Our holistic legal and clinical team. Please read more about us in the mini profiles below.
Madeline Garcia Bigelow, Esq.
Madeline is the Associate Director of the Urban Justice Center and Managing Director of the Domestic Violence Project. Ms. Garcia Bigelow founded the Project in 2003 after having served six years at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in the Domestic Violence/ Sex Crimes Bureau, first as an Assistant District Attorney, then as Acting Supervisor of its 2221 Unit. Prior to founding the DVP, she served as Co-Director of Sanctuary for Families’ Bronx Community Office. Ms. Garcia Bigelow’s unique skills allows her to recognize obstacles from both a prosecutorial and civil vantage point so that she can effectively advocate for client concerns from a position of power among all stakeholders. These boundary spanning skills have led to Ms. Garcia Bigelow training lawyers nationally in the American Bar Association and as a Harvard Wasserstein Law Fellow where she educated and mentored first year law students on public interests careers.
Afua Afriye Fullwood, Esq., MSW
Ms. Afriye Fullwood has worked with DVP since 2011 and brings over 30 years of experience as both a lawyer and social worker. She received her law degree from Cardozo School of Law (1984) and her MSW from Rutgers University (1976). Ms. Afriye Fullwood’s extensive experience includes serving as a Child Support Magistrate in Bronx Family Court for twelve years, a Hearing Office for OATH and Small Claims Court Arbitrator, an Associate Attorney for HRA's Office of Legal Affairs, a Hearing Officer for OATH and Small Claims Court Arbitrator, and an attorney at Rodriquez and Fuentes PC. Curretly, at DVP Ms Fullwood runs several legal clinics throughout NYC, screening victims for financial abuse, legal issues and overall safety and stability.
Atossa Movahedi, MA, Esq.
Director of Outreach & Advocacy
Maria Martinez is DVP’s Director of Advocacy and Community Organizing, bringing over 21 years of experience as a staunch leader and advocate in the movement against domestic violence. She believes that the potential for a survivor to succeed past the abuse is directly influenced by the collaborative strength found within the community of providers, and her tireless commitment for change is demonstrated through her engagement in trainings, conferences, and community events in NYC. Ms. Martinez has served as advisor to the Bronx Borough President’s Office; thought leader in effective approaches for financial empowerment; on-site technical assistance trainer throughout NYC; participation and partnering with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence; and leader on numerous large and small scale events to educate and raise awareness on the impact of domestic violence.
Lisa F. Arpaia, Esq.
Supervising Immigration Attorney
Attorney Arpaia has joined the Domestic Violence Project to launch the immigration program that will be serving immigrant victims of domestic violence seeking legal immigration status through Violence Against Women Act Self-Petitions, Battered Spouse Waiver Petitions, and Petitions for U Nonimmigrant Status. Attorney Arpaia has over 15 years experience practicing immigration law, which has included training and supervising junior attorneys in the field. She began practicing immigration law with a small New Haven, Connecticut firm in the area of employment-based and family-based immigration. She later joined Catholic Charities Immigration & Refugee Services in New York City as a Staff Attorney, where she also practiced employment-based immigration. For both Catholic Charities and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Attorney Arpaia had also provided employment-based immigration training. In 2008, Attorney Arpaia began focusing her efforts on humanitarian relief, and since such time she has been representing battered immigrants seeking legal immigration status, through her own pro bono private practice in Connecticut and as a Volunteer Attorney with Her Justice in New York City and New Haven Legal Assistance in Connecticut. Attorney Arpaia rounds out her immigration experience by serving as the Immigration Compliance Attorney for a regional home care agency in New England, Family Care Plus, LLC.
Mark Hager, Esq.
Senior Staff Attorney
Mark Hager is the Brooklyn staff attorney and LGBTQ initiative coordinator at the Domestic Violence Project with the Urban Justice Center. Mark is also a committee member on LeGal’s Family and Matrimonial Law Committee. Previously, Mark was an associate at a mid-sized insurance defense litigation firm. He is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the University of Albany.
Heather Lothrop, Esq.
Noora Barakat, Esq.
Noora received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2015. During law school, Noora defended youth charged with crimes in Washington, D.C. through Georgetown’s Juvenile Justice Clinic, and she interned at the New York Legal Assistance Group and Legal Aid Society in New York City. These experiences spanned the areas of criminal law, domestic violence and family law, housing, and government benefits law, which expanded Noora’s skillset and understanding of issues faced by indigent clients. She also interned at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she researched and wrote about civil rights issues in preparation for federal litigation. Prior to joining DVP, Noora worked with local and international NGOs in Jordan, conducting legal research on gender-based violence and advocating for refugees. Noora obtained her B.A. from Tufts University, and she is fluent in Arabic.
