Rising Ground Appoints New General Counsel

Alan Mucatel, CEO of Rising Ground, has announced that Laura Grossfield Birger, a former federal prosecutor, and Partner at Cooley LLP, was appointed to the position of General Counsel, effective May 9, 2022. She replaces Elise S. Zealand, who previously served in the position. Rising Ground is a leading New York City human services agency supporting more than 25,000 children, families, and adults annually. Ms. Birger resides in Larchmont, with her husband, Jon, their sons, Alex, Zachary, and Eli, and the family’s mini goldendoodle, Maisie.   


She served 13 years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, most recently in the role of Chief, Criminal Division, and for 11 years as a business litigation partner at Cooley LLP. She said that in her new position, she will use her insight and “street experience” of the criminal justice system to help get the proper support for individuals, families, and children in need. She explained, “It’s a painful reality that thousands of children and others face the kinds of challenges that often land them on the doorstep of the criminal justice system.  Anything that we can do to alter that path is a good thing.” 


“We couldn’t be happier to have Laura join our team, and her past experience is unique to the role she now assumes,” remarked Alan Mucatel, CEO of Rising Ground. “We see great value in the knowledge she brings as she has a deep understanding of the communities, issues, and challenges we find in our work. I am also well aware that while Laura’s desire to remain involved in public service and contribute her legal skills is personally rewarding to her, she will have a measurable impact on us professionally as we continue to grow, evolve, and enhance our programs and strength as an organization.”     


Birger explains that her decision to join Rising Ground came about after much reflection: “I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do following my career at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and while I enjoyed my time there immensely, supervising 200 prosecutors and staff, and managing some extraordinary cases, my heart is in helping to make the world a better place. I always come back to the sage advice of the late federal district court judge Norma L. Shapiro, whom I clerked for in Philadelphia many years ago. Judge Shapiro often said, ‘Always be of use.’ That resonates with me now as it did then. In this new role, I can be of use.” She added that it was the breadth of services Rising Ground provides and the fact that it was “an organization at the top of its game,” that were the deciding factors. 


Ms. Birger earned a B.A from Brown University and J.D. from Yale Law School. She is a member of the NYC Bar Association (Chair, Federal Courts Committee 2016-18); New York Council of Defense Lawyers (Board Member 2015-17); and the Fund for Modern Courts (Board Member 2016-18). She is admitted to the New York State Bar, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of New York, and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Rising Ground is a leading nonprofit human services organization at the forefront of supporting evolving community needs, a leader in utilizing result-driven, evidence-based practices. The organization’s work is a positive force in the lives of more than 25,000 children, adults, and family members families impacted by trauma, family instability, mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, intimate partner violence, poverty, and lack of access to essential services so that they may thrive. Rising Ground won the prestigious New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Gold Award in 2014. It was founded 191 years ago as the Leake & Watts Orphan House. 


For further information visit www.RisingGround.org