Cathy Costanzo became the Center's Executive Director in September 2011. She has worked in the mental disability law field since 1977 and has extensive experience in providing representation to institutionalized persons throughout the country. She is the former director of the Massachusetts PAIMI Project and the former chair of NDRN's Legal Committee. Ms. Costanzo is co-counsel in a number of class action cases in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Arizona which seek to promote the integration and to expand the rights of persons with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. She has directed the Center's restraint and seclusion project, its death watch project, and its multi-state initiative on challenging the use of aversive punishment on persons with developmental disabilities. She graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Steven J. Schwartz is the Center's Litigation Director. He began practicing mental disability law in 1971 after graduating from Harvard Law School and served as the Center's Executive Director for 38 years, until September 2011. He has extensive experience litigating class action cases challenging issues related to the institutional confinement and community integration of persons with disabilities and has successfully resolved a number of damage cases for individuals with disabilities. Mr. Schwartz has authored a number of law review articles, testified before Congress on P&A authorizing legislation and abuse and neglect issues, and served on the faculty of the Harvard and Western New England Law Schools.
Robert D. Fleischner, the Center's Assistant Director, has been practicing mental disability law since 1973. He is a national expert on P&A access, advance directives, and guardianship. He has served on the faculty of the Western New England Law School and Smith College School of Social Work. He is the co-author of Guardianship and Conservatorship in Massachusetts, published by Lexis, and has written several law review articles. A Boston College Law School graduate, Mr. Fleischner has litigated community integration, civil commitment, prison mental health, juvenile justice, guardianship, and fair housing cases.
Alison Barkoff is Director of Advocacy at the Center’s Washington, D.C. office. She works on policy and litigation related to community integration and inclusion, including Olmstead, Medicaid, employment, housing, and education. From 2010 to 2014, she served as Special Counsel for Olmstead Enforcement in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, leading efforts to enforce the right of individuals with disabilities to live, work and receive services in the community. Ms. Barkoff also worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and with the Department of Labor. Prior to her time with the government, she worked at the Bazelon Center and other public interest organizations on Olmstead enforcement, disability discrimination, Medicaid, employment, and special education cases. She has an adult brother with an intellectual disability and has been involved in disability advocacy most of her life.
Deborah Dorfman joined CPR in February of 2012. She has litigated numerous class actions and other systemic reform cases on behalf of individuals with disabilities in cases involving deinstitutionalization, access to community-based services, abuse and neglect, juvenile justice, jails, and special education, among others. She has also been an adjunct professor at New York Law School teaching several courses in the Online Mental Disability Law Program. She has given numerous presentations, nationally and internationally, and published a number of law review and other articles on disability rights issues. Ms. Dorfman graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and received her law degree from New York Law School in 1992.
Anna Krieger came to the Center in 2015 from Disability Rights California, where she was a Civil Rights Litigation Fellow and worked on statewide mental health and discrimination cases. Previously, she was a Senior Patients’ Rights Attorney at the Mental Health Advocacy Project of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, representing thousands of individuals who were involuntarily detained in psychiatric hospitals. Ms. Krieger also served on the board of the California Association of Mental Health Patients’ Rights Advocates. Before becoming an attorney, she worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as an Emerson Fellow for the Congressional Hunger Center, where she worked as a community organizer in Montana. Ms. Krieger is a graduate of Haverford College and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).
Kathryn Rucker received her undergraduate education from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts where she studied English and Peace Studies. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, and has been working with the Center since August, 1999. Ms. Rucker's representation and her systemic reform work focus on serving individuals with serious mental illness in hospital and community residential settings. She is also co-counsel in several of the Center's class action lawsuits.
Santina Sciaba-Douglas joined the Center in 2003 and provides representation to western Massachusetts residents appealing Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) denials. She is a 2000 graduate of Western New England College School of Law. She was a law clerk to the justices of the Massachusetts Superior Court. In addition to her social security law expertise, she is an experienced mental health law advocate. Ms. Sciaba-Douglas is fluent in Spanish.
Sandra J. Staub joined CPR in 2015 after five years as legal director of the ACLU-CT, where one of her major accomplishments was to help strengthen CT's anti-profiling law and create the most advanced statewide system for data collection on race and ethnicity in traffic stops, leading to the 2015 analysis of data that documented unlawful profiling and set in motion state-wide training for police to target implicit bias. Previously, Sandy was a partner in private practice at Bulkley, Richardson; Gelinas, LLP and at Allison, Angier and Bartmon, LLP and she also served as the first Chief of the Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit for the Northwestern District Attorney’s office in Massachusetts. Sandy served as a Trustee for Greenfield Community College, as a Distribution Member of the Western Massachusetts Community Foundation and for ten years she volunteered as a board member, including as President, for the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition. She is a graduate of Greenfield Community College, Amherst College and Yale Law School, where she was senior editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Bettina Toner is a 1991 graduate of Skidmore College and a 1995 graduate of Suffolk University Law School. While attending law school, she was an intern at Mental Health Legal Advisor's Committee which launched her on a career focused on advocacy on behalf of individuals with mental illness in both institutional and community settings. Since 1998, Ms. Toner has represented individuals with psychiatric and developmental disabilities in both private practice and at public interest law firms in Massachusetts, including CPR and the Disability Law Center. She rejoined CPR in December 2010.
David Waldfogel joined CPR in April, 2012 and represents individuals in Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Boston University School of Law. He was the first Executive Director of the Massachusetts Justice Project, a federally funded Legal Aid program serving all of central and western Massachusetts, an organization he ran from 1997-2002 and on whose Board of Directors he currently sits. Prior to that Mr. Waldfogel worked at Queens Legal Services, New York and Western Massachusetts Legal Services where he specialized in Social Security/SSI and Elder law. He is an adjunct instructor at Greenfield (Mass.) Community College. He is well known as a frequent trainer on Social Security/SSI law and in the delivery of legal services to low-income clients.