Meet our New Team Members!Posted on: July 31, 2020
Meet our New Team Members
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have welcomed 10 new staff members to our team. We are excited about the skills and expertise they are bringing to the table to help us meet the moment for vulnerable families in our community.
Michael Blackwell received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, where he was awarded the Gillis Long Public Service Award. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University. Michael is a decorated United States Army veteran and his service included significant time in Iraq and Kuwait. Michael joins SLLS as a Staff Attorney handling Housing, Consumer, and Family Law cases in the Hammond office.
Mariarenee Contreras is a graduate of Loyola Law School, where she was a Student Practitioner in the Workplace Justice Clinic. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History/Pre-Law from Loyola University. She has worked for the ACLU of Louisiana and interned for CrescentCare Legal Services, the New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, Loyola's Immigration Clinic and Law Clinic. In addition, Mariarenee is fluent in Spanish. As a native New Orleanian, Mariarenee chose to practice at SLLS because it is a place where she can help and give back to the community that helped shape her into the person she is today. She is serving in the Employment and Public Benefits unit in New Orleans.
Janice Dore' is a newly minted attorney in our Consumer and Public Benefits Unit in the Baton Rouge office. She received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, where she was a Student Practitioner in the Family Law Clinic. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Southeastern Louisiana University. She has also clerked for the First Circuit Court of Appeals and interned for the Pro Bono Project.
Elizabeth received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, where she was a student practitioner in the Criminal Defense Clinic. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from LSU. Most recently, she worked as a Staff Attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders. She has also worked for the New Orleans Bar Association as the Committees and Communications Director and the Lawyer Referral Service Director, a Community and Economic Developer in the Peace Corps in Cameroon, and as a Youth Volunteer Corps Project Coordinator with Capital Area United Way. Elizabeth was also a co-founder of Storyville Apparel. Elizabeth is working in the Housing unit in the New Orleans office.
Juliane received her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center, where she worked as a student advisor on the Board of Student Advisors. Juliane received her Bachelor's Degree in English Education from Southeastern Louisiana University and also holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology from LSU. Juliane was a teacher and Head Coach in softball at Hammond Magnet High School and worked at several other local high schools as a teacher and head softball and head volleyball coach. At SLLS, Juliane will be working as a Staff Attorney handling Housing and Consumer cases in the Hammond office.
Director of Communications & Development
Lynette received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology from Vanderbilt University. She has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly a decade, first serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and eventually becoming the Director of the Louisiana Advocacy Corps, Louisiana CASA's AmeriCorps VISTA project. Her history with SLLS goes back several decades – her father worked for NOLAC in the Marrero office in the 90s. She will be serving as the Director of Communications and Development.
Robert Owens has returned to SLLS as a Staff Attorney in the Consumer and Foreclosure Prevention. He previously served as an Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps Fellow in our Baton Rouge Office from 2011-12. Following his service, he worked in Massachusetts handling custody, parental rights and child welfare cases in Juvenile Court. Before that, he was a Hearing Officer with the Jefferson Parish Public School System and Legal Director at the Louisiana Civil Justice Center. Rob received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School and his Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Maura returns to SLLS as our new Haven VAWA Staff Attorney in the Houma office. She previously served with SLLS as a Graduate for Justice doing domestic violence work in New Orleans and was a Summer Law Intern in our Covington office. She received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, where she was a Student Practitioner in the Family Law Clinic. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from LSU. Maura was also a High School Geography and Computer Technology Literacy Teacher before going to Law School.
Mercedes received her Juris Doctorate from Tulane Law School where she clerked with the Entertainment Law Legal Assistance (ELLA) Project. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English Literature from LSU and also earned a Master of Arts in Women's History from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She has been working with the City of New Orleans Office of Workforce Development, JOB1 as Development Specialist. Mercedes joins SLLS as a Staff Attorney in the Litigation/Advocacy Unit in the New Orleans Office.
Skyler earned her Juris Doctorate from Southern Law School where she was a student attorney in the Juvenile Clinic and a graduate assistant in the Violence Against Women Project. Skyler received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from LSU. She has been a solo practitioner since September 2019, previously working as a tax preparer and consultant, and a contract attorney and associate for several other firms. She has also clerked for the 23rd JDC and Louisiana 5th Circuit Court of Appeal. Skyler joins SLLS as a Housing Staff Attorney in the Baton Rouge Office.