Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights

Scholars and Alumni

Current Scholars

Christine La Rochelle ('14)
Christine La Rochelle is a third year J.D. candidate at NYU School of Law. Christine double majored in International Studies and Theatre at Allegheny College and graduated with honors in 2010. While studying abroad in Mexico City, she researched and wrote a thesis on censorship in Mexican and Argentinean theatre. Upon graduating from college, Christine returned to Mexico to work as a development analyst for an international company. At NYU, Christine has worked with African Services Committee to obtain visas for victims of crimes and human trafficking. She spent her first summer at the Farmworker Rights Division of Georgia Legal Services. In addition to writing and researching federal employment claims, she visited migrant labor camps to conduct outreach. Christine worked at the Alaska Public Defender Agency during her second summer, where she handled her own caseload of misdemeanors. In her final year, Christine will argue a criminal appeal before the First Department of New York based on a brief she drafted for the Criminal Appellate Defender Clinic. She will also be a member of the Juvenile Defender Clinic.

Amy Pont ('14)
Amy Pont was born in Edison, New Jersey. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in International Relations and a minor in Hispanic Studies.  During her time as an undergraduate at Penn, Amy researched and wrote articles for the United Nations Chronicle on world issues such as international refugee crisis and the AIDS epidemic.  As part of the New York City Public Service Corps, Amy worked to improve immigrant and refugee access to healthcare and public services.  Additionally, Amy has been a proud mentor to a young girl from West Philadelphia through the Big Brother Big Sister program since her freshman year at Penn.  After graduating from college, Amy volunteered with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania for two years defending civil rights of Pennsylvania residents, specifically reaching out to legally underserved Spanish-speaking immigrants.  Amy interned at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia National Security/Immigrant Rights Project after her first year of law school and LatinoJustice PRLDEF after her second summer.

Luis Angel Reyes Zavalza ('15) 
Luis Angel was born in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. In 2010, he graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied Political Economy and Political Science. Throughout the years, Luis Angel has been politically active in various social movements. In the immigrant rights movement he has led community protest against the I.C.E.  raids and deportations as well as promoted a humane approach to immigration reform. Luis Angel has also been an advocate of farm workers’ rights and has organized hotel employees while working for UNITE-HERE Local 19. In New York City, he has joined the fight to end racial profiling and police brutality by participating in Cop Watch Teams across the city and promoting the passage of the Community Safety Act. Luis Angel recently worked for The Bronx Defenders as part of their Immigration Practice Unit. In 2013, he was awarded the Derrick Bell Scholarship for Public Service by BLAPA Law Alumni Association. Luis Angel is currently in the Immigrant Rights Clinic and is an editor for the NYU Law Review. 

Christopher Santos ('15)
Cristopher was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and moved to the United States at the age of 12. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Psychobiology in 2011. At UCLA, he fundraised and advocated for undocumented students as part of IDEAS at UCLA. In 2010, he was elected to UCLA’s student government and spent the year fighting against fee increases and advocating for the passage of the CA DREAM Act. Following graduation, Cris was a campaign organizer for the United Farm Workers, focusing on the re-election of Congressman Howard Berman. He also volunteered at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles, working on the immigration cases of low-income families. As an intern for the UCLA Labor Center, he spent the summer before law school fighting for the rights of workers in the communities of Compton, Torrance, and Inglewood. This past summer, he worked at MALDEF in Los Angeles as a Ford Foundation Law School Fellow. As a 2L, Cris will be an advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, one of LaLSA’s Co-chairs, and an editor for the NYU Law Review.

Frances Dávila ('16)
Frances grew up in Venice Beach, California. She graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2010, majoring in Culture and Politics. As an undergraduate, she served as co-chair of MEChA, programming immigrant right’s events and advocating for a US-Latino Studies program through the Georgetown Initiative on Diversity and Inclusiveness. She became an ESL instructor through Georgetown’s DC School’s Project and continued teaching after graduation at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. In 2011, Frances began working for Communities in Schools of Los Angeles at her Alma mater, Venice High School, where she developed college access initiatives specifically tailored to the needs of undocumented youth and their families. Frances is currently interning at Brooklyn-based Atlas: DIY where she works with youth on their immigration cases ranging from deferred action to human trafficking. She also participates in Families for Freedom’s Speakers Bureau, which focuses on informing communities about the intersection of the immigration and criminal justice systems. Frances is a 2013 American Bar Association Legal Opportunity Scholarship recipient.

Alicia Y. Nieves ('16)

Biography Forthcoming.

