We fight for your right to learn

Executive Directors

Inés Kuperschmit

Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder - Management and Operations

 

E: ines@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-1828

Janeen Steel

Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder - Litigation and Advocacy

 

E: janeen@learningrights.org

P: (213) 489-4035

Inés Kuperschmit co-founded Learning Rights Law Center together with Janeen Steel in 2005 and is now the Co-Executive Director for Management and Operations.  Ines has been at Learning Rights for over 10 years and started her career as 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 Epstein 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 four children.

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

 

Staff Attorneys

Melissa Canales

Senior Staff Attorney

 

E: melissa@learningrights.org

P: (619) 432-5792

Kyra Clipper

Director, Advocacy for Children with Autism Program

 

E: kyra@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-1834

Melissa's interest in equity and equality in education began as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.  After graduating, she spent a year and a half working for the Lawrence Hall of Science hands-on science museum science outreach program.  But, something continued to nag her as she saw first-hand the disparity in different schools and students.  So it was not a surprise when, in 2004, as a law student, she sought out an internship at the Disability Rights Law Center with the Learning Rights Project under then director Janeen Steel.

 

In 2005, when Learning Rights Law Center began, Melissa became one of the young law firm’s first interns.   She volunteered before becoming a staff attorney, upon passing the dreaded California bar exam in 2006. But, in 2008, she said goodbye to Learning Rights, as she found her way back to her home town of San Diego, to pursue a family business and eventually work representing a Native American Tribe. 

 

In January 2016, she gladly re-joined the Learning Rights family, and is grateful to have the opportunity again to serve children and families in their relentless pursuit of education equality.  She teaches the Torres-Martinez Tribal TANF TIGER classes, and is a staff attorney for Learning Rights.

 

Melissa earned her undergraduate degree in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley, her J.D. from Loyola Law School, and spends her free time in the garden and with her cat, dog, 8 chickens, and numerous pet quails. 

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.

Rodolfo Estrada

Director, TIGER Program

 

E: rodolfo@learningrights.org

P: (213) 488-0545

Samantha Cochran

Director of Pro Bono and Brief Services

 

E: samantha@learningrights.org

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.

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.

Carol Jung

Director, Los Angeles Medical-Legal Collaborative for Education

 

E: carol@learningrights.org

P: (213) 489-4037

Jessica Toth

Staff Attorney

 

E: jessica@learningrights.org

 

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. 

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.

Staff

Alannah Delgado

Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

 

E: alannah@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-7285

 

Sergei Hasenecz

Legal File Clerk

 

E: sergei@learningrights.org

P: Ext. 112

Alannah Delgado began working at Learning Rights Law Center in October 2015 and is the Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator. Alannah had also worked at Learning Rights back in 2011-2012. She will be attending outreach events to promote the rights of children with special needs and others who aren’t accessing their education. Alannah is also looking forward to working with our volunteers and growing our volunteer program.

 

As a new mom, relocating back to Los Angeles to be with family was an important decision. Alannah enjoys drinking Boba tea, exploring Los Angeles, sewing with her Mom, and spending time with her husband and son

 

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.

Gabriela Garcia

Administrative Assistant

 

E: gabriela@learningrights.org

P: Ext. 104

Anthony Hernandez

Technology and Communications Coordinator

 

E: anthony@learningrights.org

P: Ext. 106

Anthony began working at Learning Rights Law Center as a volunteer in October 2015, working with the Education Rights Clinic, performing spanish language intakes, and with the TIGER program providing administration support. Previous experience with computer and information technology experience at Philadelphia University and reliability led to a job offer at the end of 2015.

As Technology and Communications Coordinator, Anthony's responsibilities include managing the Learning Rights website and newsletter. Solving the occasional mystery involving the office computers and phones. And dealing with the unexpected questions and issues that invade his email inbox.

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.
 

Yasmeen Garcia

Receptionist and Administrative Support

 

E: yasmeen@learningrights.org

P: Ext. 101

Leticia Mejia

Coordinator, Pro Bono and Brief Services

 

E: leticia@learningrights.org

P: (213) 623-4794

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.

E. Melissa Rios

Paralegal Manager

 

E: meli@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-1823

Cindy Plair

TIGER Program Coordinator

 

E: cindy@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-1829

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.​

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.

Olga Samoilovskis

Finance and Office Manager

 

E: olga@learningrights.org

P: (213) 542-1830

 

Azra Variscic

Development Manager

 

E: azra@learningrights.org

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.

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.