Harlem Community Justice Center Staff
Taí Merey Alex
Project Manager, Harlem Community Justice Center
Taí Merey Alex is the project manager for the Harlem Justice Corps at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Taí oversees program planning, coordination, and operations for the Harlem Justice Corps, a NYC Justice Corps program, which provides education, community benefits, and employment services to justice-involved young adults. Prior to this position, she was the Help Center Coordinator at the Harlem Community Justice Center, where she managed the provision of legal and financial assistance, case management, mediation, and specialized referrals. Taí is a New York Peace Institute certified mediator and coordinates the Harlem Community Justice Center Mediation Institute. Prior to joining the Center for Court Innovation, she worked at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. Taí received her B.A. in English from Pace University and her J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.
Youth Court Coordinator, Harlem Community Justice Center
Sonia Balaram is the coordinator for the Harlem Youth Court, an early intervention program for youth who have committed violations, minor misdemeanors, and other minor offenses. As coordinator, Ms. Balaram trains youth court members on the various roles of the youth court, facilitates youth court sessions, conducts outreach with community members, and manages the cases referred to the youth court from schools, police precincts, probation, the Law Department, and criminal court. Ms. Balaram is a member of the New York State's Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning Working Group and a volunteer organizer of DC Desi Summer, a social justice leadership and empowerment program for South Asian youth. Ms. Balaram first joined the Center for Court Innovation as a Youth Justice Board member in 2004 and since then she has worked extensively on youth development and justice-related projects. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Balaram taught high school in the Bronx as part of the Teach for America program. She has also interned at the Legal Aid Society and South Asian Youth Action. Ms. Balaram graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a degree in Political Science.
Deputy Director of Reentry Initiatives, Harlem Community Justice Center
Debbie Boar oversees the Harlem Community Justice Center's reentry initiatives, including the Harlem Parole Reentry Court and the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force. As deputy director, Ms. Boar designs and implements population specific, evidence-based offender reentry strategies, strengthens partnership among stakeholders, and provides expert assistance to jurisdictions seeking to develop reentry programs. Prior to this position, Ms. Boar served as a criminal defense attorney at the Legal Aid Society of New York City. She received her B.A. from Haverford College and her J.D. from Rutgers-Newark School of Law.
Youth Program Associate, Harlem Community Justice Center
Damon Brown-Dobbs is the youth development coordinator at the Harlem Community Justice Center, and is responsible for the Harlem Hard H.A.T.S. (Helping Adolescents Think Strategically), a community service and youth leadership program. The Harlem Hard H.A.T.S. is unique civic leadership program that accepts both mandated youth and young people who volunteer to serve their community, the Hard H.A.T.S. project brings together teens to plan and implement community service-learning projects. Hard H.A.T.S provides opportunities and supports for youth to engage in meaningful community service, explore their interests, gain valuable leadership skills, and enhance their knowledge of important issues in their community. Mr. Brown-Dobbs, a former AmeriCorps member and graduate of the College of New Rochelle, who spent his service year working at the Justice Center, is responsible for implementing the service-learning program, providing training to youth on core skills, recruiting community stakeholders, and tracking and reporting on project outcomes.
Case Manager, Harlem Community Justice Center
Alison Dockery Ervin is a reentry case manager with the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. Ms. Dockery-Ervin graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from John Jay College of the City University of New York, where she also earned her Master’s of Arts in Forensic Psychology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Lama Hassoun Ayoub
Senior Research Associate
Lama Hassoun Ayoub is a senior research associate at the Center for Court Innovation and the senior researcher at the Harlem Community Justice Center. She is currently managing several projects including a randomized control trial evaluating a teen dating violence prevention program in schools in the Bronx as well as the evaluation of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. She is also working on the evaluation of Defending Childhood, the U.S. Attorney General's multi-site initiative to address children's exposure to violence, and a national multi-site evaluation of specialized reentry courts. Lama is involved with several other research projects based at Harlem Community Justice Center and serves on the Institutional Review Board at CCI. She received her Master's of Science from the Harvard University School of Public Health and her B.S. from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Group Work Specialist, Harlem Community Justice Center
Ms. Leverett joined the Center for Court Innovation in March 2010, as a group work specialist. She facilitates anger management groups for adolescents, as well as cognitive behavioral groups for formerly incarcerated persons returning to the community on parole. Ms. Leverett is a New York State Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) with over 10 years of experience working with high risk populations. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle. Ms. Leverett is currently pursuing a Master’s of Social Work degree from Lehman College.
Administrative Associate, Harlem Community Justice Center
Edith Lopez is the facilities and administrative associate at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Ms. Lopez handles all clerical and fiscal work, and provides intake support to the Help Center, helping clients access housing assistance and other social services. Ms. Lopez received her Associate’s Degree in Entrepreneurship in 2005, and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications in 2007, both from Johnson & Wales University.
