Celebrating 25 Years of Lifting New York Families
OUR MISSION & HISTORY
In New York State, 8 in 10 litigants in Family Court do not have a lawyer.
Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) provides unrepresented litigants with tools to be their own advocates in New York State Family Court.
Our humble origins in 1996 were the start of something big. What began as a family law information table in one courthouse evolved into the go-to source of legal information, advice, and support for court-involved families across New York State.
Now, in our 25th year, LIFT increases access to justice for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
Our bilingual services, phenomenal staff and pro bono attorneys, and cutting-edge videoconferencing technology bring our mission to life every day …
To enhance justice for children and families by providing legal information, community education, and compassionate guidance, while promoting system-wide reform of the courts and public agencies.
GREETINGS FROM OUR CEO
I have been at LIFT for four years. In some ways, I do not recognize the organization we are now. Still small and mighty, but with so much more reach.
I am very proud of all we have accomplished. We have built a new pro bono program, restructured our community outreach efforts and our staff and board are strong, smart and working hard. We are very connected to the legal services world and are a strong support and thought partner to the Family Court.
During COVID, we are seeing tremendous increases in need. We have stepped up on every level. If not now, when? Our Helpline is exploding with calls, our legal consultations are at an all-time high and our innovative technology has allowed us to operate completely remotely with clients across the city, the state and the country.
This is a moment of reflection and introspection for all of us. The social and racial justice challenges, the economic dislocation, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic – if ever there was a moment to increase access to justice and focus on family and community stability, it is now.
Thank you for helping us do this work. We fill a particular niche in an under resourced court that many rather not look at. Your support has allowed us to be on the radar of more people, help more clients and do what we do so well at warp speed. We could not be doing it without you.
With deep gratitude,
A VIDEO MESSAGE FROM
THE BOARD CHAIR
MEET OUR TEAM
We’re lawyers, activists, community organizers, writers, fundraisers, techies, and data trackers. And we’re working together to help lift our neighbors, one family at a time.
Rachel AndronChief Program Officer
Kristin AswadStaff Attorney, Staten Island Borough Coordinator
Molly BurkeStaff Attorney, Bronx Borough Coordinator
Elise CateraBrooklyn Staff Attorney
Cathy CramerChief Executive Officer
Ryan GallagherDirector of Legal Technology
Nathalie GonzálezLegal Director
Blythe Hawthorne-LoizeauxStaff Attorney, Pro Bono & Outreach
Sami IngramDirector of Pro Bono Programs
Tyler LevsenManhattan Staff Attorney
Chábelly Pacheco MalulyBilingual Program Associate
Tomie MartelBilingual Program Associate
Andrea MillerManager of Institutional Giving
Hannaha NavarretteSpecial Assistant to the CEO
Jailene PeraltaBilingual Program Associate
Kristin PulkkinenChief Development Officer
Emily SchoenfeldManager of Development & Communications
Jessica StadmeyerDirector of Legal Resources and Community Engagement
Marlene UrenaHelpline Program Manager
Liza RosaOperations and HR Manager
Together, we’re working toward the day when equal access to justice in New York State Family Court becomes a reality for every New Yorker—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have.
In the meantime, we’re making a difference today and every day—one family at a time.
Gabi is a Senior Vice President, Personal Insurance Distribution & Strategy at Travelers Insurance. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Abby is Counsel, Complex Litigation and Trials at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She holds a J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. Abby has been recognized repeatedly for her outstanding commitment to pro bono work, particularly her dedication to asylum work for the LGBTQ community.
Rob is a Managing Director of the Investments Group at SL Green Realty Corp., New York City’s largest commercial landlord. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cornell University.
Nancy is a Partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston College Law School in 2003 and was elected to the Order of the Coif. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Vassar College in 1998.
Rebecca is a Partner in Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s Corporate and Finance Group and Financial Services Group. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Leslie is Chief Operating Officer at Covenant House New York, which has been at the vanguard of providing housing to homeless youth and young adult populations for more than 45 years. Leslie received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. with Honors from Swarthmore College. She is a co-founder of LIFT.
Ellie is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child development, with a focus on developmental issues including trauma and involvement with the child welfare system. She holds a Master of Social Work from NYU and a Master of Arts in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College.
Corey is the Director of Policy Communications at Facebook, specializing in corporate, crisis and financial communications as well as public affairs. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Government from NYU.
Phil is a Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP where he is a member of the Firm’s litigation practice and is Co-Chair of the Firm’s National eDiscovery & eRetention Practice Group. He received his B.A. from Tufts University and his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law – Newark.
Wendy is the Associate Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm.
Valerie is a Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. serving as the Head of Legal for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Valerie is also the founder and emeritus chair of the Bloomberg Legal Department’s award-winning pro bono program. She holds a J.D. from The George Washing University Law School and a B.A. from Bates College.
