Our Leadership

Senior Staff
Kurt M. Denk

Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center kdenk@nycbar.org

Kurt M. Denk has served as Executive Director of the City Bar Justice Center since March 2021, having joined the organization as Pro Bono Counsel in 2018. A division of the City Bar Fund – the nonprofit philanthropic affiliate of the New York City Bar Association – the Justice Center expands access to justice by providing high-quality, free civil legal services to New Yorkers who struggle with poverty and other forms of social and economic vulnerability. Kurt leads a staff of 30 professionals who annually assist roughly 25,000 clients through the Justice Center’s dozen civil legal services projects targeting unmet or emerging needs often not covered by other providers. The Justice Center also trains, mentors, and matches over 1,000 pro bono attorneys annually with Justice Center clients in need, leveraging over $15 million of free legal services each year thanks to the Justice Center’s expansive pro bono partner network.

As the Justice Center’s Pro Bono Counsel from 2018-2021, Kurt built and strengthened relationships with law firms, in-house legal departments, solo lawyers, students and other stakeholders to support and staff pro bono cases and initiatives from the Justice Center’s dozen civil legal services projects. He also worked with Justice Center colleagues and community partners to develop innovative interdisciplinary legal services programming to advance racial equity and access to justice, including the Justice Center’s robust COVID-19 response initiatives, and has developed and delivered Continuing Legal Education courses in a variety of areas, including in diversity, inclusion and the elimination of bias for pro bono attorneys.

Prior to joining the Justice Center, Kurt practiced general civil and complex commercial litigation at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, where he maintained an active pro bono docket on behalf of diverse clients and causes, such as representing asylum seekers and public benefits recipients and co-drafting amicus briefs in support of marriage equality and other LGBTQ rights matters, including before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Kurt also has an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology, and a B.A. in History from Georgetown University. Following law school, Kurt clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and taught at Boston College Law School. Kurt also has taught at Fordham School of Law and Loyola University Maryland, and has worked in ministry and restorative justice programs at San Quentin State Prison in California.

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Libby Vazquez

Director of Legal Services lvazquez@nycbar.org

Libby Vazquez is the Director of Legal Services of the City Bar Justice Center. She programmatically coordinates the efforts of the Justice Center’s Project Directors to ensure the organization delivers high-quality pro bono legal services that meet grant deliverables and program benchmarks in a manner consistent with CBJC’s strategic plan and public interest law sector best practices.

Prior to her current role, Libby was the Director of the Legal Hotline and Special Programs for a number of years. Before joining the City Bar Justice Center, Libby was a staff attorney at Her Justice, an organization that provides legal services to women of limited income and resources in the areas of family, matrimonial and immigration law.

Before attending law school, Libby worked for a number of years at the Legal Aid Society’s Civil Harlem Neighborhood Office as a case-handler/paralegal. She is a 2002 graduate of the Fordham University School of Law, where she was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest.

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Cheryl Lopez

Director of Operations cheryllopez@nycbar.org

Cheryl Lopez is the Director of Operations of the City Bar Justice Center. Alongside organizational leadership, she is responsible for overseeing the efficient coordination of all operations functions supporting the Justice Center’s legal services delivery.

Cheryl is the Justice Center’s former Communications and Development Manager where she led all aspects of the departments’ functions to support organizational activities. She is a former member of the Justice Center’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, and currently serves as a member of the Management Steering Committee and chair of the Technology Committee.

Cheryl’s dynamic experience lies in public service and nonprofit management with a background in fundraising, media and communications, outreach, project management, tech, and administrative operations. Prior to joining the Justice Center, Cheryl occupied leadership roles in community spaces to facilitate essential programming and outreach focused on bringing intersectionality and equity to the forefront of service-delivery.

Cheryl holds a BA in Humanities & Justice with minors in Law and Anthropology and an MPA in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in Management and Operations from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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Project Directors

Akira Arroyo
Director of NELP | Advisor for Strategic Initiatives aarroyo@nycbar.org

Caitlin Miner-Le Grand
Deputy Director of the Immigrant Justice Project cminer-legrand@nycbar.org

Cassandra Celestin
Director of Pro Bono Initiatives ccelestin@nycbar.org

Jean Soo Park
Director of the Federal Pro Se Legal Assistance Project jpark@nycbar.org

Jennifer Kim
Director of the Immigrant Justice Project jkim@nycbar.org

K. Scott Kohanowski
Director of the Homeowner Stability and LGBT Advocacy Projects skohanowski@nycbar.org

Libby Vazquez
Director of the Legal Services | Director of Legal Hotline and PELP lvazquez@nycbar.org

Lisa Pearlstein
Director of the Legal Clinic for the Homeless lpearlstein@nycbar.org

Makedah Salmond
Director of the Veterans Assistance Project msalmond@nycbar.org

Ramona Morel
Director of the Consumer Bankruptcy Project | Advisor for DEI Initiatives rmorel@nycbar.org

Vivienne Duncan
Director of the Cancer Advocacy & Elderlaw Projects vduncan@nycbar.org

Administration

Cheryl Lopez
Communications & Development cheryllopez@nycbar.org

Kyla James
Operations and Program Associate kjames@nycbar.org

Leah Susman
Operations Assistant leahsusman@nycbar.org