OPC Team


Deputy People’s Counsel: Juliana Bell

Juliana Bell is one of two deputies at OPC. Her role focuses on shaping the agency’s advocacy for utility customers before the Maryland Public Service Commission and State courts. Prior to joining OPC, Julie worked for nearly nine years in the Maryland Office of Attorney General, representing the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and then the Maryland Department of Health, where she provided general legal advice and litigated in complex areas of law including provider audits, cost accounting, and reimbursement. Julie had also worked for nearly four years at the Baltimore firm Miles & Stockbridge P.C. as an associate in the bankruptcy and creditors rights group. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2009. Before law school, Julie worked as a journalist for 20 years and covered topics at the intersection of business and medicine for more than ten of them, including for six years at the Baltimore Sun.


Assistant People's Counsel: Peggy Costello

Peggy Costello is an Assistant People's Counsel, currently focusing on issues surrounding retail suppliers of energy. Prior to joining OPC, Peggy spent several years as an in-house litigator for an insurance company, where she represented the company and individual insureds in bodily injury lawsuits. She later served as general counsel for the company, where she managed corporate litigation and provided legal advice on a wide variety of matters. Most recently, Peggy served as an Associate Director of Career Development at the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she assisted students in career planning, as well as directing data collection and compliance reporting to the American Bar Association. Peggy received her law degree from the Drexel University Kline School of Law. She also holds a master's degree in social policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor's degree from Villanova University. 


Deputy Operations Manager: Sarah DeMaio 

Sarah DeMaio is the Deputy Operations Manager for OPC. She supports the work of the Chief Operating Officer by coordinating contract development, accounts payable, and procurements. Sarah has a Master of Social Work and also helps to implement intake procedures for OPC’s Consumer Assistance Unit. Prior to coming to OPC, she worked in program management and organizational leadership for a variety of disability-focused non-profit organizations including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities.  Sarah earned her Master of Social Work from the Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania. She has resided in Prince George's County for 12 years.   

Deputy People’s Counsel: William F. Fields

William Fields serves as one of the two deputies at OPC. Bill represents the interests of Maryland residential utility consumers before the Maryland Public Service Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, State courts, and federal courts. Bill has represented Maryland consumers in major plant outage litigation, electric and gas rate cases, electric and gas merger proceedings, and electric restructuring and stranded costs proceedings. He is the Office of the People’s Counsel’s representative on PJM  interconnection, L.L.C. committees, including the Members Committee and the Markets and Reliability Committee. He is a former President of the Consumer Advocates of PJM States, Inc. (CAPS) and a former Chairman of the Electric Committee of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA). Prior to joining the Office of People’s Counsel, Bill was an associate at Margolis, Pritzker & Epstein, P.A. in Towson, Maryland, and a project engineer at the Naval Air Systems Command in Crystal City, Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Juris Doctor degree, with honors, both from the University of Maryland.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Ryan M. Hsu

Ryan Hsu works to represent the ratepayers of Maryland on issues such as EmPOWER marketing, community solar, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Ryan earned his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Maryland Bar. Prior to law school, Ryan was an honors paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission, primarily working on IT security audits and policies. He also worked as a software tester for Epic Systems, a healthcare software company that supplies the electronic medical record software for most of the United States. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia with a double major in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law; and Economics.


Assistant People's Counsel: Isaak Lindenbaum

Isaak Lindenbaum is currently focusing on administrative litigation at the Office of People's Counsel. Isaak has contributed to various legal and policy initiatives through his legal fellowship at the American Clean Power Association, and work with the Maryland General Assembly. He earned his J.D. with a certificate in Environmental Law from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2023, where he was a member of the Moot Court Board. During law school, Isaak served as a Student Attorney in the Environmental Law Clinic where he worked on land use and environmental justice issues. Before joining OPC, Isaak served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Carol A. Coderre in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County.


