President & CEO
Prior to taking the helm at Bet Tzedek, Kornberg distinguished herself as a trial attorney at Los Angeles-based litigation boutique Bird Marella. Among her achievements there, she lead the trial team that prevailed in one of the 10 largest intellectual property verdicts of 2013, served as pro bono counsel in ground-breaking inmate-safety litigation on behalf of the inmates of the Angola death-row facility in Baton Rouge, La, and chaired the firm’s pro bono program.
Prior to joining Bird Marella, Kornberg served as the first executive director of Ms. JD, which she established as a national voice on issues concerning women in the legal profession. Her leadership saw the organization grow its monthly online readership by ten-fold to more than 100,000. She sharply increased donations, while collaborating with women to expand organizational reach to 70 campuses in 35 markets.
Kornberg’s earliest exposure to impact litigation and strategic policy work—which intersect with two of Bet Tzedek’s core strengths—came while serving as a legal fellow with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now known as Legal Momentum). Other economic justice work included projects with the Los Angeles Community Action Network, Homes for the Homeless, and the Institute for Children and Poverty.
Following graduation from law school, Kornberg was a clerk to Chief Judge Jon P. McCalla of the U.S. District Court in Memphis, Tenn. She earned her juris doctor from the UCLA School of Law, where she was editor in chief of the Women’s Law Journal. Kornberg holds a bachelor’s degree in American history from Columbia College of Columbia University.
Kornberg is frequently sought as a speaker, panelist and commentator on matters of women in law, and has been recognized by The Recorder and Super Lawyers as a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” and “Rising Star,” respectively.
Kornberg and her spouse, attorney Aaron Lowenstein, reside in Los Angeles with their son, Asa.
Elissa Barrett, who serves as Bet Tzedek’s Vice President and General Counsel, returned to Bet Tzedek after serving as Executive Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA) and then as Chief of Regional Operations following the merger of PJA with Jewish Funds for Justice. She has appeared in and written for the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, The San Francisco J-Weekly, Zeek, and CNN. Elissa has served on the Leadership Council of the National Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and has led and appeared at panels for the American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference, the Pro Bono Institute, SmartGrowth America, National Council for Jewish Women, and J Street.
Before PJA, Ms. Barrett worked for Bet Tzedek, first Director of the Housing Conditions Project and then as the founding Director of Pro Bono Programs. It was in this latter position that Elissa helped design and launch Bet Tzedek’s Holocaust Survivors Justice Network.
Ms. Barrett is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Tufts University. She has worked internationally with the South African Human Rights Commission and with the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling in Jerusalem, and domestically with the law firms of Loeb & Loeb LLP and Stroock LLP.
Diego Cartagena has focused his legal career on addressing issues of access to justice. As a former Equal Justice Works Fellow and Teen Advocate with The Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice’s Teen LA project, Diego helped give low income teen mothers and fathers a voice in court by providing them with legal advocacy and outreach in the areas of family and immigration law. Diego then went on to serve as Pro Bono Director for The Alliance for Children’s Rights, while simultaneously serving as the agency’s Probate Legal Guardianship Program Director. Diego is a “Double Bruin,” having received his Bachelors of Arts Degree in American Literature and Culture from the University of California at Los Angeles and his Juris Doctorate from the University of California at Los Angeles’ School of Law, where he concentrated on Critical Race Studies.
Diego currently serves as a board member of the Legal Aid Association of California and OneJustice.
Jen Petrovich brings to Bet Tzedek a keen understanding of finance developed while working with a variety of businesses across a wide spectrum of industries, both in staff positions and working for clients through her own financial advisory consultancies. Most recently she was CFO for a specialty sports beverage company that began in a spare room of its founder’s home to become the third largest sports drink in the country within three years. Before that, she was the head of finance and operations in creative agencies that produced print advertising and trailers for feature films and television.
Petrovich’s skill set and approach to finance have been shaped by a career in entrepreneurial endeavors both in her own practice and with start-up and small business clients and employers; she hopes to imbue Bet Tzedek’s finance department with this same spirit and attitude.
Michelle Marie Kezirian supervises several practice areas, including Impact Litigation, Housing, Homeowner/Consumer Rights, Medical-Legal Partnerships, and Guardianships. Ms. Kezirian also teaches a course at UCLA School of Law entitled “The Intersection of Law, Health, and Public Policy.” She is a 2015 “Where Health Meets Justice” Fellow through the auspices of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership. Ms. Kezirian’s civic involvement includes serving as a board member of Tenants Together, a statewide tenants’ organization, and as a Vice President of the board of International Visitors Council of Los Angeles. She is also an active member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Ms. Kezirian received her B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of California, Davis (1992) and her J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law (1996). After graduation, she worked as an associate for Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May and Jackson & Abdalah. She has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law where she taught and coordinated the Honors Moot Court program. Prior to her position at Bet Tzedek, she was a Senior Staff Attorney at Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles.
Gus May graduated from Northeastern University Law School in 1991. He joined Bet Tzedek in 2001 and serves as the Directing Attorney of Bet Tzedek’s office in the mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles. Gus oversees the Employment Rights Project, Kinship Care Project and the Elderlaw/Conservatorship Clinic. His legal career has been devoted entirely to working in the public interest. Before joining Bet Tzedek, Mr. May was the Legal Director at Public Interest Investigations where he oversaw employment discrimination investigations for the Los Angeles City Office of Discrimination Investigations. Prior to that, he worked as the Litigation Director at the Center for Law in the Public Interest, as a Public Interest Fellow with a private public-interest oriented law firm, and as a law clerk for two federal district court judges, the Hon. Lawrence K. Karlton in the Eastern District of California, and the Hon. A. Howard Matz in the Central District of California.
Ms. Morris is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, and University of San Francisco School of Law.
Jerry Yu joined Bet Tzedek as the Director of Grants & Communications in 2013. His primary responsibilities are to manage Bet Tzedek’s relations with private and public funders, and to oversee communications for the organization.
Mr. Yu has a long history of community service, which includes non-profit management (executive director of the Korean American Coalition in Los Angeles); grant making (program officer at the Weingart Foundation in Los Angeles); and fundraising (Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations at the California State University, Fullerton).
Born in Korea and raised in Southern California, Mr. Yu earned his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley and studied public administration at Long Beach State University.
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