Our Staff

Our staff of attorneys, legal advocates and researchers come from all over the country and bring decades of experience to clients in need.

Hazel Alessandrini 

Staff Attorney 

Hazel has worked at SNP since 2020. She is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Alline Alvarez 

Housing Paralegal  

Alline is an SNP Housing Paralegal.  She graduated from The University at Albany with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Administration with a concentration in world affairs.   Alline loves working at SNP because of how welcoming and passionate SNP’s team members are about social justice, and she feels valued as an employee. Holding this position, Alline feels empowered and motivated as she loves to help people. Prior to joining SNP, Alline worked as a Workers Compensation Paralegal and held various positions for an elected official in the New York State Assembly. If you see Alline around, feel free to say hi, she loves meeting new people!  

 

Mayya Baker 

Supervising Attorney 

As a Supervising Attorney, Mayya manages a team of SNP attorneys who work to stabilize tenancies and expand tenant’s rights. SNP’s housing practice focused on defending indigent tenants in housing court throughout NYC, through NYCHA hearings, advocating for our client’s public benefits, conducting outreach, and educating tenants. Working in public service has been a lifelong career goal and Mayya is happy to be achieving it at SNP. 

 

Sam Bakken 

Law Graduate Pending Admission  

Sam has worked at SNP since 2019. He is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment. and safety. 

 

Genesis Cabrera  

Housing Benefits Advocate 

Genesis is a Housing Benefits Advocate at SNP. Genesis graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in International Criminal Justice. While at John Jay, Genesis had an internship with the CUNY Service Corps where she started her work with SNP in 2017. After her internship concluded in 2018, Genesis joined SNP as a part-time legal assistant, and then became a full-time housing benefits advocate in November 2019. Genesis is passionate about human rights, social and political justice, and global issues. She is fluent in Spanish. 

 

Kathleen Cash 

Benefits and Homeless Advocate 

Kathleen has been an advocate in SNP’s Benefits and Homeless Advocacy Unit since November 2019. Prior to working at SNP, Kathleen was assistant director of benefits and resources at Safe Horizon Streetwork Project, a drop-in center for runaway and homeless youth. Kathleen is dedicated to serving homeless, low- and no-income New Yorkers to obtain permanent housing and safety net benefits through a harm reduction and social justice framework. 

 

Aitana Ruilova Castro 

Legal Assistant  

Aitana graduated from St. John’s University with a B.A. in Psychology in 2019 and with a M.A. in Criminology and Justice in 2021. During her time at St. John’s as an undergraduate student, she led many different student organizations and fundraising efforts for different non-profit organizations, along with creating fundraising and donation campaigns to aid the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria as well as immigrants being held at detention centers in Texas. Aitana migrated to the U.S. in 2015 and is fluent in both Spanish and English. She joined the Safety Net Project in 2019. 

 

Sanai Carchi-Merrick  

Operations Associate  

Sanai joined SNP in February 2017 as a Housing Paralegal. Sanai received her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a Master of Public Administration and Policy from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Prior to joining SNP, Sanai worked as a Family Planner with Abbott House Foster Care Agency, which is an affiliate of the NYC Administration for Children’s services and The Harlem Children’s Zone as a Student Advocate and mentor. Sanai continues student mentorship through partnering with CUNY Service Corps. and the CUNY Public Service Scholar programs to connect SNP with talented social justice advocates! Sanai became the Operations Associate for SNP in 2018. 

 

Kristina M. Cerrone 

Supervising Attorney 

Kristina Cerrone is a Supervising Attorney at SNP and has been involved in tenant organizing, advocacy, and representation in New York since 2009.  She is passionate about civil procedure, trauma-informed practice, and defending human rights at a neighborhood level.   

 

Marika Dias 

Managing Director  

Marika Dias is a public interest attorney who has worked in civil legal services since 2001 with a focus on providing legal services that support community organizing efforts and grassroots organizing groups. Prior to her role at SNP, Marika was the Director of the Tenant Rights Coalition at Legal Services NYC and before that, the Managing Attorney at Make the Road New York. Marika is a member of the Steering Committee of the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition and a movement lawyering trainer, including with the Movement Law Lab trainers collective. Marika is also an active board member of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project. which provides services for incarcerated LGBTQ+ immigrants and organizes around prison abolition. 