Roy is Senior Vice President and Counsel to Citi Global Markets Inc. where he advises on regulatory issues and transactions involving the sale, purchase and custody of financial products. He is also co-head of Citi’s pro bono efforts with the New York City Family Court Volunteer Attorney Program. Roy received his B.A. in History from the University at Albany SUNY and his J.D. from Boston University School of Law.
Anna is a Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs at The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). She was part of the team that developed the Company’s first full-length Corporate Responsibility report.
Jane is a Director of Revenue for Salesforce where she leads the US and Canada Revenue Recognition team, in working with counterparts in sales, operations, and legal to ensure proper revenue recognition on enterprise-level contracts, primarily with financial services and insurance customers. Jane received her B.S. in Accounting and M.Acc. from Case Western Reserve University.
Sheri has worked for The Brooklyn Museum, The Cooper Hewitt Museum Smithsonian Institution and Architectural Digest. She received a BBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from the Cooper Hewitt New School Parsons School of Design. She was a founding board member of: The Jewish Women’s Foundation, The Sister Fund, The New York Women’s Foundation and The American Friends of the JCC of Krakow. Sheri served on the board of The Retreat and currently serves on the boards of Broadway Housing Communities Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, The Board of Advisors for The Brooklyn Museum, and The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy.
Bill is a Partner at Proskauer Rose LLP where he is head of the firm’s pro bono program. Before entering private practice, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he led criminal investigations, conducted trials and handled Second Circuit appeals. Bill received his B.A. from Brown University and his J.D. from New York University.
Susan is a community volunteer. She worked in Advertising at NW Ayer and AC&R (a subsidiary of Bates) and in Public Relations at Ruder Finn. She attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH and graduated with a BA from Finch College in New York City. Susan has volunteered at The Lighthouse Guild for the Blind and tutored at New York Center for Children/NYCC. Helping children and families is meaningful to Susan as her daughter Lisa was devoted to improving lives of children and families. Lisa passed away from Hodgkins Lymphoma and was unable to fulfill her dream. Continuing this mission is a legacy to Lisa.
Lisa is Managing Partner at Miller Zeiderman LLP. A Matrimonial Attorney, CFL and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst there, she handles complex financial and custody divorce matters for high-net-worth individuals. She received her J.D. from Fordham University. Lisa is a member of the Legislative Committee of the Family Law Section for the New York State Bar Association and sits on the executive board of the Justice Brandeis Law Society. Lisa also serves on the Executive Board of Savvy Ladies, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization that provides free education and resources to help women achieve their financial independence
Who We Serve
WE ARE HERE ENSURING ACCESS TO JUSTICE
LIFT serves individuals and families navigating the New York State Family Court system without legal representation (also known as pro se litigants). In New York, 80% of litigants in Family Court do not have a lawyer. But the stakes are just too high to go it alone. The Court’s decisions affect the lives of thousands of children and families with profound, long-lasting effects on their safety, economic security, health, and well-being.
That’s why LIFT works as an equalizer for under-resourced families who count on us to help when they need it most. We are there, ensuring access to justice for people in cities, towns, and rural communities across New York State.
Where We Serve
Relationship to Child
LIFT During Covid
SHOWING UP FOR OUR CLIENTS IN A TIME OF LOSS AND DISRUPTION
Covid-19 has brought extraordinary disruption to the families we work with—and a wave of urgent and heartbreaking family law issues. Meanwhile, the New York State Family Court System has been forced to scale back operations to protect public health.
LIFT moved instantaneously to retool and respond as the pandemic took hold. LIFT has shown up with dedication and heart, as the need for support around child support, custody, visitation, domestic violence and guardianship skyrocketed.
Thanks to your support, LIFT has been able to:
Family Law Helpline
Each year, LIFT responds to over 15,000 phone calls, emails, and text-chats from people all over the world who have family law cases in New York State. Our Helpline provides crucial legal information, plus appointments with our staff attorneys for more in-depth case support. The Helpline also makes referrals to partner organizations for people who need social service or other key resources.
“At LIFT, we often meet people who are in transition and concerned about their children. We help them understand their legal options, assist them with paperwork, and help them build a legal argument. But perhaps most important, we listen.”
– Ryan Gallagher, Director of Legal Technology
Legal Consultations and Family Legal Connection (FLC)
Our in-depth consultations enable self-represented litigants to meet with a Staff Attorney and receive legal advice and vital support in preparing a case. Services range from assistance completing a petition to moot court opportunities where they can practice what they want to say to the judge. Working remotely, Staff Attorneys consult with clients either by phone or by videoconferencing and document-sharing on our virtual platform, Family Legal Connection (FLC).
