Stephanie Aguayo, Staff Attorney: Stephanie is a Los Angeles native who earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at the University of Oregon. She received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. Stephanie found her passion for helping and advocating for youth while interning at Children’s Law Center of California in Los Angeles. She then went on to work directly with children in foster care as a residential counselor at St. Anne’s. In her time at Golden Gate, Stephanie interned with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in their children and youth department and here at EBCLO. She is excited to return to EBCLO to continue helping families and advocating for children. In her free time, Stephanie enjoys watching sports (Go Dodgers!), spending time with her friends and family, and cooking. Se habla español!

Carol Barnett, Senior Staff Attorney: Carol first represented children in foster care with the Alameda County Public Defender and then became a founding attorney at EBCLO in 2009. Prior to coming to Alameda County, Carol represented indigent parents in all phases of the juvenile court proceedings in Santa Clara County. In addition, she was a member of the Santa Clara County Juvenile Justice Court Systems Committee and a member of the Executive Committee where she worked to develop and participate in the implementation of new policy and protocol related to the intersection of child maltreatment and domestic violence. Carol began her legal career advocating for women and children victims of domestic violence as a staff attorney in a Santa Clara County domestic violence shelter. Now 17 years later, Carol remains a dedicated advocate to her clients and for all children and youth in the foster care system. She is also the parent of two boys who keep her on her toes.  Se habla español!

Regan Bradley-Brown, Supervising Attorney: In addition to working at EBCLO since 2019, Regan also serves as a member of Beyond Emancipation’s Board of Directors, an organization supporting young people to create their own life beyond foster care. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sociology at San Francisco State University. Her passion for politics led to her internship for the United States Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and United States Representative, Jackie Speier. She received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, where she served as President of the Black Law Student Association. In her time at Santa Clara, Regan worked as a Law Program Facilitator for youth impacted by the juvenile justice system. Regan’s passion has always been rooted in community service and bringing meaningful access to the law to her community.

 CJ Connolly, Staff Attorney:  CJ earned her B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2018 where she worked with incoming students in the residence halls and recognized the great disparity amongst their educational experiences.  She then went on to earn her J.D. from UC College of the Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings College of the Law) in 2021.  In her time at Hastings, CJ was heavily involved with youth advocacy and education related programs and clinics, even spending her first legal internship here at EBCLO. She is excited to serve as the 2021-2022 Ralph S. Abascal and Legal Services Funders Network Fellow completing a project focused on providing educational and placement stability to foster youth. Outside of EBCLO, CJ enjoys hosting dinner parties with friends, playing board games, and spending too much time on TikTok!

Larita Cortez, Office Manager: Larita came to East Bay Children’s Law Offices after eleven years of providing all levels of administrative support to a large staff at Telecom, Inc. She has also spent many years at stadium and Oracle Arena serving VIP clientele. Larita attended Western Career College and obtained a Medical Assisting Certificate. She shares EBCLO’s passion for serving youth and loves helping EBCLO clients.

Christie de Guzman, Assistant Director of Social Work: Christie holds a BA in Sociology (2009) and a Masters in Social Work (2013)—both from California State University East Bay. After working at Seneca Center as a classroom counselor/Mental Health Assistant, she knew she wanted to do more to help children and their families. During graduate school, she worked at Alameda County’s Juvenile Hall doing individual and group therapy. She also worked at New Haven Unified School District as a School Social Worker providing therapy to with children in grades K-12 and their families. She enjoys volunteering at a hospice for children, food banks, schools and other non-profits. She also enjoys taking photos, documenting, helping others, creating events, and collaborating with others in her community. Christie loves living in the Bay Area, going to conferences, spending time with her family and friends, painting, crafting, crossing items off her bucket list and working with children.

