Susan B. Shulman

Executive Director

Susan has spent her career in public interest law, law firms and the business world. Most recently, Susan was General Counsel and Director of Operations for Metrist Partners. Prior to joining Metrist Partners, Susan was the Pro Bono Initiative Director at the Public Interest Law Initiative. In that role, Susan worked with lawyers at law firms and corporations to facilitate increased participation in pro bono legal work and to focus greater attention on the unmet legal needs of low-income individuals. Susan consulted with over 70 law firms and corporations on launching and reinvigorating their pro bono programs. She also succeeded in tapping previously untapped resources for pro bono work, including transactional attorneys and attorneys at corporations, and fostered the first pro bono partnerships between law firms and corporate legal departments in Chicago. Her efforts resulted in a 16% increase in pro bono work by law firm attorneys, and a 156% increase in pro bono work by attorneys at corporations.

Susan received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and is a graduate of Brandeis University with a B.A. in Economics.

Richard Hillsberg

General Counsel

Richard Hillsberg is Of Counsel at Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit and concentrates his practice in commercial litigation, mechanics lien foreclosures, bankruptcy, and insolvency solutions. Prior to settling in the Chicagoland area, Richard served as an Army Judge Advocate officer at 5th Army Headquarters, where among other duties he was a Military Judge and the 5th Army Legal Assistance Officer (1967-1971). Richard has been a partner with the law firm of Zissman and Hillsberg (1977-1983), a partner with the law firm of Tishler and Wald (1983-1995), and a principal of Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit (1995-2009). He also served as an interim trustee in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois (1980-1986). Richard earned a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from Georgetown University Law School. Richard has received an AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell; their highest peer rating for ethical standards and professional ability. He served for over five years on the Highland Park Lake Front Commission, including two years as its Chairman.

Nareen Kim

Director of Housing Law Practice

Nareen Kim has more than two decades of legal experience. She has extensive experience in all areas of housing law including private and subsidized eviction defense, housing choice voucher terminations, reasonable accommodations, conditions issues, and foreclosures. Throughout her career, Nareen has been a zealous advocate for those who are in need of justice but may not have access to it. Most recently, she was a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services where she represented low-income tenants who were being unlawfully evicted or at risk of losing their subsidies. Nareen also worked as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Chicago representing indigent clients in family law, housing, employment and consumer issues. Prior to her work in civil legal services, she was a criminal defense attorney at the Lake County Public Defender’s Office and the Evanston Community Defender Office.

She received her J.D. from Northwestern University and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Lia Kim-Yi

Director of Immigration Law Practice

Lia Hyunji Kim-Yi is an attorney who has practiced immigration and nationality litigation for almost 10 years at the Law Offices of Cheng, Cho and Yee in Chicago, Illinois. She has successfully represented clients before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Northern District Court of Illinois. In addition, Lia has argued before a panel at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She is an active member of the Korean American Bar Association, serving as President, and previously as Secretary from 2010 to 2012 and Treasurer from 2014 to 2016. Also, Lia is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and regularly volunteers at the HANA Center Pro Bono Legal Clinic.

Lia received her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School and her B.S. in Political Science from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Rebecca Weininger

Director of Domestic Violence Law Practice

Rebecca has been a litigator in federal and state trial and appellate courts for almost 20 years. She has represented survivors of domestic violence including undocumented immigrants and political asylum seekers from Central America. Rebecca has also served as a law clerk for the Honorable Robert L. Eastaugh of the Alaskan Supreme Court. She is active in the local and greater community and is the Chair of the Education Subcommittee for the Anti-Defamation League and sits on a several of committees for North Shore School District 112 and her synagogue.

Rebecca graduated cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law and is a graduate of Vassar College with a B.A. in English and Hispanic Studies.

Jack Ahern

AmeriCorps Vista, Legal Support and Pro Bono Coordinator

Jack is a first-time AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Member. He assists the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic with special projects, research, and general legal support. Jack has been pursuing nonprofit opportunities and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County since his graduation. Jack recently worked for the Great Books Summer Program.

AmeriCorps VISTA members build capacity in nonprofit organizations and public agencies to help them more effectively generate the commitment of private sector resources, encourage volunteer service at the local level, and empower individuals and communities. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full time for one-year terms.

Jack holds a B.A. in English with a minor in History from Kenyon College.

Diana Alvarez

Intake Specialist

Diana Alvarez is a bilingual Intake Specialist with extensive administrative experience. She has provided customer and operations support, including translating, to private companies throughout the northern and western suburbs of Chicago. Diana is a proud first-generation American. Diana is a member of the Society for Collegiate Leadership and Achievement (SCLA) and was a volunteer teacher assistant for ESL adults and teens at Santa Maria del Popolo Church in Mundelein, IL.

Diana received her Associate of Arts degree from the College of Lake County and expected to achieve her Paralegal Certificate from the College of Lake County in the spring of 2021. She resides with her two children in Lake County, IL.

