CLC’s Board of Director’s provides essential support, guidance, and oversight to the organization. Our dedicated Directors represent a variety of experiences, industries and professions. Their commitment to CLC and to children and families impacted by abuse and neglect makes them the outstanding ambassadors for the organization – helping to educate others about our mission and about the many ways we can work together to improve outcomes for California’s vulnerable children and families.

Richard E. Drooyan, Chair

Partner, Scheper, Kim & Harris LLP

Mr. Drooyan focuses his practice at Scheper, Kim & Harris LLP on civil litigation, white collar criminal defense and securities enforcement matters. He was formerly a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Prior to his work in private practice, Mr. Drooyan was the Chief Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, responsible for oversight and management of over 200 government lawyers and support staff in the Criminal, Civil and Tax Divisions. Mr. Drooyan has served as President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, General Counsel of the Rampart Independent Review Panel, and Deputy Counsel of the Christopher Commission. A former member of the Boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Inner City Law Center and the Lawyer’s Counsel of CRF, Mr. Drooyan is currently on the Board of the Western Center on Law and Poverty and previously served on the Board of Trustees of Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.

Rusty Areias

California Strategies, LLC, Principal; California State Assembly Member, Retired

In a career that has spanned positions in both private enterprise and public service, Rusty Areias is widely recognized as an effective leader and public servant.  From 1982 – 1994 he served in the California State Assembly, working tirelessly to strengthen our state’s agricultural economy and enhance consumer rights, among other key issues. He was respected for his ability to find bipartisan solutions to complex issues. During his twelve year tenure, Mr. Areias authored 100 pieces of legislation that were signed into law.  He also serves as Director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation and California’s Coastal Commissioner, including two years as the Commission’s chairman.  

Dara Barker


Ms. Barker is an attorney specializing in the area of juvenile law, both dependency and delinquency, and in family law. Ms. Barker developed, implemented and administered court policies and programs designed to improve the functioning of the juvenile court and the lives of dependents and wards under juvenile court jurisdiction. As an attorney for the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, and as a minor’s counsel in family court, she represented numerous foster children and children in the middle of highly contested custody and visitation proceedings. She also served as a parenting plan coordinator and represented foster-adopt parents. Ms. Barker earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She taught juvenile law in the Children’s Rights Fellow program at Whittier Law School and taught at the UCLA School of Law. She co-authored a law review article, published in the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, entitled “A Child-Centered Response to the Elkins Family Law Task Force.” She has been a foster parent herself and adopted a child from the foster care system.

Frank C. Damrell

Federal Judge of the United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Retired

Appointed to the Federal bench by President Clinton in 1997, Judge Damrell served on numerous national and circuit judicial committees.  In 2008 he was appointed by United States Chief Justice John Roberts to serve on the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation where he served until his retirement in 2011.  He was also selected by the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court,  Tani Cantil-Sakauye, to lead the Federal/State Steering Committee on Civic Education.  During his distinguished legal career, he led a host of charitable, educational, political, and cultural organizations and activities, including serving as President of the Consumers Federation of California.  He was appointed by Governor Ronald Reagan to the California State Consumer Advisory Council and appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to Chair of the same Council.  Judge Damrell has served on the Board of Regents for University of Santa Clara, the Board of Visitors for the University of Santa Clara Law School, the Board of Overseers of the McCarthy Center for Public Services at University of San Francisco, and the Board of Trustees at University of California, Merced. 


Alexandra Denman

Former Attorney and Founding Partner of Allderdice and Denman

After more than 38 years of practicing law, first in the field of antitrust and trade regulation on behalf of worldwide clients (such as Mobil Oil and American Home Products), at the Wall Street law firm of Donovan Leisure Newton and Irvine, later as an entertainment lawyer on behalf of motion picture and television financiers such as Paramount Pictures Corporation as a staff attorney, as a Vice President for Theatrical Affairs at United Artists and finally as a founding partner of the law firm of Allderdice and Denman, Ms. Denman retired as a practicing lawyer. She now devotes her time and energy to various charitable activities for which she has a passion. She is a member of the Board of the International Fund for Animal Welfare and a member of the Partnership Council of the Humane Society of the United States. Ms. Denman has a strong and long time interest in assuring that abused and neglected children have effective legal representation and is honored to be a member of the Board for the Children’s Law Center. She received her B.A. from Vassar College in 1969 and graduated with honors from the George Washington University Law School in 1973.

Paul L. Freese Jr.

