The Child Advocate and Director of the OCA

Maria Z. Mossaides

For almost forty years, Ms. Mossaides has held a wide range of positions in the public and independent sectors as an attorney and administrator. Before assuming the position as the Child Advocate for the Commonwealth, she was the Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service. She served as the general counsel and acting commissioner of the Office for Children, deputy general counsel to the Department of Social Services, general counsel to the Office of the Comptroller, and as the first agency head for the Division of Purchased Services. For nine years Ms. Mossaides worked for the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, first as the Executive Assistant to Chief Justice Paul J. Liacos and then as the Administrative Assistant to the Justices, the first woman appointed to the position. 

Ms. Mossaides graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, received her law degree from SUNY at Buffalo, and a masters in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she was awarded the Bradford Fellowship.

Deputy Director and Counsel

Elizabeth Armstrong

Elizabeth Armstrong was a registered nurse before becoming an attorney (B.S.N., University of Iowa; J.D. with Honors, University of N.C. at Chapel Hill). She brings her experience as a prosecutor in child maltreatment, domestic violence, and sexual assault cases to this position, including working with child fatality review and child protection teams. Before joining the OCA, she represented children and families in both the Juvenile and Probate and Family Courts in Massachusetts.

Clinical Specialist

Christine Palladino-Downs

Christine Palladino-Downs, MSW, LCSW, worked in the Massachusetts child and adolescent mental health arena before gaining extensive knowledge of the child welfare and juvenile justice system during her eight year tenure at a Children and Family Services agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. While there, she investigated, assessed and managed complex child welfare cases, including child fatalities. She also served on several committees within the child welfare agency, and was active in policy development and implementation. She received her BA-Psychology from Regis College and her Masters of Social Work from San Francisco State University.

Program Assistant

Meagen Hildebrand

Meagen Hildebrand earned a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University at Albany, SUNY and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice from the University of Wyoming. While completing her education, Meagen served as a volunteer rape crisis counselor for victims’ services agencies in both Wyoming and New York. Meagen’s practical experience includes working as a graduate teaching assistant and as a research assistant in dedicated psychology and law research laboratories. She has published findings in national academic journals and presented research findings at national academic conferences.