Randye Retkin, Esq., is the Director and Founder of LegalHealth. She has been developing and running legal programs that serve low-income individuals for over 25 years. LegalHealth provides free legal services to individuals with chronic and serious illnesses through partnerships with hospitals and community groups throughout New York. In addition to providing free legal services, LegalHealth offers an innovative legal education curriculum to doctors, social workers, and other health care professionals.Read More
Prior to joining NYLAG, Randye served as Director of Legal Services for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She has provided consulting on projects addressing the needs of people with breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and other chronic illnesses. Randye served as a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) where she established the VOLS Immigrants’ Rights Project. She is a founder of the New York Immigration Coalition, the National Network of Cancer Legal Services Providers and a co-founder of the New York State Coalition of Medical-Legal Partnerships. She is a co-author of New York’s Standby Guardianship law and New York’s Health-Related Legal Services Program Law.
Randye is nationally recognized for building collaborations between professionals working with the chronically ill and for ensuring the well-being of this population by helping them access medical and legal systems. She is a co-author of one of the first significant articles on collaborative care for the chronically ill: “Attorneys and Social Workers Collaborating in HIV Care: Breaking New Ground,” Fordham Urban Law Journal (1997). She also co-authored “Complexities in HIV Consent in Adolescents,” Clinical Pediatrics (2005), “The Attorney As the Newest Member of the Cancer Treatment Team,” Journal of Clinical Oncology (May 2006), “Lawyers and Doctors Working Together-A Formidable team,” ABA Health Lawyer (2007), “Public Health Legal Services: A New and Powerful Vision,” Georgetown Journal of Poverty Law and Policy (2008), “How Bioethics Can Enrich Medical-Legal Partnerships,” The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (2010), “Legal Services: A Necessary Component of Patient Navigation”, Seminars in Oncology Nursing (2013), and most recently “The Long Road to State Endorsement of Medical-Legal Partnerships in New York” Clearinghouse Review, (2014).
In 2008, Randye and LegalHealth were awarded the prestigious E. Lee Walker award from the Live Strong Foundation for work on behalf of people with cancer. In 2010, Randye was the recipient of the New York City Bar’s Twenty-first Annual Legal Services Honorees Award. This award recognizes attorneys who have, for an extended period, devoted themselves full time to the direct provision of free civil legal services to indigent persons. LegalHealth was the recipient of the 2010 Denison Ray award from the New York State Bar Association, the 2011 “Outstanding MLP Award” from the National Center on Medical Legal Partnerships and most recently the 2012 Joan Tisch Community Health Prize. Randye is a frequent speaker at national legal and medical conferences.
Julie Brandfield, Esq., is the Associate Director of LegalHealth. She coordinates the training curriculum for hospital partners, establishes new clinics, and supervises LegalHealth’s staff attorneys. Julie has extensive experience in employment and insurance law, key focuses of her LegalHealth practice. Julie has spoken at numerous conferences on partnering with healthcare professionals. She co-authored “Environmental Improvements Brought by the Legal Interventions in the Homes of Poorly Controlled Inner-city Adult Asthmatic Patients: A Proof of Concept Study,” Journal of Asthma. (2012); “Medical-Legal Partnership: Collaborating with Lawyers to Identify and Address Health Disparities,” Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010; 25(Suppl 2): 136-9; “Medical Legal Partnerships: A Key Strategy for Mitigating the Negative Health Impacts of the Recession,” ABA Health Lawyer, (2009); “Lawyers and Doctors Working Together – A Formidable Team,” ABA Health Law Journal (October 2007); ”The Attorney as the Newest Member of the Cancer Treatment Team,” Journal of Clinical Oncology (May 2006); and “Complexities in HIV Consent in Adolescents,” Clinical Pediatrics (July/August 2005). Read More
Before joining LegalHealth in 2002, Julie was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. She clerked for the Honorable Alfred J. Lechner of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Julie served as secretary of the Federal Courts Committee of the New York City Bar Association from 1995 to 1998 and contributed to Trial Ready: A Manual for Pro Se Litigants Appearing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (1997). She graduated from the University of Chicago and Fordham University School of Law.
- Norma Tinubu, Senior Supervising Attorney – Norma supervises LegalHealth’s immigration practice. Before joining LegalHealth, she was a staff attorney at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, where she specialized in immigration law and estate planning. Previously, she worked in investment law at TIAA-CREF. Norma is a graduate of Pace University and received her JD from Touro Law School.
