Legal Information for Families Today
2021 Annual Report
CEO Cathy Cramer and Board Chair Gabriella Nawi
Dear Friend of LIFT,
Tenacity in the face of adversity.
Words that sum up what 2021 (Pandemic Year 2!) looked like at LIFT.
Tenacity in the face of adversity defined LIFT’s daily reality as our devoted team worked with creativity and care to increase access to justice for a record-breaking number of New Yorkers in a time of upheaval.
Our already overburdened Family Courts had to drastically reduce services. And while the outcomes of Family Court cases are significant to all families, low-income families without legal representation face extraordinary barriers to navigating the system and finding justice. These barriers often bring a cascade of further financial and emotional harm.
And that’s why LIFT is here.
In the spirit of tenacity in the face of adversity, LIFT showed up in a thousand ways, every day …
Tenacity in the face of adversity doesn’t just describe LIFT. It describes the resilient families we are so privileged to serve. It also describes the Family Court and our community-based partner organizations, who continually tell us how valuable and even life-changing LIFT’s services are.
But most of all, it expresses the intrepid spirit we will always bring to our efforts, as we work toward a better future by responding with innovation and heart to the shifting conditions of these challenging times.
Thank you for partnering with us!
We’re delighted to share LIFT’s updated vision and mission statements—making our commitment to equity more explicit and anchoring our story in a vision for social change.
We’re lawyers, advocates, community organizers, writers, fundraisers, techies, and data trackers. And we’re working together to help lift our neighbors, one family at a time.
Chief Program Officer
Staff Attorney, Staten Island Borough Coordinator
Bilingual Staff Attorney
Bilingual Staff Attorney
Advocacy and Policy Advisor
Pro Bono Program Coordinator
Chief Executive Officer
Director of Legal Technology
Staff Attorney, Pro Bono, and Outreach
Director of Pro Bono Programs
Manhattan Staff Attorney
Bilingual Program Associate
Manager of Institutional Giving
Bilingual Program Associate
Special Assistant to the CEO
Chief Development Officer
Operations & HR Manager
Manager of Development and Communications
Director of Legal Resources and Community Engagement
United by the belief that fair and equal access to justice is core to the rule of law, and to our humanity, we’re working to make a difference today and every day, one family at a time.
Senior Vice President, Personal Insurance
Partner, Complex Litigation and Trials
Managing Director, Investments Group
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Director of Policy Communications
Director of Corporate Social Responsibility
Business Planning and Operations
Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
Senior Director, Global Revenue Controller
Director of a Family Foundation
LIFT provides unrepresented litigants with free legal services on cases involving child support, custody and visitation, parentage, guardianship, and domestic violence. Our clients are mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers, sisters and guardians who care.
On top of often grueling work schedules and difficult family situations, they come to us to learn about family law and how to best advocate for themselves and their families in court; they come to provide the children in their lives with a safe home, economic security and emotional stability. In a system where lack of legal representation often puts justice out of reach, LIFT is here — increasing access to justice for all New Yorkers, one family at a time.
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LIFT’s limited-scope representation model helps people seeking justice in New York State Family Court without a lawyer. Rather than representing our clients in court, LIFT lawyers (staff and pro bono) provide tools, resources, and legal strategy so they can effectively represent themselves within the system and navigate the many steps required to move their cases forward. Legal support at critical junctures goes a long way in making the process more efficient and effective.
The ability to access justice in Family Court often means the difference between economic crisis vs. financial security, familial upheaval vs. stability and peace of mind. That’s why we’re here. Every year, LIFT prepares thousands of New York parents and caregivers to self-advocate on issues of child support, custody and visitation, and domestic violence. See how our care is impacting families below.
By increasing access to justice, LIFT is working to reduce poverty and advance racial equity. Our commitment to equity and access is rooted in the recognition that …
LIFT is one of very few organizations in Family Court that works exclusively with unrepresented (pro se) litigants, giving us a unique perspective on the issues in need of reform to create a more equitable system. We energetically represent and amplify the interests of self-representing Family Court litigants through our participation in numerous committees at the city and state levels, working with our partners and allies to press for policy change and reform initiatives.
Although our lives remained mostly virtual in 2021, LIFT was still out in the community, testifying at hearings and panels, teaching classes on family law, and amplifying the voices of our clients far and wide.
Leveraging the thought leadership and resources of the private bar to increase access to justice for New York families.
LIFT’s Lawyers Council is a dynamic group of attorneys who provide strategic guidance and feedback on our pro bono program and policy initiatives, while serving as powerful ambassadors on issues of family court at their firms and companies.
William Silverman, Chair
Erica P. Blau, Esq.
Pro Bono Director & Associate
American International Group, Inc.