Jan Baranczak

Director of Operations

Jan is a nonprofit professional with legal, financial, and customer service background. And a lot of luck… He was lucky to be born in a relatively well-off Poland at the time when 55% of the world’s population was living under $2 per day. He was also lucky to live in a place with easy access to higher education—Jan earned his bachelor’s degree at the time when only 6% of the world’s population completed college. He has lived on three continents—gaining cross-cultural experience from the developing and developed countries—and speaks three languages (English, Polish, and Italian). Jan’s responsibilities at the Clinic involve all aspects of nonprofit operations—from internal practice development, to process design and improvement, to external community collaboration and partnership management. Prior to joining the nonprofit world, he was a trader on financial markets. Jan is a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) of Chicago.

Jan holds a B.A. in Political Science from the School of Management and Banking in Poznań, Poland, and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from DePaul University—School of Public Service.

Jessica Becker

AmeriCorps VISTA, Education & Outreach Coordinator

Jessica Becker joined the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic as an intern and is currently a first-time AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Member. She supports the attorneys and staff with education and outreach projects.

Jessica Becker is a recent graduate of Tulane University where she graduated cum laude with a BA in Political Economy – Law, Economics, and Policy and minored in Jewish Studies and Environmental Earth Science. She was a legal volunteer at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender where she gained valuable hands-on experience assisting attorneys.

AmeriCorps VISTA members build capacity in nonprofit organizations and public agencies to help them more effectively generate the commitment of private sector resources, encourage volunteer service at the local level, and empower individuals and communities. AmeriCorps VISTA members serve full time for one-year terms.

Upon completion of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, Jessica will attend law school. She looks forward to positively impacting social justice and socio-political issues as an attorney.

Esteban Carbajal

Fully Accredited DOJ Representative

Esteban Carbajal is a fully accredited Department of Justice Representative and formerly the Immigration Program Director at HACES (Hispanic American Community Education and Services) in Waukegan, where he assisted individuals in obtaining legal permanent residence and U.S. citizenship. As the son of Mexican immigrants, Esteban has long been extremely passionate about immigrant rights and working to serve the needs of the immigrant community. In the spirit of pursuing these passions, Esteban first joined HACES as a volunteer citizenship instructor where he helped prepare naturalization applicants for their citizenship interviews. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, he would fulfill a life-long dream of working as an immigration advocate to help undocumented immigrants, which consequently propelled him to pursue a law degree in hopes of one day helping immigrants in a broader capacity. Esteban gained full accreditation in July of 2019, making him 1 of 17 DOJ’s in Illinois that can represent clients in immigration proceedings.

Esteban holds a B.A. in International Studies from Loyola University Chicago and is currently pursuing his Juris Doctor degree from John Marshall Law School.

Alicia De La Cruz

Director of Client Services

Alicia De La Cruz is a Mexican Immigrant with degrees in Marketing and Accounting. After working in the private sector for many years, Alicia transitioned to non-profit service, working for 12 years at Open Communities where she found her passion helping others and organizing tenants, homeowners and immigrant leaders to ensure they play an active role in the development decisions that affect them. Alicia has been an active volunteer with the Latino Leadership Project, the Highland Park-based social service agency Family Network and the Art Center of Highland Park. She is also a board member of the Community Advisory Committee for Highland Park Hospital. Alicia is the founder and coordinator of Working Together, a grassroots organization that supports the Latino families of Highwood and Highland Park with educational, cultural and recreational activities. In 2016, Alicia received the Highland Park Humanitarian Award, an award presented to outstanding Highland Park individuals who have rendered significant personal service to the community.

Sarah Dincin

Partially Accredited DOJ Representative

Sarah is a partially-accredited DOJ Representative and Immigration Practice Assistant. Sarah served as the president of Cornell University’s Association for International Human Rights, was co-president of the Cornell Prison Reform and Education Project and a tutor with Cornell Mentorship for Incarcerated Youth. Sarah is a former intern at the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and the Chicago Innocence Center. At the Clinic, Sarah works directly with clients offering immigration consultations and case assessments, ensures effective case management, conducts legal research, and drafts legal documents. She also provides support and assistance in our other areas of practice.

Sarah holds a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Law & Society, Social Inequality, American Studies, and Human Development.

Rachel Doherty

Immigration Law Practice Assistant

Rachel Doherty is a Part-time Immigration Assistant. A recent graduate of Northwestern University, she holds a BS in Political Science. Rachel is a Justice Fellow with Avodah working to address social and economic injustice. She was an Organizing Fellow with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, and an Executive Board Member of Zooz at Northwestern Hillel. Rachel also has work experience in the education and legal sectors.

At the Clinic, Rachel works directly with the Immigration Law Practice conducting legal research to support legal proceedings, communicating with clients, obtaining documents, and assisting with administrative and paralegal support work.

Ilana Forbes

Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Law Practice

Ilana is an attorney and mediator with experience in the legal community and not-for-profit sector. She has served as a volunteer mediator for self-represented litigants and a certified arbitrator in the 19th Judicial Circuit. Ilana is member of the Association of Attorney-Mediators, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and the Lake County Bar Association. She is active in the Barrington community, serving on the Parent Advisory Board of Little Angels Preschool, and the Executive Board of the North Barrington Elementary School PTO.

