Founder &
Executive Director
 
Maria Foscarinis
Founder & Executive Director














 

“My family suffered terribly during the German occupation of Greece in World War II, and as a child I heard my parents’ stories of starvation, deprivation and loss—as well as courageous resistance—on an almost nightly basis. I wanted to use the relative privilege of my life to fight for a world where no one has to suffer the injustice of dire poverty.” 

In the mid-1980s, Maria was a litigator at a large corporate law firm where she volunteered to represent homeless families on a pro bono basis.  After seeing the impact of first-rate legal advocacy on the lives of homeless people, she left the firm to dedicate herself to that work full-time.  In 1989, she established the Law Center with one goal in mind: ending homelessness in America.

Maria has advocated for solutions to homelessness at the national level since 1985.  She is a primary architect of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the first major federal legislation addressing homelessness, and she has litigated to secure the legal rights of homeless persons. Maria has written widely on legal and policy issues affecting homeless persons; her work has appeared in scholarly as well as general audience publications. She speaks and lectures regularly on law and homelessness, conducts trainings on legal issues and advocacy strategies, and is frequently quoted in the print and electronic media.

Maria is a 1977 graduate of Barnard College and a 1981 graduate of Columbia Law School. She also holds a M.A. in philosophy.
Staff
 
   
Diane Aten
Director of Development & Communications


“I care deeply about social justice and truly believe that it is possible to end homelessness. I also believe in the power of working together. Every one of us, doing our part and taking combined action, will generate a powerful, collective impact. Growing up in Washington, D.C. and attending very diverse, public schools helped shape who I am today.”
 
Diane Aten has a passion for organizations that provide affordable housing, services, and opportunities for low-income people. For more than twenty years, Diane has worked in development and direct service for nonprofits including Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, Samaritan Ministry, Sojourners, Friendship Place, and Threshold Services.
 
Diane’s extensive development work includes online and monthly giving, corporate relations, major gifts, grant writing, and direct mail appeals. She also has considerable experience in managing special events, volunteers, as well as in-kind (non-financial goods and services) donations, communications and media relations activities.
 
Diane received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1991. She also holds a master’s degree in not-for-profit management.
 
     
Tristia Bauman
Senior Attorney




 

“As the daughter of a disabled father and an immigrant mother, I grew up poor and I know well the barriers to success imposed by poverty. I became a public interest attorney, and the Housing Program Director at the Law Center, to break down those barriers and to provide every person – people just like me – with the chance to thrive.”

Tristia Bauman combines litigation, legal education, and legislative advocacy strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Her work focuses on monitoring and litigating compliance with federal statutes such as Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. Tristia also conducts legal trainings around the country, writes reports and other publications related to housing, and serves as a legal resource for homeless advocates.

Tristia began her law career at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. as a housing attorney working with low-income tenants in federally subsidized housing. She later served for several years as an Assistant Public Defender in Miami-Dade County.

Tristia hails from Auckland, New Zealand but was raised in Washington State where she attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate and law student. She received her B.A. in Anthropology in 2000 and her J.D. in 2006.
 
Lisa Coleman
Attorney




 

"I am passionate about protecting the rights of the most vulnerable."

Lisa M. Coleman serves as the domestic violence and education attorney at the Law Center. Lisa coordinates domestic violence programming at the Law Center, including the development of outreach materials, trainings and presentations to ensure the effective implementation of, and compliance with national, state and local laws providing housing rights for survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence.
 
Prior to joining the Law Center, Lisa served as a law fellow in the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Lisa has also engaged in research regarding U-Visa protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and served at the Children’s Defense Fund where she utilized policy advocacy tools and developed best practices for implementing appropriate gendered- responses and educational services for high-needs youth.  
 
Lisa received her J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law, and received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and taught high school U.S. History and Civics & Economics in Charlotte, North Carolina.
 
Janelle Fernandez
Law & Policy Program Associate 


 

“I want to help create the political will and public momentum to ensure that everyone has food, shelter, and education. We have the resources to achieve this; we now need to summon the collective strength and courage to see it through.”
 
Janelle Fernandez, Law & Policy Program Associate at the Law Center, provides programmatic and administrative support to the Law & Policy team. Janelle brings extensive experience to the Law Center, primarily in data management, system development, process improvement, project management, and capacity building. At the Law Center, she assists the Policy Director with legislative tracking and the development of Law & Policy outreach materials and strategies. She also manages the Law Center's internship and fellowship program, provides support to the pro bono program, and co-facilitates presentations at law firms, conferences, and other venues to gain support for the Law Center's projects. 
 