- Debra Wolf, Senior Supervising Attorney – Debra supervises our legal work for clients with cancer. Before joining LegalHealth in October 2005, Debra served as Assistant Director of Legal Services and Advocacy for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. She is an adjunct law professor at Fordham University School of Law. Debra graduated from Westfield College and received her JD from Washington University School of Law. Debra is the author of Reintegrating Employees with HIV/AIDS into the Workplace, The Diversity Factor, 2001 and Know Your Legal Rights In The Workplace, Coping With Cancer, May/June 2009. Debra also recently co-authored a chapter on employment law in Poverty, Health and Law: Readings and Cases for Medical-Legal Partnership and also co-authored a chapter on the legal rights of people with cancer for Handbook of Social Oncology.
- Maria Campigotto, Supervising Attorney – Maria supervises our general practice paralegals and staffs the legal clinics at Bellevue Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center. A magna cum laude graduate of Ohio State University, Maria received her law degree from New York University where she was also a student advocate at the institution’s employment and housing discrimination clinic. She is admitted to practice in both New York and New Jersey.
- Sarah Nolan, Supervising Attorney – Sarah supervises the immigration clinics at Elmhurst Hospital Center, Gouverneur Hospital, and Lincoln Medical Center. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Sarah was Legal Counsel for ActionNYC, where she advised the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the City University of New York on the delivery of community-based immigration legal services. She began her immigration law career as staff attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she also launched an office-wide pro bono program. Previously, Sarah was a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. She served as a clerk to the Honorable Holly B. Fitzsimmons, U.S.M.J., District of Connecticut. Sarah graduated from Dartmouth College and received her JD from New York University School of Law.
- Howard Sherwin, Supervising Attorney– Howard supervises LegalHealth’s Veteran’s projects, as well as our Social Security practice. Howard is proud to be a “lifer” in legal services, devoting his legal career for the past 20 plus years to representing the poor and disabled. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Howard served as the Senior Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Inc., where he ran the HIV/AIDS Advocacy and Disability Advocacy Projects, as well as supervised landlord-tenant law. Howard served for more than 10 years as a voting member of the Ryan White Part A Tri-County Steering Committee. He earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology from S.U.N.Y. at Albany and his JD from Pace University School of Law.
- Domna Antoniadis, Senior Staff Attorney – Domna staffs the legal clinics at the Bellevue Hospital Cancer Center and Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Cancer Center. She co-authored “Legal Services: A Necessary Component of Patient Navigation”, Seminars in Oncology Nursing (2013). She graduated from Fordham University School of Law. She received the Public Service 1L Student of the Year Award, the Public Interest Resource Center Leadership Award and the Archibald R. Murray Service Award.
- Julie Babayeva, Senior Staff Attorney – Julie staffs the LegalHealth clinics at NYU Langone Medical Center – Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center. Prior to joining LegalHealth Julie was a volunteer attorney at Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of New York. She graduated magna cum laude from Pace University and earned her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law, where she received CALI Awards for Excellence for Immigration Law, Pre-trial Advocacy and Bread & Life: Bridge to Justice legal clinic.
- Regina K. Chessari, Senior Staff Attorney – Regina runs the legal clinics at Kings County Hospital. Before joining LegalHealth in 2012, Regina volunteered with the Legal Aid Society of San Bernardino and clerked with the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. She graduated sum laude from California State University, San Bernardino and received her law degree with honors from Chapman University School of Law, where she was a Dean’s Merit Scholar, Shropshire Group Scholar, and Chapman Law Public Interest Scholar.
- Adam Herron, Senior Staff Attorney – Adam staffs the legal clinics at Harlem Hospital and Lincoln Medical Center. Before joining LegalHealth, Adam was a staff attorney at NMIC Legal Services, where he focused mainly on housing issues. Adam received his JD from Georgetown University Law Center and his LL.M. in Environmental Law from NYU School of Law. He received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he majored in biology. Prior to law school, Adam worked at the Mayo Clinic and has over a decade of experience as a clinical laboratory technologist, primarily in the area of cancer genetics.
