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.

CAPLAW Staff

 
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.

 
Jean Carr, Esq.
Assisstant Counsel

Jean Carr is Assistant Counsel at CAPLAW, where she advises community action agencies on a wide range of legal issues including nonprofit corporate law, board governance, employment law, and federal grant law.  Prior to joining CAPLAW, Ms. Carr practiced at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She has acted as in-house counsel for several large global financial services firms.  She also has served as legal advisor to a nonprofit organization providing loans and financial training to cooperative businesses in Latin America and Africa.  She is a gradulate of the University of Illinois and the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.

 
Michael Shepsis, Esq.
Staff Attorney

Michael Shepsis, Esq. is Staff Attorney at CAPLAW, where he conducts research and advises community action agencies on a wide range of legal matters, including tax-exempt organization law requirements, nonprofit corporate governance, and employment law. Prior to joining CAPLAW, he practiced law at a foreclosure defense firm that represented indigent clients facing foreclosure. Mr. Shepsis also completed several years at a large regional CPA firm, where he audited the financial statements of private companies and nonprofit organizations, and prepared federal and state tax returns. Mr. Shepsis is a graduate of Boston University and Northeastern University School of Law.

 

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

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

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

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