Daniel G. Atkins, Esq. – Executive Director
Since 1990, Dan has been a disabilities rights and poverty lawyer with the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) in Delaware, where he now serves as Executive Director. CLASI is the largest and oldest legal aid program in Delaware, with a staff of 50 and a budget of over $5 million. CLASI also operates three Medical Legal Partnerships (MLPs)—one with the State Division of Public Health serving high risk pregnant women, one with a large regional hospital system, Christiana Care Health System addressing the social determinants of health for patients below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, and one with a large non-profit supporting homeless veterans.
Since 1998, Dan has served as an Adjunct Professor at Widener University School of Law, where he co-teaches courses on disabilities law, poverty law, and MLPs. Dan also founded and directs HELP: MLP at Widener University, which operates two MLPs in Southeast Pennsylvania—one with The Foundation for Delaware County’s Healthy Start/Nurse-Family Partnership in Chester, Pennsylvania, and the other with National Nurse-Led Care Consortium’s Nurse-Family Partnership in Philadelphia. Both support low income pregnant women and parents. Dan provides technical assistance to fledgling MLPs and other legal services programs around the country and publishes frequently about poverty law, disability law, and MLPs in legal and public health journals. In 2015, Dan received the ACLU-Delaware’s Gerald E. Kandler Award for outstanding commitment to the cause of civil liberties. In 2016, he received the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership’s Advocate Award for leadership in the advancement of MLPs nationally. He is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Jordan Casey, Esq. – Staff Attorney
Jordan has practiced poverty law with HELP: MLP since February 2016. He has represented low income clients in a broad spectrum of civil matters, including private landlord-tenant evictions, public housing matters, public benefit disputes, and consumer issues. Prior to joining HELP: MLP, Jordan served as a staff attorney with MidPenn Legal Services. While in law school, he served as a legal intern at the Homeless Advocacy Project in Philadelphia, and was a student participant in HELP: MLP. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Wooster and a Juris Doctor degree from Widener University School of Law.
Shannon Mace, Esq., MPH – Public Health Law Consultant
Shannon serves as the Public Health Law Consultant for HELP: MLP, in addition to being one of HELP: MLP’s founding members. Shannon has over 10 years of experience working in the fields of poverty law, public health, and behavioral health in government administration as well as for nonprofit organizations. Shannon currently serves as a Senior Advisor for the National Council for Behavioral Health. Shannon’s also an Adjunct Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Public Health Initiatives and an Adjunct Instructor at Moravian College. Prior roles include Director of Policy Implementation for Community Oriented Correctional Health Services; Director of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Behavioral Health; Director of the Office of Policy and Planning at the Baltimore City Health Department and Health Reform and Health Equity Manager for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disABILITIES Services. She holds a law degree and a certificate in Health Law from Widener University Delaware School of Law and a Master of Public Health degree from Thomas Jefferson University. Shannon was awarded the Reed Hamilton Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law in 2011. Shannon is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania.
Rachel Mark, Esq. – Staff Attorney
Rachel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2014, where she participated in the Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic, was an intern with Community Legal Services (Philadelphia) and the Legal Aid Society (New York City), and also served as the Symposium Editor for the Journal of Constitutional Law. Prior to joining HELP: MLP in 2016, Rachel spent a year as an associate with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, in New York City, where she was also an Associate Advisory Board Member for Legal Services New York City. Rachel now serves as an attorney in our Philadelphia office, where she supports our partnership with Nurse-Family Partnership of Philadelphia. Rachel holds a Bachelors of Arts in History with honors from Columbia University, and is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Laura Handel Schwartz, Esq. – Managing Attorney
Laura Handel Schwartz is the Managing Attorney of HELP: MLP’s Chester based program at the Foundation of Delaware County’s Healthy Start and Nurse-Family Partnership. Laura has served as the full-time attorney at HELP: MLP since February 2010 and co-teaches the Medical-Legal Partnership class at Widener University School of Law. Laura has represented low-income clients in resolving a wide range of legal matters, including access and retention of public benefits, housing issues including private and public housing disputes and accessing emergency shelter, providing broad legal support to victims of domestic violence, accessing special education services and securing accommodations for students with disabilities, and representation on family law issues such as child custody, support, and advocacy for families who are involved with child protective services. Laura’s special area of expertise is public benefits and income supports, and she focuses the majority of her practice on individual and systemic advocacy in this field. While in law school, Laura worked at Delaware Volunteer Legal Services, Inc. and participated in the Delaware Civil Law Clinic, representing victims of domestic violence on civil legal matters. Laura graduated from Widener University School of Law in 2008, and won the Christine M. McDermott Legacy Award for Outstanding Performance in Widener’s Clinical Program and Ongoing Dedication to Pro Bono Legal Service that same year. Laura is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
James Teufel, PhD, MPH – Public Health Evaluation Consultant
James is the Director and Assistant Professor of Public Health at Moravian College. Before Moravian College, Dr. Teufel was the Director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health at Mercyhurst University and the National Health and Evaluation Director of the OASIS Institute. He has substantiated the business case for the integration of medicine and civil legal aid in the United States by developing return on investment models that support the scaling and sustainability of medical-legal partnerships. James has promoted the concept of prescribing attorneys, not medication, to treat disease. He uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines public health, social science, and business to change systems that impact population health. James has made over 90 professional presentations in the disciplines of public health, medicine, aging, and law. His current interests also include strengthening business cases, bridging shared values, and promoting the use of return on investment among nonprofit organizations to achieve collective impact. James’s research and teaching expertise includes medical-legal partnerships, evidence-based practices, program evaluation, social determinants of health, return on investment, and health promotion. He provides services to communities by developing community-university partnerships, disseminating medical-legal partnerships, writing grants for community-based organizations, and assisting organizations with strategic planning and evaluation. In 2014, James received the Advocate Award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership for his contributions to the advancement of MLPs nationally. He holds an MPH in Health Promotion and Education from the University of South Carolina-Columbia, and a PhD in Health Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
Vikrum Vishnubhakta, MBA, MPH – Public Health Evaluation Consultant
Vikrum’s work focuses on data extraction and appraisal, program evaluation, complex statistical reasoning, and health policy research and analysis. He has conducted several evaluation analyses centered on efforts to improve maternal and child health, adolescent health, and health for individuals with one or more chronic conditions. Vikrum has been instrumental in assessing the health outcomes for individuals with asthma and/or diabetes, and appraising the well-being of adolescents in juvenile detention centers. He also has experience designing statewide preconception and prenatal care programs, statewide home visiting programs, and programs on reproductive health education. Vikrum earned an MPH with a concentration in Health Policy and Management from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and served as a Visiting Researcher at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He also earned his MBA from the Columbia Business School.
Adriano Boccanelli – Public Health Fellow
Adriano Boccanelli is a public health professional with over 10 years of project management experience in the field of behavioral healthcare and proven ability to manage strategic and organizational projects to drive results through a wide assortment of technical assistance, training, and public health initiatives. Adriano is serving as a Public Health Fellow assisting HELP: MLP with initiatives related to project dissemination, research, and public health evaluation. In addition to his role at HELP: MLP, Adriano is a Project Manager of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Behavioral Health, where he manages a variety of government and privately-funded initiatives designed to enable quality practice improvement and workforce development in mental illness and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery organizations. Prior to joining the National Council, Adriano worked at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry supporting multiple projects aimed at meeting the professional needs of child and adolescent psychiatrists, with the ultimate goal of improving access to high-quality, outcome-based, and cost-effective treatment for children and adolescents with mental health disorders. Adriano is currently working on completing an MPH program with the University of Massachussetts at Amherst.