Pro Bono Manager & Intake Attorney
Ashleigh Backman is CVLC’s Pro Bono Manager and Intake Attorney. Prior to joining CVLC, she worked as a legal aid attorney and Pro Bono Attorney Manager for Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc., where she managed four pro bono programs, private bar engagement, and community-based outreach and advocacy. As a legal aid attorney, Ashleigh represented low-income individuals seeking pardon assistance in order to overcome barriers relating to affordable housing and employment. Ashleigh is a Connecticut Bar Foundation James W. Cooper Fellow. Ashleigh graduated from Bryn Mawr College and the University of New Hampshire School of Law, where she was a Doris Monroe Rappe Scholar and a Franklin Pierce Public Interest Scholar. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut.
Liam comes to CVLC from New Haven Legal Assistance Association, where he worked in the Community and Economic Development Unit. Prior to joining New Haven Legal Assistance, Liam worked for the U.S. Department of Justice where he served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Division's Fraud Section, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Financial Fraud and Public Corruption unit in Connecticut, and the director of the Federal Public Corruption Task Force in Connecticut. Liam has also been a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and serves on the Board of Junta for Progressive Action.
Director of Development
Peggy Britt joined CVLC as Director of Development in May 2018. Prior to joining the CVLC team, Peggy served as Executive Director of Women & Family Life Center in Guilford, CT for seven years. Peggy brings with her more than 30 years experience growing nonprofit organizations. Peggy has worked in many topical areas, including youth, the environment, access to the arts, and serving at-risk community members. The common theme throughout her career continues to be creating a committed constituency focused on addressing a pressing community need and growing the organizations that respond to those needs. She is honored to be able to serve CT's veterans.
Singer Fellow, Staff Attorney
Chelsea Donaldson is a Singer Fellow with CVLC, representing post-9/11 survivors of military sexual trauma. Passionate about access to justice and trauma-informed practice, Chelsea has chosen to dedicate her life to serving the community that requires legal aid the most: low-income folks struggling with mental illness and trauma. Throughout her graduate career, Chelsea has worked for organizations such as the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and AmeriCorps. In addition to her dual-degree program, Chelsea is a published member of the Western New England Law Review, and the former President of the WNEU National Lawyers Guild. Chelsea received her J.D. from Western New England University School of Law and her M.S.W. from Springfield College. She is admitted to practice law in Connecticut. It is her highest honor and privilege to be able to work with MST survivors at CVLC in obtaining access to healthcare, treatment, and justice.
Howard R. Udell Staff Attorney
Sharon Fialkovich is CVLC’s Howard R. Udell Fellow in Veterans Justice representing veterans in the Hartford area. Prior to joining CVLC, she worked as an Agency Attorney for the City of New York Department of Social Services. Before her time at DSS, she worked as a Staff Attorney at Womankind (former New York Asian Women’s Center), where she headed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Project and assisted trafficking and domestic violence victims seeking immigration remedies. Sharon received her J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law and her B.A. from the State University of New York Binghamton. She is admitted to practice law in Connecticut and New York.
A graduate of George Washington University National Law Center, Christy has an impressive resume in public interest law. Her previous experience includes working as Director of George Washington University’s Consumer HELP Bankruptcy Clinic, the Managing Attorney at Valley Legal Assistance, and the Deputy Director at New Haven Legal Assistance. Christy has also worked as a Visiting Clinical Instructor at Yale Law School and served on the Board of Directors at the Columbus House and Washington Council of Lawyers.
Cindy Johnson has worked at Connecticut Veterans Legal Center since 2011. Prior to pursuing her dream to become a public interest lawyer, she had a 25-year career in Software Development. She is a graduate of University of Connecticut School of Law. While finishing her law degree, she interned with CVLC and could not bear to work anywhere else. She is admitted to the Connecticut State Bar and is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA). She is the Chair for the Veterans and Military Affairs Section of the CBA and she teaches a Veterans Benefit Clinic at UCONN Law.
Nicola Kelsey is a paralegal at Connecticut Veterans Legal Center. Nikki comes to us with a diverse legal background. Prior to this position, Nikki worked at the U.S. District Court clerk’s office as the Operations Supervisor in the Hartford division, and previously as a case administrator in the New Haven division. Before her time at the Court she worked for almost ten years as a paralegal at Wiggin and Dana LLP in New Haven and she worked over six years as a legal assistant for the Subway franchisor in Milford, CT. Nikki is a graduate of Wellesley College with a B.A. in history.
Director of Discharge Upgrade Practice
Margaret Kuzma is the Director of CVLC’s military records corrections team (commonly referred to as “discharge upgrades”). Prior to CVLC, she worked as a Skadden Fellow at the Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago, Illinois where she served low-income veterans and military families. Before deciding to become a public interest attorney, Margaret worked as the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for Fort Benning and USAG Baumholder. Margaret received her J.D. from DePaul University, College of Law and her B.A. from Brown University. She is admitted to practice law in Connecticut and Illinois.
Darren works as a staff attorney for Connecticut Veterans Legal Center. He has focused his career on helping the less fortunate, motivating him to become a public interest attorney. Prior to this position, he was running a small practice focused on “low bono” representation. He graduated from Quinnipiac University School of Law, has a Master’s in Education from Hofstra University, and a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of the Holy Cross. He is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.
Development and Communications Coordinator
Kharl works as the Development and Communications Coordinator. Before joining the team, she led public interest campaigns around higher education affordability and youth voter engagement focused on grassroots organizing and policy action with ConnPIRG Students. She is passionate about storytelling, community engagement, and public service. Kharl recently graduated with a B.A. in Economics and Human Rights from the University of Connecticut.
Jessica Subocz first came to CVLC as a volunteer and now works as a part-time administrative assistant whose myriad duties include providing support to the development department. Jessica cut her proverbial teeth when she was just fourteen years old working for her father’s direct mail company, a role that would groom her for the multifaceted demands of her position in the non-profit world. In addition to working at CVLC, Jessica continues her work as a mentor to individuals with intellectual disabilities, which was her primary vocation before joining CVLC as a regular staff member.
Jessica recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in English and plans to go on to graduate school.
Staff Attorney for Discharge Upgrades and Policy Counsel
Millie VandenBroek returns to CVLC as a staff attorney on the Discharge Upgrade Team. She served previously as CVLC’s Howard R. Udell Fellow in Veterans Justice specializing in VA benefits law. Millie has also taught in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School as a Visiting Clinical Lecturer. Prior to joining CVLC, she worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Baltimore City’s Mental Health Court and as a litigator in the private sector. Millie holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Rasheeda Woods is the Intake Paralegal at CVLC. Rasheeda comes to us with a diverse background as a Paralegal who in the past has worked with the West Haven Vet Center as an intern to help Veteran's obtain a well deserved Military Discharge Upgrade. Rasheeda received her Paralegal certificate from Branford Hall Career Institute, and also attended the University of New Haven, studying Forensic Psychology and Investigative Services. Before joining the staff, Rasheeda worked as a case manager in the mental health field. She helped a variety of individuals reintegrate back into society after their struggles with mental health and our criminal justice system with the hopes of raising awareness of the stigma that exists around mental health treatment.