CFR’s founders set out to dramatically change outcomes for families who experience the child welfare and family court systems. To meet this ambitious goal, the agency began with seasoned professionals who knew from experience that the most important way to help at risk children was by strengthening their parents and families in the first instance. More than 75% of our management and supervisory staff hail from legal organizations that represented children or from child welfare agencies whose goal was to protect children, including ACS. CFR achieves its outcomes by recruiting, hiring, training and retaining talented staff. Starting with just 2 employees in 2002, the organization now employs more than 65 people in Manhattan and Queens.
Susan Jacobs, Esq. is CFR’s founding Executive Director and President. She directs CFR’s overall program and vision and sits on its Board of Directors. Ms. Jacobs leads CFR’s policy work and sits on national, state and city advisory commissions on child welfare and court reform. Ms. Jacobs has litigated on behalf of adults and children in Family Court, New York State Supreme Court and in Federal Court. Prior to founding CFR, she served as the Director of Family Law and Senior Managing Attorney at the Legal Action Center (LAC) in NYC where she represented parents and litigated on behalf of individuals with HIV, alcohol and drug related disabilities. She was a member of LAC’s Senior Management, where she supervised a team of 25 professional and support staff and was responsible for the organization’s national training and policy portfolio. She is a graduate of Cornell University. In addition to her law degree from Brooklyn Law School, she has a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of North Carolina.
Michele Cortese, Esq., Deputy Director, joined CFR in 2002. Ms. Cortese has worked in the child welfare field since 1987, has personally conducted more than 100 of CFR’s training sessions, has been a member of the faculties of the Practicing Law Institute and the Child Welfare League of America, and has written for the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law. In addition to being an attorney directly representing children in foster care, she has represented foster care agencies in trial and appellate proceedings. Ms. Cortese supervised the development of CFR’s interdisciplinary model of representation and provides direct supervision to program staff. Prior to joining CFR, Ms. Cortese worked at the Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society (JRP) as Director of Professional Development and also served as the Attorney-In-Charge of JRP’s Manhattan trial office, where she oversaw staff representing more than 12,000 children each year. Ms. Cortese received a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law and a B.A. from Colgate University.
Genevieve Christy, Chief Financial Officer, oversees CFR’s fiscal operations. Ms. Christy worked as a Management Consultant in finance and systems applications at Deutsch, Inc. and Zenith Media Services Inc. for 9 years, running projects with budgets of over $180 million. Prior to that, she worked in finance at Time Warner, Inc., and ultimately was Finance Manager of the Editorial Division of Time Magazine where she supervised with an annual budget of more than $100 million. Ms. Christy is responsible for CFR’s strategic fiscal planning, establishing budgets and forecasting income and expenses. She creates monthly cash flow reports for the General Management team and for CFR’s Board Finance Committee. Ms. Christy has a B.A. from Duke University and pursued postgraduate studies at University College in London.
John Linder, Chief Development & Communications Officer, manages CFR’s fundraising and communication efforts. He has more than 12 years of fundraising experience, including corporate and foundation fundraising, government grant writing, event planning, individual giving, volunteer management, and budgeting. Mr. Linder has worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations and was most recently the Vice President of Development for HealthRight International. He has served on the boards of the University of Washington Alumni Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Washington Chapter, as well as on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign. Mr. Linder has a Master’s in Public Administration from George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington.
Ada Lozada, Administrative Manager, joined CFR in 2005 and works closely with the CFO and the Executive Director on a variety of fiscal and administrative operations, including human resources, information systems, and information technology. Prior to joining CFR, Ms. Lozada worked at The Legal Aid Society in the Capital Division, the Criminal Defense Division, and the Juvenile Rights Practice. At Legal Aid, Ms. Lozada worked as both an administrator and as a paralegal, assisting investigators, conducting interviews, providing case management, and advocacy for clients and conducting legal research. While at the Capital Division, Ms. Lozada worked closely with the team’s social work staff in retrieving life history records of each client for mitigation purposes in order to help the client avoid the death penalty. Ms. Lozada attended Queens College and is a bilingual in English and Spanish.
Co-Directors of the Manhattan Practice
Wanjiro Gethaiga, LMSW
Maura Keating, Esq.
Co-Directors of the Queens Practice
Jill Cohen, LCSW
Elizabeth Fassler, Esq.
Manhattan Practice Supervisors
Payal Dalal, LMSW
Darlene Jorif-Mangane, Esq.
Jenny Miller, LMSW
Anastasia Rivera-Bonilla, Esq.
Christine Zielinski, Esq.
Queens Practice Supervisors
Rick Barinbaum, LMSW
Carolyn Walther, Esq.