Consultant, Holistic Humanizing Interventions to Poverty

As the former Director of Litigation and Advocacy, Neighborhood Legal Services Los Angeles, the public interest law office of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills Bar Associations and the largest provider of pro bono legal services in the United States, Mr. Freese supervises more than 30 attorneys and their staff. He previously served as Directing Attorney of the Homelessness Prevention Law Project and currently serves as Interim CEO of Public Counsel. Prior to joining Public Counsel, Mr. Freese was a litigation associate with the law firm of Perkins Coie. Mr. Freese serves on many committees, task forces and working groups focused upon the needs of the poor and marginalized. These include the ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Association of California, the L.A. County Transition Age Youth subcommittee for the Mental Health Services Act, the Leadership Committee of the Emancipation Planning Partnership for L.A. County, the Juvenile Court Task Force of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), Imagine L.A. and the Executive Committee of the LACBA Individual Rights Section. Mr. Freese was awarded the Antonia Hernandez Public Interest Award from UCLA School of Law and was commended by the County Commission for Children & Family Services for his contributions to efforts to assist the health and welfare of L.A.’s disadvantaged youth. He was also recognized with the Community Corazones Unidos Award for outstanding community service and received a commendation from the Commission for Public Social Services for policy work benefiting homeless individuals.

Dario Frommer

Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Dario Frommer is a leader in Akin Gumps’s California public law and policy practice. He provides strategic legal and political advice to key clients and represents clients in high-stakes matters before state and local government entities, including rulemaking, enforcement actions, procurements and investigations. Mr. Frommer also assists clients in the development of public policy. His broad experience includes energy, climate change, health care, tribal gaming, tax policy, transportation, government procurement and campaign and election law. Mr. Frommer has represented many of California’s most prominent companies and government agencies in his practice. He is a former majority leader of the California State Assembly and has held a variety of high-level state government positions. Prior to his return to private practice in 2006, Mr. Frommer, in addition to serving as the Assembly’s majority leader, chaired that body’s Health Committee. He also occupied a number of high-level state government posts, including serving as appointments secretary to Gov. Gray Davis. Mr. Frommer served as chair of the California Transportation Commission, helping to oversee billions of dollars in funding for highway, road and transit projects. He is Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointee to the Oversight Board for the dissolution of the Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency. In 2016, he was named to the national advisory board of the Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis. He received a J.D. degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law and a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Colgate University.

Leslie Starr Heimov

Executive Director, JD, CWLS, Children’s Law Center of California

Leslie Starr Heimov, Executive Director, has been with the Children’s Law Center of California (CLC) since 1992.  She began her legal career at CLC as a staff attorney, providing direct representation to parents and children in the dependency system, and later moved to a supervising attorney position. In 2004, Ms. Heimov became CLC’s first Policy Director, responsible for CLC’s legislative and policy agendas. In 2007, Ms. Heimov was named Executive Director and under her leadership, CLC expanded its programs to include representation of children in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Placer counties utilizing a multidisciplinary model of representation. She has worked tirelessly to promote best practices for multidisciplinary legal representation and improve outcomes for children and their families in the child welfare system.

Rex S. Heinke

California Appellate Law Group Appellate Counsel

Mr. Heinke is an appellate litigator with the California Appellate Law Group, LLP and has argued over 150 appeals in federal and state courts through the country. He is a member of Bet Tzedek’s and the Children’s Law Center’s Boards of Directors. He has previously served as President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Chancery Club, the L.A. Copyright Society, Public Counsel, and the Los Angeles County Bar Foundation. He has also been a member of the State Bar Board of Governors, the California Judicial Council, the Board of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, the California State Bar’s Advisory Committee on the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, and the California Supreme Court’s Task Force on Multi-Jurisdictional Practice. He is a fellow of the American and California Academies of Appellate Lawyers, and has received several awards, including a First Amendment Lifetime Achievement Award, a Best Appellate Lawyer of the Year award, and the Beacon of Justice award. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Southern California Super Lawyers for over two decades. He has also received two ‘California Lawyer of the Year’ (CLAY) awards from The California Lawyer magazine.

Barbara Yanow Johnson

Johnson Law/Workplace Consulting

Ms. Johnson conducts workplace Investigations. She also serves as an Administrator of the Project Labor Agreement between organized labor and LAX covering over a billion dollars of new construction. Ms. Johnson also serves as a Hearing Officer for the County of Los Angeles Civil Service Commission, and serves on the Los Angeles Police Department Board of Rights. She has served as President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Chair of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, and immediate past Chair of the State Bar IOLTA Program. Ms. Johnson served for eight years as Chief Assistant Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, and prior to that was for six years Special Assistant to the LA County District Attorney.

