Meet JohannaSPECIAL NEEDS ATTORNEY AND ADVOCATE
Johanna G. Burke graduated from Seton Hall Law School in 1994. She attended Montclair State University and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, with Honors, graduating in 1991. After graduating law school, she was a Judicial Law Clerk in Hudson County for the Honorable Joseph P. Healy, J.S.C., Family Part and the Honorable Francis P. Destefano, J.S.C., Criminal Part. Johanna decided to start her own legal practice, specializing in helping special needs families in 2013. This was inspired by her severely autistic 18-year-old son Aidan who also suffers from a multitude of other medical conditions and disabilities.
Johanna’s son Aidan is the reason she decided to fight for other families with special needs children. While starting her legal practice, she also worked a full-time job for Pearson publishing company in the Contracts-Rights Management Department negotiating various contracts which she did for the past 14 years. During her time in practicing part-time, Johanna helped over 45 families in the State of New Jersey obtain the appropriate services they needed either for their special needs child or adult by working with their school district, Perform Care, Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), Department of Human Services (DHS), the Children’s System of Care (CSOC) and Care Management Organizations (CMO).
Johanna has extensive experience and has developed and maintained collaborative relationships in closely working with DDD, DHS, CSOC, the NJ Office of Advocacy, Perform Care and CMOs in the State of NJ. She helped place over 5 families in residential placement or crisis management placement either in the State of NJ or Out of State residential placement and worked directly with the Governor’s Office. She successfully returned 2 Developmentally Disabled adults who had been returned home to NJ under the Return Home NJ Law back to their original out of state placement.
Additionally, Johanna founded her own NJ 501(c)(3) Non-Profit called Fight 4 Autism back in 2014. Fight 4 Autism fundraises monies through special events and then gives back to families who are in need for various things for their children with special needs. To date, her organization has helped over 90 families pay for respite care, therapies, evaluations, exercise equipment, iPads, pools, fences, summer camp, dancing lessons, rent, medical expenses, etc. In July of 2018, Johanna had to make the most difficult and hardest decision of her life and put her 15-year-old son Aidan into a residential placement as she could no longer physically or emotionally be his primary caregiver.
As a result, Johanna decided to leave her job at Pearson and devote her career to practicing law full-time in September 2020. In December 2020, she joined The Law Firm of John Rue & Associates in an Of Counsel position. It is Johanna’s passion and joy to help special needs families get whatever services their children need and to help give them peace of mind with the knowledge that they are doing everything they can for their children to reach their best potential and become independent.
EDUCATION & BAR ADMISSION
BS, Accounting (Honors), Montclair State University, 1991
JD, Seton Hall School of Law, 1994
Admitted New Jersey Bar, 1996
Admitted U.S. District Court in New Jersey, 1996
New Jersey State Bar Association
School Law Committee Member, NJ State Bar Association
Passaic County Bar Association
NJ Special Education Practitioners
Learning Disability Association of NJ
Founder, Fight 4 Autism, a NJ 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, 2014-present
Member, National Council on Severe Autism 2021
Member, Policy Committee, National Council on Severe Autism, 2021
Member, The Arc of NJ 2021
Board Director, The Zsido Ranch, a NJ 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, 2020-present
Board Trustee, Hawthorne Board of Education, 2009-2011
Chairperson for Special Education Committee, Hawthorne Board of Education, 2009-2011
Walk Co-Chair, Autism Speaks Northern NJ Walk, 2013-2014
Member, Autism Speaks Walk and Community Awareness Committee, 2010-2014