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Attorney Profiles ~ A-G

Nery Alonso received her B.A. degree in Criminology, magna cum laude, from the University of South Florida and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law. Nery is a staff attorney with the Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program (BAVLP), Northwest division, and with the Centralized Telephone Intake (CTI) Unit, primarily handling cases with family law and housing related issues. Prior to joining BALS, Nery was an AmeriCorps attorney and staff attorney with Three Rivers Legal Services from 2010-2014, where she litigated family law cases.

Laura Ankenbruck has worked with Bay Area Legal Services since 2007 on the Family Law Team. She represents grandparents and other relatives who are caring for minor children. Laura’s position is primarily funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and generally involves the handling of child custody, guardianship and adoption matters. In her prior positions Laura worked as the Program Attorney for the Guardian Ad Litem Program in Tampa and on other cases involving child protection issues. Laura has her law degree from DePaul University in Chicago.

Ann Arledge has been an attorney with BALS' Family Law Team since 2002. She joined BALS after over 25 years of practice in the private sector, including 15 years in her own firm. She has extensive experience in all areas of family law as well as appellate practice, and has successfully litigated before the Florida Supreme Court and the Second District Court of Appeals. Ann graduated with honors from Florida Southern College before receiving her law degree from the University of Florida.

Dawn Marie Bates-Buchanan graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1998 and holds degrees in sociology, criminology and child psychology from the University of South Florida. Dawn Marie, an attorney with the Senior Legal Helpline. comes to BALS after having been the managing attorney of the Daytona Beach office of Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, leading their Family Law Section, and then the managing attorney of Gulfcoast Legal Service’s Bradenton office and practicing elder law. Most recently she had her own law firm in Bradenton, specializing in family, animal, civil, consumer, elder law and bankruptcy.

Joanne Bello began her law career as a staff attorney in BALS’ New Port Richey office from 1998-2003, where she worked with seniors. In 2003 Joanne left to build a very successful law practice specializing in estate, probate, real estate and social security disability law. In 2015, Joanne re-joined BALS on their Senior Legal Helpline. Joanne earned her Juris Doctor in 1997 from City University’s New York School of Law. She received a B.S. from Syracuse University and a M.S. from Long Island University, both in education. Joanne is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Peter Bradshaw came to BALS in 2018 after serving as an Assistant Public Defender in both the 6th and 13th Judicial Circuits. He currently works in the Plant City office, representing victims of domestic violence. Peter completed his J.D. at Stetson College of Law in 2012 and his undergraduate in Physics from Old Dominion University in 2007.

Linda Breen has been a staff attorney at BALS since 1990. She received her Master's Degree in Education from Boston University and her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School. Linda is fluent in Spanish, having majored in Spanish at Ohio University, and after volunteering in Peace Corps Ecuador. She primarily handles housing and public benefits cases on Team ABLE and is an active member of the HCBA Diversity Committee and the Executive Board of the Service Provider Access Network (SPAN).

Lisa Lawrence Brody joined BALS in December 2004 as the Team Leader of the St. Petersburg office, where her previous experience as a legal services attorney and extensive background in the area of housing law continue to guide the St. Petersburg office. Lisa graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1995 after obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from Oregon. In 2010, Lisa also obtained a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Tampa. Currently, Lisa is very active in her local community and in the Legal Services community.

Ellen Cheek first began to focus on elder law issues in 1975 as a staff attorney for Senior Advocates, a unit of the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, California. Since December 2005, she has been Staff Attorney for BALS' Florida Senior Legal Helpline, and she also works with our Senior Advocacy Unit. As an advocate for seniors, she provides civil legal advice to hundreds of elderly Floridians each year. An honors graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the University of Santa Clara School of Law, Ellen is licensed to practice in Florida, California, and the District of Columbia.

Mitzi Chen is a staff attorney with the Family Law Team at BALS. Mitzi earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the City University of New York. In 2002 she obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Albany Law School. She moved to Daytona Beach, Florida, and worked for Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, where her practice was concentrated in the areas of dissolution of marriage and domestic violence. In 2005 Mitzi relocated to Tampa and joined BALS. She is based on-site at the Family Justice Center, where she assists victims of domestic violence obtain injunctions.

Melissa Craig came to BALS in 2013 as an intern and was promoted to a staff attorney position in 2014. Melissa was a member of the Fair Housing team until 2018, when she joined the SAU team. Melissa is assigned to our Senior Home Ownership Protection Program (SHOPP). The SHOPP program provides advocacy and representation to seniors who are in danger of losing their homes. Melissa earned her J.D. from Florida State University College in 2013 after obtaining a B.A. in History from the University of South Florida. She is admitted to Federal Court in the Middle District of Florida.

