Co-Founder & Co-President
Dina Bakst is Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance (ABB), a leading national legal advocacy organization, headquartered in New York City, dedicated to advancing the rights of working families, promoting fairness in the workplace, and helping workers across the economic spectrum care for their families without risking their economic security.
Bakst has ushered A Better Balance through to several accomplishments, including the recent passage of the New York State Paid Family Leave Act, landmark legislation which guarantees 12 weeks of paid leave when caring for an infant or family member. In 2012, Bakst’s op-ed in The New York Times – “Pregnant and Pushed Out of Job” – inspired the introduction of the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Dina also helped draft, and contributed to passage of the New York City Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2013, which inspired passage of similar laws in 10 states and 5 localities. Her work successfully enforcing the NYC PWFA through representation of several low-income pregnant workers has been featured twice in The New York Times. In 2015, Dina was awarded the Edith I. Spivack Award, named for the woman who was a pioneering lawyer and role model for generations of women, for her work championing women’s rights. Dina is also co-author of Babygate: How to Survive Pregnancy and Parenting in the American Workplace, a groundbreaking national know your rights guide for expecting and new parents covering everything from pregnancy discrimination, leave and breastfeeding rights, and workplace flexibility.
Prior to co-founding A Better Balance, Dina was an attorney with the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund (now Legal Momentum) where she pursued litigation and public policy advocacy on a wide range of women’s issues including economic justice, child care and reproductive rights. Dina is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan. She also served as a litigation associate with Kaye, Scholer LLP. In addition to leading A Better Balance, Dina is a National Commissioner of the Anti-Defamation League and Board Member of Congregation Rodeph Sholom.
Co-Founder & Co-President
Sherry co-founded A Better Balance in 2005. From 2005 to 2006, she was an Adjunct Professor of Law at CUNY School of Law teaching an upper level class on civil rights. From 1996 until 2005, Sherry was a senior staff attorney at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund running the State Advocacy Project, working on issues intersecting women’s rights and poverty, including reproductive health, violence and child care. Prior to joining NOW Legal Defense Fund, she spent 12 years as a senior staff attorney at the Welfare Law Center, a national legal organization doing litigation and public advocacy on a variety of income support issues around the country. Prior to that, she was a staff attorney at the Department of Health Education and Welfare and an Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York. Sherry graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and from Columbia University School of Law School. She has three children and has served on the Boards of Bank Street College of Education and Basic Trust Infant and Toddler Center.
Senior Staff Attorney
Director, LGBTQ Rights and Defending Local Democracy Projects
Jared leads A Better Balance’s efforts to advance LGBTQ rights and to safeguard local, progressive laws. A member of ABB’s staff since 2010, he has also worked with advocates and coalitions to draft and pass dozens of state and local laws that guarantee paid sick time and paid family and medical leave.
In 2014, Jared co-founded ABB’s LGBTQ Rights Project to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ workers, raise awareness about the diversity of family structures, and enact workplace policies that cover a range of caregiving relationships. Jared also directs ABB’s Defending Local Democracy Project, a nationwide effort to strengthen, protect, and defend progressive, local laws. As part of this effort, he works closely with cities around the country to prevent and challenge efforts to restrict local laws that guarantee paid leave, LGBTQ nondiscrimination, fair scheduling, and other work-family protections.
Jared graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University and cum laude from NYU School of Law. At NYU Law, he served as President of the HIV Law Society and volunteered with OUTLaw, the National Lawyers Guild, and Law Students for Human Rights. He was honored at NYU Law with the Ann Petluck Poses Memorial Prize for outstanding work in a clinical course requiring student practice.
Senior Staff Attorney/Director of the Southern Office
Elizabeth Gedmark, Staff Attorney/Director of the Southern Office, joined A Better Balance in September 2011 and served as an NYU Law Carr Center for Reproductive Justice Fellow from 2011-2012. She graduated in May 2011 from the New York University School of Law, where she was co-chair of the Mental Health Law Association and a Feminism & Diversity co-chair of Law Women. She interned over the summers at the ACLU of Tennessee and the New York Legal Assistance Group’s Special Litigation Unit. She also interned one semester at the New York Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Rights Project. As a part of NYU Law’s Federal Defender Clinic, Elizabeth acted as co-counsel on a criminal defense case in a federal bench trial. She also argued before the Second Circuit on a separate clinic case. Elizabeth was a member of the Medical-Legal Advocacy Clinic, where she assisted individuals with civil legal needs. Elizabeth graduated cum laude from Wake Forest University in 2006 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in International Studies.
