Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder - Management and Operations
P: (213) 542 - 1828
Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder - Litigation and Advocacy
P: (213) 489 - 4035
Janeen Steel earned her Juris Doctor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, where she received the UCLA La Raza Alumni Association Cesar Chavez Summer Fellowship to create the blueprint for her future – the Learning Rights Manual, an advocacy guide for families of students with disabilities. Janeen received an Echoing Green Fellowship, which allowed her to create the Learning Rights Project under the auspices of the Disability Rights Legal Center (at Loyola Law School), where she practiced for five years. In September 2005, she took the project independent and co-founded a new nonprofit, Learning Rights Law Center.
Janeen Steel was the founding Executive Director of Learning Rights Law Center from 2005-2012, overseeing and managing all aspects of the nonprofit, including supervision of attorneys, fundraising, marketing, finances and, board development as well as the direct representation of clients in federal civil rights actions and special education administrative hearings. Starting in 2012 she became the Co-Executive Director, where she oversees the organizations programs and supervises all aspects of Learning Right’s advocacy efforts, including supervising staff attorneys, directly representing clients, overseeing all programs and spearheading policy initiatives. Janeen makes time to teach others the importance of the rights of all children in the education system. She has been a Visiting Professor at some of California’s most prestigious law schools and regularly conducts workshops, trainings and seminars at community based organizations throughout Los Angeles County
Inés Kuperschmit co-founded Learning Rights Law Center together with Janeen Steel in 2005 and has recently been promoted from Deputy Director to Co-Executive Director for Management and Operations.. Previously, she was a staff attorney and Skadden Fellow at Public Counsel, where she represented youth in the juvenile justice and foster care system who suffer from mental health problems or developmental disabilities. Ines enjoys teaching as much as she does lawyering, having taught a graduate course at Antioch University and co-teaching the Education Law Clinic at UCLA School of Law. She also co-taught the USC Special Education Advocates Training Program (SEAT), which aims to increase and professionalize special education advocacy in California, and eventually nationwide.
Inés was born in Argentina and raised in Washington, D.C. She graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 2002 where she was in the Program for Public Interest Law and Policy (PILP). She received her bachelor of arts degree with high honors from the University of Virginia. Inés enjoys political activism, community development, and exploring Los Angeles with her three little boys.
Director, Advocacy for Children with Autism Program
P: (213) 542 - 1834
Director, Los Angeles Medical-Legal Collaborative for Education
P: (213) 489 - 4037
Kyra Clipper discovered her passion for special education law during law school. Before joining Learning Rights as a staff attorney, she worked as a law clerk for the Disability Rights Legal Center, the Pepperdine Special Education Advocacy Clinic and Learning Rights.
She is currently the Director of the Advocacy for Children with Autism Program. She earned her B.A. in English from USC and her law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her daughter.
Carol Jung is a dedicated advocate that comes to Learning Rights Law Center with over a decade of experience working with children and adults with special needs.
She began her work with this population as a project coordinator with the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles where she was able to gain knowledge and experience developing and implementing programs aimed at increasing access to needed services and supports for people with disabilities.
Carol continues this work as an attorney whose practice is focused primarily on representing students with disabilities and their families to obtain access to education. Carol received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School and a dual Masters’ in Social Work and Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
Director, TIGER Program
P: (213) 488 - 1829
Rodolfo came to Learning Rights with a range of experience in government and nonprofits. Before moving back home to California, Rodolfo was the Manager of a New York State office focused on working with immigrants and New Americans. In that capacity, he oversaw statewide funding of various immigration-related programs in New York. Previously, Rodolfo worked as the Executive Director of a community-based immigration nonprofit and as a Senior Program Associate at a national think tank doing national language access work and training police on the use of the U-visa (for victims of crime). Rodolfo began his legal career working as a Staff Attorney and Policy Analyst on a project that focused on immigrant students with special education needs.
Rodolfo has a B.A. from Stanford University; a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law; and a M.A. in bilingual/bicultural studies from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He is admitted to the New York State bar.
Director of Pro Bono and Brief Services
P: (213) 542 - 1825
Samantha Cochran has been dedicated to child advocacy since law school. Following her graduation from Harvard Law School in 2012, Samantha was a staff attorney and fellow at the Children’s Law Center of California, where she represented youth in the dependency system. Prior to joining Learning Rights, Samantha also worked in the private sector on a variety of civil rights and discrimination cases.
Samantha received her bachelor of arts degree from New York University where she graduated summa cum laude. During her time at Harvard Law School, she served on the board of the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender and participated in both the Child Advocacy Clinic and the Gender Violence & Title IX Clinic. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading and volunteering.
Part-Time Staff Attorney
Coordinator, Pro Bono and Brief Services
P: (213) 623 - 4794
Jessica Toth started working at Learning Rights as a law student and has been on staff since 2007. Jessica served as the Director of Pro Bono and Brief Services, managed the Los Angeles Medical-Legal Collaborative for Education (LAMCE) Program and she is currently working with us as a staff attorney to help us with our resource development and special education administrative hearing cases.
Jessica attended the University of Washington and Southwestern University School of Law. In her free time, Jessica enjoys spending time at home with her husband, son and daughter, cooking and baking, and being out in the beautiful Los Angeles weather.
Shortly after graduating from UCLA in 2006 with a degree in History and Chicano studies, Leticia Mejia started working at Learning Rights Law Center.
