Our People

Betty L. Nordwind
Executive Director

Betty Nordwind has devoted her legal career to social justice issues. Betty has been on the forefront of efforts championing the rights of the poor, disabled persons and women. Graduating from the University of Colorado Law School in 1971, Betty immediately signed up for a service corps program at Metro Denver Legal Aid, handling everyday problems of indigent residents of Colorado. In the vanguard of the disability rights movement, Betty founded and lead Denver Legal Aid’s first mental health law unit providing legal representation to civilly committed indigent individuals. Betty also helped initiate a path-breaking lawsuit on behalf of poor, chronically mentally ill persons. Hired to manage the Harriett Buhai Center of Family Law in 1987 as its Executive Director, Betty has overseen its growth from a fledging office of 4 persons and less than 35 volunteers to a strong community institution of over 20 staff members and 300 volunteers providing in excess of 28,000 hours of legal service to more than 1,000 very low-income persons in Los Angeles a year. Under Betty’s tutelage, the Center has trained hundreds of lawyers and law students, filed several significant lawsuits, engaged in other advocacy directed to eliminating barriers to the courts and undertaken legislative efforts to change child support laws and practices in California and Los Angeles. Under Betty’s direction, the Center opened doors to the promise of family law and donated volunteer assistance to low-income community college students and incarcerated mothers.

In 2014, Betty was honored by the State Bar of California with the prestigious Loren Miller Legal Services Award, a lifetime achievement award recognizing her long-term commitment to providing legal services to very low-income individuals and families. Betty’s crusade for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised precedes her accomplished legal career and began when she was just a teen.

To read more about Betty’s lifelong dedication to helping low-income individuals and families, disabled persons, and women, please click here.

Tiffany Goodloe
Director Administration, Finance, and Personnel

Rebecca Fischer
Director of Legal Services

Elizabeth Erickson
Senior Counsel

Cheryl Segal
Senior Staff Attorney

Michelle Horwitch
Staff Attorney

Judy Schwartz-Behar
Staff Attorney

Joel Garcia
Staff Attorney

Linda Gross
Senior Staff Attorney

Arlene Rubio Teutla
Client Services Manager

Elvira Castillo
Senior Client Assistant

Noemi Hidalgo
Client Assistant

Johanna Avelar
Client Assistant

Sucely Victoria
Client Assistant

Jocelyn Ramirez-Parada
Client Assistant

Jaspree Borrayo
Client Assistant, Community College Homelessness Prevention Project

Alyisha Stribling
Resource Coordinator, Community College Homelessness Prevention Project

Hannah Santos
Director of Development

Julianna De La Cruz
Development and Operations Assistant

Stephanie Shao
Volunteer Coordinator

Esther Castillo
Assistant for Administrative and Client Operations

Officers

Serine A. Tsuda (President)
Salisbury, Lee & Tsuda, LLP
Member since 2018

Serine is a partner at the firm of Salisbury, Lee & Tsuda, LLP, which specializes in family law. Her practice has been devoted exclusively to family law since being admitted to the California bar. Her relationship with the Center began as a law student intern, and she is a member of the Center’s Alumni All-Stars as well as participating pro bono attorney. Serine received a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Amos Buhai (Vice President)
DeepElm
Member since 2014

Amos is Managing Partner at DeepElm, a political and government relations consulting firm. Prior to launching DeepElm, Amos was the VP of Government Relations at Endeavor, a global sports, entertainment and fashion company. He previously worked as Deputy National Political Director and Southwest Regional Director of J Street. Continuing in the activist tradition of his relative Harriett Buhai, Amos has substantial experience in managing political campaigns, fundraising, and legislative work.  Amos received a B.A. from The George Washington University.

