Mr. Kirschner litigates and manages the prosecution of fair housing cases filed with administrative agencies and in state and federal courts. He received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. in History from the George Washington University. Representative reported decisions include Laflamme v. New Horizons, Inc., 605 F. Supp. 2d 378 (D. Conn. 2009); Gashi v. Grubb & Ellis, et al., 801 F.Supp.2d 12, 16 (D. Conn. 2011); Parris v. Pappas, 844 F.Supp.2d 271, 278 (D. Conn. 2012); Francia v. Mt. Vernon Fire Insurance Co., 2012 WL 1088544 (March 6, 2012 ) (53 Conn. L. Rptr. 687).
Ms. Aquiles joined the center in 2023 as a Bilingual Intake Specialist Paralegal. With a strong academic foundation, Ms. Aquiles holds an Associate’s Degree and successfully completed a Paralegal program. As a Bilingual Intake Specialist Paralegal, Ms. Aquiles serves as a crucial point of contact for clients from diverse linguistic backgrounds, ensuring effective communication and understanding throughout the intake process. Fluent in both English and Spanish, they bridge the gap between clients and legal resources, ensuring that all individuals receive the assistance they deserve.
Ms. Cuerda joined the Center in 2010 and runs fair housing tests, works directly with clients who believe they have been the victims of housing discrimination, and conducts education and outreach regarding fair housing laws. She is particularly interested in using fair housing law and community organizing to overcome barriers faced by people with criminal records when looking for housing. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Cuerda worked as a legal services advocate for 20 years concentrating on issues facing undocumented immigrants, farm workers, and people receiving public benefits. At Western Massachusetts Legal Services, she ran a project providing legal assistance to residents of the North End neighborhood of Springfield, the poorest census tract in the state of Massachusetts. A San Francisco native, Ms. Cuerda is a graduate of Smith College.
Dudek-Rolon joined the Center in August 2022 as part of the foreclosure prevention and fair lending team. Ms. Dudek comes to the center as a Singer Fellow through the Connecticut Bar Foundation. She received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Hartford and her J.D. with a public interest concentration from the Western New England University School of Law. While there, she completed an externship with the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center and became actively involved in the Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference, an annual event with an emphasis on social justice and housing equity.
JEFF GENTES Managing Attorney, Fair Lending and Foreclosure Prevention Project
Mr. Gentes joined the Center in 2010 and manages work on fair lending and foreclosure prevention. He is also a member of the state’s Bench-Bar Foreclosure Committee, the George W. and Sadella D. Crawford Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, and a registered lobbyist. Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Gentes worked at the Homeowner Defense Project of Staten Island Legal Services. Mr. Gentes was raised in Lebanon, Connecticut and received his B.A. from the University of Connecticut and his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Ms. Heller joined the Center as a foreclosure prevention staff attorney in 2011 and later began taking on fair housing cases as well. Prior to coming to the Center, she worked as a law clerk to the Honorable Ellen Ash Peters and to the Honorable William J. Sullivan at the Connecticut Appellate Court and as a legal research clerk at the Connecticut Superior Court. Ms. Heller has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Elms College in Massachusetts and at the University of St. Joseph in Connecticut. She received a B.A. with honors in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University, an M.S.W. with a concentration in policy from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, and a J.D. with honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Mr. Kazerounian joined the Center in 2012 and works with the fair housing enforcement team to represent the victims of housing discrimination in administrative actions and in state and federal court. Prior to joining the Center’s staff, Mr. Kazerounian was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where he specialized in representing rural low-income individuals and community organizations in civil cases. He received his B.A. from the University of Connecticut and his law degree from the University of Washington School of Law, where he was a Gates Public Service Law Scholar.
Ms. Labrencis joined the Center as a fair housing enforcement staff attorney in 2014. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Labrencis was an associate attorney at a law firm in San Diego where she represented employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and wage and hour cases. She received her B.A. in English from Stonehill College, and her J.D. magna cum laude from California Western School of Law, where she was a member of the Public Service Honors Society.
Mr. Lavery joined the Center in 2016 as a staff attorney, and litigated fair lending, fair housing, and foreclosure cases. In 2022 he became the Center’s Director of Operations, and focuses on financial and grants administration.
Ms. Martinez came to the Center as a foreclosure prevention staff attorney in 2012. Before joining the Center, she served as an attorney advisor for the Social Security Administration, Office of Appellate Operations in Washington, D.C. Ms. Martinez received a B.S. with honors in Management and International Business from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. While in law school, she interned with the Community Law Center in Baltimore.
SHANNON PERKINS Director of Development and Engagement
Ms. Perkins joined the Center as the Director of Development and Engagement in 2023. Prior to joining the Center, she served as Director of Programs and Director of Education and Training at the Connecticut Women’s Consortium. Ms. Perkins received a B.A. with honors in English and Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Connecticut and her M.S.W. with a concentration in administration from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work. She is also a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).
RASHIDA REID (RATTRAY) Education and Outreach Coordinator
Ms. Rattray joined the center in 2020 as the Education and Outreach Coordinator. Rashida’s professional experience is rooted in foreclosure prevention and mitigation counseling as well as legal administration. In her previous work as a housing counselor, Rashida assisted over 40 families gaining positive outcomes while going through foreclosure. She also has a strong background in community engagement that was fostered by her work for the City of Waterbury. At the Center, Rashida facilitates outreach to a multitude of different stakeholders by planning and executing fair housing trainings, maintaining the Center’s social media channels, and brainstorming new ways to connect with the people we serve. She is actively pursuing her passion for advocating for people in all she does. She is currently enrolled at Trinity College as a Sociology major.
Ms. Romanow joined the Center in 2021. Previously, Ms. Romanow was a staff attorney at Community Legal Aid in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she practiced in the education and disability benefits units. She received her B.A. from Smith College and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Sarah White joined the Center’s fair lending and foreclosure prevention program in 2012. Previously, she was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. Ms. White received her B.A. from Hendrix College and her M.A. and J.D. from the University of Washington. She was the recipient of the National Lawyers Guild’s C. B. King award in 2010 for her social justice efforts.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.