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Dina Bakst

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 New York State Women’s Equality Agenda and 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. Dina also serves on the Steering Committee of Governor Cuomo’s New York State Council on Women and Girls.

Sherry Leiwant

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.

Jared Make

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.

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Elizabeth Gedmark

Senior Staff Attorney/Director of the Southern Office

Elizabeth Gedmark, Senior Staff Attorney/Director of the Southern Office, joined A Better Balance in 2011. Since 2014, when the Southern Office, based in Nashville, TN, was launched, Elizabeth has leveraged the power of the law to help families in the South suffering from discrimination at work and to advance more family-friendly laws and policies. Elizabeth is a co-author of the book, Babygate: How to Survive Pregnancy and Parenting in the Workplace. She is also the author of an article published in the Clearinghouse Review, “Using Pregnancy Discrimination Claims to Fight Poverty.” Elizabeth has served on the New York City Bar Sex and Law Committee and IWPR’s Status of Women in the South Advisory Committee, and is currently serving on the Nashville Mayor’s Council on Gender Equity. She has a J.D. from the New York University School of Law and a B.A. cum laude from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. As a part of NYU Law’s Federal Defender Clinic, Elizabeth argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In law school, she interned with the ACLU of Tennessee and the New York Legal Assistance Group’s Special Litigation Unit. She was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky.

Elizabeth J. Chen

Senior Staff Attorney

Elizabeth Chen joined A Better Balance in 2018. Prior to ABB, Liz was a senior associate at a prominent New York plaintiff-side employment firm where she represented employees on an individual and class basis on employment matters including, but not limited to: discrimination; sexual harassment; whistleblower retaliation; and breach of contract. Liz previously clerked for the Honorable William Joseph Haynes of the Middle District of Tennessee and served as a Reproductive Justice Fellow at a think tank.  She has published law review articles on the intersection of criminal justice and reproductive justice, male friendships, and the role of sex stereotyping in mandatory vaccinations. Liz graduated cum laude from Washington University School of Law and with honors from the University of Chicago.

Molly Weston Williamson

Senior Staff Attorney

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.

Marcella Kocolatos

Staff Attorney

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

Staff Attorney

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.

Christine T. Dinan

Staff Attorney

Christine Dinan joined A Better Balance in 2018. Prior to joining ABB, Christine was counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in Washington, D.C., where she represented low-income workers in employment discrimination and wage and hour cases, with a particular focus on discrimination against pregnant women and caregivers and issues involving the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). She previously clerked for the Honorable Stuart G. Nash, as well as for a group of Senior Judges, at the District of Columbia Superior Court. Christine is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Virginia School of Law, where she served on the Board of the Public Interest Law Association, participated in the Child Advocacy Clinic, and volunteered as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). While in law school, Christine interned with the National Partnership for Women & Families and Children’s Rights.

Carl S. Charles

Staff Attorney

Carl S. Charles joined A Better Balance as a Staff Attorney in 2018. Prior to joining A Better Balance he worked as the Transgender Rights Project Law Fellow at Lambda Legal where he engaged in litigation, policy advocacy and public education to change and advance laws and policies promoting equality for transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary people. He also worked as a staff attorney at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, investigating and prosecuting violations of the New York City Human Rights Law, one of the most expansive anti-discrimination laws in the United States. Carl also served as a Skadden Fellow at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project where his fellowship focused on developing the law for transgender and gender expansive youth experiencing homelessness, living in out of home care, and involved in the juvenile justice system. Carl has written about legal issues facing transgender people for publications including The Advocatethem, and Into.

Patricia Garcia Rodriguez

Manager, Pro Bono Partnerships & ABB’s Latina Justice Project

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 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.

Sarah Brafman

Staff Attorney

Sarah Brafman is a Staff Attorney at A Better Balance where she works on legislation, litigation, and public education efforts to advance pregnant worker fairness, workplace equality and fair pay, breastfeeding rights, and to end sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sarah joined A Better Balance in 2016 as a Skadden Fellow. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University and received a law degree from NYU School of Law. At NYU Law, 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 and interned at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project and the National Women’s Law Center Health Care & Reproductive Rights Team. Prior to law school, Sarah was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogor, Indonesia.

Madeleine Gyory

Law Fellow

Madeleine Gyory joined A Better Balance in fall 2017 as an NYU Reproductive Justice and Women’s Rights Fellow. She graduated in May 2017 from the New York University School of Law, where she served as a Senior Articles Editor of the N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change and as a board member of NYU Law Students for Reproductive Justice. While in law school, she was a student advocate in NYU’s Reproductive Justice Clinic. During her summers in law school, Madeleine interned for the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project and Sanctuary For Families in the Manhattan Family Justice Center. Prior to law school, Madeleine taught English in Ecuador and worked for the Women’s Media Center in New York. She graduated from Barnard College, where she majored in English.

Sohini Das

Director of Development

Sohini Das joins A Better Balance from Sakhi for South Asian women, a gender justice organization, where she directed all development efforts. In addition to nonprofit fundraising, she has extensive experience in communications, television production, live event production, and web development. Sohini brings with her a deep commitment to social justice, and a passion for finding ways for people to align their values with opportunities to create meaningful social impact. She is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication.

Lorraine Kenny

Director of Communications and Marketing

Before joining A Better Balance in June 2018, Lorraine Kenny worked for nearly two decades at the American Civil Liberties Union where she led its communications and public education program on reproductive rights, developed campaign strategies on women’s and LGBT rights, reproductive justice, and religious freedom. Toward the end of her tenure, Lorraine established an organization-wide marketing initiative, spearheading a multi-year rebranding effort, launching the ACLU’s first online store, and overseeing numerous programs designed to inform and inspire audiences on some of the most important civil liberties issues of our time.

Lorraine has a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied anthropology, feminist theory, and critical race studies. Her book Daughters of Suburbia: Growing up white, middle class, and female (Rutgers University Press, 2000) was voted Significant University Press Title by the Association of College & Research Libraries, in 2001. Lorraine taught anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College. And she holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Chicago, where she graduated with honors.

Rachel Sica

Operations Director

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.

Susanna Barron

Harvard Law School Postgraduate Public Service Fellow

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Alex Wilson

NYU Public Interest Project Fellow

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