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Land Use Law Center Staff
Professor of Law
Founder & Faculty Liaison
John R. Nolon is a Professor of Law at Pace Law School where he teaches property, land use, and sustainable development law courses and is the Founder of and Faculty Liaison to the Law School's Land Use Law Center. He has been an Adjunct Professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies since 2001, where he developed a curriculum concentration of five land use courses. Professor Nolon served as the James D. Hopkins Professor from 2009-2011 and the Charles A. Frueauff Research Professor of Law during the 1991-92, 1997-98, 1999-2000, and 2000-01 academic years. He received the Richard L. Ottinger Faculty Achievement Award in 1999 and won the Goettel Prize for faculty scholarship in 2006. In 2009, he was awarded the National Leadership Award for a Planning Advocate by the American Planning Association. Professor Nolon received his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan Law School where he was a member of the Barrister's Academic Honor Society. He has served as a consultant to President Carter's Council on Development Choices for the 1980's, President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development, New York Governor George Pataki's Transition Team, and Governor Elliot Spitzer’s Transition Team. He is a member of the Editorial Board of THE LAND USE AND ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW, published by Thomson-West. He is also on the New York Planning Federation's Advisory Council. Professor Nolon received a Fulbright Scholarship to study sustainable development law in Argentina in 1994-95 and has published over a dozen articles, chapters, and books on that subject.
Executive Director of Research, Land Use Law Center
Adjunct Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Jessica Bacher is the Executive Director of the Land Use Law Center. Established in 1993, the Land Use Law Center is dedicated to fostering the development of sustainable communities and regions through the promotion of innovative land use strategies and dispute resolution techniques. As the Executive Director, Ms. Bacher’s responsibilities include development and implementation of projects relating to local land use practice, distressed property remediation, transit-oriented development, sustainable communities, land use responses to sea level rise, and code enforcement, as well as providing strategic assistance to numerous municipalities. Most recently, she led the City of Newburgh, New York, in the development of a distressed property remediation implementation plan that focuses on the development of a land bank. Additionally, Ms. Bacher serves as a trainer for the Center’s award-winning Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program that has educated over 2,500 local leaders in land use strategies, consensus building, and regional stewardship. Ms. Bacher also chairs the Distressed Properties Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning & Zoning Committee for the American Bar Association’s Section of State and Local Government Law. At Pace Law School, Ms. Bacher serves as adjunct professor, teaching Land Use Law, Sustainable Development Survey, and the Advanced Land Use and Sustainable Development Seminar. She also administers the Center’s academic programs and guides student research. In addition, she is a guest lecturer and project supervisor at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where she manages the School’s Land Use Clinic. Ms. Bacher authors regular land use features in New York and national publications and has edited numerous small books in the fields of Land Use and Real Estate Law, including Breaking Ground and Planning and Building in Priority Growth Districts. She also presents at regional and national conferences and served on the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force Legal Work Group. Ms. Bacher was selected by the American Bar Association to receive the Jefferson B. Fordham Award, an award presented to a young practitioner who has shown great promise through her contributions to the field. Ms. Bacher received her J.D. summa cum laude from Pace Law School in 2003, along with a certificate in Environmental Law.
Deputy Director, Land Use Law Center
Adjunct Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Tiffany B. Zezula, Esq. is the Deputy Director for the Land Use Law Center at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, NY. She is the primary trainer on consensus building techniques for the Center’s land use training programs for local officials, environmentalists, planners, and developers. She also is the national coordinator of the Center’s signature program – The Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program, which due to its success in New York, has been modeled and transferred to over 5 states and includes over a hundred national, regional, and local sponsors. The program has trained over 2500 leaders in the Hudson Valley Region alone. Her work at the Center also includes coordinating and tailoring training programs and workshops to meet the needs of individual communities, whether that is a ½ day training program or four-day intensive workshop. Ms. Zezula also provides strategic assistance to local governments, including assistance in developing collaborative public engagement approaches on land use project disputes and comprehensive planning of a community. Finally, Ms. Zezula is in charge of running the Center’s annual conference. The Center’s annual conference is a significant educational event in the region, with more than 250 attorneys, business professionals, planners and local leaders in attendance to learn about national, regional, and local innovations, challenges, and best practices. Ms. Zezula is a frequent national speaker on collaborative governance and local decision-making. She is also a frequent guest presenter at the Yale School of Forestry and an adjunct professor at Pace University School of Law on Environmental Dispute Resolution. She received her J.D. cum laude from Pace Law School in 2003 along with a certificate in Environmental Law. She is a certified mediator in the State of New York.
