We are pleased to announce that attorney Deena Zacharin has joined our firm. Adding Deena to our firm signals our growth into a full-service elder law firm, providing services from the estate planning stage through our long-recognized advocacy for elders who have experienced physical and financial abuse.
At the core of Deena’s work has been an interest in educating clients and community and creating the groundwork for systemic change. She began her legal career as an advocate for mental health patients at Patients’ Rights Advocacy Services. Her interest in mental health law stemmed from many hours of volunteer work at San Francisco Suicide Prevention where she noticed a profound need for change in the mental health system. However, the 1989 earthquake disrupted this early career track. Deena found herself helping artist and musician friends who had been “red-tagged” out of their live-work spaces in South of Market. This work developed into a solo law practice representing many of the Bay Area’s best-known and up-and-coming musicians and small entertainment businesses throughout the 1990’s.
Researching public schools for her daughter, Deena felt there was room for improvement in the school district’s outreach to San Francisco families. As a result, she co-founded, and served as the Executive Director of, Parents for Public Schools of San Francisco. In 2001, the City’s superintendent of schools asked her to join the school district to build a stronger collaboration between educators and parents. While working as SFUSD’s Director of the Office of Parent Relations, Deena developed many innovative and valued programs which were replicated by school districts statewide.
As a member of the “sandwich generation,” Deena raised her daughter while simultaneously helping her mother with independent living, assisted care and eventually skilled nursing and hospice care at the end of her life. This experience led Deena to re-enter the private practice of law where she worked with Kato, Feder & Suzuki, LLP on estate planning, trust and probate matters, with a particular interest in aging and end-of-life issues. We are excited to have Deena join Stebner Gertler Guadagni & Kawamoto where she will continue to advocate for elders and create systemic change, with a focus on estate planning and financial elder abuse.