NLS Management Team
Lauren Breen, Executive Director
Lauren first worked at NLS from 1989-1992, as a staff attorney, before leaving for private practice and to teach nonprofit, tax exemption and community economic development courses at the University at Buffalo School of Law. She is proud to have played a small role in launching Buffalo’s Massachusetts Avenue Project, PUSH Buffalo and the Partnership for the Public Good while at UB Law. Lauren served on NLS’ Board of Directors from 1993-1999, as president from 1997-1999. From 2010-2013 Lauren was a part-time supervising attorney for the Western New York Law Center. In 2016, Lauren concluded her teaching career, returning to NLS as its first deputy director and, in 2018, became executive director. She currently serves on the Eighth Judicial District’s Attorney Grievance Committee and on the board of the Bar Association of Erie County. Lauren has an A.B. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University at Buffalo School of Law. She is third out of eight loud children hailing from Lackawanna, NY, has three of her own and could not be more delighted to be back at NLS working with such passionate advocates.
Vera Venkova, Deputy Director
Vera is an experienced attorney who has had the privilege to practice on her own and in both corporate and non-profit worlds. Driven by her lived experiences and strong desire to help people, Vera takes pride in providing the best legal assistance possible. Having left the practice of law for this administrative position, she is now supporting NLS staff as they provide direct high quality legal services. One of Vera’s most enjoyable professional experiences was launching and managing CLARO Buffalo, for which she was recognized through the Buffalo Business First’s 30 Under 30 Award. Vera holds a BA summa cum laude in Environmental Design with a minor in Architecture and a JD cum laude from the University at Buffalo School of Law. When she isn’t working on a house renovation project, Vera enjoys spending time with her four-legged and bipedal families.
Andrew Emborsky, Advocacy Director
Andrew spent the first 15 years of his career in private practice, and was a partner in a mid-size law firm in Buffalo immediately prior to coming to NLS. While engaging in the practice of law, he has always volunteered with mission-driven organizations, have recently been a member of the Board of Directors of the Family Justice Center, and currently a board member of the East Aurora Cooperative Market. He was previously the President of a domestic violence and homeless assistance shelter in Geneseo, New York. As a matrimonial and family law trial attorney, Andrew has a long track record of successfully assisting clients with in high-pressure situations. As a supervisor at NLS, Andrew truly enjoys the unique and fulfilling opportunity to work alongside and mentor both staff and counsel, utilizing his experience to enhance the law practice of others. He is presently a co-chair of the Matrimonial Committee of the Bar Association of Erie County, and holds a BA from Hobart College, and a JD from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He resides in East Aurora, with his wife and two sons.
Judge David Edmunds (retired), Director of Community Engagement and Staff Advancement
Judge Edmunds started his legal career at NLS and rejoined it in September of 2022 in this new role. Previously, he served as a Judge of the City Court of Buffalo where he handled all aspects of criminal matters and civil matters, including commercial disputes, settlement conferences and trial de novos as Special Term Judge. Judge Edmunds received his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and his law degree from Case Western Reserve University. Judge Edmunds served as Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Liquor Authority; Special Counsel at Phillips Lyle LLP; by appointment of the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, served as Chief Counsel to the Court’s Attorney Grievance Committees; and was a partner at Damon & Morley LLP (now Barclay Damon).
Grace Andriette, Senior Supervising Attorney, Housing Unit
Grace has been involved in the civil rights and housing advocacy community for over 30 years. Grace has represented tenants seeking redress for housing discrimination in federal, state, and local courts. As an adjunct professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, Grace co-taught the Healthy Homes Legal Practicum. Throughout her career, Grace has worked collaboratively with many community partners to combat housing discrimination and to enforce the right to safe affordable housing in our communities. Grace received her JD from the University at Buffalo, and is a proud member of Buffalo’s Westside community.
John Zonitch, Supervising Attorney of the Batavia Office
John is the Supervising Attorney of NLS’s Batavia office, which provides legal services to residents of Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming Counties. John received his JD from Villanova University and has been an attorney with legal services since 1981. John has practiced law before Federal and State courts throughout Western New York before both trial and appellate courts. John is an avid runner and has run over 25 marathons.
Karen Welch, Supervising Attorney, Unit serving People with Disabilities
Karen has spent her career pursing social justice in the area of civil rights and disability law. She began her legal career in 1991 at the New York Civil Liberties Union as the Western Regional Director working on civil rights cases. In 1994, she joined NLS working as a staff attorney in the public benefits and housing units before joining the disability law unit. For over 20 years, Karen worked under the Protection and Advocacy program representing individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights statutes. During this time, she developed and expanded a student loan clinic that has assisted hundreds of borrowers to successfully manage or discharge their student loan debt. Karen served on the board of the Aid to Indigent Prisoners (Assigned Counsel) and currently serves as Treasurer of the Western New York Law Center. She received a BA summa cum laude from Le Moyne College and a JD from the University at Buffalo School of Law where she was an editor on the Buffalo Law Review. Karen lives with her two children in the City of Buffalo.
Matthew Finamore, Managing Attorney of the Lockport Office and Assistant Supervising Attorney, Housing Unit
Matt has been an attorney admitted to practice law in New York since 2017. A graduate of the West Virginia College of Law (where he also earned an LLM), Matt spent the first few years of his legal career practicing personal injury and criminal defense law in Morgantown, West Virginia. Both before and after law school, Matt has worked in professional politics, most recently managing the successful 2018 primary campaign of Congressional candidate Kendra Fershee, after which he joined NLS as a housing attorney in the Niagara Falls office. Matt left NLS in 2021 and relocated to Seattle, Washington where he was the Managing Attorney of Kitsap Legal Services. Matt was responsible for turning this once lawyer referral service into a fully functioning firm that contracted with the state to provide right to counsel defense in eviction proceedings, the first such statewide program in the country. Matt returned to NLS in the summer of 2022, where he resumed his role advocating for tenants in Niagara County.
