Cathy Costanzo became the Center’s Executive Director in September 2011. She has worked in the mental disability law field since 1977 and has extensive experience in providing representation to institutionalized persons throughout the country and for litigating ADA/Olmstead cases. She is the former director of the Massachusetts PAIMI Project and the former chair of National Disability Rights Network’s Legal Committee. Ms. Costanzo is co-counsel in a number of class action cases in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Oregon and Ohio which seek to promote the integration and to expand the rights of persons with psychiatric and developmental disabilities.
Ms. Costanzo is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College with B.A. in Psychology and earned law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law.
Steven J. Schwartz
Steven J. Schwartz currently is the Center’s Legal Director, after founding the Center in 1976 and then serving as its Executive Director for 38 years. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1971, he represented thousands of people with disabilities over the past fifty years. He has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, successfully resolved a number of damage cases for institutionalized individuals with disabilities, and litigated dozens of class action cases that challenge the unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities in psychiatric hospitals, developmental disability institutions, nursing facilities, and juvenile justice settings. He has provided training and technical assistance to disability rights programs in more than 40 states, authored a number of law review articles, and served on the faculty of the Harvard and Western New England Law Schools.
Karen joined the Center in 2007 as a litigation paralegal. In addition to providing litigation support, she manages CPR’s IT and communications operations, and aides in general office and administrative support. Karen came to CPR after serving many years as a paralegal at a Connecticut law firm specializing in disability discrimination in the workplace. Prior to entering the legal field, she worked in the travel industry and in marketing at a southern Vermont ski resort. Karen holds degrees from Mount Ida College and UMass Amherst, and resides with her family in western Massachusetts.
Mona Igram is the Coordinator of the Racial Equity Initiative and a senior attorney with the Center for Public Representation. Mona has over 25 years of litigation experience in private practice and public defense, representing young people and families in the criminal and juvenile courts in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Prior to CPR, she worked at the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), where she was the Attorney in Charge of the Youth Advocacy Division office in Lowell and Lawrence, Massachusetts. While at CPCS, Mona was active in several racial justice initiatives. She was the co-chair of the National Association of Public Defenders Racial Justice Litigation Committee and the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Racial Justice Committee. She co-founded and chaired Juvenile Defenders Dismantling Racism at the Youth Advocacy Division. She was a member of the class of 2020 Ambassadors for Racial Justice, a program of the Georgetown Juvenile Justice Center and the Gault Center. Mona serves as a board member of Elevated Thought, an art and social justice organization in Lawrence, Ma. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law.
Jennifer Kaplan joined the Center as a senior attorney in 2020 after ten years in the federal courts. She clerked for three federal judges, including serving as chief of staff to the Honorable Michael A. Ponsor, United States District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts. Ms. Kaplan has served on the boards of Camp Howe, a 4-H camp in Goshen dedicated to providing a summer camp experience for all youth, and MotherWoman (now known as Women of Color Health Equity Collective), a nonprofit organization providing community-based perinatal support to mothers experiencing postpartum depression. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Juris Doctor from Western New England University School of Law.
Michael Kendrick is the Center’s Senior Advisor on Supported Decision-Making Initiatives. He has spent the last twenty years in international consulting and prior to that was the Assistant Commissioner for the Massachusetts Developmental Services Department, Director of the Institute for Leadership and Community Development and consultant to the International Initiative On Disability Leadership.
Aishea Lewis joined CPR in November of 2021 as its Office Manager/Legal Assistant. She completed her undergraduate degree at Xavier University of Louisiana and has studied at the American University in Cairo and La Universidad de Sevilla. Aishea, who is fluent in Spanish, has been a long-time advocate for children and families with disabilities and mental health issues. Her current duties at CPR include office operations, client intake and referral, and litigation support.
Mark Murphy is a Senior Attorney with the Center for Public Representation. He has represented people with disabilities and disability rights organizations in a wide range of legal matters for more than 35 years, including cases involving the right to integrated, community-based services and the enforcement of rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Fair Housing Act, and Title XIX (Medicaid).
Prior to joining CPR, Mr. Murphy was the Managing Attorney at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. He also has held senior positions in both the New York and Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy Systems, including serving as the Legal Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania and as the Executive Director of the Disabilities Law Project, based in Philadelphia. For several years he also worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he taught the Law of Disability Discrimination and Mental Health Law.
Mr. Murphy is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Kathryn Rucker, Senior Attorney/Director of Training and Technical Assistance, began her legal career with the Center in August of 1999. Ms. Rucker’s individual representation and system reform work focus on serving adults and children with serious mental illness, as well as individuals with Acquired Brain Injury. She is co-counsel in several of the Center’s class action lawsuits, advocating for the development and expansion of integrated community service systems. Ms. Rucker received her undergraduate education from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and went on to participate in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she volunteered in the domestic violence clinic and worked in co-op positions with Greater Boston Legal Services, the Department of Justice, and the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.
Lila joined CPR as the Director of Finance and Operations in November of 2021. She has been serving nonprofits for more than 20 years in a variety of capacities. Lila is passionate about social justice, kindness, and spreadsheets.
Kathy Walker is a senior attorney with the Center. Kathy has worked with people with disabilities throughout her career in various capacities, with a focus on community inclusion. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a JD/MPH from the University of Miami. Kathy has worked for The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability as a criminal justice fellow, for the Department of Justice as a trial attorney, and for Pisgah Legal Services as the Director of Medical Legal Partnerships. She serves on the board of Eleanor Health Foundation, participates in a steering committee for UNC”s MPH program in rural health, and volunteers regularly with an adaptive CrossFit class.
Morgan Whitlatch is the Center’s Director of Supported Decision Making (SDM) and works from our Washington DC location. Prior to joining CPR in October 2021, Morgan was the longtime legal director and attorney at Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities (QT), where she planned and implemented litigation, legal advocacy and systemic initiatives addressing issues such as legal capacity, decision-making, community integration, discrimination, and health care. While in DC, Morgan also led coalitions that secured the first in the nation educational SDM policy in DC Public Schools and made the District the fourth jurisdiction in the nation to recognize SDM Agreements in its state laws. In addition, she served as the Lead Project Director of the National Resource Center for SDM, an advocacy and education center that is dedicated to advancing less restrictive, community inclusive alternatives to guardianship and has been housed at QT since 2014.
Morgan, a graduate of Georgetown Law School and Wesleyan University, has published and contributed to numerous articles and national reports and presented hundreds of presentations and webinars, mainly on SDM within the context of life events addressing health care, education, transition-age youth, and older adults.