 

Raven Dorantes, Esq. 

Managing Attorney  

Raven has worked with the Safety Net Project since 2016. She is now the Managing Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Natalie Druce 

Staff Attorney  

At SNP, Natalie works with tenants facing eviction, trying to obtain repairs, experiencing harassment from their landlords or dealing with other housing-related issues. She joined SNP to support the fight to preserve housing as a fundamental human right. Natalie started her law career in Australia, where she worked in private practice as a Judicial Clerk in the New South Wales Court of Appeals and co-led an organization that facilitated legal education workshops with young people at risk of homelessness. She recently completed a Master of Laws, where she was a student advocate in the NYU Reproductive Justice Clinic. Before joining SNP, she worked as a fellow with the United Nations Development Program conducting research on sexual and reproductive health. Natalie speaks conversational French and is currently working on improving her Spanish. 

 

Robin Emmanuelli, Esq. 

Senior Staff Attorney 

Robin has worked at SNP as a Senior Staff Attorney since 2020 and has brought over 30 years’ experience as a Housing Attorney. She received her law degree from St. Johns School of Law.  Her extensive experience includes various positions in the New York City Civil Court, Housing Part for 26 years.  Upon retiring from the Court, Robin commenced not-for profit work at The Neighborhood Association for Intercultural Affairs for 3 years as a staff attorney prior to joining SNP.  Robin is a member of the New York City Bar Association and has served on the Housing Committee.  Robin is admitted to practice in New York State, the Eastern District of NY, and the Southern District of NY. 

 

Emilia Foto 

Law Graduate Pending Admission 

Emilia has worked at SNP since 2021. She is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Roxanna Henry  

Social Worker, MSW 

Roxanna Henry joined SNP in October 2019. As a social worker, Roxanna works to provide advocacy and social service assistance to clients experiencing problems such as accessing public benefits, homelessness, and tenant rights.   

Roxanna started her career path as a client seeking public assistance benefits when New York City’s Human Resources Administration told her that she would not be allowed to attend college as a student receiving public assistance. Since then, she has successfully graduated, completed WRI’s two-semester Community Leadership Training Program, and earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work from Hunter College. Roxanna’s experiences and values inspire her to declare, “I’m glad to be able to give back to the community. My focus is to advance public benefits programs in New York and make safe spaces for others with first-hand experiences to join the policy table to make a real impact on social policies.” 

 

Stephanie Horta 

Benefits Advocate 

Stephanie joined SNP in November of 2020 as a Benefits Advocate where she advocates for clients facing a broad range of public assistance issues. Prior to joining SNP, Stephanie was a DOJ Accredited Representative providing affirmative application assistance to residents all throughout New York City seeking citizenship. Her work also included community engagement, outreach, and legal advocacy. Stephanie graduated with her bachelor’s in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2017. During her academic career, she explored justice systems on a global scale by studying abroad in South Africa and Indonesia. Stephanie was born and raised in Queens, N.Y. and is the daughter of Colombian immigrants. She is bilingual in English and Spanish. Her passions include uplifting communities that are disproportionately and systemically deprived of their constitutional and human rights, traveling, and trying new foods! 

 

Craig Hughes 

Senior Social Worker 

Craig joined Safety Net Project in 2018 and focuses on homelessness, supportive housing, and freedom of information work.   

 

Khadija Hussain 

Housing Benefits Advocate 

Khadija joined SNP in May 2021. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from Barnard College. Prior to her role at SNP, Khadija was involved in Connecticut’s Right to Counsel campaign to secure Right to Counsel for tenants in eviction cases. She has also interned at the NYC Right to Counsel Coalition and previously worked with SNP’s Benefits team as an intern during college. 

 

Ulysses (Peter) Malvan 

Homeless Advocate 

Peter is native New Yorker who became homeless from his Corona Queens residence on his 30th birthday. From the age of 15, Peter has been a caregiver to parents, patients, and friends. Peter has been on non-profit boards surrounding homelessness, worked on several research demonstration projects, and is a survivor of both WTC Bombings. Peter has lived on the streets, worked under MOC, and been a recipient of the city’s homeless services. As a Homeless Advocate at SNP, Peter utilizes this wealth of experience to engage in outreach and advocate on behalf of homeless New Yorkers in the city’s shelter system and living on the street.  One motivating factor in Peter’s work, which has helped him through many traumatic disasters, was realizing that obtaining and sustaining housing for all must be achieved. Peter’s hope is that joining this phenomenal organization and team will further his progress toward that goal. 

