Steven Paulson has been with Dade Legal Aid since 2005. He is the supervisor of the domestic violence unit and is Dade Legal Aid’s Director of Litigation. He graduated from St. Thomas University School of Law in 2004 and has practiced public interest law ever since. He currently works throughout Miami-Dade County under the Victims of Crime Act Project. He handles a high-volume practice specializing in domestic violence and family law matters and has worked with more than 3,000 clients in over 1,000 bench trials, representing victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Violence, Dating Violence and Repeat Violence in Permanent Restraining Order hearings. As Dade Legal Aid’s Director of Litigation, he is responsible for training, mentoring and supervising staff attorneys, volunteers and certified legal interns. He also participates in outreach programs training service providers, victim advocates and police officers. He is a Past-President of the South Miami-Kendall Bar Association and continues to be active throughout the community. In his free time, he is a talented musician and aviator.
Ms. LLaguno-Feria embarked on her career at Dade Legal Aid in 2004 as a Certified Legal Intern through St. Thomas University School of Law’s Family Law Clinic. During her year-long internship, Mrs. Llaguno-Feria had the opportunity to represent domestic violence victims at their Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence hearings under the supervision of an attorney, and, in 2006, joined the staff as a Family Law Attorney where she has successfully represented thousands of clients including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in complex Divorce, Paternity and Temporary Relative Custody cases. She serves as a Guardian ad Litem, mentor and supervisor to new staff and project attorneys and law school interns. Mrs. Llaguno-Feria is a member of The Florida Bar, Family Law Section, Dade County Bar, Family Court Committee, Florida Association of Women Lawyers, and Florida Bar Family Law Section and is fluent in Spanish.
Stephanie Grosman Staff and GAL Mentor Attorney
Ms. Grosman began her career at Dade Legal Aid in 2006 representing victims’ rights in domestic violence injunction hearings. She is currently a Staff Attorney in the Family Unit where she handles complex family cases, serves as a Guardian Ad Litem in contested family cases, and mentors hundreds of pro bono GAL attorneys through the Child Advocacy Project at Put Something Back. She created a Pro Bono Users Guide and FAQ for GAL Volunteer Attorney through a Florida Bar Foundation grant. The founding fellow of the Inaugural Class of the Dade Legal Aid Leadership Academy, she serves as its Coordinator to recruit talented lawyers to serve as ambassadors. In addition, Ms. Grosman organizes a variety of special events, fundraisers, and projects for the agency year-round. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Dade County Bar Association and serves on its Membership Committee. She previously served as an enthusiastic and active Member on the board of the Young Lawyers Section. In 2017, she received the Legal Luminaries Top Pro Bono & Public Interest Attorney Award for her outstanding community involvement. In 2016, she was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers of South Florida by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for taking on numerous leadership roles. She served as Host Committee Chair of the 5th Annual Singles for Switchboard Bachelor Auction and has been featured in Brickell Magazine “Miami’s Best Dressed” edition. Ms. Grosman authored an article on the importance of performing pro bono work entitled “Lawyers Can Lend a Hand by Doing Pro Bono Work” which appeared in the Miami Herald. She earned her JD from Stetson University College of Law and her BA from Barry University. She is fluent in Spanish.
Dana Viggiano Staff Attorney
Ms. Viggiano is a 2008 graduate of St. Thomas University School of Law. While in law school, she joined Dade Legal Aid as a Certified Legal Intern in the Domestic Violence Department and represented victims of domestic violence under the supervision of an attorney. After graduation, she joined the Child Advocacy team in 2009 where she zealously represented teens ages 14-19 years in dependency proceedings and assisted them with their transition from foster care to independent living. She is an accomplished and dedicated Guardian ad Litem Attorney, frequent lecturer on child advocacy issues and mentor to Put Something Back pro bono attorneys handling human sex trafficking cases for foster youth.
