 2015. Prior to that she practiced as a supervising attorney in the areas of landlord and tenant, consumer debt defense, foreclosure prevention, bankruptcy, unemployment insurance, and more. She attended law school at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Cindy TK Palmquist is the Legal Director at VLP and has been with the organization for five years. Cindy was previously a solo practitioner with a small private practice where she represented clients in family law matters including domestic violence issues. Cindy enjoys mentoring and teaching and is an adjunct lecturer on law at New England Law Boston. Cindy is a member of the Family Law Steering Committee at the Boston Bar Association, where she serves as co-chair of the Family Law Public Service subcommittee.
Allie Jose joined the Volunteer Lawyers Project in February 2017 as the Director of Finance and Operations. Allie holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Assumption College and is a licensed CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Prior to her role at VLP, she spent three years as an auditor with a Boston public accounting firm. She then transitioned into the non-profit sector and most recently held the position of Assistant Controller at Pine Street Inn, a large non-profit organization providing shelter and permanent housing to Boston’s homeless population.
Barbara Siegel is the Director of Compliance and Technology and the Project Manager of Senior Partners for Justice. Barbara’s legal career began in 1989 with a clerkship in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and an associate position in a law firm. In 1992, she entered legal aid and has not looked back. Prior to joining VLP, she served as a senior staff attorney at the Disability Law Center and Assistant Legal Director at the Community Legal Services and Counseling Center. Barbara is a graduate of Brown University (B.A. 1982) and Boston College Law School (J.D. 1989).
Damaris Frias Stone is VLP’s full-time Director of Project Management. Damaris began working with VLP in 1998 in a support staff capacity. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from UMASS Boston and JD from Mass School of Law. Damaris has been promoted to roles of increasing responsibility and leadership. She currently provides leadership and supervision to administrative staff, student interns, and administrative volunteers and is tasked with increasing staff productivity and efficiency. She is instrumental in developing and implementing program protocols and operations. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with the Access Ministry at Bethel AME, where she works with other members in the ministry to expand access to those who are differently abled and provides ASL interpreter services to deaf and deaf/blind congregates.
Amy Anthony has been a legal services attorney for eight (8) years with a focus in housing and foreclosure law, and is the Supervising Attorney for housing and appeals at VLP. Amy is a graduate of Columbia University and American University Washington College of Law. Amy grew up in the D.C. area and her favorite part of being a lawyer is working with our amazing, tenacious clients.
Eddie started his career at VLP in July of 2019. He graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Graphic Design. He later honed his skills as a video editor and digital artist at the School of Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts. Eddie’s favorite part about his job is that he gets to employ both creative and critical-thinking skills in an organization which helps so many people.
Will Bean began working at VLP part-time in January 2019, at the beginning of his final semester at Suffolk University Law School. Working closely with the Director of IT & Compliance, Will’s role as Technology Project Coordinator has focused on a collaborative effort with developers from MLRI and GBLS to create an web-based application that assists clients in filling out and filing complicated forms regarding Social Security overpayment waivers, reviews of cases of arrears for child support, and many others. After receiving his JD from Suffolk Law in May of 2019, Will transitioned to full-time at VLP by adding a second role as an ERLI Legal Advocate.
Miranda Black joined VLP in August 2018. Miranda has a BA in Sociology and Criminal Justice from the University of Arkansas as well as an MS in Global Studies and International Relations from Northeastern University. Before joining VLP, she worked as a case manager and volunteer coordinator at several non-profits in her home state of Arkansas.
Cate Brams joined VLP as an Americorps Legal Advocate in September 2019. Cate graduated from Middlebury College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Before joining VLP to serve as an Ameicorps, Cate was a professional Nordic skier in Idaho.
Alana is a Staff Attorney at VLP where she practices in the areas of housing and employment law. Before joining VLP, Alana was a Fellow in the Employment Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services and a Law Clerk for the Rhode Island Superior Court. Alana is a graduate of Simmons University and Boston College Law School.
Victoria “Tori” DeLaney joined VLP after her year of service with AmeriCorps where she taught English as a Second Language to adult women at Mujeres Unidas Avanzando. Tori is originally from North Carolina and graduated from Dickinson College with a bachelors in English and Spanish Literature. Tori finds paralegal work incredibly rewarding and hopes to continue her legal career in the future.
Stefanie joined VLP as an AmeriCorps Legal Advocate in September 2020. Prior to joining VLP, she was the Massachusetts Regional Manager at the Petey Greene Program, a nonprofit organization that supports the academic achievement of incarcerated people through tutoring. Stefanie is excited to learn about civil law during her time at VLP and to promote access to justice for clients. She is a graduate of Boston University.
Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro has been representing tenants in eviction cases for over four (4) years and is currently a staff attorney in VLP’s housing and family law units. Attorney Gruvis represents VLP at the BBA Real Estate Public Service Committee where she works alongside private attorneys, the court, and the Boston Bar Association to maintain high-quality services to the public at the Eastern Division of the Housing Court in Boston.