- Mara A. Kuns, Senior Staff Attorney – Mara staffs the legal clinic at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Before joining LegalHealth in 2016, Mara worked at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project for 7 years, where she worked on disability rights issues and eviction prevention cases. Mara graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School. She received her A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.S. in mental health counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
- Simone Meyer, Senior Staff Attorney – Simone staffs the legal clinics at Jacobi Medical Center and Montefiore Comprehensive Family Care Center. Before joining LegalHealth, Simone worked as a Staff Attorney with the court-house based Housing Help Program at the Legal Aid Society in the Bronx, focusing on eviction prevention and tenant’s rights. On top of representing patients in a myriad of civil legal matters, including Medicaid issues, housing and immigration, Simone trains healthcare workers across the city on the social determinants of health and the importance of medical legal partnerships. Simone hails from Chicago where she earned her J.D. from DePaul University and received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she graduated with honors.
- Pedro Moreno, Senior Staff Attorney – Pedro staffs the immigration legal clinic at Gouverneur. Pedro received his LL.B from the University of Havana and his LL.M from the University of Miami. Prior to joining NYLAG, Pedro was a solo practitioner. Previously, he was litigation associate at a NYC private law firm.
- Ira J. Needleman, Senior Staff Attorney – Ira staffs the legal clinics at Woodhull Medical Center. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Ira represented clients including victims of domestic violence, children and youth, and persons afflicted with HIV and AIDS at several non-profits. Ira graduated from S.U.N.Y. College at Old Westbury, and also has a M.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He received his JD from C.U.N.Y. School of Law. In the Fall of 2013, Ira was featured in the school’s Public Square magazine with other law school alumni who were providing legal services to the HIV/AIDS community.
- Katie Ocampo, Senior Staff Attorney – Katie staffs the legal clinic at Northport VA Center. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Katie was awarded a Post-Graduate Fellowship to work at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. While in law school, Katie was a member of the Moot Court Team and completed an externship, where she provided legal services in the area of family law. Katie earned her law degree from William and Mary Law School and undergraduate degree with distinction from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- Nina Pejoves Gorman, Senior Staff Attorney – Nina staffs our clinics at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and with MJHS. Nina is a graduate from Boston College and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Nina was awarded the Brooklyn Law Students for the Public Interest Fellowship and the Edward V. Sparer Fellowship based on her commitment to public interest law.
- Ruth Stein, Senior Staff Attorney – Ruth joined LegalHealth to staff an Older Veterans Legal Clinic at the Bronx and Manhattan VA Medical Centers. Previously, she worked as a Staff Attorney with the Center for Veterans Advancement at Public Counsel and as a Hunger Fellow with New Mexico Appleseed. She earned her law degree from New York University School of Law and undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
- David Titus, Senior Staff Attorney – David is a Senior Staff Attorney in the LegalHealth unit of New York Legal Assistance Group. He staffs free legal clinics for veterans at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx and the Manhattan campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. He also educates veterans on substantive legal issues as a presenter in the Legal Stand Down training series offered annually by LegalHealth’s Veterans Project. In March 2018, he coauthored an article for the American Bar Association’s The Health Lawyer magazine examining the VA’s and Department of Defense’s past, present, and future efforts to move toward seamless exchange of veterans’ health information, as well as the relevant policies and legal framework. Before joining LegalHealth, he worked in private practice handling a wide range of legal matters from immigration petitions to complex securities class actions. He is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and Siena College.
- Sheila Zablow, Senior Staff Attorney – Sheila runs the legal clinics at CancerCare and Bellevue Hospital Center. She previously worked as an associate at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP in the investment management group. Sheila graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University and received her JD from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).
- Beth Breslin, Staff Attorney – Beth works to further LegalHealth’s goals by engaging in healthcare and Medicaid reform efforts, with a current focus on navigating the intricacies of the NY State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program. Previously, she staffed the LegalHealth clinic at CancerCare, a national cancer support organization. Prior to joining NYLAG, Beth represented clients in a variety of fields, including complex pharmaceutical litigation, criminal defense, sports law, and employment discrimination matters. Beth received her B.S. from Boston College and her law degree from Syracuse University College of Law, where she was the co-founder and managing editor of Impunity Watch, an online law journal focusing on human rights and impunity issues.
