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 Sullivan & Cromwell, 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, public policy and homelessness and is frequently quoted in the print and electronic media. She serves on the Board of Advisers of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and is Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School.

Maria is a 1977 graduate of Barnard College and a 1981 graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was Notes and Comments editor of the Law Review. She also holds a M.A. in philosophy. After graduating from law school, she clerked for the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Maria is proud to be the recipient of the 2016 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize.

Maggie Ardiente
Director of Development & Communications

“As one of seven children of working-class immigrant parents, I understand the barriers families face when they lack affordable housing and access to quality education. The Law Center addresses the root problems that lead to homelessness and poverty and seeks to create impactful, lasting change. I'm proud to work with a dynamic team to raise awareness of the Law Center’s vital work so that homeless individuals and families know they have a champion for their rights.”
Maggie Ardiente is the Director of Development and Communications for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, where she leads the organization’s fundraising efforts through annual and major gifts, special events, corporate and law firm giving, and foundation relations. She also manages the organization’s public and media relations and online presence. 
Maggie previously worked for twelve years as the director of development and communications at the American Humanist Association and the senior editor of its online news site, She appeared on or has been quoted in Fox News, NPR, The Washington PostThe Huffington Post, and other local and national media. She’s also served on the board of directors of the Secular Student Alliance and the Humanist Institute.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Maggie graduated with a B.S. in sociology from James Madison University and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. 

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 combating the criminalization of homelessness and advocating for laws that protect the civil and human rights of homeless people. 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.

Janelle Fernandez
Law & Policy Program Coordinator

Vinceza Githens
Operations Manager

“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 Coordinator 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 with legislative and administrative advocacy, and serves as a liaison for the Law Center with partner organizations, advocates, and legislative and agency staff. She also manages the Law Center's internship and fellowship program, provides support to the pro bono program, and 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 at Florida State University, where she received a B.S. with honors 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, working toward specific long-term solutions to alleviating the root causes of poverty, focusing on social equality and financial mobility.

"Homelessness affects entire communities, whether experienced firsthand or not.  Those struggling to live their lives without permanent, safe shelter are often ignored or dismissed by society in multiple ways.  I am happy to support a hardworking team dedicated to representing and advocating for individuals and families who need it most."

Vincenza Githens is the Operations Manager for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, handling administrative, human resources, and financial oversight responsibilities.  Vincenza brings nonprofit operational experience from organizations providing direct human services to those in need.  Originally from Norfolk, Virginia, Vincenza graduated with an A.A.S. in Accounting and a B.A. in International Relations.  She is a member of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance.

Janet Hostetler
Deputy Director


“We have the capacity to eradicate dire poverty and homelessness, as well as a legal and moral obligation to do so. Working together, we can reduce suffering and injustice, promote fairness and opportunity.”

As Deputy Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, Janet drives legal and policy strategies to end and prevent homelessness and to protect the rights of people experiencing homelessness. This includes work to end the criminalization of homelessness, protect the educational rights of children experiencing homelessness, and end homelessness through increased access to housing. Janet also oversees the Law Center's operations, including human resources, budget, and strategic planning.
Prior to joining the Law Center, Janet was Chief of Staff of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, where she coordinated major priorities for the 500+ person civil rights office. She developed communication and policy strategies, oversaw the implementation of new policies, and led many of FHEO’s efforts in strategic planning, process improvement, leadership development, and employee engagement. Before being appointed at HUD, Janet was the Francis D. Murnaghan Appellate Fellow working on a range of civil rights and poverty issues at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland and was the Voter Protection Director for the 2008 Obama Campaign in Nevada. After law school, Janet clerked for the Honorable Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York.
Janet earned a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law, where she served as an Articles Selection Editor for the NYU Review of Law & Social Change. She earned an M.A. in International Relations from the Australian National University as a Fulbright Scholar. Janet has a B.A. in Economics and Latin American Studies from Wellesley College, graduating summa cum laude.  Janet has lived in Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, and various parts of the United States.

LaTissia Mitchell
Executive & Development Specialist

Michael Santos 

“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 & Development Specialist, 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.

"I want to ensure that the interests of poor and homeless people are recognized and protected, especially those with more limited opportunities than I have had. We need to address the different forms of discrimination in our society by removing barriers and dismantling systemic forms of oppression through the lens of serving the needs of low-income, vulnerable, and underserved communities. We can end homelessness and poverty in the United States if we start addressing the causes and not just the symptoms of it."

Michael Santos is an attorney at the Law Center whose work focuses on advocating for homeless youth access to education through public education, impact litigation, and policy advocacy.

Prior to joining the Law Center, Michael Santos has had a long history of working on the rights of low-income and underrepresented communities through the Department of Health and Human Services and various non-profit organizations. Most recently, he was a fellow at the Clinton Foundation where he worked on an initiative to decrease the upward trend of childhood obesity in the United States.

