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 and for litigating ADA/Olmstead cases. She is the former director of the Massachusetts PAIMI Project and the former chair of National Disability Rights Network’s Legal Committee. Ms. Costanzo is co-counsel in a number of class action cases in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Washington state and Ohio 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.
Steven J. Schwartz
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
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. She was appointed to serve on the federal Advisory Committee for Competitive Integrated Employment of People with Disabilities and is a co-chair of the Long Term Services and Supports Task Force of the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities. 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.
Molly Burgdorf is the Senior Policy Attorney at the Center’s Washington, D.C. office. She served as a Civil Rights Analyst with the Office for Civil Rights, Senior Advisor in the Center for Policy and Evaluation in the Administration for Community Living and as Senior Advisor with the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). During her time with HHS, Molly worked on a wide range of activities that impact the lives of people with disabilities, including the prevention of abuse and neglect, supporting successful youth transition, maximizing access to needed services and individualized supports, implementing the Olmstead decision, consulting on disability discrimination cases, and promoting community integration, independent living and supported decision-making.
Molly arrived at HHS from the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), where she helped develop recommendations to protect and advance human rights. Prior to CNSS, Molly served as a Congressional Legislative Consultant with the National Council on Disability. Her experience includes working with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and advocacy to advance affordable housing and domestic violence prevention.
Deborah Dorfman joined the Center in February of 2012. She has litigated numerous class actions and other systemic reform cases on behalf of individuals with disabilities with a particular focus on legal issues pertaining to people with intellectual and/or mental health disabilities. These issues include juvenile justice, education, access to Medicaid and state-funded community-based services, prison and jail conditions, fair housing, civil commitment, forensic mental health, among other issues. Ms. Dorfman was also adjunct professor at New York Law School in the Mental Disability Law Online Program and at St. John’s School of Law. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Dorfman worked as the Director Quality and Compliance at Behavioral Health Services at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. She has also served as the Managing Attorney of the Los Angeles Office of Disability Rights California, the Deputy Director at Disability Rights Legal Center, and the Legal Director of Disability Rights Washington. She was also Senior Counsel in the General Litigation Division at the New York City Law Department. Ms. Dorfman has given numerous presentations, nationally and internationally, and published a number of articles on disability rights issues. She is the recipient of the 2017 William I. Gardner Award from the Center for START Services for her advocacy on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities and behavioral health services needs. 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 began her legal career with the Center in August of 1999. Ms. Rucker’s individual representation and system reform work focus on serving adults and children with serious mental illness, as well as individuals with Acquired Brain Injury. She is co-counsel in several of the Center’s class action lawsuits, advocating for the development and expansion of integrated community service systems. Ms. Rucker received her undergraduate education from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and went on to participate in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she volunteered in the domestic violence clinic and worked in co-op positions with Greater Boston Legal Services, the Department of Justice, and the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.
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 and education law advocate. Ms. Sciaba-Douglas is fluent in Spanish.
Sandra J. Staub
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.
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. 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 has conducted numerous trainings on Social Security/SSI law and in the delivery of legal services to low-income clients, and has served as an instructor at Greenfield Community College.