Leadership and Governance

Deborah Witkin

Deborah R. Witkin, Esq.

Executive Director

Executive Director Deborah Witkin is the 2023 recipient of the Anthony M. Fitzgerald Award for Excellence in recognition of her “outstanding advocacy.”

Debi is the first female Executive Director of Connecticut Legal Services (CLS). She oversees all departments including financial, administration, human relations, strategic planning, advocacy and legislative initiatives, and communications. Debi has held a variety of other roles within the organization since she joined in 2007, including Deputy Director, Regional Director of the Eastern Local Services Team and Director of Development. As a staff attorney, Debi practiced and litigated across a wide range of the organization’s practice units.

In addition to her work at CLS, Debi served as a Visiting Professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law, where she developed and directed the Health Law Clinic. She was selected as a Legal Services Corporation Fellow to run a year-long Poverty Law Clinic at the University of Connecticut School of Law and she is active in numerous community and legal networks.

Debi is a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a member of the Advisory Council for the Office of Victim Services and a trainer for national seminars with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. She has held several leadership roles at a large non-profit agency that serves the greater New Haven area, including President of the Board of Directors.

Jeffrey Plotkin, Esq.

Chair, Board of Directors

Partner of Finn Dixon & Herling LLP in Stamford, Connecticut

Jeff joined the CLS Board in 2018 and became Chair in 2022.

At Finn Dixon, he focuses his practice on securities enforcement defense, internal corporate investigations, and complex private securities litigation and arbitration.

Jeff started his career in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, New York Regional Office. Immediately prior to joining Finn Dixon, he was a partner of Day Pitney LLP in its New York City and Stamford offices.



  • Jeffrey Plotkin, Esq.
    Finn Dixon & Herling LLP
  • Helen Harris, Esq.
    Vice Chair
    Partner: Day Pitney LLP
  • Adam M. Swanson, Esq.
    Partner: McCarter & English LLP
  • Tadhg Dooley, Esq.
    Partner: Wiggin & Dana LLP


  • Livia DeFilippis Barndollar, Esq.
    Pullman & Comley LLC
  • Mike Hanley
    Partnership for Strong Communities
  • Laura Jordan, Esq.
    Stamford Health
  • Carrie Kaas, Esq.
    Associate Dean of Experiential Education and Associate Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Peter Knight, Esq.
    Robinson & Cole LLP
  • Leslie Levin, Esq.
    University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Ivy Thomas McKinney, Esq.
    Retired: Xerox Corporation
  • Patricia McIntosh, LCSW, MPH
    Director, Community Safety and Wellness: City of Hartford
  • Richard Orr, Esq.
    Retired General Counsel: University of Connecticut
  • Kevin Rasch, Esq.
    Deputy General Counsel: Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare
  • Alina Reynolds, Esq.
    General Counsel & Justice Initiative Deputy Director: Grace Farms Foundation
  • Brad Saxton, Esq.
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Jessica Richman Smith, Esq.
    Shipman & Goodwin LLC
  • Thomas (Sully) C. Sullivan Jr.
    PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Adam M. Swanson, Esq.
    McCarter & English, LLP
  • Ann G. Taylor, Esq.
    Retired: Connecticut Children’s Center

Advisory Council

  • Vivien Blackford
    Vivien Blackford & Associates
  • Peter Kelly, Esq.
    Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C


  • Aaron S. Bayer, Esq.
    Wiggin & Dana
  • Gregory B. Butler, Esq.
  • David Carson
    Hartford, CT
  • Marilyn J. Ward Ford, Esq.
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Joel Freedman
    Glastonbury, CT
  • Thomas Goldberg, Esq.
    Day Pitney, LLP
  • Robert L. Holzberg, Esq.
    Pullman & Comley LLC
  • Karen Jarmoc
    Assistant Vice President Sustainability Leader: The Hartford
  • Jay Malcynsky, Esq.
    Gaffney, Bennett & Associates, Inc.
  • James H. Maloney, JD.
    Founder and President Emeritus, Connecticut Institute For Communities, Inc.
    Owner: Commonweal Services Corporation
  • Leslie O’Brien
    Legislative Program Director: Department of Consumer Protection
  • Mitchell Pearlman, Esq.
    Retired: Freedom of Information Commission
  • Howard Rifkin, Esq.
    Corporation Counsel: City of Hartford
  • James Shearin, Esq.
    Pullman & Comley, LLC
  • Paul A. Slager, Esq.
    Silver Golub & Teitell, LLP
  • Richard Slavin, Esq.
    Cohen and Wolf, P.C.
  • Stanley Twardy Jr., Esq.
    Day Pitney, LLP