Class of 2015
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Amanda’s passion for social justice led her to law school where she has developed an interest in how the tools, methodologies, mechanisms and discourse of the international human rights movement can inform civil, political, and economic rights struggles in the United States. In particular, she is interested in exploring how to use the law as one tool among many—including community organizing, robust political activism, and movement building—to advance racial and economic justice.
Prior to law school, Amanda worked as a community organizer in Macon, Georgia where she focused her efforts on African American voter registration. As a 1L, she served as an advocate with the Suspension Representation Project and as a member of Law Students for Human Rights. During her 1L summer, Amanda interned with the Worker Justice Center of New York where she assisted workers with wage and hour claims, participated in community know-your-rights workshops, and gained experience in class action litigation against employers for gross violations of federal and New York labor law.
As a 2L, Amanda has developed her legal research skills and enriched her knowledge of international human rights law and legal practice through NYU Law’s Global Justice Clinic. There, she worked on the legal team representing a victim of the US extraordinary rendition and secret detention program in his claim before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In addition, she works as a staff editor on the Review of Law & Social Change.
Amanda plans to return to Georgia during her 2L summer where she will work as a Human Rights Intern with the Southern Center for Human Rights. Her work will focus on death penalty litigation, prison-condition monitoring, parole advocacy, and criminal justice reform.
Emma graduated from Brown University in 2009 with a degree in Comparative Literature. Following a summer internship with the Clinton Foundation Health Access Initiative in Rwanda, Emma co-founded Gardens for Health International in 2007. The organization partners with rural health clinics to provide agricultural solutions to the problem of chronic malnutrition. Since its inception, the organization has received numerous accolades, including awards from Echoing Green and Ashoka. Brown awarded Emma a Starr Social Innovation Fellowship to support her work with Gardens for Health International and an Arthur Liman Public Interest Fellowship to support her work with the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health. While at Brown, Emma was a founding member of the Brown Social Innovation Initiative.
Following her graduation from college, Emma served as Executive Director of Gardens for Health International for three years. During this time, she developed a strong interest in access to land as it relates to access to food and, ultimately, health. She intends to use her law degree to advance global economic and social justice.
Emma grew up in Cambridge, MA. She is looking forward to living in New York City for the first time.
Andrew W. Mellon Scholar
Zachary graduated from Fordham University in 2012 with Departmental Honors in English and Sociology. He completed a thesis on literary censorship trials and received a “Certificate of Excellence for Outstanding Commitment to Service and Social Justice” and a “Certificate of Accomplishment for Outstanding Leadership and Service to the University.” He participated in and later assisted with “Urban Plunge” at Fordham which introduces incoming student to NYC through direct service work and social justice education and was a founding member of the Justice Council at his campus.
Zachary spent two years on his campus’ mock trial team. He later tutored refugee students living in NYC with the International Rescue Committee and interned with community organizers at Housing Conservation Coordinators. He also completed a clerk internship at the Plymouth District Court and a paralegal internship with the Bronx office of the Children’s Law Center. He hopes to continue to explore social injustice by working with indigent tenants in NYC.
Zachary is originally from Sandwich, Massachusetts where he began his interest in Social Justice while in high school by becoming a founding member of “In Good Company,” which uses techniques from the “Theatre of the Oppressed” to spread awareness through theater to community and school groups.
Brooks Emanuel graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Georgia in 1999, with an Honors Interdisciplinary Studies Major: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in US Society.
After a career as a professional dancer and choreographer (hip hop, African, and modern), including work with companies in New York City and Atlanta, in 2007 Brooks became executive assistant to the director of Georgia Rural Urban Summit, a coalition of 50 progressive groups. In this role, he lobbied at the Georgia General Assembly and became involved in the progressive advocacy community.
After a stint in Boston serving on several political campaigns, Brooks returned to Atlanta to work with the Georgia House Democratic Caucus. As Director of Legislative Services, he works directly with the House Minority Leader and Whip, other Caucus Members, progressive advocates, and other lobbyists to promote Caucus legislative priorities and defend against the most egregious right-wing legislation. During the 2010 decennial redistricting process, he helped mount the Democratic legislative and legal challenge to racially divisive Republican-drawn House maps.
Brooks has worked on a broad range of issues including immigrant, reproductive, and labor rights; protections for working parents, welfare recipients, homeowners, and tenants; funding for public education; and death penalty abolition.
Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar
Anna is looking forward to a career in indigent defense and criminal justice reform. While at NYU, she has been exploring different aspects of the criminal justice system, from police practices and criminal defense, to sentencing reform and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. She is a student advocate in the Community Reentry and Reintegration Clinic and a research fellow with the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, where she is assisting with the launch of a new clemency center working to identify legal avenues for the early release of people serving draconian sentences. She spent her 1L summer with the Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans, LA, and will spend her 2L summer with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in their Special Litigation Division.
