Ralia Polechronis, Executive Director
Ralia is the Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice. In this role she oversees the organization and leads the litigation strategy. Prior to joining the Partnership in 2015, she was a senior litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP. In that capacity, Ralia represented a broad range of corporate clients in securities, mass tort, class action and breach of contract cases. Ralia also led numerous matters representing charter schools and charter school organizations throughout the city, including matters involving co-location disputes. From 2007-2008, she served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye on the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.
Ralia graduated from Harvard Law School, cum laude, and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Boston College. She is an alumna of the New York City Urban Fellowship Program. Ralia currently serves as the board chair of the Math, Engineering and Science Academy Charter High School in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Melody is the Director of Communications at Partnership for Educational Justice. Prior to joining the Partnership staff in 2015, Melody worked as a press officer for the New York City Department of Education under Chancellor Joel Klein, during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s second term. In this role, she communicated with the press and other external stakeholders about the administration’s education reforms, including a commitment to increased school choice, principal empowerment, and improving teacher quality. She was also the founding head of communications for the Global Impact Investing Network, a non-profit that encouraged investments that have a positive social or environmental outcome, and previously worked in book and author publicity at a number of publishing houses.
Melody holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in Communications from the Annenberg School and a minor in Urban Education.
Alissa Bernstein, Senior Legal Counsel
Alissa is the Senior Legal Counsel at Partnership for Educational Justice. Prior to joining the Partnership in 2015, she was an associate at a boutique law firm, where she had a broad range of litigation experience in state, federal and appellate courts. Her areas of practice included civil rights and criminal defense litigation. She represented clients in a number of complex and noteworthy cases, including one of the plaintiffs in the Central Park Jogger civil rights litigation. In recognition of her work in that case, she was selected as a finalist for the Public Justice 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, which is presented to the attorney or attorneys who made the most outstanding contribution to the public interest through precedent-setting litigation over the past year.
Alissa graduated from Cornell University, cum laude, with a B.S. in Communication and a concentration in Spanish. She went on to graduate from the University of Miami School of Law in 2009, where she was a Clinic Fellow for the Children and Youth Law Clinic. As a Clinic Fellow, she advocated on behalf of foster care children and was awarded the Henry Bandier Fellowship and the Dean’s Certificate of Achievement for Outstanding Academic Performance.
Yesenia is the Outreach Manager for Partnership for Educational Justice. Prior to joining the organization, she was a community organizer for Carthage Advisors, an affordable housing development firm. She worked with community based organizations throughout New York City, designing educational programs and serving as a resource to partner organizations. During the summer of 2013, Yesenia was a part of The New School’s International Fieldwork Program, where she designed a pilot youth mentoring program for a low-income rural community in Supia, Colombia.
Yesenia holds an M.A. from The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, where she majored in Education Development and Bachelors in international affairs from Manhattan College.
Kate is the Communications Associate and Executive Assistant for Partnership for Educational Justice. Prior to joining the organization, she held internships in the communications and marketing fields in New York City. In that capacity, Kate interned at Bobbie Thomas, Inc. and Manhattan Edit Workshop. Some of her responsibilities during these internships included implementing key communications strategies and digital content through various media outlets, coordinating press releases and events, and creating and sending out newsletters.
Kate is currently pursuing an M.S. in Urban Policy from The New School’s Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. Kate holds a B.A. from the University of Vermont, where she majored in Film Studies and double-minored in Sociology and Consumer Advertising.