Board of Directors
Jim SaintGermain is the driving force behind PLOT. Jim’s memoir, A Stone of Hope, was published by HarperCollins in 2017. Jim works with juvenile justice involved youth and their families in New York City. He is on the Board of the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Vera’s Institute of Justice Juvenile Justice Board. In 2016, he was appointed to the White House Task Force on Twenty-First Century Policing by President Obama. Previously, Jim was a youth care worker at a juvenile facility where he was once a resident. Additionally, Jim was a member of New York State’s Division of Criminal Justice Services Youth Advisory Council. He has acted as an adviser to several governmental and non-governmental entities working with at-risk youth, including the DOJ OJJDP, SAMSHA and the Children’s Defense Fund–NY. Jim interned with New York State Assemblyman Karim Camara and has worked with Assemblyman Camara on important community matters, including reducing gun violence. Jim has worked with countless local, state and federal officials advising on matters related to juvenile justice, mentoring, mental health, substance abuse, and educational issues. In addition to those mentioned above, some notables Jim has worked with include Governor Cuomo, former New York City Mayor/Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg, Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, to name a few. Jim overcame many obstacles in his young life, emigrating from Haiti to come to the United States. His passion for public service comes from his life experiences and his sense of personal responsibility to his community. Jim has an Associate degree in Human Services from the Borough of Manhattan Community College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He speaks three languages, English, French and his native language, Creole. Most importantly, Jim is a dedicated father to his young son. Learn more about Jim’s passions and accomplishments at https://www.jimstgermain.com/.
Kyle is an Associate within the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan. He provides first-class advice to high-net-worth individuals, foundations, and families on all aspects of their estate planning, banking, fiduciary, charitable, and investment needs. His responsibilities include portfolio analysis, relationship management, and new client acquisition. Kyle holds a B.A. in Economics from Bucknell University where he was a member of the varsity tennis team.
Martin Feinman, MSW, JD, has spent his entire career working with low-income children and adults in crisis. Upon receiving his MSW, he worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker and Program Director at the Adolescent Unit of a large state psychiatric facility in Central New York, working with adolescents and their families and specializing in family therapy. After changing direction and attending law school, he has worked with The Legal Aid Society’s (LAS) Juvenile Rights Practice (JRP) as a Staff Attorney and Manager, representing children in both child protective and juvenile delinquency proceedings and for the LAS Criminal Defense Division as a litigator. Presently, he serves as the Director of Delinquency Training at JRP, where he trains and oversees staff defending children in Family Court across the five boroughs.
William E. Cherry
In his current role as Market Manager at Capital One, William is responsible for managing the bank’s 37th St-Herald Square branch location in lower Manhattan. This includes developing partnerships across various lines of business and being an ambassador of Capital One in the community. Prior to joining Capital One, William was a Market Manager at Bank of America, working in the New Jersey and Long Island Marketplace. He has more than 20 years of experience in financial services, business lending, business portfolio management and people management. William is the Northeast Chapter Lead for the VOICES Black Business Resource Group at Capital One.
Melissa is the Director of Child Welfare Training at The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice where she trains and oversees staff defending children in family court across New York City. She also serves as the Chair of the Children & the Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association. Melissa started her career as a Skadden Fellow and later a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice representing children in both child welfare and juvenile delinquency proceedings. She then joined the law firm WilmerHale as a senior associate in its Business Trial Group before returning to Legal Aid. Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish at Washington University in St. Louis and her J.D. at Harvard Law School.
Christine Bella, Esq., is an Attorney with The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit where she represents young people involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in federal and state individual and class civil rights litigation. Christine has worked for The Legal Aid Society in all three of its practice areas– Civil, Juvenile and Criminal. She is also a Board Member of Drama Club, a theater program for incarcerated youth in New York City.
Hon. Susan S. Danoff
Hon. Susan S. Danoff is a Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO) in Bronx and Kings County Family Courts, where she presides over the Youth Transition Part, which addresses issues affecting youth aging out of foster care. Prior to being a JHO, she spent twenty-two (22) years working in Kings County Family Court. While on the bench, among other matters, she presided over abuse and neglect cases, as well as the Family Treatment Court until her mandatory retirement in January 2013. Before serving as a Family Court Judge, she worked as a Court Attorney Referee, and prior to that as a Court Attorney to the Hon. Paula J. Hepner.
Dr. Keith R. Cruise
Keith R. Cruise, PhD, MLS, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Fordham University and Co-Director of the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice (CTRJJ), a technical assistance center that is part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). He holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas and a Masters of Legal Studies degree from the University of Nebraska. Dr. Cruise conducts research on the clinical-forensic assessment of youth within the juvenile justice system. Various research projects have focused on developing and validating specialized risk assessment protocols, investigating the utility of mental health screening instruments with justice-involved youth, and understanding the connection between trauma exposure, trauma reactions, and delinquent behavior. Dr. Cruise’s clinical-forensic practice has involved providing direct care assessment and treatment services with justice-involved youth conducting post-disposition assessments of risk and treatment amenability, providing expert testimony to juvenile courts, and providing technical assistance and consultation to local and state juvenile justice systems in implementing trauma-informed screening and assessment practices. Dr. Cruise has received grant funding (NIJ, OJJDP) to examine the effectiveness of enhanced mental health screening for poly-victimization and the impact of trauma screening on service delivery and legal outcomes for justice-involved youth.
Danielle Acker, MSW, is a recent graduate from New York University Silver School of Social Work. She is a New York native with experience and dedication working with underserved children and adolescents within the New York City metro area, specifically in the child welfare system. Prior to earning her MSW, she worked as a paralegal at The Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice in Brooklyn. During her time at NYU, she gained experience working at The Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology, a public high school in Hells Kitchen, where she provided individual and group psychotherapy for adolescent boys struggling with various mental health conditions. Her second year of schooling, Danielle worked at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, in the emergency department specifically. Danielle would meet with any patients brought into the emergency room under NYPD custody struggling with mental health issues or drug abuse. She is also a volunteer advocate at The Victim Intervention Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Department where she assists and counsels survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.