Salar Rivani, Esq.
Salar is a staff attorney with the Domestic Violence Project of the Urban Justice Center. Salar began working at the Urban Justice Center with an approach focused around human rights in September 2014. He started as a legal fellow with the Sex Workers Project. There, he worked on vacating criminal convictions for trafficking survivors and obtaining T-visas for the same. While in law school, Salar interned at the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Practice in Brooklyn helping represent indigent clients in Kings County Criminal Courts. These opportunities have created the base from which Salar works with at DVP. Salar has a bachelor's degree from University of Southern California ‘08 and graduated from Brooklyn Law School '14 with a certificate in Criminal Law.
Ione K Curva, Esq.
Ione graduated from Dartmouth College in 2007 with a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish modified with Women’s and Gender Studies, and obtained her J.D. cum laude from Rutgers School of Law – Newark in 2012. Between college and law school, Ione worked as a paralegal and intake coordinator for WEAVE, a domestic violence non-profit in Washington D.C. While in law school, Ione continued her domestic violence work as an intern at Sanctuary for Families and Day One, and also helped co-found a chapter of the Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP) at Rutgers. After graduating from law school, Ione clerked for one year with the Hon. Ariel A. Rodriguez, P.J.A.D. (ret.) in the New Jersey Supreme Court. From 2013 to 2016, Ione was a Deputy Attorney General for the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, where she defended judges, prosecutors, and other State entities in civil rights suits, employment discrimination claims, and tort actions. Ione started working at DVP in February 2016 and is excited to continue working with domestic violence survivors.
Chelsea Whipp, Esq.
Immigration Staff Attorney
Ms. Whipp has served as an immigration researcher, advocate, law clerk and now lawyer in private and social justice firms. Currently at DVP, she represents victims of domestic violence on their immigration matters. She is admitted to the bar in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Beatriz R. Oliva, LMHC
Beatriz has experience in providing individual therapy, co-facilitating psychoeducational and support groups, performing community outreach and clinical trainings. She describes her therapeutic approach as holistic and collaborative: where the client is an active participant of their healing process. Beatriz strongly believes in individual and collective equity, drawing from her experience of helping individuals and families struggling with the trauma of inter-generational family violence, interpersonal violence, substance abuse, child abuse, and poverty in both supportive counseling centers and mental health clinics. Beatriz worked under Elizabeth McGowan at FEGS’ Center for Women and Families and is happy to continue providing clinical services at DVP. Beatriz obtained her undergraduate degree in forensic psychology and gender studies from CUNY and her masters in mental health counseling from NYU. She is fluent in Spanish.
Advocate and Community Organizer
Allie graduated with a B.A. from Hamilton College in May of 2015. In college, Allie worked as a peer advocate for survivors of sexual assault and held various positions with her school's sexual violence education and support group (SAVES). Not long after graduation, Allie began work at the Domestic Violence Project as an intern to the director of development and legal services, Atossa Movahedi. As an advocate at DVP, Allie's specialty will be in financial empowerment. She hopes to help expand the breadth of DVP's services for survivors by implementing various programs and services for overcoming financial abuse and accruing financial independence.
Vanessa Idona started as an intern at Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Project and is currently a social work clinician at DVP. Vanessa graduated from New York University in 2016 with her Master of Social Work, and has a B.A in Psychology. Her goal at DVP is to combine concrete services and clinical work in order to help clients to build their self-esteem, regain their power and control, and to become independent, safe and self-sufficient. Being a native Spanish speaker gives her an advantage when communicating with a diverse group.
Julissa is a legal advocate working on immigration cases at DVP. She graduated from Brooklyn College in 2013 with a degree in Sociology and has since dedicated three years to working with victims of domestic violence in NYC. Julissa is bi-lingual English/Spanish and has worked as both a Hotline counselor and a Hotline Program Coordinator.
Taylor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a B.A. in Communication. During her senior year at Penn, Taylor led the outreach committee for Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), a sexual violence education and advocacy group on campus. After college, Taylor went back to her hometown and participated in the Challenge Detroit fellowship, which is a yearlong program that provides pro-bono consulting services to local non-profit and public organizations on community outreach and design projects. As a Housing Advocate with DVP, Taylor screens clients of the New York Family Justice Centers for housing legal needs.