Before law school, Anna visited New York State prisons and interviewed inmates as an intern with the Prison Visiting Project of the Correctional Association of New York. Her interest in the effects of incarceration led her to the ACLU’s National Security Project, where she assisted litigation concerning the torture and detention of detainees, targeted killing, extraordinary rendition, and government secrecy and surveillance.
Anna grew up in Kearny, New Jersey.
William and Mary Sterling Scholar
Sophie graduated from Brown University in 2005 with a BA in International Relations with a focus on Economic Development. She has spent her time since supporting efforts to improve the health, prosperity, and equity of communities around the world.
Sophie became inspired by the law’s ability to bolster international development efforts while managing the communications of The World Justice Project (WJP), a non-profit organization that works to advance the rule of law. At the WJP, she led media efforts on five continents, and managed the launch of the WJP Rule of Law Index®, a tool to measure countries' adherence to the rule of law. Conveying the connection between the rule of law and development goals and publicizing the project's grassroots successes gave her new perspective on the law’s ability to empower communities. Prior to the WJP, she worked at cause-oriented communications agency, supporting the firm’s international development and global health projects. After college, she volunteered copy-writing services for development projects and worked in Ethiopia building a public health website.
Sophie was raised in Maryland by parents native to Ethiopia. She is excited about gaining a new set of tools to continue her advocacy on behalf of marginalized communities.
Starr Foundation Scholar
Rebecca graduated Summa Cum Laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in English Literature and Spanish. She began volunteering on Claire McCaskill’s campaign for the US Senate during her first semester of college and immediately caught the political bug. Over the next four years she interned on numerous campaigns and organized teach-ins, protests and voter registration drives in her role on the Executive Board of the College Democrats.
After graduation, Rebecca moved to Pennsylvania to work on Joe Sestak’s campaign for the Senate. Following the election, she took her passion for electoral organizing and her Spanish skills to the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition in Philadelphia. As a Program Coordinator, she organized pro bono Citizenship Days and managed an effort to register newly naturalized citizens to vote. She also coordinated the organization’s advocacy in opposition to state level anti-immigrant legislation and developed a deep interest in immigration policy.
Rebecca grew up in Storrs, CT. She looks forward to using her law degree to represent low-income immigrants, and ultimately hopes to help craft or advocate for fairer and more practical immigration laws.
Sinsheimer Service Scholar
Diane graduated from Emory University in 2007. While in school, she worked with student groups and local organizations serving immigrant and low-income communities in Atlanta and in her home state of Massachusetts. Diane graduated early to travel in Latin America, developing her Spanish and volunteering with local non-profit agencies.
After returning, she taught ESL in Atlanta, provided counseling to high-risk youth in Brooklyn and worked as a paralegal in Staten Island Legal Services’ Homeowner Defense Project. Her years at SILS advocating on behalf of low-income homeowners to prevent unnecessary foreclosures convinced her that she could use the law to better serve marginalized communities.
Diane plans to continue working towards economic justice for low-income individuals and groups who are normally unrepresented in consumer debt defense, housing issues, and worker’s rights litigation. She worked at a plaintiff-side labor and employment firm during her 1L summer and as a 2L, she is working at Make the Road through the Litigation, Organizing and Systemic Change clinic and at the Urban Justice Center through the Community Development and Economic Justice clinic. She is street law chair of NYU’s National Lawyers Guild, co-chair of Law Students for Economic Justice, and Admissions chair of the Women of Color Collective.
Andrew graduated summa cum laude from Boston University in 2007 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After graduation, Andrew moved to Senegal, West Africa, where he served for two years as an agroforestry volunteer in the Peace Corps, working with rural farmers to incorporate trees into existing agricultural systems. He spent a third year with the Peace Corps in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, as a communications and volunteer support specialist, developing a series of iPod training videos for the greater development community and leading innovation in the program’s pre- and in-service trainings.
After returning to the United States at the end of 2010, Andrew continued to work in public service as a consultant for New York-based non-profits Malaria No More and NetGuarantee. He served as Malaria No More’s mobile health (mHealth) specialist, helping to design malaria awareness campaigns that capitalized on an expanding mobile phone market in Africa. With NetGuarantee, Andrew worked to apply innovative financial mechanisms to international funding processes to expedite the delivery of health commodities to malaria-endemic countries.
