Antoinette Balta, Esq., LLM is Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Veterans Legal Institute® where she oversees and has responsibility for business development, outreach, public relations, marketing, and strategic planning. She comes to VLI with a long-held passion to serve homeless and at-risk veterans and service members and has dedicated her career to that end.
Noticing an influx of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking shelter at a local National Guard armory, Ms. Balta discovered that many issues that contributed to these veterans’ chronic homelessness were legal in nature and required the assistance of an attorney. So moved by the fact that the men and women who had served the country abroad were now struggling, she committed herself to the cause of removing “chronic” from “homelessness” and empowering veterans into self-sufficiency. This led her to be instrumental in the co-development of a veteran based project at a local legal aid, with over 700 veterans receiving legal assistance during her three year tenure.
Ms. Balta is a reserve JAG Officer with the California State Military Reserve, assigned to Legal Support Command where she holds the rank of Major. She is accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs and regularly lectures on legal topics affecting veterans, where she is known for providing innovative solutions aimed at veteran empowerment and self-sufficiency. In the past, Ms. Balta was a law lecturer at UCI School of Law for its Veterans Law Clinic.
Ms. Balta is a Director at Large with the Orange County Bar Association and also a Board Advisor for the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations. Ms. Balta is a member of the OC Veterans and Military Families Collaborative and for a long period of time served as its Vice Chair of its Steering Committee and Chairwoman of its Legal/Re-Entry Working Group and is the Vice Chair of the Military and Veterans Health Law Advisory Board of the American Bar Association Health Section. She is also an advisor to Integrated Recovery Foundation, an organization that serves women veterans that are survivors of military sexual trauma.
KellyAnn Romanych maintains a deep devotion and respect for service. She is a proud wife, daughter, and niece of veterans from every service branch. Ms. Romanych has a background in law enforcement and education. As a Senior Park Ranger for the City of Los Angeles, Ms. Romanych was the equivalent of an area commander and received numerous recognitions and commendations. As such, she was charge of the training division where she wrote and administered curriculum, presented academic and field topics, evaluated students and staff, and managed logistics to support diverse constituents using over 15,000 acres of parkland. In her K-12 experience as a lead and department head teacher, Ms. Romanych has used technology and created websites for remote learning, differentiating instruction, and crafting curriculum. This has included classroom, grade level, and school-wide scales, with particular devotion to special needs students in both public and private schools. Her grant writing experience includes classroom support, small and large foundations, municipal and state agencies. She has also served as a grant and scholarship scorer.
Ms. Romanych graduated cum laude from California State University, Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She holds a master’s degree from the University of North Dakota, graduating summa cum laude. Ms. Romanych draws on her biology and space studies degrees to analyze data and manage diverse projects to document Veterans Legal Institute’s impact and ensure its sustainability. Recently, Ms. Romanych received special recognition for her volunteer development efforts to Veterans Legal Institute by Congresswoman Mimi Walters, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and State Senator Janet Nguyen. She is an alumna of Seth Godin's altMBA and an Official Member of Forbes Nonprofit Council.
Doug joins VLI with more than 35 years of experience as a civil litigation, real estate and bankruptcy attorney.
Doug obtained his B.A. degree from Yale University in 1978 and his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1982. Doug has practiced in major private law firms (Kelley Drye & Warren - New York, New York and Los Angeles, California, and Kelly, Hart & Hallman, P.C. - Fort Worth, Texas), and financial institutions (American Savings Bank, F.A., American Real Estate Group, Inc., and New West Federal Savings and Loan Association). For the past 25 years, Doug has been a shareholder in Frankel & Tennant Professional Corporation in Costa Mesa, a small firm emphasizing representation of lenders in state and federal court, including foreclosures, receiverships, and bankruptcies. Doug is admitted to practice in New York (1983), California (1985), the District of Columbia (1989), and Texas (1993), and to federal courts in California and New York.
Doug is committed to the mission of serving our active duty service members and veterans. Beginning in 2013, Doug has volunteered time, providing advice and counsel to service members challenging unjust efforts by the military to recoup re-enlistment incentives, including successful applications to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records. He also has helped with applications for retirement benefits and CRSC. Doug is a VA accredited claims agent.
Faith, family and community are important to Doug. He is active as a Boy Scout leader, AYSO soccer referee, and Little League umpire.
Doug is excited to join the incredible team at VLI as a staff attorney serving our veterans full time!
Mr. Douglas is a 2014 graduate of Western State College of law. He earned an MBA from California State University, Fullerton, and a BA in Linguistics from California State University, Dominguez Hills.
While attending CSU, Dominguez Hills, he also participated in the ROTC program at UCLA, receiving a commission in the US Army.
Prior to earning his BA, Mr. Douglas enlisted in the U.S. Army, were he had served as a translator of the Vietnamese language. After his service in the Army, Mr. Douglas worked for the phone company for a couple of years, and then spent 25 years in the US Postal Service as a Letter Carrier, retiring in 2007.
His time in the Army, as well as having seen how Vietnam Veterans were treated when they returned from deployment, along with attendance at several events hosted by the VLI, led him to volunteer to become part of the VLI team.
Johnanthony Alaimo is a graduate of UC Irvine School of Law and a Staff Attorney with Veterans Legal Institute. His goal is to dedicate his life to public service, with an emphasis on improving the lives of veterans and active service members, low-income and indigent persons and the LGBTQ+ community.