FLC also enables our pro bono attorneys to connect with LIFT clients. With this technology, litigants in every corner of New York State (and globally), can access timely, in-depth, face-to-face legal advice and case strategy—on their cellphone, mobile device, or any computer with an internet connection.
Legal Education and Community Outreach
LIFT delivers “know-your-rights” workshops and legal clinics at partner organizations in local communities, where people live and work. During the pandemic, we continued to offer these programs online via webinars and live events on social media. This work focuses on under-resourced communities and underserved groups of people, including immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, veterans, and domestic violence survivors.
Legal Resource Guides in Eight Languages
LIFT has developed over 40 legal resource guides, available free on our website and at program sites. These multilingual guides explain important Family Court and Family Law issues in simple, accessible language. Recent guides have focused on topics of special concern to active military service members, military veterans, LGBTQ Family Court users, and parents who have experienced incarceration.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Safety Program
As part of our rapid response to the pandemic, we launched a PPE Safety Program to help protect the health of people arriving at Family Court in the five boroughs of New York City. The program distributes facemasks and Covid-19 prevention tips—along with legal resource information. The program also provides adult-and children-sized facemasks to the Family Law organizations that we partner with, as well as to the court-appointed lawyers who are seeing clients at their offices and in client’s homes.
The program is staffed by people from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. We’ve partnered with John Jay College, CUNY, Lawyers for Children, Guttman Community College, and other community partners to hire the staff teams working for this important new program.
Advocating for More Just and Equitable Policies
LIFT actively represents the voice of pro se litigants by participating in numerous committees at the city and state levels, with a primary aim of engaging in policy changes and reform initiatives. LIFT is one of the few organizations in Family Court that works exclusively with pro se litigants. The Court is LIFT’s closest partner, and as a result, we are well-positioned to advocate for racial equity from within.
City and State Committees LIFT Participates In:
Advocates Against Domestic Violence
Borough Based Agency Heads Meeting
Child Support COVID 19 Task Force
City Bar Family Court & Family Law Committee
City Bar Pro Bono & Legal Services Committee
The CVO Covid-19 Task Force for the NYC Family Courts
Cyber Sexual Abuse Task Force
Family Justice Center working groups
Human Services Council – Priority and Strategy Council, Advisory Body
The Lawyers’ Committee Against Domestic Violence (LCADV)
LIFT’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Task Force
NYS Bar Committee on Families and the Law
NYC Bar Council on Children
The NYC Bar Working Group on Abusive Partner Intervention Programs
NYC Veterans Law Technical Assistance Initiative
Office of Child Support Services Community Partners Group
Public Interest Pro Bono Association (PIPBA)
Queens Library Immediate Access Program Advisory Board
Veterans Law Working Group
OUR PRO BONO COMMUNITY
Our phenomenal team of pro bono partners allows LIFT to serve people far and wide across New York State. Our innovative Family Legal Connection (FLC) program deploys user-friendly technology to enable LIFT’s pro bono attorneys and our clients to meet over video chat and share documents in real time.
- Individuals and families receive family law advice and strategy without having to leave home, take time off from work, arrange childcare and transportation, or travel to Family Court for pro bono assistance.
- Accessibility barriers for homebound and/or disabled litigants are removed.
- People who live in counties and communities with few pro bono resources are no longer left behind.
Family Legal Connection is a game-changer, a time-saver, and a vital component of LIFT’s efforts to close the justice gap through convenient, accessible legal information and advice around issues of child support, custody and visitation.
LIFT’s FLC enables pro bono attorneys to have a significant positive impact from their own offices or homes at flexible times. Our pro bono attorneys experience the satisfaction of providing meaningful support, interacting with clients face-to-face, and making a difference in the lives of litigants in underserved locations.
FLC flourished in 2020, with exponential growth in the number of law firms that energetically committed to working with LIFT as pro bono partners for FLC. We thank all of our new and long-term pro bono partners and look forward to forging new partnerships in our 25th year.
WE THANK OUR PRO BONO PARTNERS
Join our growing list of law firms and corporations that give back by partnering with LIFT through pro bono work. To learn more about ways to get involved, contact our Director of Pro Bono Programs, Sami Ingram, at SIngram@liftonline.org or (646) 613-9633, Ext. 213.
LIFT LAWYERS COUNCIL
The LIFT Lawyers Council is a select group of attorneys who advise the organization on its pro bono program, policy initiatives, and other important topics, and serve as ambassadors for LIFT and Family Court litigants at their firms and companies. Our goal is to leverage the thought leadership and resources of the private bar to increase access to justice for New York families.
William Silverman, Chair
Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP
Erica P. Blau, Esq.
Pro Bono Director & Associate General Counsel American International Group, Inc.