Senior Staff Attorney & Urban Program Specialist, Land Use Law Center
Adjunct Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Jennie Blanchard is a Senior Staff Attorney and Urban Program Specialist for the Land Use Law Center at Pace Law School in White Plains, NY, where she is also an Adjunct Professor. Ms. Blanchard’s work focuses primarily on the growth of urban centers, working closely with cities to address obstacles to redevelopment and sustainability. She also manages the Center’s student research; writes frequently on legal issues pertaining to land use and sustainable development; lectures at CLE programs, bar association events, and conferences; and trains local officials, environmentalists, planners, developers, and attorneys in land use law and consensus-building techniques. Ms. Blanchard graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2003. In 2008, she received her Master of Environmental Management degree from Yale University with an advanced concentration in Urban Ecology and Environmental Design and her J.D. cum laude from Pace Law School, where she was on the Pace Environmental Law Review. She has also achieved designation by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professional, making her one of fewer than 40 LEED APs in New York State registered in the area of legal practice. With a keen interest for volunteerism, Ms. Blanchard serves as the Chair of the American Planning Association’s Planning & Law Division (PLD), is also PLD’s Newsletter Editor-in-Chief, has volunteered as a grader for PLD’s annual Smith-Babcock-Williams Student Writing Competition, is a board member of the Westchester Municipal Planning Federation (WMPF), and is a Junior Board Member of Music for Autism—an international organization committed to raising public awareness and improving the quality of life of individuals with autism and their families through music.
Senior Staff Attorney, Land Use Law Center
Adjunct Professor of Law, Pace Law School
Jeff LeJava is a Senior Staff Attorney at Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center for Sustainable Development where he conducts research and publishes on a variety of land use topics, including local food production, transit-oriented development, and the interplay between land use and climate change. He also provides technical assistance to communities in the Hudson Valley and beyond concerning the integration of sustainability in their land use practices. At Pace, Jeff is an Adjunct Law Professor teaching Land Use Law, Environmental Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development Law. He has also served as a Lecturer-in-Law at Columbia Law School.
Previously, Jeff was Administrator of the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Program for the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection & Planning Council, a state land use agency that manages the protection and development of an 860,000-acre region of northern New Jersey. In that capacity, he developed and was implementing one of the nation’s largest TDR programs. He also served as Staff Attorney for the Council where his responsibilities included litigation coordination and overseeing the agency’s open space and farmland preservation activities. Before joining the Highlands Council in 2005, he practiced environmental law for seven years with White & Case LLP and then Latham & Watkins LLP.
Jeff is qualified to practice before the New Jersey and New York bars and the US District Court for the District of New Jersey. Jeff received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Pace University School of Law in 1998 along with a Certificate in Environmental Law, and his B.A., cum laude, from the College of the Holy Cross in 1994.
Director of Administration
Ann Marie McCoy is the Director of Administration for both the Land Use Law Center and the Kheel Center on the Resolution of Environmental Interest Disputes. She has been with the Center since 1999, beginning as administrative assistant for both the Land Use Law Center and Pace's Graduate Program in Comparative Law. Ms. McCoy is responsible for all aspects of the administration of the Center, including its many educational and outreach programs. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Pace University magna cum laude in 2003, her Master of Science degree for Teachers from Pace in 2007 and Paralegal Studies Certificate in 2011.
