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Legal Services Team

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JANICE K. JOHNSON HUNTER - Deputy Executive Director for Legal Services

Janice K. Johnson Hunter began her legal career practicing with the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau where she represented hundreds of clients in matters involving public benefits, housing, and consumer law for over 7 years. Ms. Hunter later joined the Maryland Disability Law Center as a managing attorney where she divided her time between management activities and a law practice in special education for over 7 years. During her tenure at MDLC Ms. Hunter served as Deputy Director of Legal Work and also as Interim Director. Her professional experience also includes stints as a public policy advocate with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty and the Archdiocese of Washington-D.C. Catholic Conference. Joining NDRN in 2007, Ms. Hunter is responsible for supervising the NDRN legal staff and the legally-based technical assistance activities of NDRN and for monitoring the delivery of technical assistance by outside consultants to the P&A network. She also provides direct technical assistance and collaborates with the NDRN Director of Training to develop training programs to meet identified needs of the P&As.

MICHELLE BISHOP - Disability Advocacy Specialist for Voting Rights

Michelle joined the NDRN staff in July 2013. As Disability Advocacy Specialist for Voting Rights, she provides training and technical assistance to the P&A network regarding voting rights and access for voters with disabilities, coordinates the Voting Working Group, and manages the voting listserv. Previously, Michelle worked as the Assistant Director of Public Policy & Advocacy at Paraquad Center for Independent Living in St. Louis, where she led their voting rights and GOTV activities for eight years.

RON HAGER - Senior Staff Attorney

Ron provides training and technical assistance to the P&A/CAP network on special education and assists in overseeing training and technical assistance to CAP. He has specialized in disability law, particularly special education, since 1979, when he started his legal career in Buffalo as a VISTA attorney. After that, he was a Clinical Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School for nine years, supervising the Education Law Clinic. In 1991, Ron moved to Neighborhood Legal Services (NLS) where he represented clients in a wide variety of disability-related cases. As part of NLS's National AT Advocacy Project, Ron also was a frequent author on disability-law-related issues. He was co-chair of the New York State Bar Association's Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities for four years, and was the President of the Board of Directors of Autistic Services, Inc., in Western New York, for 10 years. Ron earned a B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton and a J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.

DAVID HUTT - Senior Staff Attorney

David currently works on P&A access authority, and issues involving P&A investigations of abuse and neglect of individuals with disabilities.  He also provides employment law training and technical assistance for the PABSS program, and works on issues related to the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Prior to his current responsibilities, David worked to develop and manage the Social Security Administration Representative Payee Review Project for NDRN, and provided training and technical assistance on vocational rehabilitation to the P&A and CAPs.  Prior to joining NDRN, David was a staff attorney at Legal Services of Central New York, dealing with cases involving employment discrimination, vocational rehabilitation, Medicaid, consumer debt, and accessibility issues under the PABSS, CAP, and PAIR programs.  He was lead counsel in a successful employment discrimination trial in federal court under the PABSS program. He also advised clients on various return to work issues such as social security benefits planning, the Ticket to Work program, and self-advocacy with the New York State vocational rehabilitation agency.  David earned a B.A. from Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., and holds a J.D. and Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

ZACH MARTIN – Disability Advocacy Specialist

Zach manages the Social Security Administration Representative Payee Review Project at NDRN and, provides training and technical assistance to the P&A network on community education, self-advocacy, and self-determination.  Prior to joining NDRN, Zach was involved in numerous local and national initiatives designed to support individuals with intellectual disabilities to fully participate in and contribute to their communities

ELIZABETH PRIAULX - Senior Disability Legal Specialist

Elizabeth provides assistance to P&As related to community integration, with a focus on Medicaid litigation and the implementation of the Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court Decision. Additionally, Elizabeth is responsible for the NDRN initiative to support and encourage P&A advocacy on behalf of senior citizens with disabilities.  As part of this effort, Elizabeth manages the NDRN contract with the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) to provide training and technical assistance to managed care organizations on quality, participant directed, Medicaid long term services and supports; and to help seniors and persons with disabilities plays a significant role in the development and implementation of these services and supports. Additionally, Elizabeth serves as a Technical Expert on Olmstead compliance for the NDRN contract with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) to provide training and technical assistance to mental health block grant programs and PAIMI Councils.

Elizabeth began working formally as a disability advocate in 1986, at United Cerebral Palsy Associations and also worked as a researcher at the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She has served as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors of both the Endependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) and the Virginia Office for Protection and Advocacy (VOPA). Priaulx received a Bachelor of Arts from Emory University and a Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C.

AMY SCHERER - Staff Attorney

Amy provides training and technical assistance to the Network on issues related to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and the Client Assistance Program (CAP). She is also a member of the staff’s employment team which focuses on a variety of issues related to helping individuals with disabilities achieve competitive wage, integrated jobs in the community.

Prior to arriving at NDRN, Amy worked for 7 years at a vocational training facility for individuals with a variety of disabilities in Atlanta, Georgia. She worked primarily with VR clients as both a case manager and as a certified vocational evaluator. She began her career at NDRN as a law intern in the summer of 2008. Amy earned a B.A. in Psychology from Furman University, a M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling/Vocational Evaluation from Auburn University and a J.D. from the St. Louis University School of Law.

KENNETH SHIOTANI - Senior Staff Attorney

Ken provides training and technical assistance to the Protection and Advocacy Agencies on ADA Title I, II & III, fair housing and federally assisted housing, employment law and provides legal support to the P&As Help American Vote Act Project. He is also responsible for LegalEase, the monthly publication to the P&As which highlights significant court decisions and federal agency regulations and guidance that affect P&A advocacy. Ken also is the NDRN Amicus Coordinator. 

Prior to joining NDRN in 2005, Ken provided representation to low income people in housing and public benefits, including cash assistance, Food Stamps, and Medicaid as well as unemployment benefits in urban and rural civil legal programs in New York and Maryland. His work ranged from defending evictions in local justice courts to public benefits hearings to appeals and involvement in impact litigation in the federal courts.  He began his legal services career in 1980 as a VISTA volunteer and then as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow. 

Ken received his undergraduate degree in history from New York University and his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

BECCA SMITH - Disability Advocacy Specialist

Becca provides technical assistance, substantive evaluation of reports, assistance in training development, training verification, tracking of task order status and scheduling for the Representative Payee Review Project.  Becca joined NDRN in April 2012.  She is a certified Community Work Incentives Coordinator with eight years of experience providing benefits counseling to recipients of Social Security disability benefits.  She also has substantial training in database systems and administration.

DIANE SMITH HOWARD - Senior Staff Attorney

A litigator with 20 years of experience in juvenile and education law, Diane’s work at NDRN focuses on conditions for youth in the juvenile justice system and child welfare systems.  In addition, she works on issues related to adults with disabilities in the criminal justice system, and children and youth with disabilities that impact behavior in the public education system.  Diane provides training and technical assistance to the P&A network on these issues. She has worked for NDRN’s Maine and Michigan affiliates, providing direct service to clients.

Who We Are

Curt-DeckerCurtis L. Decker, JD
Executive Director

Curt Decker has been affiliated with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) since its inception in 1982.

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