Director of Legal Services and Advocacy
Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas has over 20 years of direct legal experience working in the District of Columbia’s legal services community. She is currently the Director of Legal Services and Advocacy for Advocates for Justice and Education where she has spent over the last eleven years representing hundreds of parents/students in school discipline, special education and other educational matters. She is currently responsible for managing all legal services provided to AJE families and its legal programs. In addition, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas provides training on educational matters involving school discipline, special education and other educational rights to parents, youth, school staff and other professionals.
Prior to joining AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas was the Assistant Director for Legal Operations at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP). She began her career at NLSP as a Covington & Burling Howard C. Westwood Fellow where spent over seven years providing free legal services to low-income D.C. residents in the areas of public entitlement, education, employment, social security benefits, housing, family, and consumer law, at the administrative, trial court and appellate levels.
Ms. Hiligh-Thomas is a native Washingtonian and graduate of a District of Columbia public high school. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Tuskegee University and a law degree from the District of Columbia School of Law. She is currently co-chair of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers and has been reappointed by Mayor Bowser as a parent member of the State Advisory Panel on Special Education. Ms. Hiligh-Thomas is the proud mother of four children who attend a public school in D.C., one of whom has special needs.
Maria Blaeuer is a Staff Attorney who joined AJE in 2016. She has spent most of her legal career in private practice focusing on special education law and the needs of students with disabilities in low-to-moderate income communities. As part of that practice, she has provided professional development and continuing education about special education to attorneys, teachers and other service providers in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
In her current role, Ms. Blaeuer works with schools and families to ensure that students receive the best education possible under the law. She brings a unique perspective to this role, having participated in the IEP and special education process as a student with an IEP herself, as a teacher of students with disabilities, as a parent, and now at AJE, as an attorney for students and families.
She obtained her Bachelor’s degree with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law and is pursing a Master’s degree in Education Policy. Ms. Blaeuer is a native of the Washington D.C. region, and serves as an appointed member of the Montgomery County, MD Commission on Juvenile Justice, and is on the board of a small charter school serving at-risk and over-age and under-credited students. She is also the proud parent of three children.
Educational Support Specialist
Ruby Logan joined Advocates for Justice and Education in 2013. Ms. Logan holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Pedology, the study of the behavior and development of children and adolescence. She has over 10 years of experience working in Early Childhood Education settings. Ms. Logan is devoted to supporting the needs of children and families. She enjoys engaging and collaborating with families to provide support and assistance to meet the needs of their children. She also loves traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Bi-Lingual Educational Support Specialist/Parent Support Worker
Berta Mata joined Advocates for Justice and Education in 2001. She is a mother of four sons, one whom has special needs. In her current role, Mrs. Mata provides one-on-one assistance, training and emotional support to Latino families to ensure their children receive appropriate education and health services. She also leads outreach efforts to immigrant communities to support newly settled families with navigating resources and systems of support. Mrs. Mata has a firm commitment to supporting special needs children and their families. She’s also active in the Latino community including her local church. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading and walking.
Leonard Stevens joined AJE in 2015 as a Youth Advocate. Mr. Stevens is a young adult who participated in AJE’s Transition Advocacy Project (TAP) as a school-age youth. In his current role, Mr. Stevens provides advice to youth with special needs on how to successfully transition from school to adult-life. He also advocates for the needs of young people by participating in stakeholder meetings and communicating with policymakers. Mr. Stevens graduated high school with honors. He is currently enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Foreign Languages.
Director, Parent and Youth Engagement
Jazmone Taylor is a seasoned professional who has been with AJE since 2012. In her current role as Director of Parent and Youth Engagement, she manages various education and health projects providing direct services, support and leadership training to parents and youth in the District of Columbia. Ms. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Purdue University. She began her professional career in advocacy for students with special education needs in 2011 while attending the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia. She’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In 2015, she was appointed by Mayor Bowser to serve on the District of Columbia State Rehabilitation Council. Ms. Taylor strives to make sure that all children have the tools necessary to succeed!
Educational Support Specialist/Parent Support Worker
Lynn Truong joined Advocates for Justice and Education in 2009. In her current role as an Educational Support Specialist/Parent Support Worker, she provides individual assistance to families to resolve concerns relating to their children’s education and health needs. Ms. Truong also facilitates monthly trainings, workshops and support groups for parents and youth to empower and increase their ability to become effective advocates. She currently serves on the Program Advisory Committee for The National Youth Transitions Center. Ms. Truong holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland-College Park. She’s also a graduate of Howard University where she earned a Master of Science degree in Social Work.
Antonio Walker joined AJE as an Intake/Receptionist in 2015. Mr. Walker is a former participant of AJE’s Transition Advocacy Project where he received leadership training to become a self-advocate to ensure a successful transition from school to adulthood. Mr. Walker is a native Washingtonian and a graduate of Dunbar High School. He has a passion for art and previously attended the Art Institute of Washington. He also enjoys listening to music.
Patrice Wedderburn is a Staff Attorney who joined AJE in 2015. Prior to joining AJE, she was as Ruff Fellow in the Mental Health division of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Washington and Lee University, a Master of Social Work from Boston College, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. An island girl at heart, Ms. Wedderburn is a longtime D.C. resident who enjoys reading, eating good food and spending quality time in the sun.