Attorney Consultant, Land Use Law Center
Meg Byerly Williams is a consultant based in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she works on sustainable development projects promoting renewable energy, distressed property remediation, and sustainable neighborhood development, among other related subjects. Previously, Meg worked as a staff attorney at Pace Law School’s Land Use Law Center in White Plains, New York, where she served as lead author on several Center publications, administered academic seminars, guided student research projects, and wrote for legal publications on various sustainable development topics. She holds a JD from Pace Law School, as well as an MEM from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and an MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University.
Attorney Consultant, Kevin Dwarka LLC
Kevin Dwarka JD, PhD is a land use lawyer and economic consultant specializing in the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. Headquartered on Wall Street, Dr. Dwarka’s firm provides legal guidance and quantitative analysis to real estate developers, municipalities, housing authorities, community development corporations, transit agencies, law firms, architects, and building contractors. He also serves as a Senior Fellow at Pace Land Use Law Center. Prior to forming his consultancy, he held senior positions at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, New York City Transit, and Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates. Land use services include zoning analysis, site selection, development approvals, environmental review, and right-way acquisition for transit infrastructure projects. Versed in all aspects of the New York City land use approvals process, Dr. Dwarka helps builders navigate the complex web of land use regulations enforced by the New York City Department of City Planning, Board of Standards and Appeals, the Department of Buildings, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Economic consulting services include real estate market analysis, affordable housing finance, infrastructure cost benefit analysis, financial feasibility analysis for redevelopment projects, and economic impact studies. Current projects include the Newburgh Broadway Corridor Access Plan; the Newburgh Land Use and Market Analysis; the Newburgh Neighborhood Redevelopment Plan, the Newburgh Waterfront Mobility and Access Strategy; the Poughkeepsie City Center Revitalization Plan, and the Ridgefield Economic Development Strategic Plan. His consultancy also provides a full suite of litigation support services including expert testimony, real property valuation, and technical analysis of land use, traffic, and environmental impact documents. Since 2010, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at Baruch College, where he has taught land use, urban economic development, and environmental policy. He also teaches Israeli Politics at Yeshiva University. His dissertation at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, examined the use of global capital and public private partnerships for financing light rail projects in Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He received his BA from Columbia University, JD from Pace Law School, MCP from UC Berkeley, and PhD from Hebrew University. Dr. Dwarka is admitted to practice before the New York State Bar and serves on the New York City Bar Association’s Housing and Urban Development Committee. He also on the board of the New York chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism.
Kirsten Yerger graduated from Fairfield University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Politics and a minor in Environmental Studies. While at Fairfield, Kirsten interned with the Bridgeport Department of Public Facilities in the Office of Sustainability. She also received the 2014 Environmental Studies Student Research Award for her independent research project on municipal composting. Kirsten is now a rising 2L at Pace and is expected to graduate in 2017 with a J.D., Certificate in Environmental Law, and Concentration in Land Use Law and Real-Estate. Kirsten volunteered in the fall of 2014 at the Land Use Law Center and is a Vice Chair for the National Environmental Moot Court Competition (NELMCC). This summer Kirsten will be working as Professor Nolon’s research assistant and interning at the Pace Energy and Climate Center.
Land Use & Sustainable Development Scholars
J. Justin Woods
J. Justin Woods is a is a J.D. and Certificate of Environmental Law candidate at Pace University School of Law and an M.P.A. candidate at Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences (both degrees expected December 2015). Justin is also a Land Use & Sustainable Development Scholar at the Land Use Law Center, where he is working with Professor John Nolon and Executive Director Jessica Bacher on various planning law and urban revitalization issues. He is presently researching and writing about urban revitalization, land banks, and gentrification. A 2000 graduate of Green Mountain College, cum laude, Justin holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with dual concentrations in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a Certificate in Pre-Law. He also completed graduate studies in the City & Regional planning at Cornell University. Justin comes to Pace with over 15 years of experience as a planner, community/economic developer, public administrator, and consultant, including serving 5 years on the Upstate NY Chapter Board of the American Planning Association. Justin is a member of the Planners Network: The Organization of Progressive Planning, and is interested in the intersection of legal and policy planning and management related to urban revitalization, equitable development, and environmental, economic, and social justice.