Jessica Mussell, Managing Attorney of the Niagara Falls Office
Jessica has dedicated more than a decade of her career to the representation of indigent clients and children with a focus on representing victims of domestic violence. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Niagara University, with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Social Work, Jessica went on to graduate from University at Buffalo School of Law, obtaining her JD with a concentration in Family Law in 2010. While in Law School, and after, Jessica was a member of the Domestic Violence Task Force, a group that focused their efforts on helping survivors of domestic violence. After admission to the New York State Bar, Jessica opened her own firm, providing representation to clients in Erie and Niagara counties through the Assigned Counsel and AFC Programs in matters such as Abuse/Neglect, Family Offense, Custody & Visitation, Child Support and Divorces. In 2019, Jessica left private practice to join NLS and has been practicing as the Family Law Attorney for Niagara County ever since, where her focus continues to be providing zealous representation to survivors of domestic violence. Jessica has served on the board of Women Lawyers of Western New York and is currently a board member of the Niagara County Bar Association. Additionally, Jessica sits on the Niagara County Family Violence Intervention Project steering committee on behalf of NLS.
Diana Proske, Public Benefits Program Director
Diana supervises a team of attorneys and paralegals and directs NLS’ public benefits practice in Erie and Niagara Counties. She represents low income clients, primarily those experiencing homelessness, on public benefits matters. Most of her practice involves applications for ongoing benefits and emergency assistance issues including accessing shelter through local social services departments. Diana represents individual clients using informal advocacy, the state administrative hearing process, and litigation. Diana also represents NLS in local organizations including the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless. Prior to her employment at NLS, Diana practiced before the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in both the Northeastern and Western New York districts. Diana served on the Board of Directors at Neighborhood Health Center, Western New York’s largest and oldest Federally Qualified Health Center, for seven years including three years as the Board Chairperson. Diana is a graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Law. Diana also holds a BA in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State University.
Michael Reiser, Medical Legal Partnership Program Director
Michael graduated in 2016 from the University at Buffalo School of Law. Before coming to NLS, Michael practiced in real estate, foreclosure, and corporate law in private practice. Starting in 2019, Michael joined NLS as a Staff Attorney in its Medical-Legal Partnership Program with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, providing legal assistance to patients facing health harming legal needs, including public benefits, family law, Social Security, housing, and basic estate planning matters. In 2022, Michael was promoted to Director of NLS’s Medical-Legal Partnership Program, and now oversees four separate partnerships. Michael also volunteers as a member of the Family Justice Center of Erie County’s Advisory Council and as a board member for Buffalo Fenians Gaelic Athletic Association.
Larry Waters, Community Economic and Equity Development Program Director
Larry has counseled and defended clients in a variety of civil litigation matters, insurance coverage defense matters, and healthcare matters. Larry is a former staff attorney in the Public Benefits/Medical Legal Partnership programs at NLS. He has been named to the National Black Lawyers 40 under 40 for New York State, Super Lawyers Rising Stars, and the 2022 Buffalo Business First Power 100 Business Leaders of Color. He is a board member for the Minority Bar Foundation of Western New York and the Western New York Integrated Care Collaborative. Larry has also served as a past president of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York, Steering Committee Member for the Empire State Legal Diversity Career Fair, and a past member of the board of directors for NLS. Larry has an AA and BA from the University of Delaware and a JD from the University at Buffalo School of Law. Outside of the office he enjoys spending time with his wife, Taylor, and dog, Maggie Sue.
Danielle Dunlap, Navigator Project Director
Bio coming soon
Davewin Meade, Justice Bus Program Coordinator
Bio coming soon
Kimberly Kalinka, Supervising Paralegal, Housing Unit
Kim is the Supervising Paralegal for the Housing Unit. She and the team of housing paralegals work with the unit attorneys to provide legal information and advice to tenants, assist those facing eviction, and provide referrals to necessary community resources. Throughout her time at NLS, Kim has worked out of both the Niagara Falls and Buffalo offices, in both the family and housing units. Prior to working at NLS, she worked as the Erie County Family Court Domestic Violence Victim Advocate for a local family services agency. Kim graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia with a double major in Psychology and Women’s Studies.
Nancy Tucker, Human Resources Director
With over 40 years of progressive experience working in Payroll and Human Resources, Nancy’s expertise includes all aspects of payroll processing including numerous Payroll/HR System conversions. In addition, Nancy has been responsible for all aspects of Human Resources/Personnel management including leave and benefit administration, wage and hour regulations, union negotiations, recruitment, compensation analysis and personnel management. In her free time, Nancy enjoys exploring the country on long road trips, paddleboarding, hiking, reading and spending time with family and friends.
Sandra Fudala, Office Administrator
Sandy, who has a paralegal degree, has served as the Office Administrator at NLS since 2011. Prior to arriving at NLS, Sandy worked for 35 years with private attorneys, both as a paralegal and Office Administrator. For more than 20 years, Sandy has been active with the running community including her work assisting with the with the Buffalo Marathon and Turkey Trot. Sandy has two grown children and lives in the Village of Hamburg.
45 Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
Serving Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming Counties
237 Main Street, Ste. 400
Buffalo, NY 14203
Serving Erie County
NIAGARA FALLS OFFICE
225 Old Falls Street 3rd Floor
Niagara Falls, NY 14302
Serving Niagara County
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