Board of Directors
Mary Hunter, President
Throughout her career, Mary has worked to increase opportunities for low- to moderate-income families through projects including protecting the rights of migrant workers through her work for Southern Migrant Legal Services to advocating for low-income tenants for New York City's Legal Aid Society. Today, Mary directs the Housing Counseling Program for the Housing Initiative Partnership/HIP Services, Inc. In that role, she has overseen the expansion of HIP's Counseling Program to Montgomery County and worked to double its certified counselors providing bilingual assistance to distressed homeowners. She founded the Hispanic Homeownership Outreach Task Force and is on the steering committee of the Capital Area Foreclosure Network. A licensed Maryland attorney, Mary holds a J.D. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from Northwestern University.
Kat Hyland, Vice President
Kat is an attorney at the Hyland Law Firm, LLC where she litigates consumer protection cases and works on auto fraud, debt collection, and student loan issues on behalf of consumers. She graduated cum laude from Fordham University with a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy before earning her Master's in Public Policy from The Johns Hopkins University, Institute for Policy Studies. In 2011, Kat graduated cum laude from the University of Maryland School of Law, winning the Community Scholar Award for her work. Kat has also worked as a budget policy analyst for the Maryland State Department of Budget and Management and as a legal fellow for the Baltimore City Law Department and has interned for the New York State Supreme Court, New York State AFL-CIO, Transport Workers Union, AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, Legal Momentum, and the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
Jesse Van Tol, Treasurer
Jesse is the Chief of Membership & Policy for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. In that capacity he leads research, policy & government affairs, membership & organizing, conference & events, and the National Neighbors Silver program for NCRC. Jesse has been with NCRC for nearly a decade, with previous senior positions in communications and organizing. His expertise includes strategic communications, advocacy & organizing and policy, and he has worked extensively on financial reform, community reinvestment, the foreclosure crisis and fair housing issues. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Associated Press and has appeared on National Public Radio and many other media outlets. Jesse has been a fellow with the Opportunity Agenda, as well as a Senior Fellow with Humanity in Action, an international human rights network. He serves on the Executive Committee of Americans for Financial Reform, and on the board of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition. Jesse is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and is originally from Memphis, TN.
Steve Klitsch, Secretary
Steve is president and owner of Creative Concepts Remodeling, Inc. providing home improvement services in Montgomery and Fredrick counties. He is very active with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). Currently, he is the NARI Mid-Maryland Chapter President. Steve has represented Maryland homeowners, as an expert witness, in cases involving home improvement fraud and breach of contract. His passion is to lower consumer complaints against home improvement contractors and raise consumer awareness about home improvement fraud. Steve has been in the home improvement field for over forty years. Steve has Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Distance Education and E-learning both from the University of Maryland University College.
Wala Blegay is currently counsel for the DC Nurses Association and a talk show host for the Chat With a Lawyer TV Show, which provides free legal advice to the Prince George’s County, Maryland. She is also an adjunct professor at American University Washington College of Law. Wala previously served on the Prince George's County Human Relations Commission and was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Task Force for the Study of Economic Development and Apprenticeship Programs. She was also a recipient of the 2015 40 under 40 in Prince George’s County award, the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials Presidential Service Award and the Daily Record Leading Woman award. She has written several articles on civil rights, health care and education issues. Wala also ran numerous campaigns in Maryland the District of Columbia and was an At-Large Delegate for the 2012 Democratic Convention and ran for the Democratic Central Committee in 2014. Born and raised in Washington DC, She is a first generation Liberian and Nigerian American. She is a graduate of University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Government and Politics and earned a J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law. More information can be found at www.chatwithalawyer.tv.
Richard S. Gordon
Richard is a principal partner at Gordon, Wolf & Carney, a prominent class action law firm in Towson. He has more than 20 years of experience as a litigation and trial lawyer representing consumers, the poor and the underrepresented. Since the beginning of his legal career in 1989, Mr. Gordon has taken on the causes of underdogs, against the government and corporations throughout the United States. Over the past 20 years, Mr. Gordon has served as Lead Counsel in dozens of complex and class action cases on behalf of consumers, minorities, disable children, migrant workers and businesses. He has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts on behalf of his clients and, in all, has recovered and returned several hundred million dollars to those in society who have been wronged, harmed or taken advantage of.
Kay has worked as a staff attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Unit of the Legal Aid Bureau in Baltimore City since August 2006. Her work for Legal Aid focuses on representing indigent individuals in housing and consumer issues including rental disputes, affirmative and defensive rent escrow actions, small claims actions, loan modifications, debt collections, foreclosure rescue scams, bankruptcy cases, and alternatives to bankruptcy. She has also trained other attorneys in the District Court's collection procedures. Kay received her B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and her law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
As the Consumer Protection Project Manager for the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC), Nicole provides attorneys with training, opportunities, and support to represent consumers sued by debt collectors. Before joining PBRC, Nicole helped low-income clients obtain disability benefits to improve their financial and medical stability, and also previously worked with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General's Antitrust Division. A lifelong resident of Baltimore, Nicole holds a Bachelor of Arts from Towson University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law.
Gretchen works as an attorney for the Foreclosure Legal Assistance Project at Maryland Legal Aid, representing homeowners in foreclosure in state court and bankruptcy court when appropriate. She has trained attorneys, housing counselors, and homeowners on the foreclosure process and the guidelines and regulations that apply to industry programs that allow homeowners to avoid foreclosure. Before joining Maryland Legal Aid, Gretchen empowered homeowners as a counselor for Housing Initiative Partnership, Inc., where she developed a reputation for thinking outside the box and developing creative solutions to allow homeowners to retain their homes. She strongly believes in building strategic partnerships to advocate for social justice and effective change. Gretchen has a B.S. in Finance from American University, a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law, and a M.P.A. from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Note: Organizational affiliations are shown for reference only; members serve as individuals, not as representatives of their employers.