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan
Chief of Staff, COO & Head of Strategic Commercial Matters – Legal & Compliance Department
Alston & Bird
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Vice President and Senior Legal Counsel
Goodstein Law Firm
Product & Marketing Counsel
Vice President & Assistant General Counsel
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
Pro Bono Counsel
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Miller Zeiderman LLP
Alston & Bird
Managing Counsel and Director
The Bank of New York Mellon
There are many organizations in New York that help people who can’t afford a lawyer, but LIFT is the only organization that exclusively serves pro se litigants navigating New York Family Court.
Our pro bono partners from the private bar, including top law firms and the legal arms of corporations, serve people statewide via user-friendly technology that enables attorneys and litigants to meet over video and share documents in real time.
Our video conferencing platform enables pro bono attorneys to schedule a consult whenever it is convenient during their firm’s monthly timeslot—enabling LIFT to serve many more families with legal support and guidance.
For more information on how to join our growing network of pro bono partners, please contact our Director of Pro Bono Programs, Sami Ingram at SIngram@liftonline.org.
The Power of Pro Bono:
As one of LIFT’s first pro bono partners, Bloomberg has been essential in extending our resources to increase access to justice for unrepresented parents and caregivers. Bloomberg attorneys provide consistent monthly consultations…enabling us to reliably meet the rising demand for our services. We are thankful to Bloomberg and its phenomenal team of pro bono attorneys who work diligently to help close the justice gap, one family at a time.
LIFT’s Junior Board is a dynamic group of emerging leaders dedicated to making a positive impact on underserved communities in New York. Our members share a commitment to increasing access to justice within our Family Court system. As ambassadors for LIFT’s mission, members leverage personal and professional networks to raise funds and awareness.
To learn about joining our Junior Board, please contact our Manager of Development and Communications, Emily Schoenfeld, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashley Kersting, Co-Chair, LIFT Junior Board
Partner, Miller Zeiderman LLP
Jaroslaw Wakuluk, Co-Chair, LIFT Junior Board
Associate Lead Analyst I, Moody’s Investor Service
Senior Managing Counsel and Senior Vice President, Popular Bank
Associate, Global Corporate Communications, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
Marketing and Communications Associate, American Jewish World Service
Associate, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Supervising Attorney, Mobilization for Justice
David Howard Fuchs
Associate, Cahill Gordon
VP Compliance, Lazard Asset Management
Associate Development Manager, Cooley LLP
Assistant Manager, Global Corporate Affairs & Integrated Communications, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
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With top ratings from Guide Star and Charity Navigator and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, LIFT meets the highest standards of fiscal management, accountability and transparency from the most trusted independent review organizations.
The Clark Foundation
IOLA Fund of the State of New York
Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice
New York State Unified Court System
Human Resources Administration
Gabriella Nawi and Todd Jonasz
NYC Office of Court Administration
Diane and Arthur Abbey
Leslie Abbey and Stephen Dietz
Mary J. Hutchins Foundation
Newmark & Company Real Estate, Inc.
NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
The Rona Jaffe Foundation
Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust
Sheri Cyd Sandler
Lisa and Lloyd Zeiderman
Debra and Kenneth Caplan
Cathy A. Cramer and Kenneth D. Gibbs
Davis Polk & Wardwell
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Eugene Keilin and Joanne Witty
Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.
Marble Collegiate Church
Robert Schiffer and Christopher Davis
Eric and Debbie Schwartz
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
SL Green Realty Corp
Evan Small and Sara Davis
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation
Diane Archer and Stephen Presser
The Bank of New York Mellon
Ellie Becker and Norm Parton
The City of New York
The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Stephen McGrath, Jr. and Janine Shelffo
The Ready Foundation LLC
Anthony Schlesinger and Anne Forward
Abigail Sheehan Davis
Mary and Alok Singh
Joseph and Diane Steinberg
Lois and Barbara Whitman
The William C. Bullitt Foundation
Alston & Bird LLP
Barbara and Timothy Boroughs
Phil H. Cohen and Rebecca Kramnick
Jeremy Cramer Gibbs and Melanie DeFiore
Lenore and Robert Davis
Malcolm and JoAnne Davis
Diana and Frederick Elghanayan
Mark and Beth Ferber
Steven and Elizabeth Gruber
The Hecht Foundation
Robert and Gerry Hodes
Susan and Arthur Lindenauer
Shelley Burtt and Donald Meltzer
The New York Bar Foundation
Partnership for New York City
PJT Partners Holdings
Jill Riitmaster and Jordan Saper
William C. Silverman and Karen Jason
Peggy and David Tanner
Alan and Patricia Abramson
Liberty Aldrich and Joseph Saunders
Lori and William Bernstein
Kalpana Bhandarkar and Vinodh Bhat
Center for Family Representation
Lori Cohen and Chris Rothko
Rhonda and Paul DeFiore
Ann Foley and Josh Sapan
Eugene M Lang Foundation
Gonzalo Garcia Kenny
Ellen and Bud and Bud Gibbs
Amy Glosser and Janno Lieber
Lisa Grunwald and Stephen Adler
Brian and Karen Karnofsky
Cynthia King-Vance and Lee Vance
Travis D Lenkner
Lisa Lesavoy and Marco Paniccia
Julie, Andrew and Michelle Levine
Jill Markowitz and Barry Ensminger
Jennifer and Andrew Marrus
Metzger-Price Fund, Inc.