Molly Weston Williamson
Molly Weston Williamson joined A Better Balance in fall 2014 as a Liman Fellow. She graduated from Yale Law School in 2013, where she served as Scholarship and Advocacy Chair for Yale Law Women, an Articles Editor for the Yale Law Journal, and a member of the Ethics Bureau at Yale. Prior to joining A Better Balance, Molly clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Wilmington, Delaware. She is the author of One Person, No Vote: Staggered Elections, Redistricting, and Disenfranchisement, published in the Yale Law Journal in 2012. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors from Swarthmore College.
Cara Suvall joined A Better Balance’s Southen Office in 2016. She is a 2010 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was the co-Executive Director of the Prison Legal Assistance Project and on the Executive Board of the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. She worked as a public defender at The Bronx Defenders, a holistic law office based in the South Bronx. She co-founded the Adolescent Defense Project within the office, focusing on intensive, specialized representation for the youngest teenagers tried in adult court. While working at The Bronx Defenders, Cara partnered closely with a parent organizing committee, working together to promote restorative school discipline and end school pushout. Cara clerked for Judge Jeffrey R. Howard of the First Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Marcella Kocolatos joined A Better Balance in September 2015 as an NYU Law Carr Center for Reproductive Justice Fellow. She graduated in May 2015 from New York University School of Law, where she served as an executive editor of NYU Review of Law & Social Change and a board member of NYU Law Students for Reproductive Justice. She also participated in the school’s inaugural Reproductive Justice Clinic, assisting in the first federal challenge to a pregnant woman’s arrest under a “personhood”-like measure. During her summers, Marcella interned here at A Better Balance and at National Advocates for Pregnant Women. She is a proud graduate of Hunter College, City University of New York, where she majored in English.
Dilini Lankachandra joined A Better Balance in July 2017 as a staff attorney in the Defending Local Democracy Project. She graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt) in 2015. During law school she worked extensively with the East Bay Community Law Center’s Green-Collar Communities Clinic to draft and pass a law creating a business entity specifically for California worker cooperatives. Prior to joining ABB she worked at Brightline Defense, a San Francisco-based policy advocacy nonprofit committed to bringing clean energy and jobs to marginalized communities in California. She completed her undergraduate studies in Classics and Political Science at Columbia University.
Sarah Brafman joined A Better Balance in fall 2016 as a Skadden Fellow. She graduated in May 2016 from the New York University School of Law, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change and co-chair of NYU Law Students for Reproductive Justice. During her summers in law school, Sarah interned for the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project and the National Women’s Law Center Health Care & Reproductive Rights Team. She was also a student advocate and teaching assistant for the NYU Reproductive Justice Clinic. Prior to law school, Sarah was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogor, Indonesia. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University.
Development and Communications Associate
Rachel began working with A Better Balance in 2013 while completing a Masters Degree in Health Advocacy at Sarah Lawrence. She joined the staff full time in August 2014, after graduating. She is also actively involved with the American Heart Association and serves on their NYC Advocacy Committee. Rachel has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as designer before turning her attention to advocacy.
Patricia Garcia Rodriguez
Prior to joining A Better Balance, Patricia Garcia Rodriguez practiced Human Rights and International Law in both Spain and with the United Nations in New York City. Patricia Garcia Rodriguez worked as Human Rights Policy Analyst at the United Nations from 2013 to 2015. She advised governments and international groups of companies in complying with all aspects of the Business and Human Rights Agenda, and in implementing international human rights standards in the workplace. Patricia also worked on development issues with a focus on social justice and gender equality in Latin American Countries. Patricia assisted with international summits and conferences worldwide, participating in the third Global Sustainability Summit in Madrid and the Colloquium on Policy, Law, Contracts, and Sustainable Investments, Institute for Human Rights and Dress Business in New York.
Patricia Garcia Rodriguez earned both her Spanish dual Law and Business Administration degree from the European University of Madrid, in 2008 and her LL.M in International Legal Studies from New York University, in 2013. Before working for the UN, she worked as an Associate Attorney from 2008-2012, with one of the top 10 law firms in Europe. Patricia is a member of the Madrid Bar and her admission to the New York State Bar is pending.
Preston Van Vliet
National Campaign Organizer for the LGBTQ Work-Family Project
Preston joined A Better Balance in the spring of 2015 through the LGBTQ Work-Family Project, the joint initiative with Family Values @ Work. He graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where he was previously the President of the Gay-Straight Alliance and the Vice President of Students Advocating for Gender Awareness. He worked with Michigan Voice, as part of the State Voices network, in co-managing an LGBTQ voter engagement project to identify voters that supported LGBTQ inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. Preston also helped healthcare groups such as Planned Parenthood and MICHUHCAN in ACA outreach and enrollment efforts. He volunteered with economic justice groups such as Mothering Justice and the Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan, in collecting signatures for raising the state minimum wage. Preston worked in homelessness and case management services at a housing non-profit for two years. In 2014, Preston authored and helped to implement a transgender leadership grant to train trans community members to build power around statewide non-discrimination legislation.