Maeve Elise Brown Executive Director and a founder of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), manages operations, supervises staff and participates in the organization's substantive work.
A graduate of UCLA Law School, Ms. Brown's 28 years of experience as a public interest attorney include litigation and administrative advocacy on behalf of tenants and homeowners, public benefits advocacy, community organizing, fair housing advocacy, community workshops, and trainings and technical assistance for professionals. Ms. Brown has organized and opened a community development credit union, designed and teaches a course on mortgage lending and homeownership at UC Berkeley School of Law and is Chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Consumer Advisory Board. She has published various articles on affordable housing issues, authored a chapter in the American Bar Association's Legal Guide to Affordable Housing Development (first edition and updated), is bilingual in Spanish and French and conversant in Japanese, Farsi, Italian and German.
Gina Di Giusto is a staff attorney at HERA, where she has worked since 2013. With her J.D. from Harvard Law School, Ms. Di Giusto brings experience as a clerk at a local legal services program, a fellowship at the Superior Court in Alameda County, and two years of representation of residents of publicly subsidized housing before local housing authorities and advice to the public on landlord-tenant issues. She was honored as a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008. Ms. Di Giusto was also selected to the California Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" list in 2016 and 2017 for her work in consumer law; the "Rising Stars" list is selected by peer lawyers and recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of up-and-coming attorneys in each state. At HERA, Ms. Di Giusto works on unfair debt collection, wrongful credit reporting, mortgage and foreclosure issues on behalf of Californians in need and has significant litigation experience and experience addressing abuses by homeowner associations.
Joseph (Joe) Jaramillo is a Senior Attorney at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) in Oakland, California who has over twenty-years of experience in public interest law. His practice entails direct services, litigation and community education on consumer debt and credit issues affecting low to moderate income individuals. He counsels and assists homeowners on preventing foreclosure and modifying their home loans. He also counsels and assists pro se litigants in debt collection defense cases, and sometimes represents them in court. He provides advice and education on credit repair issues.
Other areas of focus include counseling clients on student loan debt options, consumer protection for military servicemembers and veterans, and representing clients facing mortgage rescue scams. He previously litigated employment and consumer class actions at Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho in Oakland, and GrahamHollis APC in San Diego. He also served as a Staff Attorney at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) in San Francisco. Born and raised in Vallejo, he earned his J.D. degree at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and his B.A. degree at UC Davis.
Arthur D. Levy is HERA's Director of Litigation, with over 35 years of litigation experience focused on class actions representing consumers in major banking, lending and insurance cases.
Over the course of his career, Mr. Levy has successfully successfully handled complex consumer protection litigation against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Lenox Financial, Mercury Insurance Company, Auto Insurance Specialists, Xerox, and IKON. He's currently co-counseling a long-standing class action against CashCall challenging CashCall's collection and lending practices and exorbitant interest rates and loan terms. His active pro bono practice includes extensive Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) briefs on key legal issues for non-profit organizations, including HERA, National Consumer Law Center, Consumers Union, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and the California Reinvestment Coalition. A tireless advocate, he has provided pro bono legal representation to a variety of historic preservation organizations as well.
Brenda Orellana is HERA's Paralegal and Administrative Assistant. Previously, Ms. Orellana volunteered with various community organizations. Brenda helped support families, youth, and seniors as well as people struggling with homelessness. Before dedicating herself to full-time volunteering, Brenda worked as a Bilingual Youth Counselor for undocumented and unaccompanied boys at a facility in Tacoma, WA. Brenda earned a B.A. in International Political Economy, and Hispanic International Studies from the University of Puget Sound. Her interest in law and social work brought her to HERA. She plans to pursue a Masters in Social Work.
Megumi Tsutsui is a Staff Attorney at HERA, who joined the office in 2014 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. As an Attorney Fellow, Ms. Tsutsui focused on eliminating barriers to affordable credit. This includes helping individuals resolve issues with abusive or bad debt, high-cost loans, and problems with credit reports. With her J.D. from Harvard Law School, Ms. Tsutsui brings experience working in legal services on predatory student loans and with strategic litigation centers on enforcing economic and education rights. Prior to law school, she worked in nonprofit and for-profit management consulting. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.
Noah Zinner is a Managing Attorney at HERA and a graduate of Berkeley Law School. He joined HERA in 2006 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and staff attorney with a focus on representing low and moderate income consumers on predatory mortgage lending and foreclosure prevention.
Noah's work during the Wall Street-driven mortgage collapse and recession included class and individual litigation against major financial institutions and debt collectors for a wide variety of abuses against homeowners. From 2012-2013, Noah was a Visiting Clinical Professor at the UC Irvine School of Law, where he also worked with the California Monitor for the National Mortgage Settlement.
Mr. Zinner oversees all of HERA's non-mortgage financial justice legal work into many additional areas of consumer concerns, including predatory for-profit schools, student and medical debt, and abusive auto and small dollar loans. Noah engages in litigation and supervises staff in litigation, as well as supporting on office operations. In 2016, Noah was selected as a negotiator on behalf of national legal services organizations representing students in the Department of Education's federal rulemaking on federal student debt relief. Mr. Zinner also brings extensive litigation experience and expertise on mortgages and foreclosure related concerns.
Notice: Board Members are not available to provide legal advice to the public on behalf of HERA.
