Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas joined AJE in 2004. She has over 24 years of experience working in the District of Columbia’s legal services community and has diverse experience in the non-profit sector. As Executive Director, Rochanda currently leads the overall strategic operations, program development, and partner development for AJE. As the former Director of Legal Services and Advocacy and Senior Staff Attorney at AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas developed a robust legal program that provides legal assistance to DC families with special education and school discipline matters. She has represented hundreds of parents and students in school discipline, special education, and other education matters. In addition, she has provided extensive training to parents, youth, school staff, and other professionals in related fields. Before 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 she 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 Washington D.C. resident, proud mother of four children, one of whom has a disability, and is active in her local community. She is the mayorally appointed parent member of the State Advisory Panel for Special Education and currently serves on the steering committee of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers, where she also served 4 years as co-chair. Ms. Hiligh-Thomas obtained her Bachelor’s Degree with honors from Tuskegee University and received her law degree with honors from the District of Columbia School of Law. In 2017 she received the prestigious Jerrold Scoutt Prize from the DC Bar Foundation and the Advocate for Justice Award from the University of The District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.
Director of Programs and Outreach
Maria Blaeuer joined AJE in 2016 as a staff attorney and currently serves as AJE’s Director of Programs and Outreach. She over 16 years of legal experience and 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 her practice, she has provided professional development skills to attorneys, teachers, and other service providers in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania in regards to special education. Ms. Blaeuer oversees the four core components of AJE’s mission: Community Education, Direct Advocacy, Peer-to-Peer Engagement, and Training and Information. She works with schools and families to ensure that students receive the best education possible under the law and focuses on establishing more effective training and family engagement efforts for the D.C. special education and disability community. Maria Blaeuer has taught students with disabilities in the past and had an IEP during her time as a student. Maria’s role as a parent and an attorney has allowed her to introduce a unique perspective when working with special education cases.
Ms. Blaeuer obtained her Bachelor’s Degree with honors from Virginia Commonwealth University, earned her law degree from Howard University School of Law, and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Education Policy. She is a Washington D.C. native and active 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. Maria is the proud parent of three children.
Stacey K. Eunnae
Senior Staff Attorney
Stacey Eunnae re-joined AJE in 2018. She has over 7 years of legal experience assisting families with children who have special needs. Stacey is AJE’s Senior Staff Attorney, she is responsible for representing students in disciplinary and special education matters, and providing ‘Know Your Rights’ training’s to help parents increase their self-advocacy skills. Ms. Eunnae began her career with AJE as a law student volunteer in 2013. In 2015, Ms. Eunnae pursued her LLM with a concentration in clinical instruction, systems change, and special education law in the Juvenile Special Education Clinic at the David A. Clarke School of Law. She returned to AJE in March 2018 with additional experience and knowledge about how to serve families in D.C. Stacey Eunnae holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women Studies from the College of William and Mary, a Juris Doctor from Georgetown School of Law, and a Masters in Law from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.
Parent Support Specialist
LaJoy Johnson-Law joined AJE in 2018 as an Intake Specialist/Receptionist and currently serves as a Parent Support Specialist. She is the proud mother of a daughter who has special needs and she has been engaged in disability advocacy for over 8 years. Ms. Johnson-Law’s daughter helped her realize her passion for advocacy for families that have special needs children. Through her personal experience, Ms. Johnson-Law has acquired a wealth of knowledge in navigating DC’s health and education landscapes for children with disabilities. In her current role, Ms. Johnson-Law utilizes her personal experience to provide direct services and peer-to-peer emotional support to families of children with special needs and special health care needs. She builds relationships with various DC agencies to create a system of referrals for families to be connected with AJE’s services. Her goal is to ensure all children in DC with disabilities are heard. In 2019, Ms. Johnson-Law was appointed by Mayor Bowser to serve on the District’s Thrive by Five Coordinating Council. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Psychology and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Bilingual Educational Support Specialist
Berta Mata joined AJE in 2001. She is the mother of four children including one with special needs. Mrs. Mata provides one-on-one assistance, training, and emotional support to Latinx 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 and currently operates AJE’s intake center at Mary’s Center twice a week. Mrs. Mata has a firm commitment to supporting children with special needs and their families. She is a native Spanish speaker and has deep ties to the Spanish-speaking community in D.C. Ms. Mata served as a member of Mary’s Center’s Board of Directors (2016-2019) and in 2019 was appointed by Mayor Bowser to serve on the District’s State Rehabilitation Council.
Mónica Pascual joined AJE in February 2021. In her role as a staff attorney, she is responsible for working with families in assessing their needs, goals and providing legal assistance in special education, discipline, and other educational matters. Mónica comes to AJE with years of experience in working to improve education for children and supporting families. In college, she assisted in organizing storytelling series for children in Ithaca’s local public library. After completing college, she interned at the Learning Rights Law Center, a nonprofit organization that fights to achieve education equity for underserved families and their children in Los Angeles through legal representation, training, and systemic advocacy. Mónica then served as Project Manager at Instituto Nueva Escuela, a nonprofit organization in Puerto Rico that collaborates with communities to improve student’s academic and socio-emotional outcomes through the implementation of Montessori education in public schools. There, she led a team that provided services to victims of violence in ten different communities on the island. While in law school, Mónica gained additional experience assisting families with special education matters as a student attorney in her law school’s year-long Special Education Law Clinic.
Mónica obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. She is a member of the DC Bar. In her free time, she enjoys creating digital illustrations on her iPad.
Program Associate – Contractor
Corissa Redmond joined AJE in October 2020 as a policy intern during her last college semester and now serves as AJE’s Program Associate – Contractor. She graduated from the University of Riverside, California, where she majored in Political Science with an emphasis on policy work. Corissa has prior experience working with adults with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges and children from underserved communities. As a Program Associate, she works closely with the Director of Advocacy in implementing AJE’s advocacy program objectives. Corissa is excited to continue supporting families in building their capacity to elevate their advocacy to achieve equitable solutions in education for their children and all children in the District of Columbia.
Director of Advocacy
Jazmone Wilkerson, formerly Jazmone Taylor, re-joined AJE in 2020. She has over eight years of experience in assisting families with children who have special needs get access to the services and supports they need. As AJE’s Director of Advocacy, Jazmone is responsible for supporting AJE, and its families in education reform through systems change advocacy. Mrs. Wilkerson began her career with AJE as a Law Clerk in 2012. Mrs. Wilkerson has had numerous leadership positions at AJE and other parent centers, including Delaware and Maryland. Mrs. Wilkerson returned to AJE in August 2020 with additional experience and knowledge about systems change, strategic leadership, and building capacity as it relates to serving families of children with special needs. Mrs. Wilkerson’s goal is to ensure that all children, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or ability, receive an equitable education that prepares them for competitive employment, post-secondary education, and independent living. Jazmone holds a Bachelors of Arts & Science from Purdue University, a Juris Doctor from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, a Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Lindsey Wilson College with a focus on Counselor Education and Supervision. She is a Board Member for the National Parent Leadership Advocacy and Community Empowerment non-profit.