College of Law > About > Events & CLE > Featured Events > Family Law Symposium > Presenters
Kelly Behre has more than 15 years of experience working with victims of domestic and sexual violence and is the director of the UC Davis Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, which provides free civil legal assistance to low-income victims of intimate partner violence in Yolo County, California.
Previously, Ms. Behre developed a Domestic and Sexual Assault Clinic at the West Virginia University College of Law and taught Family Law and Professional Responsibility as a visiting associate professor. From 2009-2011, she was acting director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic and visiting assistant professor of clinical legal education at the University of Alabama School of Law. Ms. Behre also served as a staff attorney at the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and at the Sexual Assault Legal Institute of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Ms. Behre has published scholarly works on pro bono work and family law issues, and she has provided trainings to legal professionals and advocacy groups on domestic and sexual violence law, legal education issues and public interest law. She earned her JD from Washington and Lee University and her bachelor’s degree from Emory University.
Andrea Belard is the supervising attorney for the domestic violence team at the Legal Aid Society (LAS), which is the legal advocacy arm of Metropolitan Family Services. There, she provides legal advice and representation to clients seeking a dissolution of marriage. Prior to joining LAS, Ms. Belard worked at a small private practice where she focused on complex divorce and custody matters.
Ms. Belard is the current treasurer for the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI), president of HLAI Charities and a past member of DePaul’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center advisory board. She received her JD from DePaul College of Law, where she also received a Certificate in Family Law. Ms. Belard received her BA from Northeastern Illinois University where she majored in Business Administration.
Hon. Rhonda Bruno is an associate judge in Lake County, Illinois. Prior to being appointed judge in July 2020, Judge Bruno worked as an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois, from 1985 to 1990 and as an assistant state’s attorney in Lake County, Illinois, from 1990 to 2001. In Lake County, she supervised the Misdemeanor, Traffic and Domestic Violence Division, where she specialized in child abuse, reckless homicide and domestic abuse cases. In 2001, Judge Bruno went into private practice focusing on criminal, family law, DCFS, and juvenile cases, as well as guardian ad litem civil and criminal cases. She also served as special counsel for the Public Defender’s Office between 2001 and 2020.
Dr. Sonya Crabtree-Nelson is an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at DePaul University and has over 15 years of direct practice experience working in the areas of child welfare and domestic violence. Dr. Crabtree-Nelson’s research focuses on domestic violence, trauma and resiliency, and she has presented at national and international conferences and published articles in peer-reviewed journals on these topics. She received her PhD in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and her MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work.
Brendan Hammer is a partner with Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP. He is an experienced and acclaimed trial lawyer in the field of family law, widely praised for his creative and psychologically sophisticated approach to litigation. Mr. Hammer represents a wide variety of individuals, from executives, entrepreneurs, and medical, legal and creative professionals to political figures, professional athletes and their spouses. He concentrates his practice on the litigation of sophisticated family law matters including high conflict parenting disputes, the valuation and division of assets, fraud and dissipation claims, complex compensation structures, spousal challenges to trust and estate plans, and high net worth maintenance and child support. Mr. Hammer also is a well-regarded presenter and teacher who speaks, educates and publishes on various trial-related matters including cross-examination, evidence, the performance aspects of litigation, trial techniques and oral argument.
Hon. Victoria M. Kennison is an associate judge on the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois, appointed to this position in September 2011. During her tenure on the bench, Judge Kennison has concentrated in the area of domestic violence, issuing thousands of orders of protection on behalf of victims. She also served as interim presiding judge of the Criminal Misdemeanor Division in 2017 where she was responsible for leading the numerous misdemeanor courtrooms in Will County, Illinois.
Dr. Dorothy Kozlowski is a Vincent de Paul professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Neuroscience at DePaul University. Her teaching and research focuses on neuroscience. Specifically, Dr. Kozlowski’s lab uses animal models to study how the brain tries to repair itself following traumatic brain injury through neuroplasticity and why repeat concussions result in long-term neurological deficits. Her research has been published in a variety of journals and book chapters, and she has received support from the National Institutes of Health and the United States Department of Defense. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Kozlowski offers concussion education presentations to youth in the Chicago area in order to teach young athletes about the symptoms of concussion and how to play sports safely. She also is actively working on bringing attention to the role concussions play in victims of domestic and interpersonal violence.
Hon. Pamela E. Loza is a judge for the Domestic Relations Division of the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois, having been elected to the bench in 2008. Over the course of her judicial career, Judge Loza has held assignments in the Traffic Court and the Domestic Relations Division.In 2010, she was appointed supervising judge of the Paternity/Child Support Enforcement Department of the Domestic Relations Division.Prior to her election, Judge Loza worked as an attorney in private practice, specializing in family and criminal matters.Before that, she spent three years as an assistant state’s attorney in the Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney’s Office.