Janelle cultivated an interest for policy work as an undergrad at Florida State University, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Before coming to the Law Center, she worked in the private sector as a program analyst. Currently, in addition to her work with the Law Center, she is an active volunteer in the DC chapter of RESULTS, an anti-poverty policy advocacy organization, focused on specific long-term solutions to alleviating the root causes of poverty, primarily in the areas of education, health, and social/financial mobility.
 
Sarah Knutson
Development & Communications Assistant 







 

“We do not have to relegate ourselves to a society that does not value all of its members, that does not provide equal opportunities for its citizens, and that accepts systemic neglect as the status quo. As Americans we hold a unique power to affect change, to see injustice and challenge it. I want to be part of a society that expects more from and for its people.”

As the Development & Communications Assistant, Sarah takes on tasks that support and shed light on the important work of the Law Center. Her most important role is acting as an advocate for those living without a home and without the legal clout to defend their rights.

Her passion for social justice took root during an internship with the Pennsylvania Literacy Corps. She was able to tutor GED and ESL adult learners while also researching the history and politics of education and exploring literacy’s relationship to class, gender, and ethnicity. It was then that she witnessed the value of coupling the right resources with people who, until that time, were certain they were incapable of success. She let the experience inform her commitment to building communities through service projects and connecting nonprofits with the right resources to make a difference.

Sarah graduated from Penn State University with honors in two degrees, a B.A. in Philosophy and a B.S. in Mathematics. 
LaTissia Mitchell
Executive & Administrative Assistant



 



“Guaranteed safe housing seems such a basic need to meet, and it is absolutely achievable. Our real hurdle remains the belief that some people do not deserve affordable housing.”
 
LaTissia Mitchell, Executive and Administrative Assistant, provides essential support to the staff with a focus on scheduling and database management.
 
LaTissia volunteers with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop. She holds a M.A. in English from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University.
Jeremy Rosen
Director of Advocacy


“I do what I do because every human being deserves to have food, clothing, and shelter, and our country is more than rich enough to provide it if we only choose to.”

Jeremy Rosen is the Advocacy Director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.  Jeremy previously served as Executive Director of the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness (NPACH), as Director for Homelessness and Mental Health in the National Office of Volunteers of America, and as a Staff Attorney at Legal Services of Greater Miami.
 
Jeremy is an expert on federal, state, and local affordable housing policy, with a focus on homelessness, veterans housing, and housing for children, youth, and families.  Jeremy’s work also focuses on access to government benefits for low income people, prisoner reentry, and the intersection of affordable housing policy and the education and child welfare systems. He is a frequent speaker on these topics, and has published numerous journal articles and papers.

Jeremy received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994, and his J.D. from George Washington University Law School in 1998.
 
Eric Tars
Senior Attorney


“My father grew up homeless, as a refugee following WWII. I believe every person deserves to be treated with the same dignity and respect for basic human rights as I would have wanted to see him and his family receive.”

Eric Tars serves as the Law Center's senior attorney, focusing on human rights and children's rights programs. In his human rights capacity, he works with homelessness and housing advocacy organizations to train and strategically utilize human rights as a component of their work. In his youth rights capacity, he works to protect homeless students' rights to education and advocates for homeless youth and families through trainings, litigation, and policy advocacy at the national and local levels.
 
Before coming to the Law Center, Eric was a Fellow with Global Rights' U.S. Racial Discrimination Program and consulted with Columbia University Law School's Human Rights Institute and the US Human Rights Network. Eric's work has spanned the country and the globe. He coordinated the involvement of hundreds of organizations in the hearings of the U.S. before the UN Committee Against Torture and Human Rights in 2006. Eric has conducted numerous trainings on integrating human rights strategies into domestic advocacy, and he currently serves as the chair of the US Human Rights Network's training committee and on the Steering Committee of the Human Rights at Home Campaign.

Eric received his J.D. as a Global Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center. He received his B.A. in political science from Haverford College and studied international human rights in Vienna at the Institute for European Studies and at the University of Vienna.
 
Louise Weissman
Director of Operations


“I grew up in a family that believed in treating all people with dignity and respect.  I was also a product of ’60-70’s activism that led me to a life time working for progressive organizations focused on issues of importance to poor and working families.”

Louise Weissman is the Director of Operations at the Law Center. Louise oversees finance, human resources, and administration.  She has over 30 years’ experience in operations and event planning for membership-based, policy and advocacy organizations. Over a 23-year period, Louise consulted with a host of organizations, including AARP Foundation, the Optical Society of America, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), and USAction. Prior to joining the Law Center, Louise served as SEIU International President, Andy Stern’s scheduler and as Administrative Director of the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.

Louise sits on the Board of Directors at Common Good City Farm, an urban farm and education center in Washington, DC.  She holds a B.A. in Education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.