Staff Biographies

Meris L. Bergquist, Executive Director

Ms. Bergquist has been practicing law since 1981.  She is a graduate of Hunter College and Temple University School of Law.  From 1985 to 1991 she worked as a staff attorney at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  From 1991 to 2008 she worked as a staff attorney at Vermont Legal Aid.  Since 2000 she has specialized in housing discrimination litigation.  She has been a presenter at numerous trainings for lawyers and law students and published several articles on fair housing topics.  In 2005 she represented the plaintiff in Bouley v. Young-Sabourin.  This was the first federal case to recognize that female victims of domestic violence can state a claim of housing discrimination under the Federal Fair Housing Act on the basis of sex.   Ms. Bergquist joined the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in 2008. 

Ms. Bergquist can be reached at (413) 539-9796 ext.108 or mbergquist@massfairhousing.org.

 

Ashley Grant, Legal Director

Ms. Grant is a graduate of the City University of New York School of Law and Wesleyan University.  After graduating from law school, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Roanne L. Mann of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Following her clerkship, Ms. Grant worked as an attorney at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House in New York City, representing low-income tenants in housing court and assisting individuals whose public benefits had been terminated.  Prior to law school, Ms. Grant worked as an organizer and research analyst in the labor movement and as a human rights observer in Guatemala and Colombia.  She speaks both English and Spanish.  Ms. Grant represents clients in housing discrimination and fair lending cases.

Ms. Grant can be reached at (413) 539-9796 ext. 102 or agrant@massfairhousing.org.

 

M. Rebecca Lopez, Staff Attorney

Ms. Lopez is admitted to practice law in Maryland and Massachusetts. She earned her Juris doctor from the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. Ms. Lopez is committed to the humanistic representation of individuals marginalized by mainstream society. In 2011, she received the Public Service Award from the University of Maryland School of Law. Shortly after arriving to western Massachusetts, she joined the Tenancy Preservation Program. As a clinical case coordinator with TPP, she provided intensive case management and housing stabilization support to tenants in eviction proceedings before the western division Housing Court. Ms. Lopez speaks both English and Spanish. She represents clients in housing discrimination cases and oversees MFHC's Housing Mobility Support program.

Ms. Lopez be reached at (413) 539-9796 ext. 107 or rlopez@massfairhousing.org.

 

Giovanna Randazzo, Fair Housing Testing Coordinator

Ms. Randazzo graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a B.A. in Legal Studies and Sociology, and holds a Paralegal Certificate. During her undergraduate career, Ms. Randazzo served as a research assistant for two professors in the Sociology and Legal Studies departments, and worked as a Legal Intern for the Mass Fair Housing Center. In 2013, she received the Shep Shepard Award for academic excellence in Legal Studies and contributions to the community. After graduating from UMass, Ms. Randazzo interned at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Boston, Massachusetts, and worked as a Housing Manager for the YMCA of the North Shore, where she provided families and individuals with affordable housing. Ms. Randazzo supervises the fair housing tester program.

Ms. Randazzo can be reached at (413) 539-9796 ext. 112 or grandazzo@massfairhousing.org

 

Franci Gazzaniga, Americorps Attorney

Ms. Gazzaniga is a graduate of Western New England University School of Law and Vanderbilt University, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology.  She is admitted to practice in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia.  She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, where most of her family still resides.  Ms. Gazzaniga recently joined the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center as an AmeriCorps Attorney under the Massachusetts Legal Assistance for Self-Sufficiency Program (MLASSP).  She attended law school in order to pursue a career in public interest law, and she has previously worked for several organizations in that pursuit.  She looks forward to continuing her public interest work with MFHC to protect the rights of Western Massachusetts citizens in their housing choices.

Ms. Gazzaniga can be reached at 413-539-9796 ext. 113 or fgazzaniga@massfairhousing.org.

 

Jean Boutin, Intake Specialist

Ms. Boutin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development.  In the late 1960’s Ms. Boutin taught Junior High Social Studies at St. Anthony School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This inner city experience initiated Ms. Boutin in the complex needs of a racially diverse, low-income community. She then spent eleven years in Chile where she completed training as a Licensed Practical Nurse through the National Health Service of Chile.  Ms. Boutin organized and facilitated a network of Empowerment Support Groups for Women in several shanty towns of Santiago in collaboration with the Women’s Committee of the Human Rights Commission of Chile, and was an activist in the organized resistance to the military dictatorship of Agusto Pinochet. In Massachusetts Ms. Boutin worked for the Dept. of Children and Families in direct service where working with families living in sub-standard housing in Western Massachusetts provided Ms. Boutin with multiple opportunities to advocate for improved housing conditions.  In recent years with DCF Ms. Boutin was part of the quality assurance team of the Western Regional Office.  Ms. Boutin is fluent in English and Spanish.

Ms. Boutin can be reached at 413-539-9796, ext. 101 or jboutin@massfairhousing.org