Brian Adae, Esquire
Brian received his Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law, commencing the private practice of law in Washington State. Previously, following his undergraduate studies in liberal arts, he worked for the Rhode Island Department of Natural Resources. Returning to New England, Brian was a trial lawyer in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the State and Commonwealth Superior, District, Family and Probate Courts, as well as Federal District Court and federal First Circuit Court of Appeals. He had also worked with a public affairs group representing corporate interests with Rhode Island’s elected representatives in the U.S. Congress and Senate and before the state legislature.
Brian is a member and former Chair of the Lawyers Helping Lawyers (Confidential Assistance) Committee of the RI Bar Association, as well as a member of the Public Service Involvement Committee and the Ethics & Professionalism Committee. He serves as Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Ocean State Bike Path Association and is a former board member of Rhode Island Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence. Brian is also a PSIA/AASI professionally certified Ski Instructor and Adaptive Snowboard Instructor volunteering with Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation as an advisor, clinician and trainer.
Brian’s life-long, deep passion for public service working with persons in need – particularly people with disabilities – led to his employment as an attorney with the Disability Rights Rhode Island more than fifteen years ago where he remains today.
Kate Bowden, Esquire
Kate Bowden has been an attorney with Disability Rights Rhode Island (previously the Rhode Island Disability Law Center) since 2004. Previously she was an associate at the law firm of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins & Kesten, LLP in Boston where she represented cities and towns. She served as law clerk and senior law clerk to the Massachusetts Superior Court and served as law clerk to the Superior Court Justices of Rhode Island. At the Rhode Island Disability Law Center (RIDLC), Kate has represented clients on a variety of legal issues including effective communication, eligibility assessments before the Division of Developmental Disabilities, contested civil commitment, housing discrimination, guardianship proceedings, and administrative actions before the State Board of Elections regarding accessible voting equipment and voting rights.
Kate is the lead attorney for DRRI’s voting rights grant for which she spearheads systemic advocacy, outreach and training activities to ensure full participation in the electoral process for people with disabilities. In her career, she has presented to municipal officials and election officials, disability advocates, and persons with disabilities and their family members on diverse topics including: guardianship and alternatives to guardianship, voting rights, legislative advocacy, employment discrimination and public records/open meeting statutes. She is a current member of the Governor’s Commission on Disability’s Election Access Committee.
Jacqueline Caffarelli joins Disability Rights Rhode Island as a recent graduate of Westfield State University, where she earned her B.A. in Political Science and Communication. Jacqueline was highly engaged in campus activities during her time in college. She holds membership in two honor societies, served on multiple academic and athletic committees, and competed in cross country and track & field for the university. Jacqueline graduated summa cum laude, and held recognition on the Dean’s List, as a Scholar Athlete, and as an All-Academic Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Member every semester.
Before joining DRRI in August 2020, Jacqueline served as a contact tracer for Partners in Health in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jacqueline seeks to influence positive change throughout her career, and hopes to further her education as well.
Jacqueline enjoys running, hiking, music, spending time with friends and family, and taking care of the animals on her family farm.
Barbara Fernandez joined Disability Rights Rhode Island in 2014. As the legal advocate, she works primarily on the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and on Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access (PAVA). Barbara also assists in the Rep Payee Review program and is PABSS program trained. Before joining DRRI, Barbara worked as a paralegal and office manager for a consumer litigation law firm. She also served as an interpreter during depositions and client meetings to attorneys who practiced criminal, personal injury and real estate law. Barbara utilizes her paralegal education and experience when conducting client interviews, intake analysis, case preparation, and legal research for DRRI clients.
Prior to her career as a paralegal, Barbara acquired experience and knowledge in the field of human services. She began her work in human services as a direct support professional and ultimately became a residential manager and SLA coordinator. She applied person-centered approaches to support individuals with differing disabilities and advocated for their best interest, community inclusion and community-based employment opportunities.
A Providence native, Barbara has a strong connection to the community and aims to educate and provide assistance to the underserved through advocacy.
Elisabeth Hubbard, Esquire
Elisabeth Hubbard has been a Staff Attorney at Disability Rights Rhode Island since 2004. Ms. Hubbard obtained her B.S. degree from Smith College and her J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School where she was a recipient of the Sparer Public Interest Fellowship and participated in Brooklyn Law School’s Federal Litigation Clinic.
Elisabeth practices diverse areas of law at Disability Rights Rhode Island including special education, housing discrimination, employment rights and access to public accommodations. Her systemic work is concentrated on assistive technology but she also works on the Voting Rights and Vocation Rehabilitation grants.
Elisabeth also serves as a member of the Rhode Island Council on Assistive Technology, an advisory group to the state’s AT Project that helps inform the public about assistive technology and their rights regarding assistive technology. Recently the Council advised Ms. Hubbard on the development of an Assistive Technology Lemon Law Kit, now published by DRRI.
Jacqueline S. Johnson
Jacquie is a native New Yorker who relocated to Rhode Island with her son in tow, to start a new chapter in their lives.
She applied and landed the position of Administrative Assistant at Rhode Island Disability Law Center in March 2002. Jacquie set out to not only land a job but to also complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Media in June 2010.
Jacquie has many outside interests such as; television, screenwriting, film and video editing which she enjoys in her spare time.
She looks forward to the future and her work at Disability Rights Rhode Island.