Leticia began as an Administrative Assistant. She then worked with Special Education Advocacy Training (SEAT) Project, in 2008 and is now an education advocate who works with parents during Learning Rights' Brief Legal Service Clinics.
In addition to her advocacy work she coordinates the intake process and conducts initial screenings.
P: (213) 542 - 1823
P: Ext. 315
Melissa Rios started working at Learning Rights Law Center in 2007 as a file clerk while concurrently attending UCLA. Double majoring in English Literature and Women’s Studies, Melissa wanted to use her writing skills and love of equality and enter the legal field.
During her last year at UCLA , she was placed to intern at various self-help centers in the Los Angeles state courthouses through an AmeriCorps program, JusticeCorps, which heightened her interest in the legal field. She received her paralegal certificate from UCLA extension and was promoted to paralegal within Learning Rights.
Melissa assists with all legal and manages administrative support at Learning Rights. She plans to attend law school in the near future.
Gabriela Garcia began to work at Learning Rights Law Center in May 2012. She was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she obtained her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration & Tourism at the University of Guadalajara.
A few years after moving to Los Angeles, she started attending the Downey TIGER parent Community Group to learn more on how to advocate for her son's rights within the special education system. There, she met Leticia Mejia, who later referred Gabriela to Learning Rights to work in the TIGER program, and she currently works as an administrative assistant and in-house translator for Learning Rights.
She would like to continue to work and grow in the nonprofit sector and promote the rights of children with special needs.
Legal File Clerk
P: (213) 542 - 7280
Coordinator, Outreach & TIGER Program
P: (213) 542 - 1829
Sergei Hasenecz has had many years experience as a legal file clerk in a variety of practices, including Intellectual Property, Workers Compensation, Construction Defect, Land Use, and more. Since coming to Learning Rights in May 2014, he finds himself relieved to be, for once, on the side of the angels.
Sergei’s free time is spent with his young son and, upon occasion, as a creative writer of unimportant works.
Cindy joined Learning Rights in January 2014 with a major in Graphic Design. Before joining Learning Rights she worked as a Parent Liaison/Coordinator in Charter Schools located in the inner cities of Los Angeles County. Where she was the catalyst for the parent volunteer program and facilitated parent workshops as well as executing a collection of fundraising efforts.
Cindy lead parents into an empowering phase of their children's education by providing them the tools to stand up and sound their voices for change. Cindy is a fitness enthusiast and is a certified Cycle Instructor in the Hawthorne, Whittier, Lakewood, and South Bay areas. Working at Learning Rights brings her great Pride.
P: (213) 542 - 7282
Azra Variscic joined Learning Rights Law Center as a Development Manager in March of 2014. In this capacity, she manages Annual Giving, Special Events and Institutional Giving programs. She has more than 10 years of fundraising, marketing, and development experience working in social services and nonprofit settings, combined with an extensive background in communications and special event management.
Prior to joining Learning Rights Law Center, Azra served as Associate Director of Development at Lamp Community, where she managed the Agency’s dynamic Annual Giving program. She also served as Community Development Manager for Step Up on Second, where she led the Agency’s communications and marketing efforts.
Azra attended California State University where she studied Communications Design and she enjoys spending her free time volunteering for various local and national nonprofits dedicated to human and animal rights issues.
Trainer, Beginning TIGER East LA & Interpreter
Cecilia is a former client of the Learning Rights Project at Western Law Center for Disability Rights (now Disability Rights Legal Center - DRLC).
Cecilia graduated from the Southern California School of Interpretation in 2004. From 2005 until 2009, she worked for DRLC's Education Advocacy Program as a Spanish interpreter, where her duties included assisting with intakes, attending IEP meetings and making telephone calls to facilitate attorney-client communication. She also translated the Fifth Edition of DRLC's Special Education Manual.In 2008,
Cecilia received training through the USC Special Education Advocacy Training Project (SEAT) taught by Janeen Steel and Ines Kuperschmit. Cecilia has worked with Learning Rights Law Center as a Spanish interpreter since the organization began in 2005. She has attended IEP meetings, parent meetings, workshops and translated the First Edition of Learning Rights' Special Education Toolkit.
Loyola Law School Public Interest Fellow
P: (213) 542 - 7284
Dean Conklin earned his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, where he was admitted into Loyola's Public Interest Scholar Program. Previously, Dean earned an M.A. in sociology from Cal State, Fullerton, and a B.A. from Emerson College.
While at Loyola, Dean was involved in a number of public and community service efforts, holding roles in Loyola's Public Interest Law Foundation, Student Bar Association, and the independent Los Angeles Public Interest Law Journal. He also served as a clinical law student within Loyola's Youth Justice Education Clinic. Upon graduating, Dean was awarded the Sande Buhai Public Interest Award, and the Board of Governors Alumni Association Award for his commitment to public service.
Finance and Office Manager
P: (213) 542 - 1830
Olga Samoilovskis has been a member of our Learning Rights Law Center since February 2015. She is currently the Finance and Office Manager and working mostly on accounting, human resources, and office duties.
Olga has graduated from Ural Federal University and earned her bachelor’s degree in Informational Systems and Computer Science. After she realized that numbers are her passion, she enrolled back into school for Master of Accounting & Financial Management program. She plans to obtain CPA Certification in the near future.