Preserving Independence, Hope, and Dignity since 1967

Attorney Profiles ~ O-Z

Maria Obradovich became a staff attorney with our Fair Housing team in 2012, and in 2014 she was assigned to our Family Law team. Maria received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business with Honors from Campbell University in Camp Lejeune, NC, while serving as an active duty member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Maria earned her JD from Stetson University College of Law. There she was a founding member of the Student Veterans Organization, serving as the Pro Bono Chair. Maria is now an active member of the HCBA’s Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee and of the Ferguson-White Inn of Court.

Randi Pataky joined BALS in 2006 and currently works as a staff attorney for the CTI unit. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Florida, and then went on to obtain her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law. Before joining BALS, Randi worked for six years at Legal Services of Greater Miami, where she focused on family law and education law.

Nancey Penner - After 20 years as a teacher, Nancey received her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh and began her legal career at Florida Rural Legal Services in 1988. She came to BALS in 1996 as the staff attorney in the Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program. In 1997 she transferred to the Plant City office where she continues to work as a staff attorney.  Nancey is a master in the Family Law Inn of Court and the treasurer of the Plant City Bar Association.

Gale Pinkston earned her undergraduate and Masters degrees in social work from Florida State University. She graduated from law school in 1984 from the University of Pittsburgh and worked at Vanderbilt University before moving to Tampa in 1991and accepting a position with BALS. Gale spent three years on the family law team before becoming the team leader of the Senior Advocacy Unit. In 1997 Gale transferred to the Plant City office to become the team leader. She is a former officer of the Plant City Bar Association and is the project director for our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Tomoko Ransen is a staff attorney at BALS’ South Shore Office in Ruskin, primarily aiding domestic violence victims and practicing family law. She previously worked as a staff attorney with Gulfcoast Legal Services in St Petersburg. Tomoko is a proud graduate of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan (’95, LLB), Florida State University (’11, B.S.), and Stetson University College of Law (’15, J.D.). In 2016, she received the Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award (student category). In 2017, she was a lapel pin recipient from the Supreme Court of Florida in recognition for her pro bono service.

Dan Reigle a Staff Attorney in the Tampa office, has been with BALS since 1999. Currently Dan is working under a grant from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County serving the civil legal needs of clients of Children’s Board partners.  Dan will be working in a variety of areas including housing, landlord/tenant, family law, domestic violence, relief from garnishment, and income maintenance.  Dan graduated from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, in 1981 with degrees in Economics and Spanish. He graduated law school at Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1985.

Susan Sandler is the Project Director of the Judge Don Castor Community Law Center. She joined BALS in January 2004. Previously, Susan served as senior general counsel with the Florida Department of Financial Services focusing her practice on government regulation in the areas of banking, securities, finance, cemeteries, unclaimed property, public records, and bankruptcy law. Susan is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Business Administration.

Kristine E. Sarkis is a staff attorney in New Port Richey focusing on elder law, landlord-tenant issues, and public assistance. She received her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and started her career as a JAG in the U.S. Air Force. Kristine specialized in criminal defense, then took her experience to the Public Defender’s Office in Hillsborough County. Before joining Bay Area Legal Services, she worked in several Tampa insurance defense firms litigating negligence cases and has conducted well over 100 jury trials throughout her career.

Alexandra Srsic is the team leader of the Major General Ernest A. and Marilyn Bedke Veterans Law Center and manages the Veterans Legal Helpline. She grew up in Tallahassee, Fla. and attended Florida State University as an undergraduate and for law school. After graduating, Alexandra briefly worked on the firm’s Fair Housing project. Before rejoining Bay Area Legal Services in 2013, she worked at Florida Rural Legal Services as a staff attorney and as pro bono coordinator. Alexandra has assisted her clients with a variety of housing matters, consumer issues, and more.

Jason Susalla joined BALS in 2009 as an intern working with the Community Counsel Program. Shortly thereafter, Jason was hired as a part-time attorney for the Centralized Telephone Intake team, while maintaining a full-time job as a marine mammal trainer. He has been a full-time attorney at BALS since 2013, working for the Senior Advocacy Unit and concentrating on housing and family law. In 2014, Jason moved to the Fair Housing Team where he served clients at risk of discrimination in housing. As of 2018, Jason now works in the New Port Richey office primarily representing survivors of domestic violence.

Heather Tager has worked at BALS since 1990, first as a paralegal, and after attending Stetson University College of Law, as an attorney for the SAU. While on the SAU, Heather primarily handled housing and relative caregiver cases. Since February 2013, Heather is Managing Attorney of BALS’ L. David Shear Children’s Law Center, where she represents young children in the child welfare system. Heather received the Hope Cohen Barnett Young Leadership Division Award from the Tampa JCC/Federation, and was awarded recognition for her outstanding service to the elderly from the Hillsborough County Seniors and Law Enforcement Council.

Virginia Trujillo is a part-time bilingual attorney at BALS. She obtained a B.A. in Humanities from Florida State University before graduating from St. Thomas University School of Law. Virginia first came to BALS in 1994. She worked with a diverse community out of our Wimauma branch office. She then spent a few years in private practice, concentrating on real estate issues. She left private practice in 2000 to work in the Homeless Unit at Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Virginia returned to BALS in 2007, and now provides legal assistance to elderly Floridians through our telephone intake programs.

Cela Webster joined BALS in 2018 as a staff attorney in the Ruskin and Plant City offices, focusing on family law and helping with the Federal Court Assistance Program. In New York, Cela worked for Wayne County Legal Aid and served fifteen years as a Federal Career Law Clerk for the Northern District of New York. Subsequently, she worked as a Pro Se Staff Attorney and term Law Clerk in the Middle District of Florida. Cela earned a B.A. from USF and a J.D. from Syracuse University. She has been admitted to practice in Florida and New York since 2000.

Susan Miles Whitaker joined BALS in 1997. Since 2000 she has operated the Legal Information Center – BALS’ free self-help program in the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Susan has also written self-help instructions for pro se litigants and is responsible for revising the forms and instructions. Susan is the Executive Director of the Stann W. Givens Family Law Inn of Tampa. She also serves on the HCBA Family Law Section Executive Council and is Chair of their Public Access Committee. Susan is a graduate of Stetson University College of Law.

Katherine Woltmann received her B.A. and J.D. from Florida State University and initiated the legal internship program at BALS. She is an elder law attorney with SAU and administers BALS’ Independence Preservation Project, one of a set of three BALS projects to win a national "Salute to Leaders in Aging" award in 2002. She has provided hundreds of presentations and many local and statewide articles, webinars, and internet based information resources on incapacity planning and independence preservation issues.

Pye N. Young is a staff attorney in the firm's St. Petersburg office. She joined the team in 2019 after maintaining a civil litigation practice for several years. She will specialize in assisting veterans in obtaining the VA services they need, as well as provide general legal counsel on other related matters. Pye received her bachelors in interdisciplinary social sciences from Florida State University in 2001 and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law in 2005. She is very active in the local community and works as an adjunct professor for the St. Petersburg College paralegal studies program.

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