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About Us

Mission and Vision

The Colorado Poverty Law Project's mission is to prevent homelessness through legal representation, education, and advocacy.

Our Vision: We believe that no one should become homeless for lack of access to housing justice.

 
 

Meet the Team

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Shannon MacKenzie

Deputy Executive Director & Managing Attorney, CPLP

Shannon is a former teacher and a civil rights attorney specializing in disability law.  She works full-time for CPLP and uses her training as a trauma-informed practitioner to ensure that every client is treated with dignity and provided with exceptional service.

“When a family loses their home, it impacts their work, their health, and their kids’ education. It’s just devastating.  When I was a teacher, I saw the horrific impact losing a home had on my students and their families.  When people contact CPLP, they are in the most stressful situation. They may have a pending eviction and think they're going to quickly experience homelessness. They’re often in tears. I just let them tell me their story.  Even if their issue doesn’t rise to the level of a legal problem,  sometimes just being there to let them tell me what they’ve been going through and allowing them to feel heard is important.”

Contact Shannon with questions about getting legal help, becoming a volunteer, or any other CPLP inquiry (shannon@copovertylawproject.org)

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David Valleau

Housing Attorney, CPLP

Mobile Home Initiative Team  Leader

David is a full-time member of the CPLP staff. He is a driving force behind the organization’s Mobile Home Initiative, and uses his in-depth knowledge of Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act to lead Know-Your-Rights trainings and provide pro bono legal guidance and representation for mobile home park residents. 

“It's often said that there are no rights without remedy. While the Mobile Home Park Act gives many rights to mobile home residents, those rights are meaningless without access to justice. Taken a step further, these rights mean nothing if mobile home residents are unaware of them. That is what I see as CPLP’s purpose.  We educate residents about their rights and facilitate access to justice and representation so residents can fulfill the rights provided to them by the Colorado legislature.”

Contact David for inquires about CPLP’s Mobile Home Initiative (david@copovertylawproject.org

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Lauren Rafter

Housing Attorney, CPLP

Young Adult Team Leader

Lauren is a full-time member of the CPLP staff. Her background is in working with young adults who have experienced trauma on a variety of legal and multidisciplinary issues and representing the best interests of children in civil protection order cases. She is the Intake Coordinator at CPLP, working to ensure every individual seeking legal support feels heard and empowered to take the next necessary steps

“Safe and stable housing is integral in building a foundation upon which to thrive for people of all ages, and far too many people in our community are without that or at risk of losing that. CPLP steps in--meeting people where they are at--to address the crises they are facing. We also work with community partners through education, policy, and legislation to stop those same crises from happening to others in the future so that one day soon all of our neighbors in Colorado may be free from the trauma of experiencing homelessness.”

Contact  Lauren with questions about getting legal assistance  (lauren@copovertylawproject.org

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Olivia Kohrs

Housing Attorney, CPLP

Olivia is a full-time member of the CPLP staff. She uses her background in civil rights to inform how she provides client-centered legal guidance and resources to individuals fighting evictions.

"Too often the members of our community most intimately impacted by our complex legal systems do not have the resources or aid to participate fully or confidently in them. CPLP provides community members with both the tools and the support to engage in these systems and advocate for their rights. By expanding access to justice and working to amplify community members' voices in these spaces, we can help individuals who are fighting for their homes feel heard and empowered, and let them know that they have someone in their corner."

Contact  Olivia with questions about getting legal assistance  (Olivia@copovertylawproject.org

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Andrea Worcester

Paralegal, CPLP

Andrea is our intake paralegal and Spanish interpreter. Growing up in Colorado, Andrea has seen the population of the unhoused community grow with very little assistance being offered. Finding CPLP has given Andrea the avenue to help people access housing justice.  As the intake paralegal and often first point of contact, Andrea compassionately offers assistance and resources to help members feel safe to share their story. 

Contact Andrea with questions about getting legal assistance  (Andrea@copovertylawproject.org

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Caitlin Finn

Founder and Executive Director, CPLP

VP of Finance & Admin, General Counsel, Concept3D

After graduating law school in 2014, Caitlin became CPLP’s first employee.  Drawing on her deep roots in Denver and her skills as a network builder, Caitlin has forged strong relationships with key stakeholders and helped position CPLP as an important player in Denver’s pro bono ecosystem. 

“Bryan Stevenson often discusses the importance of proximity. Proximity is so important because if you’re not in contact with the things you’re passionate about, the causes you believe in, and the people you want to help, then you lose sight of why you’re doing it.  You lose sight of who you are doing it for.  So I think it’s super important, especially as attorneys, that we remember why we went to law school. A client once said to me ‘Thank you for advocating for me. Thanks for standing up for me. You believed in me, and no one else has before.’  Sometimes it’s just showing up with someone and walking through a portion of their life with them that matters.”    