- Brendan Davis, Staff Attorney – Brendan staffs the legal clinics at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx and Gouverneur Hospital on the Lower East Side. Before joining LegalHealth, Brendan worked as the Legal Services Coordinator at South Bronx United, a youth development organization that uses soccer as a tool for community change. Brendan earned his law degree from the University of Queensland T.C. Beirne School of Law. Brendan also received a degree in Business Management from the University of Queensland.
- Katherine Erickson, Staff Attorney – Katherine is a Staff Attorney in LegalHealth, and staffs the legal clinics at Maimonides Medical Center and Kings County Hospital. She previously worked on the Manhattan team of the NYLAG Tenants’ Rights Unit. Prior to joining NYLAG, she worked for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellow. During law school she interned at the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and participated in a student clinic at the Brennan Center for Justice. Katherine received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. from Scripps College.
- Eric Hassell, Staff Attorney – Eric staffs the legal clinics at Queens Hospital Center and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s. Before joining LegalHealth, Eric worked as an associate at a private law firm focusing on Social Security Disability, Immigration, Trust and Estates and Guardianship matters. During law school Eric interned with the Innocence Project and participated in Cardozo’s Criminal Defense Clinic in partnership with the Legal Aid Society. Eric graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and Cardozo Law School.
- Christina Holder, Staff Attorney – Christina staffs the legal clinics at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Christina was an associate in the Health Care and Not-for-Profit Group of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP for seven years, where she also maintained a substantial pro bono practice. She earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and her B.A., summa cum laude, from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She was named a Rising Star in the area of Health Care in the New York Super Lawyers guide from 2014 to 2017. In her free time, Christina is pursuing an LL.M. at NYU with a focus on the advancement of economic, social and cultural rights in the U.S. and globally.
- Martyna Kaznowski, Staff Attorney– Martyna assists immigrant clients with medical issues at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx. As a Pro Bono Scholar at Brooklyn Law School, Martyna had the opportunity to work with the LGBT/HIV+ Advocacy Project at Brooklyn Legal Services, assisting LGBT and HIV+ clients with asylum and naturalization matters. Martyna is committed to direct services work and has assisted clients in immigration matters at Brooklyn Law School’s Safe Harbor Clinic and The Legal Aid Society. Martyna graduated from Brooklyn Law School in May 2018 and was admitted to the New York State Bar in June 2018.
- Marium Khawaja, Staff Attorney – Marium staffs the immigration law clinic at Elmhurst Hospital. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Marium worked at the Council on Islamic American Relations in New York. She received her LL.M. from Harvard Law School.
- Samantha Kubek, Staff Attorney– Samantha staffs the Women Veterans Legal Clinics at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx and the Manhattan Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System. During law school, she interned in NYLAG’s Family Law Unit and the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, as well as serving as a New York City Women’s Bar Fellow at Her Justice. Samantha received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law and earned her B.A. at Georgetown University.
- Stuart Sherman, Staff Attorney – Stuart staffs the legal clinics at Woodhull Hospital, CancerCare and Settlement Health. Before joining LegalHealth in 2018, Stuart was the Executive Director of the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law for 5 years, where he worked on health care policy at the intersection of law, ethics and medicine. While there he researched and published reports on a number of topics, including end of life decision-making, brain death, gestational surrogacy, pandemic flu preparedness, Ebola emergency response protocol, and organ donation. He has also previously worked on health policy and healthcare financing issue for the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Senate, and the New York State Assembly. Stuart graduated from the Boston University Law School and Boston University School of Public Health with a dual J.D/M.P.H degree. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
- Melina Somoza-Bornstein, Staff Attorney – Melina staffs the Gotham Health legal clinics in East NY and Morrisania, as well as the Community Care of Brooklyn PPS legal clinic at Housing Works in Brooklyn, NY.. Prior to joining NYLAG, Melina was a Columbia Public Interest Fellow at the Safe Passage Project and specialized in humanitarian-based immigration relief and representing unaccompanied minors in immigration and family court cases. During law school Melina interned with the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration and participated in the Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth Externship with the Legal Aid Society. Melina received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Spanish Language & Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and received her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
- Naji’a Tameez, Staff Attorney – Naji’a staffs the Resource, Entitlement and Advocacy Program (REAP) at Mount Sinai Hospital. Before joining LegalHealth, Naji’a was a Staff Attorney at Legal Services of Central New York, representing low income individuals and families, primarily in the areas of housing and access to public benefits, as well as unemployment insurance and consumer debt matters. Naji’a received her B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University in 2012 and is also an alumna of Rutgers’ Douglass Residential College. Naji’a received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, and had her student note, Road to Recovery: Pakistan’s Crises in the FATA, published in Syracuse’s Journal of International Law and Commerce in 2015. During law school, Naji’a participated in the Children’s Rights and Family law clinic, interned for the New York Civil Liberties Union and worked as a summer clerk for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
- Joseph Lavelle Wilson, Staff Attorney – Joseph staffs immigration legal clinics at New York hospitals, providing legal advice and representation on a range of simple and complex forms of immigration relief. Prior to joining NYLAG, Joseph directed the Legal Services program at the Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans. Joseph received his JD from the University of Technology, Sydney, and his BA from the University of Sydney.