Jean Cooper (Secretary)
Attorney
Member Since 2020

Jean is a corporate attorney with extensive experience representing both private and public companies in complex business transactions and securities matters. She has worked closely with boards of directors and advised on corporate governance requirements. She also holds a certificate in Personal Financial Planning from UCLA. Jean volunteers as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), representing foster children in Los Angeles County. Jean received a B.A. magna cum laude from Cornell University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Jonathan Forgang (Treasurer)
Perkins Coie LLP
Member since 2019

Jonathan is a Partner with Perkins Coie LLP, an international law firm providing a full range of services. Prior to starting his legal practice, Jonathan was a co-founder and editor of Refinery29 Inc., a leading female-focused digital media company. Jonathan is a graduate of George Washington University and Fordham Law School, where he was an editor of the Fordham Law Review.

Heidi S. Tuffias (Immediate Past-President) (Los Angeles County Bar Association Liaison)
Law & Mediation Offices of Heidi S. Tuffias, Inc.
Member since 2015

Heidi has been a Certified Family Law Specialist since 1995 and has her own dispute resolution practice, where she focuses on mediation, consulting to mediations, collaborative matters and prenuptial agreements. She is also an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and is pursuing her MFT license. Heidi speaks, teaches and writes frequently about family law, mediation, and using psychological theory and practice to contribute to the mediation process. She was honored by the Los Angeles Superior Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Program for her outstanding volunteer contributions in 2008 and 2011. Heidi received a B.A. from University of California, Davis, a J.D. from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University.

Members

Daniel R. Bemel
UBS Private Wealth Management
Member Since 2022

Dan is Senior Vice President-Wealth Management and a Private Wealth Advisor at UBS. He is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. Prior to joining UBS in 2009, Dan practiced law at Los Angeles area firms in a wide variety of disciplines including trust and estates, corporate litigation, family law, and liability defense. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dan earned a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. He holds FINRA Series 7 and 66 securities licenses, and is a member of the California Bar Association, and a member of the executive committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Association family law section.

Margo Bouchet (Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Liaison)
Law Offices of Margo Bouchet
Member Since 2022

Margo Bouchet is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and has a solo practice focusing on family law, probate law and mediation. Throughout her career, she has also provided free legal services in her community through various clinics including the Harriett Buhai Center Legal Clinic. She is a founding member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, a co-founder and co-sponsor of the Harriett Buhai Center. Margo has served on various other bar association boards including the National Bar Association, the Langston Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and the Inglewood Bar Association. Currently, Margo serves on the board of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, as well as the board of BWL.

Gloria Chang
Netflix
Member Since 2022

Gloria is currently a business and legal affairs executive at Netflix where she focuses on unscripted and documentary series content. Prior to working at Netflix, Gloria worked in business affairs at The CW Network and legal affairs at NBCUniversal. Gloria started her legal career as a corporate litigator at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP where she practiced for five years. She holds a J.D. from USC Law School and a B.A. in English from Columbia University. In her free time, she loves to travel, eat, play tennis and spend time with her family.

Alyssa Dickerson (Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Liaison)
Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, LLP
Member since 2021

Alyssa earned her JD from Southwestern Law School while simultaneously working with the Los Angeles community providing legal aid to women, children, and families in positions of need (including at the HBCFL).  She has spent her entire career working in family law at the largest female-run firm in California and tirelessly works to bring fair closure to her clients.

Nicole Kardassakis 
Raines Feldman Littrell LLP
Member since 2019

Nicole is an attorney at the firm of Raines Feldman Littrell, where she practices Labor and Employment Litigation. In addition to her Board service, Nicole volunteers at the Center to aid clients. Nicole received a B.A. cum laude with distinction in all subjects from Cornell University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Nicole King
Venable LLP
Member since 2023

Nicole is a trial attorney who champions and advises her clients in complex commercial litigation disputes. Nicole has over 11 years’ experience at two Am Law 100 law firms. As Counsel at Venable LLP, Nicole is not only integrated in every stage of the litigation process in her practice, she is also an active firm citizen. Nicole is a member of the Venable Los Angeles Hiring Committee and the Venable Success Network Black Affinity Group. Always engaged in public policy and public interest law, Nicole served in the office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (2007-2009) and as a 2010 Trope and Trope Fellow at the Harriett Buhai Center. Nicole received a B.A. in Political Science, cum laude, at The George Washington University and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Nicole Kardassakis 
Fox Rothschild LLP
Member since 2023

Kimia is an experienced family law practitioner for over a decade. She is a partner at the nationwide law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP. Kima founded the firm’s Working Parents Group, which provides a forum for attorneys to support each other in their efforts to balance family life and a legal career. Despite her busy schedule, Kimia finds the time to represent needy individuals on a pro bono basis.

