Meet Our Officers
Genie Miller Gillespie
GENIE MILLER GILLESPIE, partner at Gillespie Law Group, LLC, has had her own practice in Chicago since 2001, concentrating exclusively in adoption, guardianship, assisted reproductive technology and other issues relating to children and families. She is an Illinois Leading Lawyer and Super Lawyer in the area of adoption; and a member of the Chicago Bar Association and American Bar Association. In 2016, she was recognized as an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute in Washington, DC. She was one of a limited number of attorneys appointed as guardian ad litem in adoption cases in Cook County for fourteen years. She was one of the co-founders and prior Legal Services Director for the Center for Law and Social Work, where she worked part-time until 2011. From 2006 through 2008, she was the Director of the ABA Child Custody and Adoption Pro Bono Project. She is the General Editor and chapter author for the IICLE Adoption Law Manual and has written numerous training materials regarding adoption law. She has spoken at numerous seminars and meetings related to adoption for attorneys, agencies, foster parents and prospective adoptive parents and has been the chair of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Law Committee twice. She has appeared in two episodes of Illinois Law, the Illinois State Bar Association cable television show, regarding domestic and international adoptions. Prior to starting her own practice, she served as the Pro Bono Director at the Chicago Bar Foundation; was in private practice with a small firm handling domestic relations and mental health matters; and spent her first year after law school clerking for the Honorable Wendell P. Gardner, Jr., at the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. She received her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, and her law degree from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America.
Debra E. Guston is a partner in the law firm of Guston & Guston, L.L.P., Glen Rock, NJ and Visiting Lecturer at Rutgers School of Law where she teaches Family Law. Deb is a Past President of AAAA. Deb graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, holds a M.A. from Emerson College and received her J.D. from Cardozo School of Law. Deb’s practice focuses on family formation through adoption and assisted reproduction and family protection through estate planning; estate litigation and administration and guardianships for seniors and special needs children. She also represents non-profit organizations in formation and governance issues and is an advocate for LGBTQ families.
Margaret Swain (Peggy) is an attorney in private practice in Baltimore, Maryland. A former surgical, delivery room and IVF clinical nurse, she focuses her legal practice on Assisted Reproductive Technology Law, Adoption and Guardianship. Peggy is a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, where she chaired the ART Committee, and served four years on the Academy’s Board of Trustees. She is a long-standing member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, co-chaired the formation of its Legal Professional Group, of which she is a Past-Chair, and has served as faculty on numerous Post-Graduate/Pre-Conference seminars. Peggy served for three years on the Executive Council of ASRM’s affiliate, The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. She is a member of the ABA and its Family Law Section on ART. Ms. Swain was also a charter fellow of AAARTA and served for three years as its Deputy Director and as Chair of its CLE and Legislative committees. Ms. Swain has authored a number of textbook chapters, is a frequent lecturer, and has taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and a board member of the Family Formation Charitable Trust. In 2008, she was recognized for her advocacy on behalf of adoptive families, birth parents and children by the national Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and honored as an “Angel in Adoption”.
Jenny L. Womack has practiced family law in Texas since receiving her law license in 1998 after graduating with honors from the University of Texas School of Law. Ms. Womack was invited to join AAAA in 2004 and has served in various leadership positions over the years before being elected President-Elect in April of 2020. In 2009, Jenny was selected by the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute to receive an Angels in Adoption award in Washington, D.C. Locally, Jenny is a member of the Dallas Bar Association and has served as a director for both the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the Dallas Women Lawyers Association. Jenny opened her own firm in October of 2012 and has focused her practice exclusively on family formation law (adoption, surrogacy and other assisted reproduction matters) since then. She speaks frequently on various aspects of family formation law.
Immediate Past President
Catherine Ward Keefe is a Partner in the law firm of Keefe & Brodie, Clayton, Missouri. Catherine graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1982 and St. Louis University School of Law in 1985. Catherine practices exclusively in the area of family law and her work includes adoption, dissolution of marriage, custody actions, grandparent visitation, third party custody and guardian ad litem work. Catherine has been a Member of AAAA since 1991.
Heather M. Strickland is a native Tucsonan and has been practicing adoption, assisted reproductive technology and family law in Arizona since 2005. Ms. Strickland represents expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents through the adoption process with compassion and caring while adhering to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism. In the ART’s area Ms. Strickland helps couples and individuals build their families through egg, sperm and embryo donation agreements, gestational carrier matters and pre-birth or parentage orders. Ms. Strickland has extensive litigation experience including contested adoptions, maternity/paternity issues, and termination of parental rights.
She is honored to be recognized as a 2017 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) for her dedication to positive child welfare practices.
Ms. Strickland is a proud member of the State Bar of Arizona, Pima County Bar Association, Arizona Women Lawyers Association, Military Spouse JD Network, and American Society for Reproductive Medicine. She graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2004 and from Smith College in 1997. She enjoys life with her husband and two rambunctious boys. If she finds spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, yoga and travel to far off places.
Jennie Sullivan has been working in the area of adoption for nearly 30 years, first in the adoption law firm of Kirsh & Kirsh and now in her role as the Executive Administrator and Secretary for the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. In addition to her work for AAAA, Ms. Sullivan handles the administrative duties for the Family Formation Charitable Trust, a non-profit foundation started by AAAA and dedicated to providing education, support and financial assistance to those seeking to build their families through adoption or assisted reproductive technology. Ms. Sullivan received her law degree from Indiana University and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Xavier University.
Jennie Sullivan is a wife and mother of three boys – two in college and one in high school. She is an avid reader, loves to travel, delights in cheering at her youngest son’s sporting events, and in her free time enjoys handling her own home improvements.
Harold (Hal) Atencio joined AAAA in 1999 and is a dual adoption and ART fellow. Hal is a past president of the NM Adoption and Foster Care Alliance. Hal drafted legislation that is part of the NM adoption act and created case law in the New Mexico Supreme Court regarding rights of alleged fathers to contest an adoption. Along with his dues as Treasurer, Hal also serves as a Trustee on AAAA's Board.
Deputy Director of Domestic Adoptions
Kelly Dempsey practices exclusively in family formation law, focusing primarily on international and domestic adoptions. Her advocacy work was featured in the award-winning 2013 documentary “Stuck.“ Kelly has testified before Congress, tried cases to a verdict before juries, and helped hundreds of clients around the world through her practice.
Deputy Director of International Adoptions
Karen Stoutamyer Law is an adoption and immigration attorney practicing in Virginia. Her immigration practice is national. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1985 and became licensed in Virginia in that same year. She is a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Virginia State Bar, and the Virginia Women Attorneys Association. She also served on the AILA International Operations Liaison Committee for two years. Working with those professional associations, she submitted comments to USCIS on proposed rules, operating procedures and policy memoranda. She has also assisted with drafting federal and state legislation and has provided comments and technical expertise to legislators and policy makers at the Department of State and USCIS. She was designated as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. In cooperation with the Loudoun County Department of Family Services and the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, she co-chaired the annual celebration of adoption in Loudoun County, Virginia, Loudoun Adoption Day, for thirteen years. She often speaks at national conferences on intercountry adoption issues and publishes articles on those same topics. She enjoys volunteering at orphanages throughout the world, including South Africa, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Belize, and Jamaica.
ART Deputy Director