Jennifer Barry: 2022 Pillars of Change Honoree

In recognition of her exceptional leadership and support of Sanctuary’s family law policy issues, coordination of our upcoming Family Law Conference, and facilitating a series of roundtable discussions.

Over the past year, Jennifer Barry has devoted her time and skills as a volunteer attorney with Sanctuary for Families. She has worked alongside Jennifer Friedman (Director, Bronx and Manhattan Legal Project & Policy) to bring awareness to policy issues in family law.

Jennifer Friedman describes Jennifer Barry as being committed, dedicated, and professional.

Jennifer has organized and facilitated 10 round table sessions – each over 2.5 hours long – with family law expert practitioners that focused on the challenges survivors of gender violence face in the New York City legal system. These sessions brought to light a multitude of pressing issues Sanctuary clients and others face in family court, including systematic bias. Jennifer also drafted a report, documenting the process and conclusions of that roundtable, which will provide valuable insight to those who didn’t take part in the sessions.

Most recently, Jennifer has become an instrumental part of the planning team for an upcoming two-day conference that will further address the challenges and posit solutions to issues impacting survivors of gender violence. Jennifer Friedman stated, “I never could have gotten this large-scale project off the ground without Jennifer! She has been working alongside me for over a year, and her collaboration and contributions have been an enormous help.”

All of us at Sanctuary for Families are grateful for Jennifer’s expertise and invaluable support.

To learn more about Jennifer and her work, please join us on April 27th from 12:30 – 1 PM at our virtual Pillars of Change.

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Diane Steiner & Emma Brown: 2022 Pillars of Change Honorees

This grandmother/granddaughter lawyer duo has been instrumental in our matrimonial cases by assisting with backlogged referrals and providing legal information and other resources to survivors.

Diane Steiner and Emma Brown have been an instrumental grandmother/granddaughter duo to Sanctuary’s Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project (MAT/EJP). Together they tirelessly worked through backlogged referrals, providing legal information, and legal advice for specific cases. Together they have used their legal skills, passion, and dedication to assist survivors towards a life free of abuse.

Diane Steiner

After working for over 30 years as a Lawyer, Diane sought volunteer opportunities knowing she had the desire and time to give back. She stated, “I was ready to wind down from private practice and give back to the community. Sanctuary for Families is the gold standard for not for profit agencies.”

Diane’s extensive background as a Lawyer and her involvement in American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, has resulted in an abundance of knowledge and resources for the MAT/EJP staff and clients. Lisa Vara, Director of the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project stated, “Her decades of experience in the field have been invaluable to us all, both in terms of discussing particular cases, but also in offering more general career advice. She has been a valuable member of our litigation team on countless complex cases, she has assisted in answering Helpline calls, particularly during the pandemic, and followed up with callers, and she has provided brief services and consultations to countless other clients.”

Diane expressed how proud she was to be working alongside the attorneys and staff that are dedicated to the mission. The appreciation shown by clients, and being able to work beside and mentor her granddaughter Emma Brown, has also been a highlight.

Emma Brown

After taking the bar exam, Emma decided to look for volunteer opportunities before heading into her corporate career. Her grandmother had spoken highly of her time with Sanctuary, and she was excited to volunteer for an organization she believed in. Like Diane, Emma supported the Matrimonial/Economic Justice Project by conducting intakes, preparing uncontested divorce paperwork for clients, and assisting with various cases alongside the team.

Lauren Patel, Senior Staff Attorney, stated, “Thanks to Emma’s very valuable contributions, we were able to submit a series of motion papers throughout the summer of 2021 in a highly contested, complex matrimonial case. It was a true team effort, where every person’s contribution helped immensely.”

Emma views her volunteer experience as rewarding and a positive impact to both her and the clients she served. She states, “I believe that when there is a volunteer on a client’s case, the client feels as if their situation/issue is being heard. They feel as if someone is dedicating their free time to help them and that their issue is in fact real and important.”

Lisa and Lauren emphasized that both Emma and Diane functioned as full time staff members despite them being volunteers. They shared, “We cannot express our gratitude enough for this extremely high level of dedication to Sanctuary, our staff, and our clients.”

Thank you, Diane and Emma, for being such a dynamic duo!

To learn more about Diane & Emma’s work, please join us on April 27th from 12:30 – 1 PM at our virtual Pillars of Change.

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Dante Matero: 2022 Pillars of Change Honoree

For his incredible commitment to our LGBTQIA+ survivors seeking asylum providing over 100 hours of translation and interpretation.

Dante Matero is a Columbia Grad student at Harriman Institute for Russian Literature and has been a huge asset to Sanctuary’s Legal Center through his work with the Immigration Intervention Project (IIP).

With his caring demeanor and language skills, he has served as a skilled interpreter and translator for countless survivors of gender-based violence. Dante is extremely trauma-informed in part due to being a prestigious member of the RUSA LGBTQ+ network. The mission of RUSA LGBTQ+ states that it is a network for Russian-speaking LGBTQ+ individuals, their friends, supporters, and loved ones. They have welcomed asylum seekers from many different countries and provided support, as well as fought for equality, acceptance, and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people within the Russian-speaking public.

“Dante’s voluntary work has allowed traumatized asylum seekers to build trust, and therefore, process their applications efficiently and faster”. Dante is extremely passionate about his work and it shows by the care and dedication he provides to whomever he is supporting. His valued skills, compassion, and professionalism is greatly appreciated. Thank you Dante for all of your hard work and commitment to IIP and survivors of gender violence.” — Fernanda Bertolaccini, IIP Staff Attorney

To learn more about Dante Matero and his work, please join us on April 27th from 12:30 – 1 PM at our virtual Pillars of Change.

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Kobi Chng Koh Yee: 2022 Pillars of Change Honoree

Acknowledging his phenomenal work providing financial resources, culturally sensitive interpretation, and case management to survivors of gender violence at Sanctuary.

In the summer of 2021, Kobi eagerly volunteered with Sanctuary for Families’ Anti Trafficking Initiative (ATI) team. His passion for helping gender violence survivors drove his dedication and commitment to work alongside the ATI staff over the last year. Not only does Kobi work to find grants for clients to obtain financial assistance, but he also assists attorneys with legal filings by providing culturally sensitive interpretations. In addition, he’s often seen accompanying clients to Sanctuary’s food pantry, and to The Butterfly Boutique to choose clothing and other items for themselves and their children.

Kobi believes his work is making a change in small and big ways. Kobi stated, “I can be a source of emotional support and validation for survivors, especially for Mandarin-speaking clients”. Kobi has been described as an instrumental part of the work of Sanctuary’s Anti Trafficking Initiative, and he does all of this amazing volunteer work while in school getting a Master’s degree in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from John Jay College. We thank and honor Kobi for his dedication.

To learn more about Kobi Chng Koh Yee and his work, please join us on April 27th from 12:30 – 1 PM at our virtual Pillars of Change.

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