Lenny Cohen graduated from the University of South Florida in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing. While at the University of South Florida, Lenny volunteered in a local program restoring State parks and swamplands near the Hillsborough County River. Lenny is interested in Land Use Law, Real Estate Law and Intellectual Property Law. Lenny is currently a rising 2L at Pace Law School and is expected to graduate in 2017 with a J.D. and a certificate in Environmental Law.
Alexandra Dobles graduated from Swinburne University of Technology in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sustainability. While at Swinburne, Alexandra was an active member in the Swinburne Greens Club, Swinburne Sustainability Collective, and Environmental Health Australia. She also completed coursework on various environmental topics such as sustainable communities and contaminated sites, which piqued her interest in the land use field. Alexandra is entering her second year at Pace Law School, where she is expected to graduate in 2017 with a J.D., an Environmental Law Certificate, and a Concentration in Real Estate and Land Use Practice. She is currently the Vice President of the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Society and Treasurer of the Environmental Law Society. Alexandra is looking forward to further developing her interest in environmental sustainability and land use law during her internship at the Land Use Center.
Antonin Gajtani graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a minor in History and Philosophy. Prior to attending law school, Antonin worked for Bryant Industries Corporation where he oversaw all domestic and international company logistics. Additionally, he worked at A Free Bird Organization, where he managed a team of interns in developing marketing and fundraising campaigns to raise awareness and donations for children diagnosed with cancer. Antonin also worked in the Sal Albanese New York City Mayoral Campaign coordinating community events and speaking engagements. He is entering his second year of law school and is expected to graduate in 2017. He is very excited to explore land use law at the Center this summer, and looks forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.
Marisa Michaelsen graduated from Rutgers University, New Brunswick in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with a minor in Classics. Prior to attending Pace Law School, Marisa worked as a manager at Coach Leatherware, which helped to establish her exceptional attention to detail, and her ability to multitask and meet deadlines. Marisa is entering her second year at Pace Law School, and expects to graduate in 2017. During her first year at Pace Law, she served as a 1L representative for the Sports, Entertainment and Arts Law Society. During her second year she will serve as Secretary of SEALS. Marisa became interested in Land Use during Professor Nolon’s property class. She is excited for the opportunity to explore and develop that interest at the Land Use Law Center, and she plans to pursue a concentration in Land Use and Real Estate.
Patrick O'Connor is a joint J.D./MPA Candidate at Pace Law School and the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences (both degrees expected in 2016.) Since coming to Pace, Patrick has been an active member in all three environmental groups on campus and has held an executive position on the Pace Energy and Climate Change Law Society since its inception. Patrick is excited for the opportunity to broaden his interests this summer through his internship at the Land Use Law Center, and to explore land use and real estate law.
Rachel Partington graduated from Wells College in 2014 with a BA in History and minor in Psychology. In school, she founded a residential sustainability program and co-founded a disability advocacy and accessibility organization. After graduation, she designed and taught yoga classes in both physical rehabilitation and nature appreciation. She has interned in Ontario County Court and New York State Claims Court. Her passion for land use developed from an internship for the general counsel to the Onondaga Nation, where she worked on solar energy and hydrofracking-related issues concerning pipeline construction and natural gas storage. She is a rising 2L at Pace Law School and is expected to graduate in 2017 with a J.D. and concentration in Real Estate and Land Use Law.
Alyse Velger graduated from Pace University in 2013 with a BA in Applied Psychology, and became a member of the International Honor Society of Psychology. She is a rising 2L at Pace Law School and is expected to graduate in 2017. Alyse also has a Master's of Science degree in progress from Pace University in Mental Health Counseling. She became interested in land use law and zoning law after taking the Property course and obtaining more information on the Land Use Law Center. Through her internship at the Center, she is excited to broaden her understanding of land use law and zoning practices.