Alexandra Mesa Staff Attorney
Upon graduation from Florida International University College of Law in 2011, Ms. Mesa joined Dade Legal Aid as an FIU College of Law Fellow in the Family Law Department. While in law school, Ms. Mesa earned the Dean’s List, worked at the U.S. EEOC with the Chief Administrative Judge handling employment discrimination cases and was also part of the Florida International College of Law Immigrant Children’s Clinic where she represented children in Dependency and Immigration Court. At the conclusion of her fellowship, she worked in private practice handling insurance defense cases. In 2013, Ms. Mesa became the Housing Attorney for the agency handling an active caseload of Landlord Tenant matters including Trailer Park cases and COVID-19 Evictions. In addition to serving as the agency’s Lead Housing Attorney, she handles a full Family Law caseload and provides support to her colleagues and pro bono housing attorneys. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida Atlantic University in 2006 where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in International Business and Trade as well as General Marketing.
Silvia Perez Staff Attorney
Ms. Perez graduated cum laude from FIU with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. In May of 2001, she graduated from St. Thomas School of Law where she was an integral part of Law Review and authored “Alternatives in Fighting Street Gangs,” which was published in the Winter 2001, St. Thomas Law Review. In her final semester, she interned at Dade Legal Aid as a certified intern in the Family Court Clinic. In 2001, she was hired to establish the satellite office in Florida City to provide assistance to the migrant farmworker community. The following year, she became the Project Attorney of the Homestead Satellite Office representing survivors of domestic violence, training and supervising Certified Legal Interns from St. Thomas University enrolled in the Family Law Clinic program. After more than a decade in private practice handling cases in the areas of family law, domestic violence, dependency/juvenile, as well as arguing appeals before the Third District Court of Appeal, she returned to Dade Legal Aid to represent victims of domestic violence in the Hialeah office. Her dedication and passion are evident both professionally and personally throughout the community. In 2002, she received a Community Service Award from the City of Homestead and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, she was a Faculty Presenter at the 27th National Children’s Law Conference on Representing Children in Civil Cases involving Domestic Violence. In 2005, she was featured on “The Voice of Women” radio program at 1450 AM. In 2008, she presented at the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence training for South Florida Clerk of Courts. In 2009, she received The Arête Award for Distinguished Alumni in Public Service from St. Thomas University School of Law.
Geoffrey Valdes-Alba Staff Attorney
Since 2017, Geoffrey Valdes, Esq. has served as a dedicated and passionate Domestic Violence Attorney for Dade Legal Aid. Prior, he worked as an Attorney/Case Manager for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for five years. As the Senior Attorney/Case Manager, he worked closely with the Court, closing the highest number of cases in a one-month period, with the assistance of the judges and judicial staff. He mentored new attorneys, judicial interns and other case management staff, giving them direction and guidance as to how to proceed with problematic cases. Previously, Mr. Valdes was in private practice for four years at Alba Law, P.A., handling Divorce Cases. He served as Chair of the DCBA Family Law Committee for several years, is a member of the First Family Law American Inn of Court, and is knowledgeable in all aspects of Family Law, Bankruptcy, Wills, and Domestic Violence. A true leader and active member of our legal community, Mr. Valdes is a member of the Florida Bar, DCBA and the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida. He is a graduate of Belen Jesuit Prep. School, 1999, Florida International University, 2002, and a Barry University, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, 2007. In his free time he likes to play guitar. He is fluent in Spanish.
Cynthia A. Stafford Staff Attorney
Ms. Stafford joined Dade Legal Aid over 20 years ago as a Domestic Violence intern, then became a Staff Attorney implementing the Legal Aid Miami Beach Domestic Violence Collaborative bringing the first legal and social services to victims of domestic violence residing in Miami Beach. After serving eight years as a State Representative in the Florida House of Representatives, Ms. Stafford returned to Dade Legal Aid as a Domestic Violence Attorney. First elected to the Florida Legislature in 2010 and subsequently re-elected to four consecutive terms, Ms. Stafford served as a Legislator until 2018 when she was unable to run again due to term limits. As a Legislator, Ms. Stafford was House Minority Policy Chair and on the Appropriations, Policy and Judiciary Committees (Ranking Member). In 2012, the Mary Kay Foundation awarded a grant in recognition of Ms. Stafford to the Miami Rescue Mission to support housing and services for domestic violence victims and their children. In 2013, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar honored her with the Legislator Award for her efforts on behalf of Florida’s families throughout the legislative session .In 2018, Lotus House Shelter for Homeless Women and Children honored Ms. Stafford with the Leadership Award for her efforts in the Legislature. Ms. Stafford was born and raised in Liberty City and earned her J.D. from St. Thomas University School of Law and became an Adjunct Professor teaching Constitutional Law, Civil Law, Legal Writing and Ethics. A true visionary and leader, in 2020 she helped launch Dade Legal Aid’s new satellite offices in The Joseph Caleb Center.
