The Child Advocate and Director of the OCA

Gail Garinger

Gail Garinger served as a Juvenile Court judge for 13 years before her appointment as The Child Advocate. After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she specialized in children's health and welfare law at Children's Hospital Boston as well as in private practice. She has extensive legal as well as clinical and research experience in the area of child abuse and neglect and children's welfare. Read More Biographical Information

Deputy Director

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

Heather Porriello

Heather Porriello received her BS in Criminal Justice and Human Services from Northeastern University. The fall after graduating Heather committed herself to term of service with AmeriCorps NCCC, a national service organization, where she was based in Southwest region of the United States. Heather comes to OCA with the direct service experience of working as an advocate for women at a domestic violence shelter and as a Direct Care Counselor at two Boston residential facilities for agency involved children.  She also brings administrative experience from working at Massachusetts Children’s Alliance, Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance and Legal Advocacy Resource Center.