Nikki Garcia, Staff Attorney: Nikki earned her BA from San Francisco State and JD from Southwestern Law School with a concentration in Public Interest Law.  Prior to joining East Bay Children’s Law Offices, she represented parents in Children’s Court for the Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers.  She has previously clerked for an L.A. Superior Court dependency judge, the Los Angeles County Counsel, and EBCLO.  She is thrilled to be back in the Bay Area advocating for Alameda County’s youth.

Lovena Henry, Staff Attorney:  Lovena earned her BA in Criminal Justice from University of Delaware and her Juris Doctorate from University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Prior to joining EBCLO, she was a Deputy District Attorney prosecuting a variety of criminal offenses. With a commitment towards social justice and being a voice for others, she is thrilled to zealously advocate for the children in the Bay Area. In her spare time, Lovena enjoys running, travelling, listening to house music and spending time with her family and friends.


Tenisha Lewis, Case Manager: Tenisha Lewis is a graduate from California State University, East Bay with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology. Her passion for working with and servicing youth dates back to her college years, where she worked directly with marginalized and vulnerable student populations in an after school program.  As a program coordinator, she began to recognize the need for sustainable support systems to foster and promote student success.  She has brought these skill sets with her to Chabot’s ASPIRE program and finally to EBCLO.  Her time with EBCLO has varied from intake and case administration, to case reporting and assessment on behalf of the adolescents being served by EBCLO, all which come from different social and economic backgrounds. 

Ginger Lewis Dole, Managing Attorney: Ginger is a passionate advocate for social justice and an experienced trial attorney. Prior to working in Dependency, she was a Deputy District Attorney prosecuting all manner of criminal offenses, including intimate partner violence, human trafficking, and crimes against children. She earned a B.A. in International Relations from Michigan State University and her Juris Doctorate from Golden Gate School of Law. Ginger is whole heartedly committed to giving children the representation they deserve and opportunities to thrive.

Ashley Lotti, Staff Attorney: Ashley is a proud Bay Area native and is excited to join EBCLO! She earned her Bachelors in Sociology from CSU Sacramento and her JD and LL.M in Estate Planning from Golden Gate University School of Law. During law school, Ashley competed for GGU’s National Mock Trial Team and now coaches for GGU’s mock trial team as well as her local high school’s mock trial team, focusing on teaching public speaking, critical thinking, and advocacy to her students. Outside of law, Ashley enjoys going to trivia nights with her friends, baking, writing, and is actively trying to meet her goal to read 100 books a year! 

Kristin Mateer, Executive Director: Kristin Mateer co-founded EBCLO in 2009 and served as one of its Managing Attorneys from 2009 until 2018 when she became the Executive Director. She is a Child Welfare Law Specialist and has practiced in Alameda County representing both parents and children in the juvenile dependency system since 1998, first for the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office and now for EBCLO. Prior to becoming an attorney for children, Kristin began her work with the juvenile dependency system as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) through San Francisco CASA where she mentored the same child from the time he was 11 years old through his emancipation from the foster care system at age 18. She is still in touch with him today.  Kristin then sat on the Advisory Board of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Alameda County for nine years, and was the Chair of the Advisory Board for seven years. Kristin is a graduate of UCLA and holds a law degree from UC College of the Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings College of the Law). She is a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children, the Alameda County Bar Association and she is also the mother of two amazing young women.

Sarah McElhinney, Supervising Attorney: Sarah is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Georgetown University Law Center. She came to East Bay Children’s Law Offices from the County of Santa Barbara where she was a Deputy County Counsel for seven years. At the Office of County Counsel, Sarah practiced in the areas of labor and employment law, civil litigation and juvenile dependency. Sarah has focused her career on advocating for youth in foster care.