While in law school, Mr. Alaimo had a wide array of unique and rewarding experiences. He interned at the legal division of the U.S. Postal Service, analyzing administrative and employment law issues. Additionally, he participated in UC Irvine’s Immigrant Rights Clinic. During his period of service, Mr. Alaimo, in addition to his colleague, were the first UC Irvine law students to represent a client in his asylum proceedings. Ultimately, he was able to obtain relief for a man fleeing for his life due to persecution of his sexuality. Mr. Alaimo also worked at the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The experience taught him invaluable motion practice and litigation skills, culminating in the opportunity to first chair his own felony trial.
Mr. Alaimo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The College of New Jersey, as well as minors in Communication Studies and Politics, Law, & Philosophy. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Alaimo worked for state government, interning at the Office of the Governor of New Jersey in the Constituent Affairs Office. During this experience, Mr. Alaimo actively engaged with his local community, which was still recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Alaimo also interned for the United States Agency for International Development’s virtual intern program. Working remotely, Mr. Alaimo researched global LGBTQ+ topics. In his free time, Mr. Alaimo loves to cook and attempt to travel to all 50 states.
*Admitted to practice in Arizona. California license pending. VA Accredited.
Katie is the newest Staff Attorney at the Veterans Legal Institute. She is a graduate from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. During her time in law school, she was awarded the Judge Mary M. Schroeder Award for most pro-bono hours as a 2L student, and graduated with the highest pro bono distinction.
Katie is experienced in the public sector, with stints at both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Arizona State Legislature. Additionally, she has worked for multiple non-profits, advocating for renewable energy regional solutions to climate change as well as humane animal welfare practices in the agriculture industry.
Serving veterans is important to Katie. Her late grandfather was an Officer in the U.S. Army during the Korean War so she seeks to honor him by utilizing her law degree to assist military veterans.
Mr. Duffield served pre-and-post-9/11 in the US Military. While in the Navy, Mr. Duffield was forward deployed to the Gulf during the September 11 attacks. He and his ship, the USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), took part in the opening tomahawk strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Global War on Terror against the Taliban in Afghanistan in October 2001.
After leaving military service, he used the G.I. Bill to earn a BA in History from the University of California, Irvine and later on earned his Juris Doctor from Western State College of Law. Since obtaining his license to practice law, he has dedicated hundreds of hours of pro bono legal assistance to low income veterans and other populations in need, a true reflection of his life long commitment of service.
*Licensed in Virginia and Michigan and California
Nancy Jones is a licensed attorney in California, Virginia and Michigan. A Marine spouse of 20 years, Mrs. Jones is familiar with the unique issues that face current and former military personnel. She has worked closely with active duty military members through a number of military support organizations and has assisted Marines with their taxes under the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program on Camp Pendleton and in 29 Palms. She maintained her own individual and small business tax practice through countless military moves and deployments.
Military orders brought Nancy to California in 2012 where she noticed a number of homeless young veterans on the streets. Inspired, she started volunteering at VLI becoming quickly involved with the legal operations.
Mrs. Jones obtained an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego.
Mr. Schlanger lived in Japan for two years after getting a undergraduate degree in Biology from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Upon returning to the states, he spent a year working with Japanese companies doing data entry and shipment logistics. To continue his interest in the law, he began looking for entry level work at law firms, where he found the Veterans Legal Institute after his tenure at Bet Tzedek.
Working closely with management, Leonard uses his knowledge gained from his experience as a tech-support and logistics specialist to help manage the daily administrative work at VLI and streamline processes to make a more efficient and quality experience for the veteran clientele.
Stephen first came to work at VLI as a Volunteer in 2017. Before then, he lived in Japan for 6 years working as a English Instructor and later as part of an IT Support Desk in Tokyo, Japan. Stephen has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Telecommunications Management which he put to use when he was a Wide Area Network engineer.
Stephen has worked various roles in IT, but Customer Service is a field he has worked in his entire career. He enjoys music, cooking and travel in his spare time.
James Fish, a resident of Santa Ana for the past 34 years, brings to VLI his 39 years of experience in the Clerical/General Office field. His past clerical experience includes working as a Mail Room Clerk, a Data Entry Clerk, and a Document Control Clerk with the Corridor Design Management Group, or, CDMG. (CDMG is an organization that was responsible for making sure that the Orange County Toll Roads were designed according to CalTrans standards) Mr. Fish is also a licensed Amateur Radio Operator, for the past 33 years, with the call sign of KB6OUM.
Tim Sager is a volunteer at VLI since October 2018 provided to us through Working Wardrobes Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). Tim has over 25 years experience in the design and support of electronics products at both technical and end-user level, including hardware design and software development. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Electronics Engineering Technologies and Computer Science and extensive training in IT management.
Tim's job function at VLI is as an Office Administration Assistant, comprising in client case data entry and management and further IT and hardware support. With numerous family members and friends in various branches of the military, working at VLI has provided him a chance to assist veterans and active service members who've served in our country's armed forces.
Suzie Kieu started at VLI as a volunteer then got hired to be an office assistant part-time. Miss Kieu wants to work hard to make sure that businesses run smoothly through her administrative support.