Alumni

Lisandra Fernández ('13)
Lisandra del Carmen Fernández is a J.D. candidate in her third year at NYU School of Law. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lisandra graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. She received the School of Education Dean’s Award for Excellence and was a distinguished member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Lisandra then worked as a third grade teacher at the American International School of Kingston in Kingston, Jamaica for three years. Before beginning law school, Lisandra interned with the Honorable Curtis J. Bell at the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, Family Division. At NYU School of Law, Lisandra is part of the Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights family. Lisandra has been a board member of LaLSA and the Women of Color Collective, as well as a publicity committee member for the NYU Public Service Auction and a student representative in the Student Bar Association Diversity Working Group. During her 1L year, Lisandra interned at The Door’s Immigration Legal Clinic doing intake interviews and assessing legal claims for possible forms of immigration relief. In the summer of 2011, as a fellow for the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Lisandra interned at the International Center for Transitional Justice in Cape Town, South Africa, focusing on regulations intended to provide medical and educational benefits to some victims of apartheid. As a second year student, Lisandra was a Lawyering Teacher Assistant and an editor for the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics. She was also a student advocate at the Department of Justice Civil Division in the Eastern District of New York. During the summer of 2012, Lisandra worked at the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review in San Diego, California. This year, Lisandra received a leadership award from the Puerto Rican Bar Association. She is currently in the NYU Constitutional Transitions Clinic, conducting research to support the constitutional transitions currently underway in the Middle East and North Africa. Along with her teammates, Lisandra will present a research report on political finance regulation at a conference, organized by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, in Tunisia next month. Lisandra has been awarded the Bickel & Brewer Latino Institute for Human Rights Fellowship to implement a two-year project with Advocates for Children of New York after graduation. Lisandra's fellowship project will provide direct representation, community outreach and training, and policy advocacy to increase access to high quality early childhood education programs for Latino preschoolers who are English Language Learners and / or have disabilities and are at risk of academic failure in New York City.

Kevin Terry ('13)
Kevin Terry was born in Portales, New Mexico, and grew up in Manhattan, Kansas. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a dual degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies, and from the University of Georgia in 2010 with an M.A. in International Affairs. After graduating from UMN, Kevin served as a New Americans Democracy Project Fellow for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, registering new citizens to vote and helping new immigrants obtain citizenship. During his time at the University of Georgia, Kevin was awarded a Goizueta Fellowship in the Department of Education and assisted in implementing new tutoring programs in local schools, in methodological reforms for Georgia teachers, and in the crafting of educational policy recommendations for the state. He has presented papers at conferences for the American Educational Research Association, the Midwest Political Science Association, and at the National Conference on Latino Education and Immigrant Integration. In the summer of 2011 Kevin interned at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.

Jordan Wells ('13)
Jordan Wells graduated from Cornell University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations. While at Cornell, Jordan was on the Dean’s List and received the Cornell Outstanding Activist Award and the Cornell Tradition Senior Recognition Award. Jordan also served as president of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, as a member of the Cornell Farmworker Advocacy Coalition, and as a steering committee member of the Tompkins County Living Wage Coalition. At NYU School of Law, Jordan is a member of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and a contributor to The Commentator. Previously, he was director of the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign of the Rural and Migrant Ministry and coordinator for the Sweatfree New York Campaign of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State – work which earned him the Capital District Young Activist Award. He also served as secretary of the board of directors of Sweatfree Communities.  In the summer of 2011 Jordan worked on international human rights cases primarily brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act.

Thomas Fritzsche ('09)
Thomas Fritzsche graduated from NYU School of Law in May 2009 and now works at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Project through the prestigious Skadden Fellowship. Prior to graduation, he also won the annual Pro Bono Publico Award from the Public Service Law Network for his work advocating for farmworkers’ rights, as well as the Dean John Sexton Prize for community service. Fritzsche graduated from Amherst College in 2003 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies. While in college, Fritzsche studied abroad in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and participated in a number of community volunteer efforts. Among other activities, he worked as a coordinator and tutor for several youth education and mentorship programs and served as an interpreter at a medical clinic in Amarateca, Honduras. Fritzsche’s employment experience includes performing migrant agricultural work, union organizing with long-term health care workers, and working as a health outreach worker for migrant communities. He was awarded a labor law fellowship from the Peggy Browning Fund for the summer of 2007.

Melissa Navarro ('09)
Melissa Navarro graduated from NYU School of Law in May 2009 and now works as one of only a handful of Spanish speaking attorneys in the Clark County public defender’s office in Las Vegas. Navarro is from Los Angeles, California, and graduated from UCLA in 2005 with a B.A. in Political Science, with minors in English and Geography. During her time in law school, she enrolled in the Criminal and Community Defense Clinic and the Civil Rights Clinic, where she was given the unique opportunity to intern at the ACLU and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. While in college, Navarro studied in Madrid, Spain, interned at the Latino Empowerment Foundation in L.A., and worked in Senator Barbara Boxer’s office researching constituent concerns and current events. After graduation, Navarro worked as an English Language Development teaching assistant in a program designed to improve the testing scores of English language learners. After her first year of law school, during the summer of 2007, Navarro worked at a Los Angeles–based organization, Bet Tzedek, The House of Justice. Bet Tzedek is a legal services organization that provides free assistance to more than 10,000 people in the Los Angeles area.