Yesenia Arocha Staff Attorney
Yesenia Arocha, a Miami Native, represents low-income clients, mainly domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in abuse prevention matters in Dade Legal Aid’s Homestead Office. She is a member of The Florida Bar, Miami-Dade County Bar Association and Family Law Sections. Mrs. Arocha earned her J.D. in 2007 from St. Thomas University School of Law and her B.A. in 2004 from Florida International University. Prior to joining Dade Legal Aid, she handled cases for immigrant children and trained, supervised and mentored hundreds of pro bono attorneys and firms throughout South Florida in the areas of Dependency, Family Law and Immigration. Under her supervision, countless child victims of abuse, abandonment and neglect received legal services. She feels privileged to be representing clients in what is sometimes their darkest hour stating that providing legal assistance to those in need is gratifying beyond measure.
Nicholas Koltay Staff Attorney
Nick Koltay represents victims of domestic violence in their permanent injunction proceedings including guiding victims through the criminal complaint process and enforcing criminal violations of injunctions for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking. He served as an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County for six years in the Felony Trial Unit as a lead attorney handling first degree felonies, in the Juvenile Unit as a supervisor, and in the Drug Trafficking Unit, where he investigated and prosecuted cases against offenders facing minimum mandatory prison sentences of 7 to 25 years. He has tried over 35 jury trials and numerous bench trials, including charges for armed robbery, armed sexual battery, burglary of a dwelling, drug trafficking, aggravated assault/battery, and battery on a law enforcement officer. After graduating from law school, he served as a judicial law clerk to The Honorable Israel Reyes and The Honorable Barbara Areces in the Circuit Civil Division of the 11th Judicial Circuit. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2005 and cum laude from Notre Dame Law School in 2010, where he was an Executive Editor on the Journal of College and University Law. Mr. Koltay was admitted to the Florida Bar in 2010 and is a member of the Notre Dame Club of Miami.
Tensie M. Suengas Staff Attorney
Mrs. Suengas joined Dade Legal Aid in 2018 to represent victims of domestic violence in divorce, paternity, child support, and post-judgment cases. She graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law in 2013. In law school she began her work in public service assisting survivors of domestic violence with restraining orders, U-Visa petitions, and with custody disputes. After law school, she worked as case manager for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in the Unified Family Court Division. As a case manager, she assisted judges in complex family cases that included domestic violence, dependency, and juvenile delinquency issues. Next, she helped victims of human trafficking in a wide range of legal proceedings including dependency, custody, expungement and permanent injunction hearings. She brings a wealth of experience to the agency.
Marietta Galindez Fanjul
Mrs. Galindez Fanjul joined the agency 20 years ago as a Staff Attorney before moving to Texas. In 2019, she returned to Miami and re-joined Dade Legal Aid as a Family Law Staff Attorney handling complex family law cases. Mrs. Galindez Fanjul focuses her practice on representing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault reach fair and positive outcomes in family proceedings. She earned her BA from Boston College with a degree in English and French, and her JD from Nova Southeastern Shepard Broad College of Law, where she was the recipient of an MPLE Scholarship and a Staff Member of the ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law. Mrs. Galindez Fanjul is fluent in Spanish and is a member of the Florida Bar (2000), Miami-Dade County Bar Association, The Florida Bar Family Law Section & First Family Law American Inn of Court.
Alejandro Perez Staff Attorney
Mr. Alejandro Perez joined Dade Legal Aid as a law school summer intern for the Put Something Back Pro Bono Project during the summer of 2016. Mr. Perez earned his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a Master's Degree in International Business in 2013 from NOVA Southeastern University, and his Juris Doctorate from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in 2017. In 2017 he received a Put Something Back Pro Bono Award for Outstanding Law Student for screening and referring the most pro bono cases. He joined the Family Law Department in 2019 as a Staff Attorney and is passionate about providing access to justice to all his clients. Mr. Perez is a member of the Miami-Dade County Bar Association and The Florida Bar Family Law Section. He is fluent in Spanish.