Justin T. Berger is a Principal at Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, where he focuses on false claims act litigation, consumer protection, financial elder abuse, employment law, and other complex civil litigation. Justin has been recognized as one of the top young litigators in California. Justin was named in The Recorder's "Lawyers on the Fast Track," as one of the top 50 attorneys in California with less than 10 years of practice. In 2012, Justin received a California Lawyer Magazine Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award, along with Niall McCarthy. In 2013 and 2014, Justin has been selected as a Northern California "Super Lawyer" by San Francisco Magazine, and from 2009 to 2012, was named as a "Rising Star." In 2008, Justin was selected as a finalist for the 2008 Consumer Attorney of the Year Award by the Consumer Attorneys of California, for his work on Komarova v. National Credit Acceptance. Justin specializes in representing whistleblowers in qui tam actions under the federal and California False Claims Acts. In 2011, Justin was selected as a finalist for Consumer Attorney of the Year along with Niall McCarthy, for their work in recovering a record $300 million on behalf of the State of California in a case brought under the California False Claims Act against Quest Diagnostics and other medical laboratories. In September 2013, Justin recovered $19.4 million from Diagnostic Laboratories, Inc., the largest provider of laboratory and x-ray services to nursing homes on the West Coast, in a case brought by two whistleblowers under the False Claims Act.
Scott Chang is an attorney specializing in representing plaintiffs in fair housing cases. For more than a decade, Mr. Chang has been a frequent workshop trainer and speaker at national fair housing conferences and events. Before entering private practice, Mr. Chang was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County. Thereafter, Mr. Chang managed his own practice and represented both individual clients and fair housing organizations in a variety of housing discrimination cases. Throughout this time, Mr. Chang made available his expertise to several non-profit legal service providers throughout California, serving either as primary or co-lead counsel on seminal fair housing cases of which some have resulted in published decisions. Mr. Chang has served on the State Bar of California Standing Committees on Federal Courts and the Delivery of Legal Services, and he is a past president of the Silicon Valley Asian Bar Association. In 2005, Mr. Chang joined Relman and Dane, a civil rights law practice in Washington D.C.
Relman & Dane
1225 19th Street
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Todd Espinosa is a consumer attorney who has practiced law in the Bay Area since 2000. Originally from San Jose, California, Todd's expertise includes tenants' rights, mortgage and foreclosure law, vacation timeshare law, fair housing law and consumer class action litigation. Todd received his law degree from Harvard Law School and his undergraduate degree from Harvard College. He also holds a master's degree from the U.C. Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning where he focused on housing and community development. Todd also was a law clerk for the Honorable Claudia Wilken, United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Kristin García is an associate attorney at Altshuler Berzon LLP, where she represents labor unions and brings affirmative litigation to fight for economic justice for working people. Kristin was a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She previously served as a Legislative Assistant in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. Prior to serving in the White House, Kristin was a Deputy Field Director for the 2008 Obama Campaign in Ohio. She also worked as a community organizer for the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and has been involved in international democratic development work, observing elections in Pakistan and Venezuela. In 2005, Kristin served as the President of the Phillips Brooks House Association, the largest student-run nonprofit in the country. Kristin is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Amyn Jivani is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at VMware Corporation in San Francisco. A graduate of Univerity of Texas, Austin, Mr. Jivani brings 11 years of financial analyst experience focused on complex transactions, including corporate mergers and acquisitions, pricing modeling, and strategic planning across primarily the financial technology sector.
Solu Nwanze currently heads up Business Operations for the Marketing organization at Zendesk. She is responsible for driving strategic priorities, setting operating cadence and defining processes to scale the organization's impact. Solu is a trained executive coach. She focuses on navigating emerging and executive leaders through challenges to unlock their full potential.
Solu began her career as a software engineer, designing user interfaces and databases for real-time multi-media enterprise systems. She grew up in Nigeria where she gained an appreciation for the role opportunity plays in changing people's lives. She is passionate about economic empowerment for the disadvantaged, particularly low income women and children. Solu holds an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
Sandra Price is a partner at the law firm of Sideman & Bancroft LLP in San Francisco, where she specializes in estate planning and advising trustees, executors and beneficiaries on all aspects of estate and trust administration. Sandy has particular expertise in post-death administration, ensuring that assets pass to beneficiaries in the most efficient manner. She is Certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization as a Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Sandy is admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) and has been listed as a Northern California SuperLawyer® (top 5% of practicing attorneys) since its inception (2004-2015). She is a member of and the past President of both the San Francisco Estate Planning Council and the Bar Association of San Francisco's Estate Planning and Probate Section, and she was appointed as a member of and advisor to the State Bar's Executive Committee for California's Trusts and Estates Section for a six-year term. Sandy is a co-author of three California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) estate planning and administration treatises and lectures frequently to both lawyers and the public. For several years, Sandy has acted as consultant to HERA where understanding of a probate, trust or post-death issue is critical to assisting a HERA client.
James Zhang heads the Consumer Credit and Debt team at NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based FinTech company dedicated to providing clarity for all of life's financial decisions. James leads NerdWallet's efforts to fight online predatory lending and connect consumers with alternative resources. Previously, James was a private equity associate at the Riverside Company where he invested in business services, consumer retail, healthcare, and technology companies. He began his career as an analyst with the Firm Strategy and Corporate M&A team at Morgan Stanley. Originally from Cheshire, CT, James graduated from Yale University with distinction in economics.