Maribel Hernández ('10)
Maribel Hernández graduated from NYU School of Law in May 2010. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Born in Mexico, Hernández moved to the United States. when she was 13. In 2004, she graduated magna com laude in her field from Harvard University with a B.A. in Social Studies and certificates in Latino Studies and French. Hernández also has an M.P.A. degree from Princeton University. During her undergraduate studies, Hernández served as the Mexican-American Coordinator for Harvard's Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, was the President of Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, and worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Prior to law school, Hernández spent a year in Mozambique working as a site manager for Clinton Foundation's HIV/AIDS Initiative. In 2008, she returned to work at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where she helped respond to the influx of Zimbabweans into Mozambique. While at NYU, Hernández served as a student advocate for the Immigrant Rights Clinic, teaching assistant to Professor Richard Pildes, research assistant to Professor Anthony C. Thompson, and co-chair of the Latino Law Students Association. She also served on the New York University Law Review as chair of the Diversity Committee and articles editor. In 2009, Hernández was awarded the prestigious Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. In 2010 she was selected as a Student Delegate to the Academy of Achievement.  And upon graduation, Hernández was awarded the Dean John Sexton Prize for outstanding service to the law school community. In December of 2011, Hernández will become the next Fried, Frank/MALDEF Fellow. In this role, Hernández will have the opportunity to work for two years as a litigator at Fried, Frank, Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP before spending two years as a staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Andrea Nieves ('10)
Andrea Nieves graduated from NYU School of Law in May of 2010. Through the Osborn Fellowship, Nieves now works for the Fair Trial Initiative (FTI) in Durham, North Carolina. FTI works to ensure fairness for indigent defendants facing the death penalty. Nieves graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College in 2007 with a B.A. in American Studies. During college, she studied Art History and Italian Studies in Italy and participated in the AFS Intercultural Program in Quito, Ecuador. At Occidental, Nieves mentored at-risk students in the Los Angeles Bridges After-School Program, an anti-gang initiative, and volunteered as a law clerk in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. At NYU, Nieves served as a staff editor for the Review of Law & Social Change and as co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild chapter. During the summer of 2008, Nieves was a Bergstrom Child Welfare Law Fellow at the University of Michigan and worked for Legal Services for Children in San Francisco. In 2009, she spent a semester assisting with death penalty cases in Alabama with NYU Law’s Capital Defender Clinic and interned at LatinoJustice PRLDEF in New York. In her final year of law school, Nieves represented juveniles in delinquency proceedings as a student advocate in NYU’s Juvenile Defender Clinic.

Alba Lucero Villa ('11)
Alba Lucero Villa was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in New Jersey. She graduated with honors from Brown University in 2001 with a dual degree in International Relations and History, and from American University in 2004 with an M.A. in Journalism and Public Affairs. She has worked as a writer, editor, and education consultant. Villa has been the managing editor of the Latino Studies Journal and has also been an associate editor for TRIAL, the Journal of the American Association for Justice. She has also worked with MFY Legal Services Inc. in New York, conducting employment rights training for workers and advocates. During her graduate studies at American University, Villa was a fellow at The Washington Post and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. During her first year of law school, Villa was awarded an International Law and Human Rights fellowship from the Center for Human Rights & Global Justice to work at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) during the summer of 2009. On September 2011, Alba joined LatinoJustice PRLDEF with a two-year fellowship advocating for low-wage Latino workers in the metropolitan New York area.

Maria Romani ('12)
Maria Romani was born in Peru and grew up in Fresno, California. After graduating at the top of her high school class, she attended and graduated magna cum laude from UCLA in 2009 with a B.A. in History and Political Science.  Maria is a Gates Millennium Scholar, as well as a Law Fellows member. In college, Maria volunteered her time tutoring and mentoring inner city students. In addition, she has worked with UC-Merced’s Center for Educational Partnerships for two summers as a tutor and residential assistant to underprivileged and lower-tier high school students. At NYU, Maria worked at the Immigrant Rights Clinic on two projects: advocating and doing research for Domestic Workers United while also working on an unaccompanied minor case.  Maria also served as the LaLSA Community Outreach Chair and the Women of Color Collective Chair.  During her law school summers, Maria interned at the Brooklyn Family Defense Project and at the Center for Constitutional Rights.  On September 2012, Maria began a two-year fellowship at Make The Road New York (MRNY).

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