Co-Founder & Co-President
Dina Bakst is Co-Founder and Co-President of A Better Balance (ABB), a national nonprofit legal advocacy organization that leverages the power of the law to advance justice for workers, so they can care for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their economic security.
Since 2006, Bakst has co-led A Better Balance’s pioneering efforts to combat pregnancy and caregiver discrimination and advance fair and supportive workplace legislation such as paid sick time and paid family and medical leave in over 40 states and localities. 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, legislation ABB is currently leading the fight to pass in Congress, and which Bakst recently testified on before the House Education and Labor Committee. Bakst’s work successfully enforcing pregnancy discrimination laws has been featured multiple times in The New York Times, including two front page stories, as well as other leading publications. She also played an instrumental role in the first pregnancy accommodation class action litigation against Walmart, which recently settled for $14 million dollars and benefited thousands of pregnant workers. In 2020, Bakst was named “One of 20 People and Groups Fighting For a More Equal America” by Time Magazine. In 2015, she 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. Bakst is also co-author of the award-winning book Babygate: How to Survive Pregnancy and Parenting in the American Workplace, a 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 policy advocacy on a wide range of women’s rights issues. 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 labor/employment associate with Kaye, Scholer LLP. In addition to leading A Better Balance, Dina is a Board Member of Congregation Rodeph Sholom and the Hadassah Foundation. Dina also serves on the Steering Committee of Governor Cuomo’s New York State Council on Women and Girls.
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 Policy Counsel
Sarah Brafman is Senior Policy Counsel 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.
Elizabeth J. Chen
Elizabeth Chen is Of Counsel at A Better Balance, where she litigates impact cases on behalf of pregnant workers and caregivers. She also supervises our direct services legal helpline and works closely with our staff attorneys to ensure that workers are aware of their rights and can enforce them. 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 discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower retaliation, and breach of contract. Liz previously clerked for the Honorable William Joseph Haynes of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee and served as an If/When/How 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.
Kameron Dawson joined A Better Balance in 2019. She graduated in May 2019 from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she served as an executive editor of the Tennessee Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, the candidacy process editor for the Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy, and a student attorney in the Community Economic Development clinic. She also served as chair in the school’s Student Council on Diversity & Inclusion, creating engaging programs that focused on issues of diversity and the law. Prior to joining A Better Balance, Kameron worked as a legal intern specializing in employment law for the University of Tennessee’s Office of Research and Engagement, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Massey & Associates. She is the author of Teaching to the Test: Determining the Appropriate Test for First Amendment Challenges to “No Promo Homo” Education Policies, published in the Tennessee Journal of Law & Policy in 2019. Kameron is a proud graduate of the University of Georgia where she completed her double major in Political Science and Mass Media Arts.
Christine T. Dinan
Senior 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.
Feroza Freeland joined A Better Balance in 2019 as a Policy Associate in the Southern Office. Feroza is a proud native of Memphis, Tennessee, and she is passionate about pursuing more just and equitable public policies in the South. Feroza has worked on a variety of legislative and electoral campaigns across the state of Tennessee and has engaged in organizing and policy advocacy on issues including workers’ rights, equity in public education, and healthcare access. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a degree in political science and Hispanic studies.
Elizabeth Gedmark 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.
Cassandra joined A Better Balance in September 2019 as a Law Clerk. She graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in 2019. During law school, Cassandra served as a Senior Staffer for the Northeastern University Law Review, Treasurer for the Latin American Law Student Association, and competed in the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Uvaldo Herrera National Moot Court Competition. She previously interned at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in the Consumer Protection Division. She completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at Boston University in 2014.
Managing Attorney of Direct Legal Services
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.
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.
Development Writer and Coordinator
Taleena Nadkarni joined A Better Balance in 2019 as its Development Writer and Coordinator. She is a proud graduate of New York University, where she studied journalism and public health. Prior to joining A Better Balance, Taleena worked in a variety of healthcare settings, including the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, the LegalHealth Department of the New York Legal Assistance Group, and Peer Health Exchange. She also serves as the editorial assistant at Florence Health and enjoys writing about reproductive rights, access to healthcare, and more.
Katie O’Brien joined A Better Balance as its Communications Associate in 2019. She manages ABB’s social media channels, newsroom, and press relations. Previously, she worked in public relations, handling strategic communications for publications and progressive organizations. In part, she amplified the work of nonprofit newsrooms and investigative journalists, helping their reporting influence the public and lawmakers. She graduated from Cornell University, where she majored in English and minored in Spanish and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies.
NYU Reproductive Justice and Women’s Rights fellow and Law Clerk
Meghan Racklin is the NYU Reproductive Justice and Women’s Rights fellow and Law Clerk at A Better Balance. She received her B.A. from NYU, and graduated magna cum laude from NYU School of Law. At NYU Law, Meghan was the Senior Online Editor for the NYU Law Review, a member of the Order of the Coif, and a member of the Reproductive Justice clinic. She interned at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
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.
Madeleine Villanueva joined ABB as a Policy Associate, where she focuses on outreach and education, particularly around New York’s paid family leave law. Madeleine has led similar efforts at Citizen Action of New York and the New York Paid Leave Coalition. She also has experience in the field of early care and education. While at The Committee for Hispanic Children and Families, she conducted a study of the financial needs of home-base child care providers for the purposes of designing of a financial curriculum that was tailored to these micro-businesses. Additionally, she authored a white paper, “Unleashing the Economic Power of Family Child Care Providers,” to report the study’s findings. She has appeared on the Melissa Harris Perry show for a segment on child care. Prior to her work in the non-profit sector her career spanned the financial services sector, real estate, and healthcare. She obtained her Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch College – School of Public Affairs, as a National Urban Fellow, and her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Columbia College. She’s also an alumna of the A Better Chance program.
Chief Development and Strategy Officer
Emily Wakeling is the Chief Development and Strategy Officer at A Better Balance. She comes to A Better Balance as a seasoned fundraising professional from International House where she led Development, Alumni Relations and Communications. Prior to International House, Wakeling had a robust 16-year career at Catalyst Inc., a New York-based global nonprofit that helps accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion. She served as the Executive Director of Global Membership and Emerging Markets where she drove fundraising strategy, and lead corporate gift cultivation, support and stewardship, quadrupling unrestricted funds for the organization. Prior to Catalyst, Wakeling worked as lead development associate and manager of the Help-Line for National Organization for Women NYC.
Emily Wakeling received her BA in Women’s Studies and Sociology from Principia College and her MA in Women’s Studies from the City of New York Graduate Center. She resides Greenwich, CT, where she and her husband are raising their two children.
Molly Weston Williamson
Director of Paid Leave and Future of Work Program / Senior Staff Attorney