Administrative Assistant: Bernarda Lugo

Bernarda Lugo is an administrative assistant for the office. She supports the work of the attorneys by drafting letters to various stakeholders and assists with filings of pleadings at the Public Service Commission and courthouses. Bernarda is bilingual and also helps to translate outreach and educational documents for OPC’s Consumer Assistance Unit. Prior to coming to OPC, she worked for the Legal Aid Bureau in their Domestic Law Unit as a Legal Assistant. While there, she was tasked with co-managing the Prose Project at the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. She co-managed this project for five years, as well as helped litigants with the completion of family law forms, explaining the court process and filing procedures.


Assistant People's Counsel: Brock Miller

Brock Miller is an Assistant People’s Counsel currently focusing on issues related to utility infrastructure siting and net metering. Brock holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a graduate degree in Urban Affairs. Prior to law school, Brock managed community development and commercial revitalization contracts at the New York City Department of Small Business Services. While a student at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, Brock served as a student attorney in the Environmental Law Clinic, where much of his work focused on energy and infrastructure issues. Before he joined OPC, Brock served as a law clerk for Judge La Zette C. Ringgold-Kirksey in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.


Director of Consumer Assistance: Brandi Nieland

Brandi Nieland’s role at OPC focuses on community education and consumer empowerment, working with individuals and agencies to ensure residential utility consumer rights are upheld. Brandi has an extensive background working for the residents of Maryland. Before coming to OPC, she managed housing for adults in supportive living, was a community organizer with a focus on economic development, and led a nonprofit as the Director of 211MD United Way Helpline. She has served on several nonprofit boards and has taught at the local, state, and national levels. Brandi is a graduate of Baltimore County Leadership and has had her work highlighted in print, radio, online, and on television. She earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Brandi, a Licensed Certified Social Worker, grew up in Maryland and has lived in Baltimore City for over 15 years.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Jacob M. Ouslander

Jacob Ouslander is an Assistant People’s Counsel currently focusing on issues related to utility distribution planning, community solar, retail energy supply, and utility data access. Jake has previously worked extensively on utility rate cases before both the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as dockets related to electric utility system reliability and energy assistance for low-income households. Before joining OPC, Jake served as a Staff Attorney with the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau – first as a general Staff Attorney in LAB’s Southern Maryland Office and then later as a Staff Attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Unit in Baltimore City. Jake earned his J.D. at the University of Michigan, and his B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park. 


Fiscal Specialist:  Donna Phillips

Donna Phillips is everything fiscal at OPC. She handles the daily processing and payments of all agency invoices, generates agency purchase orders, and resolves billing and reconciliation issues. Among many other duties, Donna also serves as the office’s United Charity Campaign Coordinator, DGS Representative for Building Services, State Travel Management Representative/Coordinator, FMIS/Fiscal Functional Coordinator, and Telecommunications Contact Advisor. Before joining the office, Donna worked for the Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH). 


Chief Operating Officer: Carissa Ralbovsky

Carissa Ralbovsky serves as OPC's Chief Administrator and works to ensure that office operations are running smoothly by coordinating budget and finance, procurement, and personnel matters. Prior to joining the team at OPC, Carissa spent almost 10 years working at the Maryland Department of Budget and Management, where she served as a budget and policy analyst for many of the State's environmental/energy agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Energy Administration, Public Service Commission, and OPC. She also has managed environmental education and outreach programs at the Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University. Carissa earned her MPA from the Maxwell School and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations from the Newhouse School of Public Communications, both at Syracuse University. 


Assistant People’s Counsel: Michael F. Sammartino

Michael F. Sammartino’s practice focuses on natural gas commodity pricing, infrastructure siting and investment, and climate change policy. Michael obtained his J.D. with a certificate in Environmental Law from the University of Maryland, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as Manuscripts Editor for the Maryland Law Review. Michael has appeared in proceedings before the Maryland Public Service Commission and Maryland Circuit Court.


