Our Staff

Meris L. Bergquist, Executive Director

Meris Bergquist is an attorney and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, the oldest fair housing organization in Massachusetts. She specializes in the representation of victims of housing discrimination before administrative agencies and in federal and state court. In 2005, Ms. Bergquist prevailed in a landmark Fair Housing Act case that expanded fair housing rights for female victims of domestic violence. She is a frequent guest lecturer at area colleges and at the Western New England University School of Law. She has written articles on fair housing issues, including a 2018 article, “How the Massachusetts Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Act Codifies Systemic Discrimination Against Families with Children in Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.” In 2011, she received the Paul F. Batch, Jr. award from the Stavros Center for exemplary service to Deaf individuals and in 2018 she received the Drum Major Award for the Advancement of Civil Rights in Massachusetts.

Meris can be reached at 413-539-9796 ext. 108 or mbergquist@massfairhousing.org.

Elizabeth (Annie) Connor, Senior Staff Attorney

Annie joined the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in 2020. She comes to MFHC from the City of Somerville Mayor’s Office, where she served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Legislative Liaison under Mayor Joseph Curtatone, earning a Citation from the City Council for her work. Prior to that, Annie spent five years in the courtroom with the Committee for Public Counsel Services as a public defender in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Worcester, MA. A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, Annie also holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College.

Annie can be reached at 413-539-9796 ext. 107 or aconnor@massfairhousing.org.

Vineeth Hemavathi, Staff Attorney

Vineeth joined the staff of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in 2021. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law and the University of Kansas. In law school, Vineeth was the Managing Editor of the North Carolina International Law Journal where he earned the Seymour Werfel Award for his outstanding service. Prior to joining MFHC, Vineeth worked at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma representing indigent victims of domestic violence. Vineeth has also worked in national security, taught middle school language arts at a low-income school, and served as a field organizer on a presidential campaign.

Vineeth can be reached at 413-539-9796 ext. 107 or vhemavathi@massfairhousing.org.

Libby Reinish, Staff Attorney

Libby joined the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in 2021 after serving as a law clerk for Justice Gregory T. D’Auria at the Connecticut Supreme Court. She graduated with high honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and also holds a master’s degree in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. During law school, Libby was a Steiger Fellow at the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection and interned in the Civil Rights and Consumer Protection Divisions of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Before her legal career, Libby advocated for media reform and technology justice at the Free Software Foundation and Free Press, and helped build community radio stations at the Prometheus Radio Project.

Libby can be reached at 413-539-9796 ext. 111 or lreinish@massfairhousing.org.

Faizia Sharif, Testing Coordinator

Faizia joined the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in August of 2020 after graduating with her bachelor's degrees in Journalism and English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Spring of 2020. During her years in college, Faizia gained experience in Legislation while interning at the Massachusetts State House, and through finding her passion in advocating for those who continue to face discrimination. Faizia trains and recruits testers while building and conducting tests to dismantle the discrimination that takes place during the housing process. Faizia plans to further her career in Fair Housing by going to Law School in a couple of years. She speaks both English and Urdu fluently, and reads Arabic and Farsi.

Faizia can be reached at (413) 351-9495 or fsharif@massfairhousing.org.

Jean Boutin, Intake Specialist

Jean has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in human resource development. In the late ‘60s, Jean taught junior high social studies in the inner city of Bridgeport, CT, where she began to understand the complex needs of a racially diverse, low-income community. Jean then spent 11 years in Chile where she became an LPN through Chile’s National Health Service. In Chile, Jean collaborated with the Human Rights Commission of Chile to organize a network of empowerment support groups for women in shanty towns in Santiago. She was also active in the organized resistance to the military dictatorship of Agusto Pinochet.

More recently, Jean worked for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in direct service of families living in sub-standard housing in Western Massachusetts. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Jean can be reached at 413-539-9796, ext. 101 or jboutin@massfairhousing.org.