Melissa Canales

Teacher at Torres Martinez Tribal TANF Beginning


Melissa's interest in equity and equality in education began as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.  After graduating, she spent a year and a half working for the Lawrence Hall of Science hands-on science museum science outreach program.  But, something continued to nag her as she saw first-hand the disparity in different schools and students.  So it was not a surprise when, in 2004, as a law student, she sought out an internship at the Disability Rights Law Center with the Learning Rights Project under then director Janeen Steel.


In 2005, when Learning Rights Law Center began, Melissa became one of the young law firm’s first interns.   She volunteered before becoming a staff attorney, upon passing the dreaded California bar exam in 2006. But, in 2008, she said goodbye to Learning Rights, as she found her way back to her home town of San Diego, to pursue a family business and eventually work representing a Native American Tribe. 


In January 2016, she gladly re-joined the Learning Rights family, and is grateful to have the opportunity again to serve children and families in their relentless pursuit of education equality.  She teaches the Torres-Martinez Tribal TANF TIGER classes, and is a staff attorney for Learning Rights.


Melissa earned her undergraduate degree in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley, her J.D. from Loyola Law School, and spends her free time in the garden and with her cat, dog, 8 chickens, and numerous pet quails. 

Cynthia Landez

Teacher at Kaiser Permanente Watts Beginning


For the last nine years, Cynthia has worked as an educational Therapist & Special Education Advocate with the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center. As an educational therapist, Cynthia provides one-on-one intensive educational interventions, advocacy services, school placement recommendations and other educationally-related services for children and adults with learning difficulties and learning disabilities.

As an advocate in Watts, Cynthia helps parents understand and exercise their rights under federal and state special education guidelines. She works with parents individually, attends special education meetings, facilitates monthly parent support groups and co-teaches a year-long course for low-income parents of children with special needs.

In addition to her work as an educational therapist and advocate, Cynthia also trains early child-hood professionals (teachers, Early Head Start/Early Head Start personnel, paraprofessionals, social workers, public health nurses, physicians, etc.) how to utilize high-quality, evidence-based developmental screening tools; conduct effective observations of young children; and implement limit setting and positive discipline strategies.


Cynthia attended University of California, Los Angeles and received an M.P.H. (Epidemiology) and an M.A. (Latin American Studies). Subsequent to her graduate work at UCLA, Cynthia completed three post-graduate certificates in Educational Therapy (California State University, Northridge); Infant Mental Health (the Early Childhood Foundation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center); and Special Education Advocacy (University of Southern California/Children’s Hospital Los Angeles/Learning Rights Law Center).

Cecilia Ortiz

Teacher at East Los Angeles Beginning


Cecilia is a former client of the Learning Rights Project at Western Law Center for Disability Rights (now Disability Rights Legal Center - DRLC).


Cecilia graduated from the Southern California School of Interpretation in 2004. From 2005 until 2009, she worked for DRLC's Education Advocacy Program as a Spanish interpreter, where her duties included assisting with intakes, attending IEP meetings and making telephone calls to facilitate attorney-client communication. She also translated the Fifth Edition of DRLC's Special Education Manual.In 2008,


Cecilia received training through the USC Special Education Advocacy Training Project (SEAT) taught by Janeen Steel and Ines Kuperschmit. Cecilia has worked with Learning Rights Law Center as a Spanish interpreter since the organization began in 2005. She has attended IEP meetings, parent meetings, workshops and translated the First Edition of Learning Rights' Special Education Toolkit

Jennifer Chang

Teacher at Koreatown Beginning


Ms. Chang is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of California. She graduated from Southwestern Law School with a distinction in the Public Service Program for dedicating over 400 hours at various nonprofit organizations that provide legal services to low-income families. Ms. Chang represents families in all issues related to education. She also provides special needs trust planning, conservatorships and guardianships.


Ms. Chang is a member of Autism Speaks, Autism Society’s AutismSource, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA). Ms. Chang is a featured columnist in the Korean Daily newspaper as a Special Education Attorney.

Kim McReynolds - Bell

Teacher at Whittier Beginning

Kim knows from personal experience that navigating the educational and mental health systems can be exhausting and overwhelming. 

Previously, she worked at a Los Angeles non-profit law firm helping low income parents seeking to obtain or increase the level of special education, regional center, or mental health services for their child.  She has conducted numerous trainings for parents, child care providers, and therapists.  Now, in private practice, she parents and adults access special education, regional center, mental health, and other services for those with disabilities.

Kim is a proud graduate of California State University, Los Angeles and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.  Go Bearcats!

Lambreni Weddell

Teacher at San Gabriel Valley Beginning


Lambreni is the Director of Community Engagement for Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.  She leads community engagement efforts.  Lambreni is a New York University (NYU) graduate.  Prior to joining NLSLA, she served as an Associate Community Organizer with One LA in Los Angeles.  She has extensive experience working with community groups and providing training on Medi-CAL and other health programs.  Lambreni is bilingual in Spanish.  

Crystal White

Teacher at Long Beach Beginning


Crystal White is an Adjunct Teacher for the Learning Rights Law Center in the Long Beach beginning TIGER program.  She has been a full-time Special Education teacher in South Los Angeles for the last 6 years.   She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Southern California, she received her Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from Argosy University, and a second Master’s Degree in Teacher Education with Mild/Moderate and Moderate/Severe special education credentials.  In her spare time, she enjoys running, hiking and gardening.