Attorney Donna M. Nesselbush has tried to dedicate her life to helping people; it’s her raison d’être or “reason for being.” She and her colleagues at Marasco & Nesselbush have represented thousands of clients with personal injury, medical malpractice, Social Security disability, and workers’ compensation claims. “It’s our caliber, tenacity, and kindness that set us apart.”
A native of Buffalo, NY, Donna grew up in a blue-collar family that revered God, football, and hard work. Nesselbush received a scholarship to attend Brown University where she played varsity soccer and basketball. Upon graduation in 1984, she was awarded the Sarah Doyle Prize “for having made a significant contribution to women on campus and in the community.”
After graduating from Brown, Donna served as the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In that role, she spearheaded a number of avant garde initiatives in the courthouse as well as the State House.
She graduated cum laude from Suffolk University School of Law in Boston studying law by night and passionately advocating for victims of domestic violence by day.
At Suffolk, Nesselbush not only was selected to write for the “Law Review,” but upon graduation she was awarded the Leo J. Wyman Award for “having contributed most to advancing the cause of civic and professional responsibility for lawyers.”
In 1999, she and her good friend, Joseph P. Marasco, joined hands and forces to launch the law firm of Marasco & Nesselbush, a firm dedicated to helping the injured and disabled. “I love the work we do because I love working for the downtrodden. By definition, our clients are injured or disabled. Accordingly, they usually have fallen on pretty tough times.”
Donna is the founder and Chair of the Rhode Island Bar Association’s Social Security Disability Committee. She is a “Sustaining Member” of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. She is also a member of the American and Rhode Island Associations for Justice. She has authored two books, “10 Tips to Win Your Social Security Disability Case,” and a “Social Security Disability Guide for Behavioral Health Clinicians.”
In 2014, she was awarded the Ada Sawyer Award from the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association for her work to pass Rhode Island’s Marriage Equality law, and she was the first “Person of the Year” to be inducted into the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Hall of Fame. In 2016, she was awarded the Eleanor Slater Award by the Rhode Island Psychiatric Society for her contribution to the provision of services for persons with mental illness and for persons fighting stigma. Attorney Nesselbush has also been named to the prestigious Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers list based on peer recognition and professional achievement.
Having litigated cases in all of Rhode Island’s trial courts as well as before the Social Security Office of Hearing Operations, the Appeals Council, the United States District Court, and the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals, Attorney Nesselbush’s proudest professional moment was when she prevailed before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division who had been repeatedly and wrongfully denied Social Security benefits before his death. After serving our country in the Army, Donna felt that we owed it to him to serve him and his wife and children in Court. Nesselbush states, “[t]his case showcases our firm’s mission to always ‘do the right thing,’ standing by our clients until the bitter end.”
A picture of Mother Jones hangs framed on Donna’s office wall and embodies the way she has always practiced law. It says, “Pray for the Dead and Fight Like Hell for the Living.”
In addition to being a founding partner of Marasco & Nesselbush, Donna is the Chief Judge of the Pawtucket Municipal Court, and she was a Rhode Island State Senator for 10 years from 2010-2020. Donna speaks four languages—English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese—and in her spare time, you can find her traveling or golfing!