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Barbara Graham is a champion of immigrants. She is one of the founders and the driving force behind the Legal Services for Immigrants Program at Catholic Charities of Milwaukee, which provides free legal help for immigrants who cannot afford a lawyer and reduced fee representation for those who have some ability to pay. The program opened in March 2000 with one attorney and one paralegal and has grown to five attorneys, two paralegals and almost 4,000 clients from over 50 countries. LSI’s work is devoted to immigrant victims of domestic violence and crime; persons seeking asylum and those desiring to reunite their families. Ms. Graham, a graduate of Marquette University’s Law School with a Master’s Degree in Journalism, also from Marquette, has won multiple awards for her immigration work. Fun fact: She holds a Grand Diplome from Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Debbie Lassiter is nationally known for her work with victims of human trafficking. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Convergence Resource Center, which provides support services for those rebuilding their lives after trauma, including, for instance, trauma that results from incarceration, sexual assault and human trafficking. She launched the Human and Sex Trafficking Support Initiative in 2012 and is a member of the Federal Human Trafficking Task Force and the Milwaukee Joint Human Trafficking Task Force and has lectured worldwide on trafficking issues. Dr. Lassiter, who holds a Doctorate in Divinity from St. Thomas Christian College, has been honored by the Department of Justice; is one of the 50 Heroes of Fortune 500 and is a consultant for many police departments and local and national organizations.
Tom Reed has dedicated his professional career to helping those on the margins. A member of the Milwaukee Trial Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender since 1982 and currently its Regional Attorney Manager, he is the vice chair of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council; a member of the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health Issues; a member of the Advisory Council of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute, and a Steering Committee Member of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force. His law degree is from Cornell Law School; he has been an adjunct professor at Marquette Law School for almost 20 years and is on the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Bar Association.
Legal Aid will be closing for the holiday weekend at 3:30 on Friday, August 31. Our offices will be closed on Monday, September 3 and reopen on Tuesday, September 4. We wish everyone a safe and happy weekend.
The man, a ward in Legal Aid’s GAIN Project — in which guardians for developmentally disabled adults are recruited, trained and mentored by the program manager, Diana Pitkaranta — had been approved for Medicaid benefits in 2002 when he was found in need of a guardian and nursing home care. His citizenship status was approved at that time, but upon review by the State of Wisconsin in 2017, no records documenting that status could be found. The ward could not help in the process because he was unable to communicate due to the effects of a stroke, seizures and dementia. He could not even identify himself. No family or friends could be identified. His benefits were terminated by the State of Wisconsin.
Attorney Penegor stepped in to represent him. With no case law to guide her, she argued that based on state Medicaid eligibility rules related to citizenship, the state could not revisit its citizenship determination. An Administrative Law Judge agreed, and afterwards, the state acknowledged the benefit of having some guidance in making future eligibility decisions.
The Legal Aid office is closed today because of the weather. Please stay safe and we will reopen on Monday.
This does not affect scheduled hearings — Legal Aid staff and clients must appear at any hearings so long as the Milwaukee County Courthouse remains open.
Congrats to our bankruptcy attorneys for winning the Shepard Express’ Best of 2017 award!