Nicole M. Del Rio is a staff attorney with the Senior Advocacy Unit (SAU). She primarily practices elder law, focusing on housing and consumer issues. She received her bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies at the University of Central Florida and her law degree from Florida International University, College of Law. Nicole is fluent in Spanish. Prior to joining Bay Area Legal Services she was a Certified Legal Intern at Dade Legal Aid in their family division and was a Karlan Fellow at Legal Services of Greater Miami where she worked in their housing unit.

Tom DiFiore manages Team ABLE at BALS. ABLE stands for Advocates for Basic Equality. Team ABLE focuses on housing, consumer, employment and public benefits law. Tom earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University before graduating from the National Law Center at George Washington University. He came to BALS in 1990. Tom has lead Team ABLE for over ten years. Team ABLE’s primary mission is preserving housing and maintaining income for our most needy citizens.

Bill Eble joined the Dade City office as a staff attorney on March 26, 2018. He earned his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame in 1976 and his J.D. at the University of Miami in 1979. He arrived in Dade City in 1981, served as an Assistant Public Defender for 15 years, and spent the last 21 years in private practice. Bill is pleased that BALS has extended the opportunity to represent victims of crime in injunctions, family, and other civil law matters, as well as others without the financial resources to retain legal counsel.

Julie Ann Embler graduated from Stetson University College of Law, Cum Laude, in 2015 after receiving her Bachelor of Sciences from the University of Central Florida in 2010 with a major in Legal Studies and minors in Criminal Justice and History. Ms. Embler is a published contributing author in Privacy Rights in a Digital Era (Greyhouse Publishing) and conducted the research for a text book on Legal Writing in the United States for International Students (West Publishing). In addition to working for BAVLP-NW, Ms. Embler instructs prospective law students in preparing for the LSAT at the University of South Florida.

Maurice Feller is a staff attorney in the New Port Richey office where he has worked with seniors since January 2003 to resolve their civil legal problems. Maurice joined BALS in 1993 after working for Legal Services of North Florida for two years. Maurice received a J.D. degree from Florida State University, an M.A. from Georgetown University, and a B.A. from the University of Florida. Maurice currently serves on the Board of Directors of the West Pasco Bar Association, as a trustee of the West Pasco Law Library, and is on the Pro Bono Committee of the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Christy Ferioli is a staff attorney in the Dade City office. Christy graduated from Stanford Law School in 2012. She began her public interest career as an EJW AmeriCorps fellow in the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles's Veterans Justice Center. Subsequently, she worked as a staff attorney in Public Counsel's Children's Rights Project and clerked for the Honorable James S. Moody, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. Christy has experience representing clients in a broad range of legal matters, including public benefits, family, education, and consumer law.

B. Maria Carrubba-Fuentes is a part-time staff attorney with the Senior Legal Helpline (SLH) and Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program (BAVLP). She currently does case review for the SLH, and does compliance review and assists with supervising the Family Law Forms Clinic with the BAVLP. Maria has held numerous staff and management positions within BALS since joining in 1996. She received her B.A. in Political Science from NYU in 1987 and her J.D. from Quinnipiac School of Law in 1990. Maria is licensed to practice in NY, NJ, and FL.

Jeff Grabel has been an attorney with the Dade City office since 1998 and serves as its Managing Attorney. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Florida and graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1992. The Dade City office handles a broad range of cases from housing matters to consumer issues but the substantial majority of cases involve family law and domestic violence. Jeff is the Treasurer for the East Pasco Bar Association and is a member of the Pasco County Domestic Violence Task Force serving on the Judicial Subcommittee.

Taylor Greenberg is a 2018 Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig LLP and The Florida Bar Foundation. Her fellowship project is to provide representation to teenagers in group home foster care, to create a task force to improve outcomes, and to train attorneys across Florida on the unique model of representation she designed. Taylor received her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2018 with a concentration in social justice advocacy and is the founder of Child Advocates of Stetson Law. She also received a bachelor's degree in English literature, magna cum laude, from Florida State University in 2014.

Valory Greenfield obtained her BA with High Honors from the University of Florida where she majored in sociology. She received her J.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Law and is a member of The Florida Bar. Val was a staff attorney, and later department head, in the public benefits unit at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. for eleven years. Therafter she served for 19 years as a senior staff attorney at Florida Legal Services providing training, consultation, and litigation support to statewide advocates in public benefits. She joined the Florida Senior Helpline at BALS in 2015.

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