- Ibrahima Thiam, Coordinating Paralegal – Ibrahima is an Immigration Paralegal at LegalHealth. He is a native of Senegal, West Africa and speaks four languages. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Ibrahima interned at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked on consulting projects and generated strategic recommendations to strengthen company’s financial health. He also worked at New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, where he monitored the Summer Youth Employment Program and ensured participants’ compliances with organization’s rules and regulations. Ibrahima earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Spanish from Skidmore College.
- Nicole Attar, Paralegal – Nicole is an Immigration Paralegal with LegalHealth’s ActionNYC project. Prior to joining NYLAG, Nicole was the Operations and Development Manager at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, assisting asylum seekers and survivors of human rights abuses receive comprehensive health care. Nicole began her career in immigration as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. She graduated cum laude from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies and Spanish.
- James J. Hernandez, Paralegal – James J. Hernandez is a General Paralegal at LegalHealth. James joins NYLAG with an ambition to eventually attend Law School and become an attorney. With over 12 years of social service experience, James joins the LegalHealth team with extensive experience in homelessness and healthcare. Having worked for the New York City shelter system, New York City Department of Homeless Services, and Montefiore Hospital, James is well versed in dealing with New York City’s underprivileged population and assisting with matters related to housing, Medicaid, social security, health benefits, employment, and community resources, among others. James received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Mercy College and is in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College.
- Erick Pineda, Paralegal – Erick is a paralegal assisting with SSD/SSI appeals. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Erick worked as a Social Security Paralegal at the Law offices of Joseph A. Romano where he assisted people in need of disability benefits. Erick graduated Magna Cum Laude from Monroe College with a Bachelor’s in Health Administration.
- Victoire Perez-Vargas, Paralegal – Victoire is a general paralegal within Legal Health assisting attorneys and clients on a variety of legal issues. Prior to joining NYLAG, she worked at an immigration law firm in midtown. Victoire graduated from Brown University with a BA in Political Science.
- Juan Rivera, Paralegal – Juan works as an Immigration Paralegal for LegalHealth. Juan’s parents are both cancer survivors. Inspired by their recovery, Juan’s care giving experience motivated him to be at the vanguard of health law and immigration by exploring the challenges that continue to emerge from these two areas of law, which are becoming increasingly intertwined. Juan expects to make significant contributions to both the project and the organization by improving the quality and breadth of legal services available to the most vulnerable New Yorkers, namely the urban immigrant population. Juan is an alum of Cornell University.
- Pedro Sepulveda, Paralegal – Pedro is a DOJ accredited representative and immigration paralegal. Pedro staffs the immigration legal clinics at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx and Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Before NYLAG, Pedro conducted gene therapy research on rare neurodegenerative disorders at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pedro graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry and Jewish Studies.
- Cindy Sun, Paralegal – Cindy is an immigration paralegal at LegalHealth. Prior to joining NYLAG, she conducted research investigating the efficacy of antibodies as a potential form of cancer treatment at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Cindy graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Biology from Dartmouth College.
- Alex Bush, Grants and Data Coordinator – Alex is the Grants and Data Coordinator with NYLAG’s LegalHealth unit. He has a background in Federal contracting and international development. Before graduate school, Alex was a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. He received his M.P.A. from American University School of Public Affairs and his B.A. from Eckerd College.
- Alison Seidman, Special Projects Coordinator – Alison works as the Special Projects Coordinator in LegalHealth. Prior to joining LegalHealth, Alison worked in both sales and social work. She earned her Master of Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work with a concentration in Group Work and received her Bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College with a concentration in Creative Writing.