Michael graduated from Brown University with a double concentration in Biomedical Engineering and Ethnic Studies. He received his JD from University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

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.

Amirio Freeman
Emerson National Hunger Fellow

"Throughout my childhood, I listened to my father tell stories of his experiences growing up low-income and without adequate housing. Across the U.S., millions of individuals have stories and experiences that parallel those of my father. At the Law Center, bold, effective steps are being taken to rewrite America’s story of homelessness, creating a country where all have access to safe, affordable, and stable housing. Throughout my time as a fellow, I’m excited to be a part of the Law Center’s re-narration process."

Amirio is a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow for the Law Center, preparing a report that will document the recent nationwide trend of private citizens starting vigilante groups to target people experiencing homelessness through intimidation and violence. Prior to his placement at the Law Center, Amirio worked for Martha’s Table, where he created a guide for integrating “transformative community engagement” and assisted with the organization’s food access and community outreach and engagement efforts.

Amirio graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in Public Policy and a minor in Africana Studies. As an undergraduate student, Amirio worked as the Student Assistant for the university’s Africana Studies program, served on William & Mary’s Committee on Sustainability to make on-campus sustainability efforts more diverse and inclusive, and published an academic article in Public Opinion Quarterly (on Americans’ changing perceptions of poverty, the poor, and public assistance) as a Research Assistant in the university’s Public Policy program. Amirio also interned with the Elizabeth River Project, educating the Virginia Tidewater community about available measures that can be adopted to improve the quality of Virginia’s waterways. Amirio comes to the Law Center with a passion for galvanizing marginalized persons to make the societal changes they want to see, especially within the realms of racial equity and food systems.

AmeriCorps VISTAs
Lisa DeBone
Development & Communications VISTA

“There are so many unsolvable problems in our world, but there are very attainable methods for ensuring everyone has a safe and secure home. Having a place to live provides the foundation to address so many other issues. Growing up, my dad always used to tell my siblings and me, ‘We win as a team, we lose as a team.’  I want to be part of the sustainable solution to end homelessness because when we all have access to upward mobility, we can all win as a team.”

Lisa serves as the Development and Communications AmeriCorps VISTA at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Prior to joining the Law Center, Lisa served a year with AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA aiding in disaster planning, response, and recovery. While serving in FEMA Corps Lisa contributed to long-term, sustainable recovery planning at FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Also during her term of service, Lisa responded to disasters in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Florida as part of FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance cadre.

Before joining AmeriCorps, Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in her home state of Michigan. During her time at GVSU, she served as the Vice President of Chapter Development for the GVSU chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Through her involvement with PRSSA and internships with PR agencies Lisa was able to advance her abilities in development and communications. Lisa looks forward to furthering the mission of the Law Center by promoting awareness of solutions to homelessness and building organizational capacity.

Sara Kang
Networks VISTA

“I grew up witnessing my mom’s daily struggle to feed and shelter our family. Too many families live in financial insecurity and too many children grow up with limited resources and opportunities. As an aspiring policy maker, I want to work to provide voices for the voiceless and to use the privilege that I have for good.”

Sara Yae Jin Kang serves as the Law Center’s Networks VISTA, developing the Law Center’s network and building organizational capacity, focusing on the Law Center’s Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign. She works to increase the scale of the Law Center’s partnerships as well as its effectiveness by providing advocates with critical data and information.
Before coming to the Law Center, Sara graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BA in Political Science and studied history and politics in Prague at Charles University. She was a legislative intern for Washington State Senators Carlyle and Cleveland and a fellow at the Slade Gorton International Policy Center. 

Darrell Stanley
Database VISTA

“Homelessness is a problem that impacts too many people in this country. I am fortunate to be at a place in my life where I have the ability to focus on trying to make a positive impact on the world. I am so grateful to the Law Center for giving me the opportunity to dedicate myself to such a worthy cause. I look forward to my year of service and hope to make a contribution to the Law Center’s efforts and to grow personally.”

Darrell Stanley is the Database AmeriCorp VISTA at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. He maintains the Law Center’s litigation history, program activity, and news tracking databases, and works with staff to produce data analysis/visualization products. These are used to support the Law Center’s various law & policy activities including the Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign.

Darrell worked for 13 years as a geophysicist at an energy company before he decided to transition to working in the non-profit sector.  He has done volunteer work in the U.S., Peru, and Ecuador. He recently completed a year of service through the AmeriCorp VISTA program at a meals on wheels organization called Kids’ Meals in Houston, TX.

He has a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.S. from Purdue University, and a B.S. from Montclair State University. Darrell has lived in various parts of the U.S., Scotland, and Norway.