Dr. Lynnā McPhatter-Harris, Director of Social Work: Dr. McPhatter-Harris’s professional career began in youth shelters and group homes in the state of Nebraska. Lynnā earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bellevue University in Nebraska and her doctorate in counseling psychology from Argosy University in San Diego, California. She has spent her career working in social justice mission-driven jobs that serve vulnerable and marginalized children and families. She has had the honor of collaborating with several national and international jurisdictions on reducing disparities and improving equitable outcomes for system-impacted families.  Lynnā also assisted child welfare agencies in their implementation of equitable strengths-based, solution-focused social work skills that interrupt the cycle of privilege and oppression including the combination of the Working with and Across Difference Model, Safety-Organized Practice (SOP) and the Structured Decision-Making system (SDM). On the justice side, she has helped child protection and juvenile probation agencies integrate their work with the dual-jurisdiction youth population.  Lynnā has used her experience as an equity-oriented systems leader to help leadership teams work with and across their differences to build an inclusive community and utilize an intersectional lens to make decisions. Joining EBCLO brings her career full circle.  In her free time, Lynnā enjoys being a spectator of football and basketball; attending her daughter’s many visual and performing arts shows; traveling with her family; reality television; and spending time in her garden. 

Jess Meeks, Staff Attorney:  Jess earned her BA in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.  Jess received her JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  She is a Bay Area native who is excited to be working in Oakland.  She is thrilled to  represent and zealously advocate on behalf of children in the dependency system.  Prior to joining EBCLO, she spent many years practicing commercial litigation.  She also spent many years exploring her passion for youth education by working as a substitute elementary school educator.

Angelina Nilssen, Youth Advocate Social Worker: Angelina received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Linfield College, in 2014, and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from Arizona State University, in 2017. During her MSW program Angelina was involved in the Title IV-E Child Welfare Training Project and received a graduate specialization in public child welfare. Her first field internship during her MSW program was at Kenilworth Elementary School, where she supported children in variety of ways to ensure their success academically. Her second internship was with Department of Children’s Services (DCS) as a Child Protective Services intern. Angelina has worked in the child welfare field since graduating graduate school supporting families and children who have come to the attention of the bureau. As a social worker, she feels that she is in the position to hear what the child needs, observe their behavior, and take input from their multidisciplinary team to help meet their needs. When not working, she enjoys camping, hiking, gardening, reading, and watching the Real Housewives franchise.

Terry Parks, Staff Attorney: Terry earned an A.B. in Economics from Stanford University, an M.S. in Computer Science from San Jose State, and his J.D. degree from UCLA School of Law. Terry clerked for the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office during law school and was a Deputy Public Defender in San Diego County handling criminal cases. Terry transitioned to the technology field and worked many years as a software developer in Silicon Valley. Although a lifelong technologist, Terry’s lived experiences with the foster care system created a strong affinity for East Bay Children’s Law Office’s mission to provide legal advocacy and a voice for foster youth. Terry is excited to join East Bay Children’s Law Office and looks forward to providing compassionate and vigorous legal advocacy for youth in the foster care system.

Tori Porell, Education Attorney: Tori earned her BA from Northeastern University and JD from UC Berkeley School of Law, where she worked in the Education Defense and Justice for Youth (EDJY) Clinic at East Bay Community Law Center. Tori initially joined EBCLO in 2018 as an Equal Justice Works fellow and founded the Strong Beginnings program, providing tailored support for children 0-5 years old with complex developmental, mental health and educational issues. Tori has now rejoined EBCLO as the Education Attorney, after two years providing civil legal aid to homeless youth in Alameda County at Bay Area Legal Aid. Tori is excited to address the educational needs of EBCLO clients of all ages and work towards closing the educational achievement gap for foster youth.

Kim Rhody, Staff Attorney: Kim comes to EBCLO excited to be back at legal advocacy. Kim was a Deputy Public Defender in Contra Costa County for 11 years, handling criminal as well as juvenile and dependency cases. After taking time off to be with her children, she returned to work in special education as an instructor and advocate. Kim worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster youth for the last 3 years and was the Chair of the CASA Advisory board and a member of the Friends of CASA board. She has worked as an advocate for domestic violence victims for the S.F. Family Violence project and as a group home counselor. Kim is thrilled to join the dedicated and lively staff at EBCLO.

