Leslie F. Levy
Leslie has been an adjunct professor at both the University of San Francisco School of Law and New College of the Law, and speaks at numerous legal conferences. She has authored articles, contributed chapters to legal reference books and practice manuals, and drafted California civil rights legislation. She is the recipient of the Hastings College of Law’s Clara Foltz Award for distinguished service to women. She is a graduate of Hastings College of the Law, and has a Philosophy degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
Leslie has volunteered for years at the Marine Mammal Center and the Gulf of the Farallons Marine National Sanctuary. An avid environmentalist and lover of the outdoors, she also enjoys kayaking and birdwatching.
Heather Melton is a Deputy District Attorney with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’ Office, where she works in the Violent Felonies Unit. Previously, Heather Melton worked at the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, where she served on the felony and misdemeanor trial teams for three years. Prior joining the District Attorney’s Office, she was a Law Clerk to the Honorable Gregory K. Frizzell, the Chief Judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma. She also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Economic Crimes and Securities Fraud Section of the Northern District of California’s United States Attorney’s Office for approximately two and a half years. Before joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Heather Melton was an Assistant Regional Counsel with the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel for approximately two and a half years. She attended UCLA, where she received her bachelor’s degree in History, with summa cum laude honors in 2004. She received her J.D. from UC Davis in 2008, and received Witkin Awards for academic excellence in Professional Responsibility, Negotiations, and Labor Law. Prior to her career in the law, Heather Melton was a florist. She remains an avid gardner and enjoys spending time outdoors with her rescue pup Tille, a beagle/bulldog mix.
J. Sterling Elmore
Sterling Elmore is an associate at Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP in Oakland, CA, where she focuses on student services and special education work for public school districts. Previously, she was an associate in a boutique firm in Walnut Creek, where her practice included education, civil rights, employment, and administrative law. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law and also holds a B.A. with Distinction in Government and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. Sterling is currently on the Board of Directors of Community Violence Solutions, a non-profit combatting sexual assault and human trafficking in the Bay Area. She also serves as the WLAC Affiliate Representative on the California Women Lawyers Board of Governors.
The Honorable Barbara Dickinson
Judge Dickinson has expertise in alternative dispute resolution, the juvenile justice system, and collaborative courts which treat mentally ill juvenile offenders. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University and is the proud mother of two children who attend Oakland public schools.
Sharon Alkire is a family law practitioner at the Law Office of Sharon Alkire, handling dissolution, termination of domestic partnerships, annulment, custody and visitation, child and spousal support, parentage, and division of property. Ms. Alkire received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law and was admitted to the California State Bar Association in 2012.
Her eclectic background gives her a unique perspective in Family Law, working with clients to develop creative solutions to complex problems. A Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Statistics minor, coupled with years working as a zookeeper at the Oakland Zoo have enabled her to build a practice founded on empathy, critical thought and fierce advocacy.
Ms. Alkire has strong roots in the Bay Area and works to promote the initiative, creativity, and diversity of her communities by proudly sitting on the WLAC Board of Directors and establishing the first Queen’s Bench Bar Association Diversity Committee. “Equality is the ability to fulfill one’s own potential without the oppressive yoke of becoming ‘alike,’ rather than being seen as equal only when one mirrors the dominant culture,” she says. This ideal forms the basis of Ms. Alkire’s work as an attorney and a person.
Lacey Bangle is a Senior Associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in its White Collar, Investigations, Securities Litigation & Compliance group. Lacey helps companies and individuals navigate a range of civil and criminal matters, including government investigations, internal investigations, shareholder disputes, securities litigation, and a variety of complex civil litigation.
Lacey has an active pro bono practice that has included briefing and arguing an appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, first-chair representation of clients at administrative hearings, advising non-profit clients on compliance matters, and assisting a woman serving a life sentence in gaining parole after 34 years in prison.
Lacey serves on the steering committee for the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association’s White Collar Committee (NDCA) and is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law.
Amy E. Blair
Amy Blair is currently employed at Haapala, Thompson, and Abern LLP as an associate trial attorney working in civil litigation. She graduated from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in 2009. She worked as a Certified Legal Intern for the Dickinson Family Law Clinic, representing indigent women in divorce and custody proceedings. Thereafter, she worked as a Law Clerk for the Sussex County Family Court in Delaware researching and writing opinions regarding divorce, custody, adoption, juvenile dependency, and juvenile justice. She later worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Pennsylvania where she frequently represented the State’s interest in prosecuting violations of Protection from Abuse Orders (the equivalent of California’s TRO). In her time as a member of the WLAC board she hopes to advance women’s issues in the workplace and foster the community of men and women who support gender equality.
