About
LOTUS LEGAL

Our Mission

LOTUS Legal Clinic empowers survivors of sexual violence and trafficking. We provide direct, comprehensive legal services, advocacy and community education, and we invest in survivors as change agents.

Our Vision

Creating a national model for restoring dignity, rights and survivors’ voices

Our Founder

Rachel Monaco, J.D.

Our Team

Erika Petty

Executive Director  |  Lead Attorney

Erika is Executive Director and Lead Attorney at LOTUS Legal Clinic, Inc., where she has worked with survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking since 2016. Erika supervises staff attorneys and handles her own caseload of providing civil and immigration legal services to survivors. Erika is a frequent presenter and speaker on victims’ rights generally, and specifically, on meeting the needs of human trafficking survivors through a rights-based and victim centered lens. She was the 2019 recipient of the Association of Women Lawyers’ Community Involvement Award.  Prior to joining LOTUS Legal Clinic, Erika worked as a staff attorney at Legal Action of Wisconsin, providing civil legal services to low-income individuals. Erika graduated from Marquette University Law School in 2006 where she focused on public interest law and was recognized by the State Bar of Wisconsin with the Public Interest Student of the Year Award in May 2006. Erika enjoys running, sailing on the Great Lakes, and spending time with her husband and two sons.

Rachel Sattler

Senior Managing Attorney

Rachel E. Sattler is the Senior Managing Attorney at LOTUS Legal Clinic, where she and her colleagues provide free legal representation to survivors of gender-based violence who need help enforcing their civil rights. Rachel is also the co-founder and president of Dane County Multi-Agency Center, Inc. a non-profit that streamlines access to existing support services for survivors of gender-based violence through collaborative, coordinated care. Prior to joining LOTUS, she was a founding member of the Crime Victims’ Rights Project and a Volunteer Lawyer Coordinator at Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc.. For her work on the Crime Victims’ Rights Project and DaneMAC, Rachel has earned notable public recognition, including In Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40-Class of 2021 Award and the Wisconsin State Bar Association’s 2019 Legal Innovator of the Year Award. Rachel also served as a sensitive crimes prosecutor in Milwaukee and Madison for ten years.  She has published several articles on victims’ rights issues and regularly trains attorneys, law students, law enforcement, medical professionals, and advocates. Rachel earned her B.A. in English from St. Olaf College and her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. She is also a proud AmeriCorps VISTA alum.

Catherine Leonard

Staff Attorney

Catherine joined LOTUS in April 2019 as a Staff Attorney, where she provides direct legal services to survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking. Prior to joining LOTUS Catherine practiced immigration law in both the nonprofit and private sectors in Milwaukee and Seattle. She earned her law degree from DePaul University College of Law with a certificate in Public Interest Law and her bachelor's degree in Global Studies from the University of Minnesota. Catherine enjoys running, travel, and spending time with her partner and dog.

Sarah Griffiths

Staff Attorney

Sarah is a staff attorney based at LOTUS’s Fox Valley office at Reach Counseling in Neenah. Prior to joining LOTUS, Sarah worked in human services, higher education, and private law practice that focused on the immigration needs of vulnerable populations. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and St. Norbert College, Sarah holds membership in the State Bar of Wisconsin and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She serves as secretary of the volunteer board of directors for Literacy Green Bay, a non-profit organization that supports adult learners in the community. Sarah is fluent in Spanish. In her free time, she loves spending time outdoors with her family and their dog, running, traveling, and trying new recipes.

Abbehi Medrano

Paralegal

Abbehi is the Bilingual Paralegal at LOTUS Legal Clinic. She supports the work of LOTUS attorneys in civil matters with an emphasis on victims’ rights representation. She graduated from Mount Mary University with a degree in Justice and she is currently furthering her education in legal studies. Abbehi has experience in victim advocacy and case management. As a Milwaukee native, she is committed to solving complex challenges and providing resources for the underserved and underprivileged in our community. 

Austin M. Reece 

Director of Survivor Empowerment

Austin M. Reece (he/him/his) is Director of Survivor Empowerment at LOTUS Legal Clinic, Lecturer in Philosophy at Mount Mary University, and a poet. Previously the Education Specialist in the Sexual Assault Unit at the YWCA of the Sauk Valley, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, two master’s degrees from University College Dublin and Marquette University, and is currently completing his doctorate from Dublin City University with a dissertation titled, “The Bindings of Love: Explorations of Pathological Mourning, the Problem of Guilt, and the Tasks of Poetry.” At LOTUS Legal he develops and implements trauma-informed, humanities-based educational programming for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking, and edits Untold Stories, a literary magazine that publishes survivor writings alongside visual art responses. His poems and essays have recently appeared in Crannóg, Rise & Thrive, The Milwaukee Independent, Bramble, and Coffin Bell, among others. He can be reached at Austin@lotuslegalclinic.org.  

Lizette Olivas, B.A

Office Manager

Heather Kuhl

Communications and Development Coordinator

Our Board

Christa Wittenberg

President

O'Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing S.C.

Jasmine Conway

Vice President

Survivor Advocate and Consultant

Melissa B. Espin

Treasurer

ManpowerGroup

Alyson Lippman

Secretary

Second Chakra Women's Health Care, LLC

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Adjunct Faculty

Kristen D. Hardy

Briggs & Stratton,

Marquette University Law School Adjunct Professor

Julie Glynn

WaterStone Bank 

Paula Strelitz

Community Volunteer

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Angela Schultz

Assistant Dean for Public Service,

Marquette University Law School

Jennifer Williams

Deputy City Attorney, City of Racine

Our Past Directors

Dawn Helmrich, MA

LOTUS Board Past President

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County,

Organizer of Denim Day Milwaukee

Janine P. Geske

Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court,

Marquette University Law School (Retired)

 

Steven R. Johnson

Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility

Michael Gonring

LOTUS Founding  Board President

Quarles & Brady LLP

 

Linda Krieg

LOTUS Board President

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 

Federal Bureau of Investigation (Retired)

Barry C. Slagle 

LOTUS Board Past President

Legal Consultant

Wisconsin Judicial Court Commissioner (Retired)

Gregory Schrieber

LOTUS Board Treasurer

Kerkman & Dunn Attorneys at Law

Dr. Thomas Axel Lifvendahl

LOTUS Board Secretary

Lifvendahl & Associates

Mount Mary University Adjunct Associate Professor

Cardinal Stritch University Adjunct Professor