Dr. Amelia Mindthoff earned her PhD from Florida International University in 2020 and is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Iowa State University, collaborating with Dr. Christian Meissner in the Applied Cognition Lab. Dr. Mindthoff’s research primarily focuses on applying psychological principles to address issues in the investigative interviewing and legal domains, and her research topics include: policing as related to investigations (e.g., investigative interviewing, interrogations and related evidence-based training); juror perceptions and decision-making regarding various topics such as interrogations and forensic evidence; and judicial assessments. Her findings have been published in academic journals, and several of her projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Psychology-Law Society. Dr. Mindthoff’s overall goal is to conduct research that can equip law enforcement and legal actors with the tools that can help them achieve their objectives.
Aileen Robinson has worked for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) Domestic Violence/Crime Victim Services Program for the past 22 years. For the last five years, she has served as the domestic violence operations coordinator charged with the department's response to domestic violence. Most recently, she was named assistant director of the new Crime Victim Services Program. Prior to joining the CPD, Ms. Robinson worked for a variety of domestic violence and women-centered community based agencies. She has a special interest in working and volunteering with organizations that address child abuse and neglect. In addition to her work at the CPD, Ms. Robinson is an adjunct professor at National Louis University and a consultant for a local federal housing community. Ms. Robinson has a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in professional counseling, and she has received several local awards and was featured in several media interviews.
Danielle Parisi Ruffatto is director of emergency services at Ascend Justice where she manages all aspects of the agency’s services related to orders of protection. Prior to this role, she served as director of pro bono and training, having originally joined Ascend Justice as a staff attorney, representing clients in order of protection, divorce and family law cases.
Before joining Ascend Justice, Ms. Parisi Ruffatto served initially as a staff attorney and then executive director of First Defense Legal Aid. In those roles, she represented low-income clients who were arrested or detained, trained and supervised volunteer attorneys, wrote grants, and managed a variety of executive projects. Ms. Parisi Ruffatto received a BA, with honors, from DePaul University and her JD from the University of Illinois. She currently represents the 12th District on the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues. She also serves as a volunteer content contributor for Illinois Legal Aid Online, as a member of the St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Domestic Violence Ministry, and as a member Neighbors for Affordable Housing.
Masah S. SamForay is the founder of The Foray Firm, which has locations in both Homewood, Illinois, and Houston, Texas. She is highly experienced in managing family law cases, including complex child support, custody, and divorce matters.
Ms. SamForay is among The National Black Lawyers Top 100, and she serves on the Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors. She was the 2019 chair of the Illinois State Bar Association Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Law Committee and was an active member of the Family Law Section Council. Ms. SamForay also is co-founder and past president of the Black Bar Association of Will County, Illinois, she previously served on the board of directors of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago and she was a 2019 recipient of the 40 Under 40 Award for the National Bar Association. She is active in the Cook County Bar Association, where she currently serves as chair of the Family Law Committee. Ms. SamForay received both her JD and BA from Indiana University Bloomington.
Adam Sheppard is a partner in Sheppard Law Firm PC, focusing in criminal law. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Sheppard gained extensive trial experience with the Cook County, Illinois, Public Defender's Office where he was honored to be the recipient of the Jack Carey Merit Award Scholarship.
Mr. Sheppard has been repeatedly recognized as a Illinois "Super Lawyer" in the areas of white collar criminal defense and criminal defense in Super Lawyersmagazine and in Chicago magazine.He also has been honored by Leading Lawyer magazine, beingnamed as an "Emerging Lawyer" in the areas of white collar criminal defense and criminal defense.Mr. Sheppard has authored over 18 legal articles, which have been published in respected legal periodicals, and he has taught continuing legal education seminars for the Chicago Bar Association and Decalogue Society on state and federal criminal law issues.He also has been a guest lecturer at UIC John Marshall Law School on search and seizure issues in the school setting.
Professor D. Kelly Weisberg has been a faculty member at University of California Hastings College of Law for more than 35 years. She teaches courses on family law, domestic violence, stalking, juvenile justice, children and the law, and wills and trusts. Since 2013, she has served as editor of Domestic Violence Report, a national newsletter on domestic violence law and policy. In that role, she was awarded the 2021 Hope Rising Journalism Award at the 21st Annual International Family Justice Center Conference. The award recognizes those who have helped advance awareness, training and policy change around domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking.
Professor Weisberg is the author of several law review articles and books on family law and domestic violence, including: MODERN FAMILY LAW; CASES AND MATERIALS (Wolters Kluwer, 7th ed., 2020), DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW (West Academic Pub. Co. 2019) and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: LEGAL AND SOCIAL REALITY (Wolters Kluwer, 2nd ed., 2019). She is also a liaison to the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Professor Weisberg received her undergraduate degree, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Sociology and French Literature, and her PhD in Sociology from Brandeis University, and she received her JD from the University of California Berkeley School of Law.