Neuberger Berman Group LLC
NYU Community Fund
Thomas Ostrander and Kelli Turner
Fern Schair and Alexander Forger
Katherine F and Steven Soll
Elizabeth and Alain Taghipour
The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Jacqueline and Randolph Watkins Slifka
Betsy West and Oren Jacoby
Melinda B. Wolfe and Kenneth D. Inadomi
Julie Appel and Mitchell Gordon
Jay and Jeanne Benet
Dan and Melissa Berger
Toni and Seth Bernstein
Blake L. Bradford
Oren and Mary Jo Bramson
Pamela Brier and Peter Aschkenasy
Nancy Coles Goldstein
John and Jill Dietz
Earthshare NYC Gives
Arlene and Mark Goldsmith
Carla Goldstein and Nathaniel K. Charny
Martin and Susan Goldstein
Joseph and Nita Gottesman
Karen Greenstein and Sean Sullivan
James L. and Julie A. Hallowell
Walter and Gail Harris
Andrea and Robert Ingram
David Karnovsky and Sue Kaplan
Jim and Betty Kasson
Henri and John Kessler
Frederick C. and Marion B. Kneip
Debi Korzenik and Mike Posner
Laura Lazarus and Julian Rich
Helena Lee and Richard Klapper
Nicole Berlin and Michael Marra
David Mayo and Carol Quinn
Joan McPhee and Michael Gilson
Douglas Nieters and Bill Lagaret
Patricia Norton and Michael Peck
Adam H. Offenhartz
Vincent and Pam Pagano
Hal and Joanne Parton
Redel Foundation Inc.
Caroline R Rosen
Amy and Steven Rubenstein
Andrew and Wendy Sanford
Ann and Richard Sarnoff
Lori Roth and David L. Schnadig
James Shapiro and Tia Powell
Dara L. Sheinfeld
Karen Simmons and Stuart Rose
Nancy and David Solomon
David Wagner and Elizabeth Cecil
Michael and Abby Wolk
Kenneth and Hattie Abbey
Suzanne and Jaime Aisenberg
John and Michelle Brooks
Robert and Sally Cramer
Ron and Lauren Davis
Melissa Elstein and Eric Katzman
M Peter Feer
Melinda Fine and Zachary Lockman
Karen Freedman and Roger Weisberg
Patty Gillette and Steve Norman
Ted Kaminer and Hillary Kahn
Robert S Karp
Marshall King and Janine Ley-King
Jennifer Lynch and Edmond FitzGerald
Richard W. Mark and Maura L. Harway
Gail and Marshall Miller
Phyllis Richter and Malcolm Ross
Jill and Stephen Saravay
Ellen Schoninger and Efraim Grinberg
Laura Vasaturo and Eric Kolodner
Sarah Williams and Andrew Kimball
Michael and Linda Winicki
Mark Zimet and Amy Sirot
There are many ways to support LIFT. Your gift today helps parents and caregivers resolve legal matters critical to the financial stability and emotional wellbeing of children and families.
Many companies match charitable donations made by employees. To double or even triple your gift, check if your company has a matching gift program.
Join us on June 8th at Tribeca Rooftop to celebrate our inspiring honorees and extraordinary LIFT community as we come together for a long-awaited, in person, and memorable evening to support our important mission.
Making a stock donation is an impactful way to support LIFT and ensure access to justice for children and families. Please call 646-455-1776 for more information.
Give by check, money order, or download the form below and send it with your credit card information.
Whether it’s a tribute to the memory of a loved one or in celebration of a special occasion, your gift is a thoughtful way to honor others while supporting our mission.
Gabi is a Senior Vice President, Personal Insurance Distribution & Strategy at Travelers Insurance. She has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.
Abby is a Partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. She holds a J.D. from the University of Kentucky College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. Abby has been recognized repeatedly for her outstanding commitment to pro bono work, particularly her dedication to asylum work for the LGBTQ community.