Neal Kaufman, MD, MPH

Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Canary Health

Neal Kaufman, MD, MPH, is Co-Founder of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and former Commissioner on the First 5 LA Commission. Dr. Kaufman, an experienced clinician and educator, has also been a leader in local, state and national efforts to improve the health of vulnerable populations. He is an expert in a range of areas including developing methods of educating patients and healthcare providers and delivering healthcare in a variety of settings. His 27 year career in academic Pediatrics included being the medical director of programs serving vulnerable children and their families, providing school-linked health and developmental services, developing a variety of programs for underserved children, and creating county-wide systems of healthcare for children in foster care. In 2004, Dr. Kaufman founded DPS Health to enhance the capacity of healthcare providers to improve the health of their patients through research-proven, online self-management support interventions.

Roland T. Kelly

General Counsel, Velocity Financial, Inc.

Mr. Kelly is a corporate, regulatory, governance and finance professional with a career spanning more than 20 years on Wall Street. Currently, Mr. Kelly is the General Counsel of Velocity Financial, Inc., an NYSE-listed real estate finance company.  Prior to taking on the executive position at Velocity, he served as a Managing Director and Associate General Counsel for Jefferies Financial Group Inc., a Fortune 500 company focused on investment and merchant banking. Mr. Kelly previously worked for the international law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and worked as a regulator with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As an attorney licensed in California, New York, and Washington D.C., Mr. Kelly has many years of experience dealing with public, private, and non-profit boards – both as a trusted advisor and board member. He previously was a member of the Board of Directors of Jefferies Family Scholarship and served on its Accounting and Audit Committee. Mr. Kelly earned his BS in Business Administration/Finance, Summa Cum Laude, from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and his JD, Summa Cum Laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law. 

Sally K. Kelly

Principal, Apollo Insurance Solutions Group

Ms. Kelly is a finance executive with thirty plus years of finance, accounting and capital markets experience in the financial services industry.  Currently, she is a Principal with Apollo Insurance Solutions Group.  Apollo is one the largest alternative investment managers serving many of the world’s most prominent institutional investors.  Prior to Apollo, Ms. Kelly was the Chief Financial Officer of The Palisades Group, LLC, an investment adviser specializing in control-based mortgage credit investment strategies.  Previously, Ms. Kelly held senior positions at Bank of America and Bear Stearns.  Ms. Kelly started her career at KPMG where she provided audit and consulting services to public and private companies. Ms. Kelly earned her BS in Business Administration from California State University, Los Angeles and is a Certified Public Accountant in California.

Scott Langley

President of Scott Langley Insurance Agency, Inc

Mr. Langley has served as President of Scott Langley Insurance Agency, Inc., an independently owned State Farm Insurance Agency, providing insurance and financial services in California since 2002. Before opening the Agency, Mr. Langley practiced law with Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison, LLP, in their complex litigation group, focusing on employment, business and securities matters. Mr. Langley has extensive law and motion, and discovery experience in both State and Federal courts. Mr. Langley has always believed in contributing to the community in which he lives and has given his time to various volunteer, community-based and non-profit organizations focused on children. For over 27 years, he has volunteered as a youth sports coach for basketball, soccer, flag football, volleyball, and baseball leagues in the greater Los Angeles area. @CoachScottLangley is affectionately known as the “kid whisperer” for his tireless support, motivation, and encouragement of children from diverse backgrounds and skillsets to reach for success. Most recently, through his work with the Children’s Law Center, Mr. Langley served as an attorney for children impacted by the Department of Children and Family Services due to parental abuse, abandonment, and/or neglect. He assisted children clients with the securing of services, including, but not limited to, regional center services, tutoring, transportation, and financial assistance.