Executive Assistant: Lori Sears

Lori Sears’ role at OPC is to develop and implement the office’s communications strategies over OPC’s website and social media channels, in newsletters, fact sheets, reports, and press releases, as directed by the People’s Counsel, all to provide information to consumers, utility and energy suppliers, government agencies and nonprofit agencies. Lori also provides litigation, administrative, and management support to the People’s Counsel, and she serves as the office liaison between DBM and OPC regarding personnel matters. Before coming to OPC, Lori worked for 25 years at The Baltimore Sun, writing, editing, copy editing, and overseeing the Sun Features department’s social media channels. Lori grew up in Owings Mills and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Communications from Loyola University Maryland.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Mollie Soloway Woods

Mollie Soloway Woods came to OPC with an interest in consumer and environmental advocacy. Before finding her way to the law, Mollie worked in youth and community development nonprofits in Boston, and in food and farming production further north. During law school, Mollie worked with several nonprofits, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, and the law school’s public health law clinic to advance environmental and consumer protections. She graduated from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law in 2021 with honors and a Certificate in Environmental Law. Before joining OPC, Mollie worked as a judicial law clerk for Judge Dan Friedman on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Philip L. Sussler

Philip Sussler’s work at OPC includes evaluating the intersection between energy markets and State climate policy; participation in the stakeholder processes and rule development of the PJM Interconnection, LLC, the regional transmission operator of the wholesale electric grid serving Maryland; and interventions in proceedings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) affecting Maryland electric consumers and environmental policy. Before coming to OPC, Phil worked for nearly four decades as legal counsel and technical consultant for government agencies, as well as entities and people in the private sector, acting as either suppliers, regulators or consumers of electricity and gas, both in the US and in Latin America. His experience includes representing clients with matters before the public utility regulatory commissions in Maryland, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, as well as before FERC. He resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his family. He graduated from Yale College, received his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law, and is admitted to the bar in Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Mark Szybist

Mark Szybist is an Assistant People’s Counsel who focuses on issues at the intersection of public utility regulation and climate policy, including gas utility planning, energy efficiency, beneficial electrification, and transportation electrification. Before joining OPC in 2023, Mark served for seven years as Senior Attorney and Pennsylvania climate and clean energy policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Before that, he served as Staff Attorney for Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, where he focused on environmental issues related to shale gas development issues, as a consumer bankruptcy attorney, and as a law clerk for Judge Stephen M. Holden in the New Jersey Superior Court. Mark earned his J.D. from the Temple University Beasley School of Law and his B.A. from Princeton University.


Assistant People’s Counsel: Meilen Teklemichael

Meilen Teklemichael’s current work with OPC primarily focuses on issues related to residential energy supply retailers. Meilen earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Psychology, and African Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. She then went on to earn her Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School with a concentration in energy law. While in law school, Meilen served as an associate on the George Washington University Law School Journal of Energy and Environmental Law. After law school, she served as a legislative aide at the Council of the District of Columbia, and later went on to work as a regulatory consultant at Enhesa helping companies meet their EHS regulatory obligations.


Utility Services Case Manager: Pauline Wylie

Pauline Wylie is one of the Office of People’s Counsel’s “boots on the ground.” Pauline provides direct consumer assistance to residential utility customers and maintains relationships with utility companies and community organizations throughout the State of Maryland. Pauline was an integral part of creating the Critical Medical Needs Program (CMNP) to assist Maryland’s most vulnerable citizens to get through the Office of Home Energy Programs’ energy assistance process. Prior to starting her career with OPC, Pauline worked for the Federal Government.


Assistant People’s Counsel:  Nicole L. Zeichner

Nicole Zeichner’s work with OPC has focused primarily on EmPOWER Maryland, Maryland’s utility customer-funded energy efficiency program. Nicole holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University, with a minor in Environmental Studies. While in law school, she worked for Baltimore-based United Workers as an organizer, helping protect the rights of day laborers and temporary staffing agency employees and developing a multilingual “Know Your Rights” program. After graduating from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2008, she began working for a law firm, first as a Spanish-language interpreter and law clerk, and a few months later, as a litigation attorney. She represented plaintiffs in personal injury litigation, as well as other matters, for over 12 years, while managing the firm’s litigation department for over seven years.