Colloquium 2020 Speakers

Wynn A. Gerhard, Esq., Moderator

Senior Attorney, Elder, Health and Disability
Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS)

Wynn A. Gerhard is a Senior Attorney in the Elder, Health and Disability Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS), in Boston, Massachusetts, where she has worked since 1987. In addition to her legal work for elders through GBLS, Wynn has been committed to guardianship reform in Massachusetts for more than two decades, including service on committees and Boards of many kinds that represent or work on behalf of elderly and disabled persons. Wynn was clinical supervisor for the Northeastern University Law School Legal Skills in Social Context Project on Public Guardianship in 2014-15, and presently is a member of the Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute. She also chairs the Coalition of Organizations to Improve Elder Care, working to improve the quality of long-term care services in Massachusetts. Prior to GBLS, Wynn worked for Legal Services for Cape Cod and Islands and Neighborhood Legal Services in Buffalo NY. She graduated from Harvard University and received her JD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Hon. Gen. Scott Harshbarger

Former Massachusetts Attorney General

Scott Harshbarger is Senior Counsel at Casner & Edwards. For more than a decade, he has developed a practice specializing in providing strategic advice and counsel for corporate investigations and defense, business ethics, compliance and risk management, corporate and not-for-profit governance and government regulation. During his two terms as Massachusetts Attorney General (1991–1999), Scott was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and made Elder Protection his national presidential priority building on his focus on domestic violence and elder abuse, fraud and financial exploitation. Since returning to private practice, Scott has continued to be involved in public policy reform, serving as the head of Governor Romney’s Commission on Corrections Reform (2003-2005), chair of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Pension Reform, chair of the SJC Taskforce on Hiring and Promotion in Probation and in the Judicial Branch (2010-10110, and a member of the SJC court Management Advisory Board).  He has held varying teaching positions in professional responsibility, legal ethics, government, public policy and other law-related subjects at Boston University Law School, Harvard Law School, Northeastern Law School and Northeastern College of Criminal Justice. He also has authored numerous articles on topics in corporate and not-for-profit governance and regulatory strategies. He regularly speaks to state and national business groups, industry associations and legal, business and college audiences. Scott appears regularly in the national media and on New England television as a commentator and news analyst.

Dari Pogach, JD

Senior Attorney
Commission on Law and Aging
American Bar Association
Washington, DC

Dari Pogach is a senior attorney at the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging. She develops and disseminates educational materials, implements projects and initiatives, and provides technical assistance to professionals and individuals on issues that affect the well-being and dignity of aging individuals, including adult guardianship reform, decision-making supports, and capacity assessment. Dari has a particular interest in encouraging communication and collaboration between elder justice and disability rights advocates. Prior to joining the Commission, Dari provided direct legal services to clients with disabilities at Disability Rights D.C. of University Legal Services, the District of Columbia’s protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities and Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities. Dari has also represented respondent parents in child abuse and neglect cases in New York City. She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Washington College of Law.

Hon. Paula Francisco Ott

Chair, Advisory Council on Elder Justice
Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Judge Paula Francisco Ott received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Delaware in 1972; she earned her Juris Doctor in 1975 and a Masters of Law in Taxation in 1981 from Temple University School of Law.

In 1991, Judge Ott was the first woman elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, where she was subsequently retained in 2001.  In 2005, Judge Ott was elected President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County; in 2009, Judge Ott was elected to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, where she served from 2010 – 2020.  

Judge Ott served on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Elder Law Task Force, and has served as Chair of the Supreme Court’s Advisory Council on Elder Justice in the Courts since 2015.  In January 2020, she was appointed a senior judge to continue her work with the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts and chair the Advisory Council.  

Judge Ott is also a member of the Joint State Government Commission Advisory Committee on Decedents’ Estates Laws.  She is a former member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Orphans’ Court Rules Committee, former President of the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges. 

Keith Hinkel, Analyst

Office of Elder Justice in the Courts,
Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

Keith Hinkel is the analyst for the Office of Elder Justice in the Courts (OEJC) at the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). Mr. Hinkel works closely with the Advisory Council on Elder Justice, and other divisions of the AOPC, on various projects related to issues involving guardianship, elder abuse and neglect, and access to justice affecting the Commonwealth’s elders. Prior to joining the OEJC, Mr. Hinkel worked as an AOPC Information Technology systems trainer for the common pleas courts for over six years. Mr. Hinkel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Adult Education and over 15 years of experience providing training. 

Amy Whitworth, IT Manager

Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System Portal
Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

Amy Whitworth is an IT Manager with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. She is responsible for the business analysis of the Unified Judicial System Portal, which includes Pennsylvania’s Guardianship Tracking System. In her 19 year tenure with the AOPC, Ms. Whitworth has worked on several projects across all levels of the Commonwealth’s courts. Ms. Whitworth earned her Master’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University.  

Patricia M. Galindo, Esq.- Administrative Office of the Courts

Senior Staff Attorney
Administrative Office of the
Supreme Court, State of New Mexico

Patricia Galindo has been licensed to practice law for over 23 years. She has extensive legal experience in both civil and criminal matters working with the State of New Mexico, City of Albuquerque and private law firms. She has varied litigation experience as a prosecutor and in private civil practice.  

Ms. Galindo is currently a senior staff attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the subject matter expert for the judiciary on intimate partner violence, adult guardianship and conservatorship, and federal firearm prohibitions.   She provides systemic and policy support to the judiciary on the assigned subject matters.