Anthony Rodriguez Yao, Staff Attorney:  Anthony earned his B.A. in History and English from UC Berkeley in 2008 where he co-founded Project Pueblo a non-profit to address the socioeconomic disparities of the residents of the Navajo Nation.  He then went on to earn his J.D. from UC College of the Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings College of the Law) in 2012.  In his time at UC Hastings, Anthony was involved with youth advocacy, as head of Day @ Law School though La Raza Law Students Association. Additionally, he clerked at the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defender and was a legal extern at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office before completing his third and final year of law school as a Lawyers for America Fellow at the Solano County Public Defender’s Office. After leaving the Public Defender’s Office, he was involved in San Francisco politics, before working in immigration law at a non-profit in Napa, CA for nearly four years. Outside of EBCLO, Anthony enjoys comedy, theater, art, live music, cooking and podcasting.  Se habla español!

Roxanne Romell, Staff Attorney: Roxanne brings a wealth of child welfare law experience and a great sense of humor to EBCLO as of 2015. She has previously represented both parents, as part of Juvenile Dependency Counselors, and the Alameda County Social Services Agency through the Office of the County Counsel, and she is thrilled to now be representing the children in Alameda County’s dependency system. Outside of her child welfare experience, Roxanne’s areas of expertise include tenant law, commercial real estate, and residential real estate law. Her litigation experience outside juvenile court includes representation of 39 low-income, immigrant families in a habitability case against a slumlord who owns 18 properties in Oakland, and representation of four Chinese-American families in a suit against a multi-millionaire developer. She is a member of the Women Lawyers of Alameda County, National Legal Aid & Defenders Association, East Bay Tenant’s Bar Association, ACORN and local bar associations in the East Bay, and she is the past-president of the Board of Directors of the HERA (Housing & Economic Rights Advocates).  She also chairs the Advisory Board of Alameda County CASA.

Tatiana Smith, Youth Advocate Social Worker: Tatiana is an East Bay native. She graduated from Oakland High School and then Cal State East Bay with a degree in sociology with the social services option. She then earned her masters through Walden University in Human and Social Services. She has worked as a registered behavior therapist for Behavioral Health Works in Hayward where she provided one-on-one Applied Behavioral Analysis techniques to individuals diagnosed with Autism and related disorders. She is passionate about mental health and early intervention services for children who have developmental disabilities. She loves traveling with her husband, cooking and spending time with her family.

Amy Spierling, Operations Manager: Amy hails from the Pacific Northwest. Born and raised in Missoula, Montana, she attended the University of Washington and then settled in Oakland. After a career in Retail Management, she was excited to transition into nonprofit operations, first at Bay Area Wilderness Training, and now at EBCLO. She is passionate about youth and justice, and also volunteers as a CASA in Contra Costa County.



Emily Zia, Supervising Attorney: Emily is originally from Honolulu, Hawai’i, and a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of California Berkeley School of Law. Before going to law school, she was a 7th and 8th grade special education teacher in Hawai’i and received a post-baccalaureate certification in special education from the University of Hawai’i. While at Berkeley Law, she served as the Co-President of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association and Co-Chair of the Coalition for Diversity. After graduating from law school, she worked briefly at law firm Goodwin Proctor, then at D.C. nonprofit Bread for the City, and then as a Child in Need of Assistance attorney at Maryland Legal Aid, where she represented youth in foster care in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She’s incredibly excited to return to the Bay Area and continue doing dependency work with EBCLO! In her spare time, she loves running, baking, cheering for the Golden State Warriors, hanging out with friends, and going on hikes with her husband Ben and puppy Bailey.

Aubrey: Aubrey is a loving companion and support to children and adults experiencing trauma. Aubrey, a golden retriever lab mix, is a certified assistance dog expertly trained by Canine Companions for Independence. Aubrey loves kids, belly rubs, sitting on your feet and ice cubes.

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