Leadership and Governance

Deborah Witkin

Deborah R. Witkin, Esq.

Executive Director

Debi oversees the organization, including financial, administrative, human relations, strategic planning, advocacy and legislative initiatives, and communications. She is the first female Executive Director of CLS, served as CLS’ Deputy Director from 2007 to 2017, and previously held a variety of other roles within the agency, including Regional Director of the Eastern Local Services Team and  Director of Development.

As a staff attorney, she 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 a 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 maintains an active and engaged presence across a number of community and legal networks. She is a James W. Cooper Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, a member of the Advisory Council for the Office of Victim Services, and serves as 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. 

Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, Esq.

Chair, Board of Directors

Associate Dean of Experiential Education and Associate Professor of Law, Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut

Dean Kaas also serves as the Director of two of the Law School’s Concentrations: Family Law, and Civil Advocacy and Dispute Resolution and is the co-director of the law school’s Center on Dispute Resolution.
Dean Kaas taught for twenty years in the in-house Civil Clinic, supervising students who represented low-income clients in a variety of civil and family matters. She is currently teaching a wide range of field placement courses, with a companion seminar entitled “Examining the Practice of Law.” She also teaches Interviewing, Counseling, Negotiation and Mediation.
Dean Kaas has served on the national Clinical Legal Education Association and the Connecticut Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism. She also serves on the Boards of Connecticut Council for Non-Adversarial Divorce, Connecticut Legal Services, and is a founding member of the Connecticut Mediation Association and The Non-Defensive Voice. She has written on legal education, clinical legal education, family law, and mediation. She contributed a chapter to “Lawyers As Changemakers” on integrative law and legal education.

Carolyn clerked for the Honorable Ellen Bree Burns from 1983-85, United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. She was a litigation associate at Wiggin and Dana before joining the faculty at the law school in 1989.



  • Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, Esq.
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Jeffrey Plotkin, Esq.
    Vice Chair
    Finn Dixon & Herling LLP
  • Helen Harris, Esq.
    Partner: Day Pitney LLP
  • Tadhg Dooley, Esq.
    Partner: Wiggin & Dana LLP


  • Livia DeFilippis Barndollar, Esq.
    Pullman & Comley LLC
  • Mike Hanley
    Partnership for Strong Communities
  • Sheila Hayre, Esq.
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Laura Jordan, Esq.
    Stamford Health
  • 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
  • Basam (Bas) E. Nabulsi, Esq.
    McCarter & English LLP
  • Richard Orr, Esq.
    Retired General Counsel: University of Connecticut
  • Kevin Rasch, Esq.
    Deputy General Counsel: Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare
  • Brad Saxton, Esq.
    Quinnipiac University School of Law
  • Jessica Richman Smith, Esq.
    Shipman & Goodwin LLP
  • Michael Sullivan, Esq.
    Retired: State of Connecticut, Office of Policy and Management
  • 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