Ilana received her J.D. and Certificate in Family Law from DePaul University College of Law, a B.A. in Public Policy and Psychology from Duke University, and she earned a Certificate in Mediation Skills and a Certificate in Divorce Mediation from Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.

Matthew Guthrie

Staff Attorney, Domestic Violence Law Practice

Matthew Guthrie is an attorney who has practiced family law for 5 years as a Judge Advocate with the United States Marine Corps on Marine Recruit Depot Parris Island in Beaufort South Carolina. He has helped families to adopt children, settle child custody or child support issues, write and execute wills, and navigate the divorce process. He is an active member of the American Bar Association, often volunteering with cases or causes involving veterans of America’s military.

Matthew received his J.D. from St Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio Texas and his B.A. in History from the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas.

Jean Hahn

Immigration Law Staff Attorney

Jean is a staff attorney who regularly volunteers with our immigration practice group. She assists clients seeking various forms of immigration relief and benefits, including permanent residency, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, employment authorization, and immigrant visas. Prior to joining the Clinic, Jean was an employee benefits and compensation attorney, most recently in the Chicago office of Winston & Strawn. She is active in her community serving as a member of the Board of Education for New Trier Township High School District 203.

Jean received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Michelle Knipmeyer

Social Worker, Domestic Violence Law Practice

Michelle is a licensed social worker (LSW) with nearly a decade of experience working with children, adults, families, and groups. She is multilingual and has worked in a variety of settings with diverse clients, including both long-term and brief interventions.

A dedicated professional with strong organizational skills and advocacy skills, she has worked to enhance human well-being for individuals and families who are vulnerable and in need. Michelle worked in a variety of roles for University Settlement Society of New York, a social service institution that provides educational and social services to immigrants and low-income families. She was recognized by University Settlement’s Early Head Start Program with the 2019 Strengthening Our Social Fabric Award.

Michelle’s training is extensive and includes: Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI), Mandated Reporter, Mental Health First Aid, CPR/First Aid, Home Visiting Rating Scale Training for Supervisors and Staff (HOVRS), TraumaSmart, Supervisory Essentials for the Internally Promoted New Manager, and Bias, Equity and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. Michelle received her Master’s in Social Work with Distinction from DePaul University and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Alyssa Knobel

Director of Communication and Development

Alyssa is a seasoned marketing and communications professional. She began her career in advertising at McCann-Erickson New York and also worked at BBDO Chicago, before making the move to brand management and business development. For more than a decade she has guided client marketing, public relations, and strategic planning efforts and led various political campaigns. An active member of her local and greater community she serves on a broad range of civic and philanthropic boards and committees and began her work with the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic in 2015 as a volunteer. Elected to the Highland Park City Council in 2013 and reelected in 2017, she also served as the chair of the City of Highland Park Business and Economic Development Commission. The Highland Park Community Foundation honored Alyssa in 2018 with the Jack Blane Community Service Award. Jewish Council Youth Services (JCYS) named Alyssa as a Director for Life in May 2014.

Alyssa holds a BS in Communication from Boston University.

Joanne Lee

Marketing and Grant Coordinator

Joanne is a marketing and development professional specializing in grant writing. She joined the Clinic as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 2018. Prior to her time at the Clinic, Joanne worked in design research, brand image, and visual arts. She employs her creative background to develop thoughtful and innovative approaches working with Clinic partners and supporters.

As a native of the northern suburbs of Chicago, Joanne has long been committed to volunteerism, particularly serving local communities of color. Joanne is an active volunteer for KANWIN, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Erika’s Lighthouse.

Joanne holds a B. A. in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Crystal Ochoa

Staff Attorney, Housing Law Practice

Crystal Ochoa is a bilingual attorney with an interest and background in public interest law. Prior to joining the Clinic, Crystal was a law clerk at Potratz & Associates, P.C. As a law student, Crystal served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Thomas Lyons of the Cook County Circuit Court. She was also an extern at the Chicago Legal Clinic where she assisted with domestic violence and immigration cases. 

While in law school, Crystal was involved in various student organizations acting as Vice President for the Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, a group dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of immigrants. She also served as Outreach Director for Stand Up For Each Other! (SUFEO), a Chicago based organization that provides free information and services for K-12 students facing suspension, bullying, or exclusion from school.

Crystal received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago and her B.A. in International Studies from Loyola University Chicago.

Ken Willer

Staff Attorney, Immigration Law Practice

Kenneth Willer is a bilingual attorney with experience in immigration law at the Law Offices of Treumann, Goba & Podbelsek, P.C. in Deerfield, Illinois. He has successfully represented clients in both employment-based and family-based immigration cases. A Glenview native and resident of Niles, he deeply understands the communities served by the Clinic. Willer is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association.

Kenneth received his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law and his B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Special Thanks

A Special Thanks to Karla Livney and Causeography for providing our Staff photos.