Helen Hoeffel is an appellate attorney with a solo practice in Oakland. She handles indigent criminal appeals as a court-appointed panel attorney for the First District Appellate Project and the California Appellate Project. Helen also works on civil appeals. For the first fifteen years of her practice, Helen litigated cases in the areas of real estate title, employment, torts, and business. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a French major and business minor. She earned her Juris Doctor from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.
Helen volunteers for Alameda County’s Lawyers in the Library program, providing free consultations and referrals to community members. She enjoys hiking with her family in Redwood Regional Park, and playing soccer.
Crystal Cole Matson
Crystal Matson serves as a transactional attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (“BART”). She handles a myriad of contracts for BART including construction contracts, professional service agreements, and leases. In addition to drafting contracts, she provides guidance to BART’s Business Advisory Council and its Office of Civil Rights preventing discrimination in contracting and promoting small business utilization. Prior to joining BART, Crystal was the lead Staff Attorney for the Legal Services for Entrepreneurs program at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. She also served as a Legal Research Attorney for the San Francisco County Superior Court at the Hall of Justice. Crystal is the immediate past president of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone. She is a Spelman College alumna and received her J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. Crystal is married to George Matson Jr. and has two dogs, Xena and Chase.
Sonya Z. Mehta is a trial and appellate attorney with Siegel, Yee, Brunner & Mehta. She represents public and private sector labor unions, individual employees, consumers, students, and community organizations. Ms. Mehta is an experienced and committed advocate for workers’ and civil rights. She has won a six-figure jury verdict, favorable bench rulings, and significant settlements in whistleblower, discrimination, and other civil rights cases.
She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and received her law degree from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law. Before practicing law, Ms. Mehta was the Co-Executive Director of community and workers’ organization Young Workers United (YWU) in San Francisco. At YWU, she won the first paid sick leave law in the country through a 2006 San Francisco ballot initiative.
Maria Morga is a Senior Deputy State Public Defender with the Office of the State Public Defender where she litigates complex capital appeals. Maria has over 15 years experience in criminal matters as both a trial and appellate attorney. A graduate of Berkeley School of Law, Maria began her legal career at Sonnenschein Nath and Rosenthal and later moved to become a Deputy Public Defender with the San Francisco City and County Office of the Public Defender. Maria is also a current board member of CACJ (California Attorneys for Criminal Justice), a member of California Women Lawyers and the Alameda County Bar Association. Maria is fluent in Spanish.
Kristin Smith practices employment law with Burnham Brown in Oakland. For 12 years she has handled employment matters from wage and hour cases to discrimination and wrongful termination. She litigates state, federal, and administrative employment actions. She also manages non-litigation transactions and alternative dispute resolution proceedings and advises clients on day-to-day human resource issues, compliance and policy updates, and conducts employee trainings. She graduated from UCLA with a double major in Business Economics and African American Studies and a minor in Accounting and she earned her Juris Doctor from UC Hastings College of the Law.
Kristin enjoys working with professional and community organizations and exercising her creative side. She chairs both the California Minority Counsel Program’s Ambassadors Council and the School Site Council for Franklin Elementary School and is the Kindergarten to College coordinator for Franklin Elementary. She is also the Director of Oakland for the Max Rhymes Foundation and works with girls in Girl Scout Troop #32293 in Oakland. She also owns a local catering company, A Taste of Paradise Catering, with her twin sister and enjoys cooking and baking with and for the community and her friends and family.
Mai Linh Spencer
Mai Linh Spencer is an Associate Clinical Professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, where she teaches the Individual Representation Clinic, Evidence, and Essential Lawyering Skills. She is also the Academic Director of the Lawyers for America Fellowship program.
Linh was a Women and Gender Studies major at Amherst College and worked for four years as an advocate at a battered women’s shelter and rape crisis line before attending New York University School of Law. She began her legal career as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, prosecuting federal criminal civil rights violations, including excessive force, racial violence, and trafficking cases. She then moved to the Bay Area and represented capital and non-capital defendants on direct appeal and habeas as a Deputy State Public Defender, before entering clinical teaching.