Crystal Martin arrived at Disability Rights Rhode Island with a wealth of experience in hospitality from The University Club. Crystal’s love for creative endeavors gave her the courage to return to school as an adult learner at Community College of Rhode Island. While in the Fine Arts program, the general education requirements inspired a passion for psychology, philosophy, as well as history. Upon transferring to Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work, she continued her journey to find her true calling. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree, still feeling the drive to learn new skills, Crystal attended the Human Resource Management Program at Johnson and Wales University, where she received a Master’s degree.
Acting Fiscal Director
Wendy joined our team in January 2020 to assist us in executing our day to day finance activities. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and comes to us most recently from Brown University where she spent 11+ years in roles of increasing levels of finance responsibility. Her last role at Brown was as Senior Director of Finance and Data Initiatives in which she delivered all the accounting, finance and data needs of Brown University’s Division of Biology and Medicine.
Wendy holds a Certificate in Public Accounting (CPA) and has earned an MBA in Finance from Bryant University.
Anne Mulready, Esquire
Anne Mulready has been with Disability Rights Rhode Island (DRRI) since 1992, initially as a staff attorney, then twenty-two years as Supervising Attorney, and currently, Legal Director. She is admitted to practice law in state and federal court in Rhode Island.
As an attorney at DRRI, Anne has represented clients on a variety of disability-related legal issues, including special education, guardianship and alternate decision-making issues, employment, housing, and government discrimination claims, and claims for services under Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, and Social Security. Through this representation, she has also worked with health, social, and vocational experts to obtain needed services and supports for clients. She has presented workshops to attorneys, disability advocates, people with disabilities and their family members, and service providers on diverse legal topics including: the special education rights of students with disabilities, alternatives to guardianship and supported decision-making, the American with Disabilities Act, housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and access to vocational rehabilitation and other employment supports.
Anne is an appointed member of the Governor’s Council on Behavioral Health and the Legislative Commission to Study the Feasibility of Modernizing Probate Law and Procedure. She also serves as a Board Member of the ACLU of Rhode Island.
Morna A. Murray, J.D.
Morna is the Executive Director of Disability Rights Rhode Island. She has more than 30 years of experience working in public policy and advocacy in the private sector, state government, and on Capitol Hill. Prior to DRRI, Morna served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, and a member of Governor Dan Malloy’s cabinet. In that position, she oversaw state services for children and adults with disabilities throughout Connecticut. Prior to that, she was President and CEO of the Connecticut Community Providers Association, advocating and lobbying for disabilities and behavioral health non-profit providers at the state level.
Morna served as Senior Counsel to U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), and lead staff on all healthcare and children’s issues, including the development and passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Morna previously served as Director of Youth Development for the Children’s Defense Fund, Washington, D.C., where she advocated for legislation and programs serving the needs of low-income children and families.
Morna currently serves as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Autism Transitions Research Project (ATRP), a research program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, AJ Drexel Autism Institute’s Life Course Outcomes Research Program.
A graduate of the George Washington University Law School, Morna is a member of the Connecticut, District of Columbia, and Florida Bars. She has two adult children and two grandchildren.
Jeanne Natale is a graduate of the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, class of 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New England Institute of Technology, and brings ten years of investigative experience. As a Detective with the Brown University Department of Public Safety, Jeanne investigated criminal and civil complaints. She was responsible for implementing and overseeing the special victims unit and worked closely with survivors of interpersonal violence. As a mentor, Jeanne provided high school students with a positive law enforcement experience and training on basic crime scene investigations.
Passionate about advocating for victims, Jeanne held an eight year volunteer position on the board of directors for Sojourner House. Currently, she is an active member of the Rhode Island Criminalist Association and newest member of the team at DDRI.
Catherine Sansonetti, Esquire
Attorney & Director of Intake Advocacy
Catherine is an Attorney and the Director of Intake Advocacy, who has been with DRRI since 2002. Before joining DRRI, Catherine was committed to fighting for people with disabilities while still a law student. She interned at RI Legal Services in the public benefits unit and also represented clients in her law school’s disability law clinic. Beginning as a student and through her career at DRRI, Catherine has represented clients on a variety of issues and within all areas of DRRI’s services. She has a particular focus on the Client Assistance Program (CAP) and assists clients with multiple vocational rehabilitation and employment issues.
Catherine serves as the Vice-Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council, a citizen advisory board appointed by the Governor and mandated by the federal Rehabilitation Act. She is also the Co-Chair of the Policy Committee for the State Rehabilitation Council. She is admitted to practice in the State and federal courts of RI and is also admitted in Massachusetts.
Born and raised in Pawtucket, RI, Melissa Vanasse holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Connecticut State University in Communication/Criminal Justice and will receive her Master of Public Administration degree from Albertus Magnus College this December. Melissa began her work in the human services field 18 years ago as a Residential Counselor, before moving on to be an Outreach Worker.
For the last 15 years, Melissa has worked in Connecticut for STAR Inc., Lighting the Way, a nonprofit agency assisting adults with developmental disabilities. Melissa worked as an Employment Manager for the first eight years, assisting her clients with finding meaningful work in their communities, and as Quality Assurance Coordinator for the last seven years. As Quality Assurance Coordinator, Melissa was part of the Abuse and Neglect Investigation team.
Melissa has spent her entire career working in the nonprofit sector, is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has a passion for wanting to help.
Also a high school girls’ volleyball coach in CT, in her spare time, Melissa likes to travel and spend time with her dog.