Contact Caitlin for partnership inquiries (caitlin@copovertylawproject.org)

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Blair Kanis

Founder and Vice President, CPLP

General Counsel and Director of Sustainability, Cocona Labs

Blair founded CPLP with Tom Snyder in 2013 to provide vulnerable Coloradans with legal representation through monthly pro bono legal clinics. As the leader of CPLP’s Mobile Home Initiative, Blair works to clarify and strengthen protections afforded by Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act and guides CPLP’s pro bono work in the area of mobile home evictions and tenant rights.

“I had a very clear sense of home growing up. My dad’s family had lived for generations on the farm where I grew up.  But I realize that this situation is the outlier in America. That’s where this idea of housing justice really took hold for me. If you don't have safe and stable housing, you can’t build a strong, healthy, happy life. If you lose your housing, it’s like unraveling this web that everything was connected to.  You don't have an address to send things to anymore. You are probably not living close to your job anymore. Your kids aren't in the same school or you may lose custody altogether.  But if you can hold on, and stay in your housing, that provides the stability to hopefully keep the rest together.”

Contact Blair with inquiries about CPLP’s Mobile Home Initiative (blair@copovertylawproject.org

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Tom Snyder

Founder and President, CPLP

Partner, Kutak Rock LLP

Drawing on his expertise as a trial attorney, Tom serves as an advisor on litigation and legal strategy for CPLP volunteers.  He is instrumental in the creation of CPLP’s Continuing Legal Education courses, and regularly provides pro bono services to CPLP clients on a range of housing justice issues.

"Advocating for these individuals is extremely rewarding. To interview somebody, coalesce their circumstances into a single legal issue, summarize it for them to show that you understand, carry that to a court or an adversary, and resolve the problem which seemed so impossible to them, it’s really powerful and true to the occupation of an attorney."

Contact Tom with inquires about Continuing Legal Education courses (thomas.snyder@kutakrock.com)

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Lisa Scalpone

Chief Financial Officer, CPLP

Lisa Scalpone is a technology executive who joined CPLP’s board to provide financial and administrative guidance as the organization entered a period of sustained growth.

Her strong background in corporate law and business strategy enables the team to maximize its work with clients in need.

“One could argue helping people stay in their homes is one of the most fundamental things you can do for a person. Our mental stability and our happiness is closely linked to having a place to go home to every night.  It's a truly scary prospect to be faced with an eviction court proceeding all alone. CPLP  provides that safety net so our fellow community members in need are not alone. You are with someone the whole way, who knows the law and who wants to help you. I'm proud to be a part of such an important organization.

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Kevin M. McGreevy

Senior Advisor, CPLP

Criminal Defense, Ridley, McGreevy, Winocur

Kevin worked for six years as a public defender in Denver before joining a private firm, and has the honor of being CPLP’s first board member. He has utilized his experience as a litigator to guide many vulnerable Colordans through legal challenges over the years and regularly volunteers at CPLP’s monthly legal clinic.

“There are a lot of reasons I think people should care about the Colorado Poverty Law Project, but most of them boil down to this one basic thing.  It makes our community stronger.  Caring for one another, making sure all who are subjected to the justice system have someone that can give them access to resources or an understanding of where they are so they are not mistreated.  Even if you are vulnerable, uneducated, or suffering from mental illness, we’re not going to allow for exploitation of those issues in our justice system. It just builds our community as a whole.”

Partners

CPLP is grateful to all the partners who make our work possible, including donors who support our work, volunteers who give their time, service providers with whom we collaborate, and community organizations that help us reach and support those in need of assistance.

 

Colorado’s Eviction Legal Defense Fund helps support CPLP’s Just Housing Initiative. The Just Housing Initiative  expands access to housing justice for vulnerable tenants through education and volunteer pro bono representation to defend against evictions and help with other housing issues.

In 2020, CPLP launched a pilot program of its Mobile Home Initiative in partnership with Adams County, which has the highest concentration of mobile homes in Colorado. 

In 2019, the Colorado Health Foundation provided critical funding for CPLP’s Just Housing Initiative.

Continuing support from the Colorado Health Foundation in 2020 has allowed CPLP to work toward statewide expansion of its Mobile Home Initiative in 2021.

Kutak Rock has been an indispensable partner in CPLP’s growth. The firm’s lawyers have provided countless hours volunteering, both in providing legal support services to CPLP as an organization and in providing advice and representation to the individuals CPLP serves. The firm also has been a consistent financial supporter of CPLP. We are proud and honored by the relentless support of Kutak Rock and its attorneys.

The Denver Foundation also provides important funding for CPLP’s Just Housing Initiative, supporting CPLP’s efforts to provide eviction defense and other legal assistance to individuals and families at risk of losing housing in the Denver metro area.

Legal and Social Service Partners 

Our clients often have complex needs that go beyond legal representation or require collaboration between legal service providers. Through our strong relationships with many legal and social service providers in the Front Range and our growing network throughout Colorado, we ensure that each client’s situation is addressed holistically.  Partners include:

Community Support  Partners 

In addition to referrals from service providers, CPLP’s work depends on its strong partnerships in the communities we serve.  Like the service providers listed above, the organizations that support us in these community-based partnerships are the unsung heroes.  They inform us of critical issues facing residents in their communities, assist with outreach efforts, provide referrals, and so much more.