Sarah Luetto
Hersh Mannis, LLP
Member since 2022

Sarah is a partner at the firm of Hersh Mannis, LLP, where she specializes in family law. Her practice has been devoted exclusively to family law since being admitted to the California bar. Her relationship with the Center began as a law student intern, and she is a member of the Center’s Alumni All-Stars as well as a participating pro bono attorney. Sarah received a B.A. from the Honors Collegium Program at the University of California, Los Angeles and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Yolanda Martin (Latina Lawyers Bar Association Liaison) 
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Member since 2021

Yolanda Martin is the managing attorney for CHIRLA’s removal defense unit. In her immigration law practice, she represents both detained and non-detained individuals before the Immigration Court, as well as representing children in family and probate court. She also volunteers with the Immigrant Defenders Law Center and Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project. Yolanda received a B.A. from University of California, San Diego, and a J.D. from Loyola Law School.

JB Rizzo
Rizzo Forensics
Member since 2019

A forensic CPA since 1998, JB focuses on family law analyses, business valuations, and accounting or economic damage issues in litigation support matters. He is also a financial mediator assisting marital dissolution clients and their attorneys. JB has authored published articles and a book chapter on financial topics relating to California family law. He has served as the court’s neutral expert (California §730) and has testified in Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura County Superior Courts, as well as in depositions for federal matters. He is President of the ACFLS Charitable Foundation, Inc., which raises funds to grant to organizations connected with the California family law system. JB is a graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

David P. Shebby
Shebby • Hirashima LLP
Member since 2012

David is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a founding partner of Shebby • Hirashima LLP, a boutique firm dedicated to family law litigation. David has more than two decades of trial experience in both state and federal courts and has litigated scores of jury trials, bench trials, and arbitrations to verdict. He has published articles and lectured for the State Bar of California, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, the American Inns of Court, and other organizations. David is a member of Los Angeles Catholic Lawyers Association and a volunteer for Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles. David served as Board President from 2014 to 2016. In 2017, he was honored with the Center’s Hall of Fame award, and he continues to volunteer his time as a pro bono attorney. David received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

M. Lynda Sheridan (Los Angeles County Bar Association Family Law Section Liaison)
Law Offices of M. Lynda Sheridan
Member since 2020

Lynda is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 20 years of experience in family law litigation, as well as related real estate and business matters. Her practice includes dissolution of marriage, high asset and routine asset division, complicated issues of reimbursements, tracing, business evaluations, real estate issues of value and equity, child custody and visitation litigation, and child and spousal support. Linda received a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law.

 

Ex Officio

Also members of the Advisory Council                                                                                                                      

Yolande Adelson*
Blanche Bersch
Vera Brown-Curtis*
Valerie Cohen
Carolyn DeFrancesco
Mablean Ephriam, Co-founder
Deborah Ewing
Larry A. Ginsberg

Fahi Takesh Hallin
Nedra Jenkins
Candice K. Rogers
Joan Patsy Ostroy
Susan R. Stockel
Hon. Jessica A. Uzcategui
Beverly A. Williams

 

*Deceased

Advisory Council

Judith R. Forman, Chair
Leah M. Bishop
Judge Aviva Bobb, (Ret.)
Judy Bogen
Jeff Buhai
Bruce Clemens
Hon. Isabel R. Cohen, (Ret.)
Bruce Cooperman
Emily Shappell Edelman
Paula Kane
Tracy Farryl Katz
Robert Kaufman
Hon. Veronica Simmons McBeth
Joan Patsy Ostroy, Co-founder
Patricia Phillips
Hon. Robert Schnider, (Ret.)
Lance Spiegel
Laura A. Wasser
Scott Weston