Carol Lifland

AMD Technologies, Inc., Principal

Ms. Lifland frequently serves as a mediator. Prior to becoming general counsel to a number of businesses in the medical device industry over the past 20 years, Ms. Lifland was a litigation partner at Cox, Castle and Nicholson, heading the firm’s in-house legal education program and co-editing its annual review of California law relating to the real estate and financial services industries. From 1980-81, Ms. Lifland worked at the U.S Department of Education in Chicago in the Office of Civil Rights Enforcement, where she co-authored a brief in a major school desegregation suit, analyzed census data and prepared an initial desegregation plan in the same case. From 1977-78, Ms. Lifland served as the Coordinator of a Child Advocacy Project for the Legal Aid Foundation of Chicago, Juvenile Impact Litigation Division. As the ombudsperson for juvenile wards of the state housed in mental health facilities, Ms. Lifland represented clients in administrative hearings regarding placement in “least restrictive alternative” housing and other services, wrote a self-help manual for consumers facing the denial or termination of mental health or social services, prepared materials for press conferences and legislative hearings and conducted community education seminars on administrative advocacy.

Joseph D. Mandel

Vice Chancellor – Legal Affairs Emeritus, University of California Los Angeles (Retired)

As Vice Chancellor from 1991 until his retirement in 2007, Mr. Mandel was responsible for managing the legal affairs of the UCLA campus. Mr. Mandel was also an attorney in the law firm of Tuttle & Taylor and the Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary of Natomas Company. Mr. Mandel has been active on a wide range of associations, committees, and boards of directors, including serving as President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and as President of the Yale Law School Association. Mr. Mandel has been honored for his long standing commitment to public service, and has received the Anti-Defamation League’s Stanley Mosk Liberty Through Justice Award, the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Shattuck-Price Award, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s West Coast Liberty Award, Public Counsel’s Community Service Award, as well as the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’s Maynard Toll Award for his contribution to providing legal services for low income persons. Mr. Mandel also recently completed four years of service as President of the Western Justice Center Foundation, an organization that provides, among other things, violence prevention and conflict resolution education to school children grades 4 through 12.

Samson Mengistu

Principal, The Mengistu Advisors LLC

Samson Mengistu has held various management roles with the City of Los Angeles in a successful public service career that spans more than three decades. He has regularly leveraged strategic relationships across public and private sectors to address complex business needs, and now leads a consulting practice based on those principles. Mr. Mengistu spent 25+ years specializing in airport management. As COO of Los Angeles World Airports, Mr. Mengistu spearheaded operational and technical innovations and supported a team of several thousand colleagues to lead Operations and Emergency Management, Finance and Budget, Administration, Information Technology, Facilities and Maintenance, and Air Service Development at LAX, the fourth largest airport in the world. His capital development and financial planning efforts for LAX guided the construction and acquisition of over $14.8 billion in improvements. Prior to his public sector tenure, he worked extensively in the property management field. He has served on numerous boards and committees in the Los Angeles area. Mr. Mengistu earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Master of Science in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.

Jennifer Perry

Children’s Action Network

Jennifer Perry has been Executive Director of the Children’s Action Network since its inception. The organization is now involved in a campaign devoted to raising awareness about the 119,000 children in this country waiting for adoptive homes, and has been honored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Ms. Perry currently serves on the Board of Directors of the North American Council on Adoptable Children and is the mother of two adopted children.

Tom Pfister

Latham & Watkins LLP (Retired)

After practicing law in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins since 1974, Mr. Pfister retired from Latham in 2006. Mr. Pfister is a Fellow of the American College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, has been named in The Best Lawyers in America, and has been cited by Chambers and Partners’ as a leading California employment attorney. While at Latham, he served on the firm’s Executive Committee and as Managing Partner of its Los Angeles office. Mr. Pfister has also been active in community service. He currently serves on the boards of The Rape Foundation, the Norton Simon Museum and The Seaver Institute. He previously served on the boards of Harvard-Westlake School, the Constitutional Rights Foundation and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Patricia Phillips

Phillips Jessner LLP

Patricia Phillips is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is certified by the State Bar of California as a Family Law Specialist, handling issues relating to the dissolution of marriage, including child custody and support issues. Ms Phillips frequently serves as a mediator and arbitrator for business, employment, and family matters. She is a member of various boards, including the Board of Maternal and Child Health Access and Loyola Law School Board of Visitors. She is a frequent lecturer and writer on family law issues, methods of dispute resolution, and professionalism. Ms. Phillips was the first woman to be elected President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and received its highest award, the Shattuck-Price Award. She has received numerous awards, including the ACLU Pro Bono Advocacy Award and most recently was honored for her community service by Maternal and Child Health Access and the Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center.

Individuals interested in learning about the role of the Board and how you can get involved in supporting CLC’s work should contact Board Chair, Richard Drooyan; Chair of the Board Governance Committee, Joe Mandel; or CLC Executive Director, Leslie Heimov