Paralegal Alec Gubics has been working at VLP since January 2018. While he was previously part of our Civil Appeals Project, Alec now contributes to VLP’s practices in Landlord-Tenant law and advance directives where is gratified by the huge impact that a small amount of legal assistance makes at our weekly eviction clinics. Alec grew up in Cleveland, OH and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
Colin has been a Staff Attorney at VLP in the Consumer and Housing Units since August of 2018. His practice focuses on debt collection, eviction defense, and affirmative consumer litigation. Colin graduated from Suffolk University Law School in 2016, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Suffolk Transnational Law Review. His first two years of law practice were with AmeriCorps Legal Advocates of Massachusetts, where he served at Rosie’s Place and Greater Boston Legal Services.
Economic Fairness Project Coordinator Katherine Harris has working in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade. Katherine got her Economics degree from University of Houston and comes to VLP after completing her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She is originally from Houston and her favorite part about being in Boston is having easy access to the beach and mountains.
Wendy Kent has been VLP’s Receptionist and Administrative Assistant since late fall of 2019. She graduated from Longy School of Music in 2018 with her MM in Vocal Performance and also holds a BA in Music from Westmont College. In her spare time; Wendy can be found singing, reading, and sharing pictures of her puppy Charlie.
Tallulah is a Staff Attorney at VLP, where she practices in the areas of consumer and employment law. Tallulah represents consumers in defending debt collection cases and represents workers in bringing affirmative cases for unpaid wages. In addition, she mentors volunteers and new attorneys who provide pro bono representation to VLP clients in consumer and employment cases. Tallulah attended Northeastern University School of Law and always knew that she would go into public interest work. Prior to law school, Tallulah worked in the restaurant industry and was a worker-member of the Restaurant Opportunity Center (ROC), a group that advocates for restaurant workers through organizing and policy work. Tallulah was raised in Cambridge, MA where she still lives today with her husband and daughter.
Rebecca joined VLP as a Pro Bono Coordinator as part of the COVID Eviction Legal Help initiative. Rebecca is originally from Chicago, and she graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2020.
Sarah H. Lee is a Staff Attorney at VLP, practicing family and housing law. She also oversees the 209A Project and the intake of Wills, Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy cases. Prior to VLP, she worked in family law (representing domestic violence survivors), restraining order cases, post-foreclosure summary process defense, child welfare law, immigration, and consumer law. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Wellesley College.
Nancy is excited to be part of the VLP and ERLI Family as a Bilingual Intake Specialist. She is passionate about serving and empowering individuals, which is her favorite part of her role. A few more of Nancy’s favorite things are puppies, bunnies, and ballet.
Meagan McKinstry joined VLP as a long-term temporary Staff Attorney in November 2020. As part of the COVID Eviction Legal Help initiative, she represents tenants who are facing eviction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meagan previously interned in the Housing and Family units at VLP while studying at Northeastern University School of Law. She grew up in St. Louis, MO and earned a Sociology degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA.
Karla joined VLP as a Legal Advocate in the fall of 2019 after working with the Mental Health Advisory Committee over the summer. Karla comes to us all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico and she earned her BA in Criminal Justice & Criminology (as well as her double-minor in Psychology and Anthropology) from UMass Boston. Her favorite thing about working at VLP is that she gets to help people in need.
Chris initially joined VLP as a Legal Advocate in late 2017. He is a Boston native and he holds a BA in Sociology from the Catholic University of America and a certificate in Paralegal Studies from Boston University. His favorite part about managing the ERLI intake program is that he gets to work closely with an amazing team at the call center ERLI; where they provide the highest quality of information, referrals, and advice to our clients.
Claudia Rivera-Gruvis joined VLP as a Legal Advocate in the summer of 2019. She works at our call center where she provides legal advice and information to clients seeking help with Housing, Family Law, domestic violence and protective orders, and much more. Claudia graduated from Clark University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Claudia also loves to travel and aspires to visit all seven continents at least once in her lifetime.
Kimberly Ruesch Joined VLP as a Bilingual Intake Specialist in October 2020. She is a graduate of Depaul University with a master’s in refugee and forced migration studies and has previously worked in immigration law and education. She spent 2 years teaching in Mexico and one year in Colombia before moving to Chicago in 2017.
Breanna joined VLP as a Temporary Project Manager for the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project in November 2020. She is originally from Vermont and graduated from Dartmouth College with a double major in Anthropology and Native American Studies.
Natasha joined VLP as a staff attorney in August 2020. Prior to joining VLP, she worked on housing matters as an AmeriCorps at Greater Boston Legal Services’ Cambridge office. Natasha currently works in the Housing and Bankruptcy units of VLP.
Marisa Vidal joined the Volunteer Lawyers Project in the Spring of 2019. Marisa has a wide variety of interests including Leadership Development; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging; Wellness; and Diplomacy. Her favorite part of being an Administrative Coordinator at VLP is that her work enables her colleagues to better help their clients.
Ilana Zeltser joined Volunteer Lawyers Project as the Finance and Operations Assistant in April 2019. Ilana earned a BS in Business Management and an MBA from the University of Hartford. Before joining VLP, Ilana spent six (6) years working at non-profit organizations with a focus on graduate education and admissions.