 

Ed Ortiz 

Senior Benefits Advocate 

Ed Ortiz has worked with families and individuals since the 1980s to help them resolve their public benefits and tenancy issues. He joined UJC in 2003 after a long stint in legal services in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Ed has been active in political and social justice issues for over 40 years, including The Same Boat Coalition and the NYC Congress for Puerto Rican Rights. The coalition formed in 1985 to fight then-Mayor Giuliani’s assault on the city’s poor and homeless. He is now also active in the struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico and achieve its independence from the United States. Ed is a graduate of Hofstra University, B.S., 1992. 

 

Ayelet Pinnolis 

Housing Paralegal

Ayelet joined SNP in May 2021. Prior to joining SNP, Ayelet worked at HomeStart, a Boston nonprofit working to prevent homelessness, where she advocated for tenants who were facing eviction, helped them navigate housing court and settle their cases, and assisted them with housing search. Ayelet also served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year in Boston, mentoring middle school students and implementing literacy interventions. Ayelet has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Chicago. 

 

Patrick S. Quigley 

Staff Attorney 

Patrick has worked at SNP since 2018. He is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Dan Shin 

Housing Paralegal 

Dan joined SNP in August of 2018. Prior to joining SNP, he worked at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, overseeing city-owned mortgages, and administering funding for community organizations. He has also administered state programs for the State of California and has served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Sacramento, applying for HUD and private grants, and implementing direct services for individuals experiencing homelessness. Dan is currently an evening law student at CUNY School of Law and has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Business. Dan speaks Korean and Spanish. 

 

Valerie Smosna 

Staff Attorney 

Valerie has worked at SNP since 2021. She is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Helen Strom  

Homeless and Benefits Director   

Helen Strom has been working at SNP since 2011, when she started with SNP as a Benefits Advocate doing direct representation in public assistance and SNAP cases. In addition to her direct services work, Helen is an experienced organizer and policy advocate relating to issues of public assistance, SNAP access, and homelessness in NYC. She organizes several groups, including the Safety Net Activists and HomelessCantStayHome30 and has also been involved in the creation of many reports on benefits access and homelessness while at SNP. Helen received her B.A. in Social Studies and speaks Spanish. 

 

Tanvee Trehan 

Staff Attorney   

Tanvee has worked at SNP since 2018. She is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

Eric Wachs 

Staff Attorney 

Eric joined SNP as a Staff Attorney in February 2021.  Prior to working at SNP, he was an Associate at the law firm Lambert & Shackman, PLLC, where he specialized in real estate and commercial litigation, particularly landlord-tenant litigation.  It was through his work there representing low-income tenants facing eviction that Eric became passionate about the issues of housing rights and racial justice.  Eric received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 2012.  

 

Courtney Wilson 

Staff Attorney  

Courtney has worked at SNP since 2019. She is a Staff Attorney in SNP’s busy housing practice, which represents tenants facing eviction, conducts housing clinics, works closely with tenant organizing groups, and represents tenants to enforce their rights relating to repairs, landlord harassment, and safety. 

 

Elaine Ynoa Castillo 

Legal Assistant 

Elaine Ynoa Castillo is a full-time legal assistant at SNP. Elaine is fluent in Spanish and a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice-expected to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in May 2022.  Elaine started at SNP as an intern with the CUNY Service Corps in September 2019.  In January 2020, Elaine went on to the role of a part-time legal assistant and in January 2021 became full-time in the same role.  Elaine is a proud advocate for social justice and the underserved population of New York City.     

NEED HELP FINDING COUNSEL?

SNP provides free legal services to low and no income New Yorkers with housing or public benefits issues. Click below for our legal clinic schedules.

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We welcome your questions and comments

Main Office

40 Rector Street
New York, NY 10006

Telephone: 646.602.5600

Email: snp@urbanjustice.org

Hours

M-F: 9:00AM-6:00PM

The Safety Net Project does not conduct client intake at our Rector Street Office. For information about our services and walk-in clinics, check out our legal clinic schedules.

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