Rob is a Managing Director of the Investments Group at SL Green Realty Corp., New York City’s largest commercial landlord. He holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Cornell University.
Rebecca is a Partner in Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s Corporate and Finance Group and Financial Services Group. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and earned her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Nancy is a Partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She graduated magna cum laude from Boston College Law School in 2003 and was elected to the Order of the Coif. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Vassar College in 1998.
Leslie is the CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen. She is the former Chief Operating Officer at Covenant House New York, which has been at the vanguard of providing housing to homeless youth and young adult populations for more than 45 years. Leslie received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. with Honors from Swarthmore College. She is a co-founder of LIFT.
Ellie is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child development, with a focus on developmental issues including trauma and involvement with the child welfare system. She holds a Master of Social Work from NYU and a Master of Arts in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence College.
Corey is the Director of Policy Communications at Meta, specializing in corporate, crisis and financial communications as well as public affairs. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Government from NYU.
Phil is a Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP where he is a member of the Firm’s litigation practice and is Co-Chair of the Firm’s National eDiscovery & eRetention Practice Group. He received his B.A. from Tufts University and his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law – Newark.
Wendy is the Associate Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for Proskauer. She oversees all aspects of employee engagement, board service and corporate social responsibility for the Firm.
Valerie is a Senior Counsel at Bloomberg L.P. serving as the Head of Legal for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Valerie is also the founder and emeritus chair of the Bloomberg Legal Department’s award-winning pro bono program. She holds a J.D. from The George Washing University Law School and a B.A. from Bates College.
Ria is a Program Manager in Business Planning and Operations at Meta. She leads internal go to market for pricing launches across various non-Ads products. Currently she is working with the WhatsApp Business API, and has previously supported Workplace from Facebook. She is originally from Trinidad and holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and MBA from Yale University. Prior to Facebook, she worked in Mergers & Acquisitions at PepsiCo, followed by 2 years in Client Success and Business Development at a fintech startup called Rapid Ratings.
Anna is a Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs at The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). She was part of the team that developed the Company’s first full-length Corporate Responsibility report.
Jane is a Senior Director, Global Revenue Controller at PagerDuty. She is the former Director of Revenue for Salesforce where she led the US and Canada Revenue Recognition team, in working with counterparts in sales, operations, and legal to ensure proper revenue recognition on enterprise-level contracts, primarily with financial services and insurance customers. Jane received her B.S. in Accounting and M.Acc. from Case Western Reserve University.
Nonny is a Trial Attorney at the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. She formerly served as the Director of Criminal Justice at the National Urban League where she developed and implemented racial, social, and criminal justice reform-related campaigns. Prior to the League, she was a litigation attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. She served as the co-chair for the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Committee and worked at the Legal Aid Society as an immigration public defender. She was a fellow at NYU Law’s Policing Project and a member of the Cleveland Police Federal Monitoring Team. Nonny is a writer and focuses on gender, race, and intersectionality. She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and B.S. from the University of Maryland.
Sheri has worked for The Brooklyn Museum, The Cooper Hewitt Museum Smithsonian Institution and Architectural Digest. She received a BBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and an MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from the Cooper Hewitt New School Parsons School of Design. She was a founding board member of: The Jewish Women’s Foundation, The Sister Fund, The New York Women’s Foundation and The American Friends of the JCC of Krakow. Sheri served on the board of The Retreat and currently serves on the boards of Broadway Housing Communities Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, The Board of Advisors for The Brooklyn Museum, and The Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy.
Bill is a Partner at Proskauer Rose LLP where he is head of the firm’s pro bono program. Before entering private practice, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he led criminal investigations, conducted trials and handled Second Circuit appeals. Bill received his B.A. from Brown University and his J.D. from New York University.
Susan is a community volunteer. She worked in Advertising at NW Ayer and AC&R (a subsidiary of Bates) and in Public Relations at Ruder Finn. She attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH and graduated with a BA from Finch College in New York City. Susan has volunteered at The Lighthouse Guild for the Blind and tutored at New York Center for Children/NYCC. Helping children and families is meaningful to Susan as her daughter Lisa was devoted to improving lives of children and families. Lisa passed away from Hodgkins Lymphoma and was unable to fulfill her dream. Continuing this mission is a legacy to Lisa.
Lisa is Managing Partner at Miller Zeiderman LLP. A Matrimonial Attorney, CFL and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst there, she handles complex financial and custody divorce matters for high-net-worth individuals. She received her J.D. from Fordham University. Lisa is a member of the Legislative Committee of the Family Law Section for the New York State Bar Association and sits on the executive board of the Justice Brandeis Law Society. Lisa also serves on the Executive Board of Savvy Ladies, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization that provides free education and resources to help women achieve their financial independence.