Judicial Committee Appointments:  Intimate Partner Violent Death Review Team (Chair 2016; member 2013 to present); New Mexico Supreme Court’s Adult Guardianship Study Commission (Vice-Chair 2017), Guardianship Reform Implementation Steering Committee Member (non-voting member, 2018 to present).

Current professional organizations: Committee on Women and the Legal Profession (Co-Chair 2020; member 2001 to present). Prior professional organizations:  Elder Section of the State Bar of New Mexico (Chair 2016 and 2017).  

Heather L. Connors, Ph.D.

Executive Director
Center for Guardianship Excellence
Andover, Massachusetts

Heather L. Connors, PhD is the Executive Director of The Center for Guardianship Excellence, a newly formed non-profit which seeks to make guardianship more accessible and effective through research and training. Prior to joining The Center, she was the Director of Research at Guardian Community Trust, where she focused on the experience of guardianship for guardians and those subject to guardianship. Heather received her undergraduate degree in Sociology from The College of the Holy Cross and her Ph.D. in Gerontology from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Peter M. Macy, Esq., Moderator

Executive Director
Guardian Community Trust
Andover, Massachusetts

Peter M. Macy, Ed.M., M.T.S. and J.D., is Executive Director of Guardian Community Trust, Inc. (Community Trust), a non-profit organization that serves as trustee for Special Needs Trust, including a Medicaid-exempt pooled trust program and individual trusts for persons under age 65.  Community Trust also is a grant-making organization deeply committed to guardianship reform in Massachusetts through research, education and advocacy.  In addition to Community Trust, Peter is a founding member of Massachusetts Guardianship Policy Institute, which has been a hub for ideas and public events in support of public guardianship in Massachusetts, including four colloquia and three statewide conferences addressing both policy and practice of guardianship.  Prior to joining Community Trust, Peter worked in private practice as an elder law attorney, specializing in trust law and guardianship practice, and he remains a member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Peter is a graduate of Boston College Law School, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Puget Sound.

Diane Robinson, Ph.D.

Senior Court Research Associate
National Center for State Courts
Williamsburg, Virginia

Diane Robinson, Ph.D. is a Senior Court Research Associate at the National Center for State Courts. Previously, she served as the first Director of Research and Justice Statistics for the Arkansas court system and represented data specialists on the COSCA Court Statistics Committee. She also served Arkansas as the state Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program director and as the Court Improvement Project manager. Since joining the National Center for State Courts in 2019, she has worked with the Court Statistics Project; provided technical assistance in data governance; coordinated the Data Specialists Roundtable; managed the Guardianship Rapid Response, Guardianship Judicial Response Protocol, and Conservatorship Accountability projects; and worked with the National Open Court Data Standards Project. Diane received her B.A. from Texas A&M University, her M.S. in Education from Indiana University, and her Ph.D. in Health Systems & Services Research from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Nanci Thaemert, JD

Senior Manager
Court Services for
Children & Families, Idaho

Nanci Thaemert received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Idaho and her Juris Doctorate from Willamette University School of Law in Salem, Oregon. She is a licensed attorney and currently serves as the Senior Manager for the Justice Services Director for the Idaho Supreme Court. In this capacity, she works closely with the director to assist with the development, and execution of policies, strategies, and services designed to provide more efficient and effective resolutions in court proceedings which effect children and families. In addition, the position administers and coordinates judicial monitoring of statutory guardianships and conservatorships throughout Idaho’s seven judicial districts.

Kasey Kliegl

Guardianship & Conservatorship
Monitoring Coordinator
Idaho 5th District

Kasey Kliegl received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Idaho State University. After graduation Ms. Kliegl was hired by Twin Falls County Court Services.  Kasey worked at the Twin Falls County Courthouse for twelve years holding many positions including records clerk, head criminal clerk, and for most of those years an in court magistrate clerk. In August 2014, Kasey was hired by the Idaho Supreme Court as the Fifth District Guardianship and Conservatorship Monitoring Coordinator to help create a monitoring program that eventually was expanded throughout the State.  As part of this role as coordinator she provides training and ongoing resources for clerks; provides assistance and education to the public and agencies; monitors guardianship & conservatorship cases and flagging for any follow up; and establishing streamlined procedures in case processing, annual reports, and the delinquency report notices.  

Michelle Wilkes

Court Visitor Program Coordinator

Michelle Wilkes is the Court Visitor Program Coordinator in Utah. She has held this position with the Administrative Office of the Courts for the past 3 years. Michelle is an LCSW, and holds degrees in both Psychology and Social Work. Prior to working with the Utah State Courts, Michelle worked as a Dialysis Social Worker. Originally hailing from Nevada, with years spent in Mississippi, Michelle has experience working with diverse cultures and populations, and she uses this unique perspective to serve the citizens of Utah. When she is not working, Michelle loves swimming, spending time with her family, and indulging in the company of animals whenever possible.

Shonna Thomas

Program Coordinator
Utah’s Guardianship Reporting
and Monitoring Program (GRAMP)

Shonna Thomas is the Program Coordinator for the Guardianship Reporting and Monitoring Program (GRAMP) in Utah. Before working with the Administrative Office of the Court, Shonna spent 5 years working as a Training Specialist on a federal research project with the US Department of Education and the Social Security Administration. With degrees in Psychology, Human Services, and Criminal Justice, Shonna has extensive experience in program management, training and leadership, and working with and advocating for vulnerable populations. In her free time, Shonna enjoys the outdoors, snorkeling, pickleball, reading, and spending time with her husband and two cats.