Deputy Project Director, Harlem Community Justice Center
John Megaw, LCSW, MPA, is the deputy project director at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Mr. Megaw oversees the staff at the Justice Center including the clinical team which provides services to parolees, juveniles, families, and other Justice Center clients. Mr. Megaw was the first clinical director at the Midtown Community Court, the nation’s first community court, which opened in 1993. He was named the coordinator of the Parole Reentry Program in 2001 and became the Justice Center’s deputy project director in 2006. Mr. Megaw is responsible for overall project implementation including operation of one of the nation's first parole reentry court projects designed to help stabilize parolees in the initial phase of their community reintegration. Mr. Megaw has a master’s in Social Work from the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Work and a master’s in Public Administration from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.
Reentry Case Aid, Harlem Community Justice Center
Cramon Milline joined the Center’s staff in October of 2010 in his current role as a reentry case aide with the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. Prior to joining the staff, Mr. Milline served two years in the Center’s AmeriCorps program where he assisted men and women retuning from prison. In his current position, Mr. Milline works with the reentry team to help men and women in the first six months of their return from prison to the community by providing positive support and service referrals.
Case Manager, Harlem Community Justice Center
Omarax Rosa joined the Center in 2002 as an intake specialist for the youth and mediation programs at the Harlem Community Justice Center. In her current role as the youth and family case manager, she provides assessment and treatment referrals for clients in the Justice Center’s Family Court, housing court, youth programs, and help center. She also graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Urban Studies in 2001.
Associate Director of Court Operations, Harlem Community Justice Center
Sally Sanchez is the associate director of Court Operations at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Ms. Sanchez oversees and supervises the provision of services by case management staff who work with youth, adults, and families involved in the Justice Center’s programs and the Help Center whose services include legal and financial assistance, mediation, and specialized referrals. Ms. Sanchez joined the Center for Court Innovation team in 2005 and has held various positions since then, originally starting as a case manager for the Juvenile Intervention Court and later as parent coordinator for the new Custody and Visitation Court. Prior to coming to the Harlem Community Justice Center, Ms. Sanchez worked as a domestic violence advocate with Safe Horizons’ Domestic Violence Police Program. Ms. Sanchez received her Master’s of Science Degree in Nonprofit Management from Milano, The New School for Management and Urban Policy in 2011.
Case Manager, Harlem Community Justice Center
Jean Semelfort is one of the Reentry Case Managers here at the Harlem Community Justice Center. He assists clients with stabilization needs through advocacy, discovering and referring clients to various resources that will help them with an array of issues from obtaining housing to substance abuse treatment. He provides individual counseling to clients on an as needed basis to support them through their reintegration process within the community. Jean Semelfort has provided individual and group counseling to individuals during their time of incarceration for close to 3 years as well as created groups to address specific issues of the population. Jean Semelfort received his B.A. in psychology from the Ramapo College of New Jersey and is near his completion of a M.A. in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from College of Saint Elizabeth.
Case Manager, Harlem Community Justice Center
Linda Steele-DeNardo first came to the Midtown Community Court in 2006 when she was referred to their Times Square Ink Job Readiness program. After graduating the program in June of 2006, Linda remained engaged with the Midtown Court as a volunteer. In 2008, Linda was hired as an executive assistant to the project director. In 2009, Linda joined the Workforce Development Department as the employment specialist, facilitating the Times Square Ink Job Readiness Program. Linda researched and wrote a curriculum which centered on life and job skills necessary for re-entering ex-offenders to the work force. Linda was trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program, “Thinking for a Change,” and facilitated the evidence-based program for over a year and a half with the Times Square Ink/Dads United for Parenting program. Recently, Linda has undergone a transition to the Harlem Community Justice Center where she is a Reentry Case Manager working with parolees who are released to the East Harlem Community and co-facilitating “Thinking for a Change.” She recently passed the credentialing exam for Family Development Worker. Linda has received the prestigious Avon Award for Empowering Women and Changing Society and the Making a Difference Award issued by the commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
Family Social Worker, Harlem Community Justice Center
Rachelle Veasley is the family social worker at the Harlem Community Justice Center. Ms. Veasley works as part of a clinical team to integrate the family members of parolees into the reentry process. Ms. Veasley has worked with the reentry population for over six years. Prior to joining the Center, she worked for the COMAlert program at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Veasley received her B.A. in psychology and philosophy from Columbia University and her Masters of Social Work from Hunter College.
Project Director, Harlem Community Justice Center
Christopher Watler is project director of the Harlem Community Justice Center, the community court in Harlem focusing on housing, youth crime, and offender reentry. As director, he oversees day-to-day operations and program development. Mr. Watler previously served as the Deputy Director of National Technical Assistance where he provided information & assistance on community justice initiatives to a broad audience, by leading site-visits to the Center’s demonstration projects, conducting training, providing hands-on assistance to jurisdictions developing community court and prosecution programs, assisting in the development of community justice curricula, and coordinating partnerships with model community justice programs. Mr. Walter has also served as part of the original planning teams for the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Crown Height Community Mediation Center. Before coming to the Center, Mr. Walter worked as the Operations and Training Manager at the City Volunteer Corps and as a Community Center Director for the Union Settlement Association where he supervised programs involving youth and seniors. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from John Jay College of the City University of New York.