Proskauer Rose LLP
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
Chief of Staff, COO &
Head of Strategic Commercial Matters
– Legal & Compliance Department
Alston & Bird
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel
Goodstein Law Firm
Product & Marketing Counsel
Vice President & Assistant General Counsel
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
Xiaoyang (Winnie) Ma
Manager, National Tax – Passthrough Transactions Group
Ernst & Young
Director of Criminal Justice, Equitable Justice & Strategic Initiatives
National Urban League
Pro Bono Counsel
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Miller Zeiderman LLP
Managing Counsel and Director
The Bank of New York Mellon
MEET OUR CLIENTS
OUR IMPACT IN 2020
Fiscal Year 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020)
Smart Investment = Powerful Impact
Operating Revenue: $2,872,451
THANK YOU TO OUR SUPPORTERS WHO MAKE OUR WORK POSSIBLE
Fiscal Year 2020 (October 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020)
City of New York – Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
The Clark Foundation
The IOLA Fund of the State of New York
New York City Council
New York State Unified Court System: Office of Court Administration
$50,000 – $99,999
Leslie Abbey and Stephen Dietz
New York City Council – Legal Services for Veterans Initiatives
$25,000 – $49,999
Diane and Arthur Abbey
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Mary J. Hutchins Foundation
Gabriella Nawi and Todd Jonasz
NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust
New York State – Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)
The Rona Jaffe Foundation
Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust
Robert and Jessica Schiffer
$10,000 – $24,999
Adakin Capital, LLC
Debra and Kenneth Caplan
Cathy A. Cramer and Kenneth Gibbs
The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
The Lucius N. Littauer Foundation
Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Sheri Cyd Sandler
$5,000 – $9,999
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation
Ellie Becker and Norm Parton
Phil H. Cohen and Rebecca Kramnick
Abigail and Chris Davis
Frances J. and Anthony DiSarro
The Hyde and Watson Foundation
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Eugene Keilin and Joanne Witty
Anupam Ladha and Ying Yu
Marble Collegiate Church
Nazee & Joseph Moinian Foundation
Popular Foundation (Popular Community Bank)
Mary and Alok Singh
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Lois and Barbara Whitman
The William C. Bullitt Foundation
$2,500 – $4,999
Diane Archer and Stephen Presser
The Blackstone Group, LP
Shelley Burtt and Donald Meltzer
Mark and Beth Ferber
Marc Holliday – Holliday Foundation
The New York Bar Foundation
Office of the Manhattan Borough President
Partnership for New York City
Anthony Schlesinger and Anne Forward
SL Green Realty Corp
Roger L. Strong – Strong Foundation of New York
Peggy and David Tanner
$1,000 – $2,499
Alan and Patricia Abramson
Toni and Seth Bernstein
Lenore and Robert Davis
Carol and Mike Dawley
Rhonda and Paul De Fiore
Elizabeth Duggal and Alain Taghipour
Diana and Frederick Elghanayan
Joshua Empson and Rachel Klauber-Speiden
Ann and Josh Foley
Diane and Joseph Genova
Ellen and Bud Gibbs
Amy Glosser and Janno Lieber
Steven and Elizabeth Gruber
Lisa Grunwald and Stephen and Stephen Adler
Investors Foundation (Investors Bank)
Stephen McGrath, Jr. and Janine Shelffo
David and Sheila McLean
Joan McPhee and Michael Gilson
Metzger-Price Fund, Inc.
Neuberger Berman Group LLC
The New World Foundation
NYU Community Fund
Bret Ruber and Kate Isenberg
William Silverman and Karen Jason
Katherine and Steven Soll
Cynthia King-Vance and Lee Vance
David Wagner and Elizabeth Cecil
Lisa and Lloyd Zeiderman
$500 – $999
Julie Appel and Mitchell Gordon
Jay and Jeanne Benet
Dan and Melissa Berger
Kalpana Bhandarkar and Vinodh Bhat
Caroline Erisman and John Silberstein
Arlene and Mark Goldsmith
Carla Goldstein and Nathaniel K. Charny
Lois and Stewart Gross
Brian and Karen Karnofsky
David Karnovsky and Sue Kaplan
Avrohom and Phyllis Kess
Henni and John Kessler
Robin Kiam Aviv
Lisa Lesavoy and Marco Paniccia
Jonathan and Judith Lief
Thomas Ostrander and Kelli Turner
Glenn and Ayelet Pollner
Jill Rittmaster and Jordan Saper
Andrew and Wendy Sanford
Eric and Debbie Schwartz
Fredrika Sidoroff and Richard Parkus
Joseph and Nicole Warganz
Melinda B. Wolfe and Kenneth D. Inadomi
WAYS TO GIVE
Become a Monthly Donor
Employer Matching Gifts
Many companies match charitable donations made by employees. To double or even triple your gift, check if your company has a matching gift program.
Making a stock donation is an impactful way to support LIFT and ensure access to justice for children and families in New York Family Court. Please call 646-455-1776 for more information.