Justine Rakich-Kelly, Executive Director
Justine Rakich-Kelly graduated from Western Connecticut State University, cum laude, with a BS in Justice and Law Administration and earned her law degree from University of Connecticut School of Law in 1991. She worked for a number of years in private practice focusing on family and juvenile law. She became a staff attorney and then a managing attorney of the family unit at Statewide Legal Services in 1998. In 2000, she accepted the position of Executive Director at The Children's Law Center of Connecticut and has been in that role since.As Executive Director, Attorney Rakich-Kelly has presented at numerous conferences including a joint conference of the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association in 2008, where she introduced the Families in Transition program and discussed the importance of a mental health perspective in the legal representation of children. Justine served on several Commissions and Committees, including a sub-committee on the Governor's Commission on Divorce, Custody, and Children in 2003; and the Governor's Commission on Judicial Reform in 2006. She currently serves as a 2016 Governor's appointee to the Statewide Advisory Council on Children and Families and also serves on the Standing Committee on Guardians Ad Litem and Attorneys for Minor Children in Family Matters. In 2013, she co-authored a comprehensively written chapter in the handbook A Practical Guide to Divorce in Connecticut entitled "Representing Children in Family Court Custody and Visitation Disputes" with CLC Deputy Director Randa Hojaiban. She is 2019’s recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award. Attorney Rakich-Kelly is married with three children, two step-children, and two grandchildren.
Margaret Bozek, Staff Attorney & Program Liaison
A graduate of Albertus Magnus College and UConn School of Law, Margaret has experience in all aspects of family law, including litigation, collaborative law, mediation, and the representation of children. Margaret volunteers as a Special Master for Hartford Superior Court, New Britain Superior Court and Regional High Conflict Custody Court. She also volunteers in the Advice Day Pilot Program in Hartford Superior Court and has volunteered as a mediator in CLC’s Families in Transition program. She is a member of the CCDG, CCCFLG, IACP, the Divorce Team of Connecticut, the Connecticut Bar Association, and was a co-chair of the Family Law Section of the Hartford County Bar Association.
David Coughlin, Staff Attorney
Attorney Coughlin graduated cum laude from Western New England School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and a recipient of the Public Interest Scholarship. During law school David interned at The Children’s Law Center. David represents children in New Britain Family court, supports the Children’s Law Line and is acting as a mediator in the FIT program. Attorney Coughlin also runs CLC's internship program.
Randa Hojaiban, Deputy Director
Attorney Hojaiban has been with Children's Law Center since 2001, first as an intern, then as staff attorney. She completed her undergraduate studies at Fordham University and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law. She also earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work, which she applies in developing outcome measurement tools for CLC as well as in the course of her legal duties. As Deputy Director, Attorney Hojaiban is responsible for case management, staff oversight and implementing outcome measures for the organization. Additionally, she carries a partial caseload in New Britain Family Court, acts as a mediator in the Families in Transition program and supports the Children’s Law Line. She is admitted to practice law in both Connecticut and New York.
Victoria Hotham, Professional Assistant
Victoria is a graduate of the University of Connecticut where she received a BA in Sociology and a minor in Crime & Justice. She started her experience with the law center as an intern where her true aspiration to someday attend law school began. Prior to starting at CLC, Victoria worked as an administrative assistant with the UConn Undergraduate Admissions Office. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with friends and family. She currently resides in Northeast Connecticut where she was born and raised. She has two dogs - a Papillon named Bud and a Chihuahua named Tito.
Nilda Negron-Torres, Staff Attorney
Attorney Nilda Negron-Torres graduated from Wesleyan University with honors, with a BA from the College of Social Studies (an interrelated major in politics, economics, history and philosophy). She has been practicing law for over 25 years, earning her law degree from University of Connecticut School of Law. Prior to joining The Children’s LAW Center, Attorney Negron had her own general practice and worked primarily with the Office of Public Defenders in the Child Protection Unit and Probate Court in the children’s unit advocating for the rights of children and indigent parents. Attorney Negron has experience in aspects of Probate, Bankruptcy, Real Estate and Family Law. She is excited to join The Children’s LAW Center and continue advocating for the rights of children in the family court. In her spare time, Attorney Negron enjoys quality time with her daughter and extended family, and also hiking, traveling and reading a good book.
Alex Puzone, Staff Attorney
Attorney Puzone is a 2021 graduate of Quinnipiac University’s School of Law, where he graduated with honors concentrating in Family Law. Prior to law school, he earned a B.S. in Economics at Roger Williams University. Alex first discovered CLC during his Children and Social Science class in his final semester of Law school. Outside of CLC, he likes to hike, play guitar and sing, and play basketball with his brother and sisters.
Aisha Roche, Staff Attorney
Attorney Roche is our Spanish speaking Staff Attorney. She handles New Haven Family Court cases, supports the Law Line and acts as a mediator in the Families in Transition program. She completed her undergraduate studies at Goucher College and is a graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law. Attorney Roche graduated with an honors concentration certificate in Family and Juvenile Law and is admitted to practice in both Connecticut and New York.
Monique Ryan, Staff Attorney
Attorney Ryan is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut. She is an experienced family law attorney and has practiced at various private firms. Attorney Ryan is a returning staff attorney, having previously been a member of the CLC staff covering the Rockville and Putnam courts. She resides in a small town in Connecticut with her husband and children and is also a professor at Sacred Heart University.
Deb Shulansky, Director of Development
Deb is a graduate of Suffolk University School of Law and a graduate of the University of Rochester, cum laude. Prior to joining CLC, Deb served as Director of Community Outreach and Support at the Brain Injury Alliance of CT. She taught elementary school art at Renbrook School and has worked as a legal consultant to Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities and as an Administrative Attorney with the Department of Banking. In her spare time, Deb can be found playing with clay at her pottery studio.
Nicole Silva, Staff Social Worker
Nicole Silva is a graduate of Springfield College, where she earned a master’s degree in Social Work. She has her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Communication from Keene State College. Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W) in the State of Connecticut. Previously Nicole has worked at the Wheeler Clinic’s Extended Day Treatment Program (EDT) and also in their Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Service Unit (EMPS). Nicole spent several years working at High Road School in Wallingford as a School Social Worker for children with emotional disturbance and intellectual disabilities. Nicole was also a School Social worker in the Manchester Public School district where she was an integral part of maintaining a school based clinic partnership with the Manchester Community Child Guidance Clinic. Nicole believes collaboration with community services is an important factor in working and servicing families. Nicole loves the outdoors and when she is not working she can be found out on the numerous trails in CT, reading a book for her book club or spending time with her family.
Photo Credit: Mark Tegtmeier Photography @marktegtmeierphotography