Who Are We

Community Action Program Legal Services (CAPLAW) is a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)(3) membership corporation. It is managed by a Board of Directors composed of current and former CAA executive directors from across the country. Its staff is based in Boston, with a coordinator in Washington, D.C.


Eleanor A. Evans, Esq.
Executive Director and General Counsel

Eleanor Evans is Executive Director and General Counsel of Community Action Program Legal Services, Inc. (CAPLAW) and General Counsel to Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. Ms. Evans advises Community Action Agencies nationwide on a broad range of legal, governance and compliance matters, writes publications and presents workshops throughout the country on those matters. Before holding these positions, Ms. Evans was CAPLAW’s Deputy Director and Senior Counsel. Prior to joining CAPLAW, she practiced with the Boston law firm of Hill & Barlow, where she represented nonprofit and for-profit organizations in corporate, tax and employee benefits matters. Ms. Evans is co-author of “Being a Player: A Guide to the IRS Lobbying Regulations for Advocacy Charities,” published by the Alliance for Justice. She is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center.

Allison Ma'luf, Esq.
Deputy Director and Senior Counsel

Allison Ma’luf, Esq. is Deputy Director and Senior Counsel at CAPLAW. She advises community action agencies on a wide range of legal issues, including board responsibilities, Head Start, employment law, and tax-exempt organization law requirements. Prior to joining CAPLAW, Ms. Ma’luf practiced law as a corporate associate at Goodwin Procter LLP in Boston, Massachusetts and Troutman Sanders LLP in Atlanta, Georgia where she represented public and private companies and nonprofit organizations in general corporate matters. She also completed a two-year appointment to the Staff Attorney’s Office at the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit. Ms. Ma’luf received her undergraduate and law degrees from Wake Forest University.


Stephanie Knechtle
Communications Coordinator

Stephanie Knechtle is the Communications Coordinator at CAPLAW, where she is responsible for developing, coordinating and implementing CAPLAW’s communications and outreach strategy.  She designs and manages a variety of resources including the website, publications, live and virtual trainings and the communications strategy for CAPLAW’s annual national training conference.  Prior to joining CAPLAW, Ms. Knechtle worked with Film Chest, Inc., headquartered in Bridgeport, CT, where she managed social media campaigns, web development, and design projects.  Ms. Knechtle received her bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Gordon College in Wenham, MA.


Ashley Billingsley
Administrative Coordinator and Executive Assistant

Ashley Billingsley brings a background in nonprofit and business administration, with experience ranging from public relations and marketing to grant writing and records management. Between 2006-2010, she served as Administrative Manager with A/E/C Strategy, a Boston-based architecture, engineering and construction consulting firm. She subsequently launched Aesthetic Logic, an exhibit design and construction consulting firm, where she managed business development and operations in partnership with the co-founder and principal designer. A freelance writer and exhibiting artist, she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before completing a BFA at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, and an MFA through the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University joint degree program.

Board of Directors

Winston A. Ross, CAPLAW President
Executive Director, Westchester Community Opportunity Program

David Brightbill, CAPLAW Vice-President
Executive Director, Washington-Morgan Counties Community Action Program

Gale F. Hennessey, CAPLAW Treasurer
Executive Director, Southern NH Services, Inc.

Jerralynn Ness, Secretary
Executive Director, Community Action serving Washington County

Cynthia Burton, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, Community Service Programs of West AL, Inc.

Hal Cohen, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, Central Vermont Community Action Council

Kathy DiNolfi, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, A New Leaf - Mesa Community Action Network

Pam LaFrenz, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, Missouri Valley Community Action Agency

Douglas Rauthe, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana

Sandra Sewell, CAPLAW Board Member
Executive Director, AJFC Community Action Agency, Inc.

Leonard Dawson, CAPLAW Board Member, Emeritus
Former Executive Director, Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority, Inc.

Patricia Steiger, CAPLAW Board Member, Emeritus
Management Consultant & Former Executive Director, National Community Action Management Academy