Growing up with a younger sister who has intellectual disabilities, Alexandria Montanio was no stranger to advocacy. But in high school, her sister, Anastasia, was the victim of a serious incident, the kind only a lawyer can address.
The Montanios, like so many other families, couldn’t afford legal help. Their salvation came through a pro-bono attorney named Todd Chason, who was assigned to the case by a nonprofit legal services provider. In Montanio’s eyes, the young lawyer was a superhero.
“He just swooped in and start fixing problems,” she says. “Todd was so caring and cognizant of the fact that people with special needs often encounter bumps in the road within the legal system. Long after the resolution of the case, his impact on my family was profound.”
Rather than simply filling the experience away in her mental library, Montanio felt called to pay it forward. In fall 2016, she officially started her law career at Gordon Feinblatt—the same firm where Chason happens to be a partner.
The Dundalk resident didn’t waste any time before jumping into service: As soon as she was qualified to do so, Montanio linked up with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services (MVLS), a program that connects low-income individuals to free legal assistance. In October 2018, she stepped into a board position to further the nonprofit’s mission.
Susan Francis, the executive director at MVLS, describes Montanio as “a dynamo in every possible definition. She’s always looking to move the needle with access-to-justice issues. At the same time, she’s incredibly humble, grounded, and loyal to Dundalk. Alex truly looks to make a positive difference in the community.”