Andrew grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota and is excited to explore ways in which mobile devices can be used to protect civil rights, both domestically and abroad.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Working from an intersectional anti-oppression mindset, Julie plans to focus her practice on holistic criminal defense for indigent individuals engaging in or affected by sex work; queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming folks; drug users, dealers, and those with street-based lives and livelihoods. Much of her passion stems from years of overnight, harm-reduction outreach with street-based survival sex workers and her case management work with low-income folks seeking abortion access and reproductive health services.
In law school, Julie sought out opportunities to better learn how to address the variety of intersecting issues – legal and otherwise – that face public defenders’ more marginalized clients. During her 1L summer at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Julie worked with low-income trans* people and trans* people of color in tackling immigration and status-related barriers to basic health, safety, and economic rights. While co-chairing the school’s LGBTQ student group and the student chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in her second year, Julie also participated in the Family Defense Clinic, where she directly represented parents accused of abuse and neglect and worked to reunite their families. Julie is can’t wait to finally dive into public defense as an intern at the Brooklyn Defender Services her 2L summer.
The passion doesn’t stop there, however: she is also energized by her love for pugs, doilies, and female rap artists.
Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar
Jehan graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2011, with a double major in Political Science and Communications Studies and with a minor in Civic Engagement.
Her involvement with public interest law began when she interned with AmeriCorps serving as a JusticeCorps member at the Stanley Mosk Resource Center for Self-Represented Litigants in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. As a volunteer, she provided direct legal assistance to indigent litigants throughout all stages of their family law actions. Following her work with the courts, she studied with the UCLA’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy in Washington, DC, where she interned with the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. While at the ABA she provided legal information to detainees in immigration custody.
Throughout her work in college, Jehan began to see a need for bilingual services in the law and the barriers to the judicial system that many people encounter. She hopes to use her law degree to empower traditionally marginalized communities.
Jehan grew up in Whittier, California, and graduated from Whittier High School. She is excited and grateful for this opportunity to continue her education at NYU.
Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children & Families
Julia graduated in 2008 from Georgetown University with a degree in history and minor in biology. While at Georgetown, she captained the lightweight women’s rowing team and co-founded the culinary club.
After graduation, Julia joined Teach For America in New Orleans where she taught second grade. Despite New Orleans’s strong culinary culture, Julia saw students, 99% of whom qualified for free lunches, subjected to nutritionally-deficient meals, so she investigated sourcing healthier, local food. Julia researched policies affecting the National School Lunch Program, started a community garden, and helped the District resource teacher develop a healthy eating curriculum.
Realizing the problem of healthy food access for low income communities was greater than the school lunch program, Julia secured an internship at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to better understand supply-side barriers. At NSAC, Julia advocated for inclusion of provisions to promote healthy food access in the Nutrition Title of a 2012 Farm Bill and helped craft redline language for marker bills. With a law degree, Julia hopes to work for a policy organization that advocates for adequate, healthy food for children in low income communities.
Julia spent most of her school years in the states, but calls Tokyo home.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Hannah was born and raised in rural upstate New York, where she became interested in providing legal services to immigrant farmworkers. Hannah’s interest in workers rights led her to Cornell University, where she majored in Industrial and Labor Relations. Her passion for immigrant rights, human rights, and workers rights grew throughout college and during time spent in Egypt and Jordan.
As a 1L, Hannah became involved with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program where she was able to file a Request for Reconsideration for an Iraqi family’s refugee application. She also became involved in the Coalition of Law and Representation. During her 1L summer, Hannah worked with the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) in Bangkok, Thailand, where she conducted research on state anti-trafficking policies, the human rights impact of anti-trafficking service providers, and methods of accountability for both state and grassroots organizations. As a 2L, Hannah is part of the Immigrant Rights Clinic, where she is representing a young woman trying to remain in the United States with her husband and children, and is serving as counsel to The International Youth Association (TIYA). She is also a staff editor for the Journal of Legislation and Public Policy.
Hannah hopes to work to promote equality and prevent exploitation of immigrant workers in the US and abroad. She hopes to spend her 2L summer litigating violations of the employment laws that protect migrant farmworkers.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Hannah plans to dedicate her career to public defense. She believes that communities of color and people living in poverty deserve committed allies in the struggle against our discriminatory criminal justice and child welfare systems.
After graduating cum laude from Columbia University in 2010, Hannah assisted a small law firm in Washington, DC, Burke PLLC, and the National Security Project of the American Civil Liberties Union with litigation challenging torture and indefinite detention.
After her 1L year, Hannah interned with The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, defending young people accused of crimes. During law school, Hannah served as the Deputy Director of the Suspension Representation Project, a student-run advocacy group that trains law students to represent New York City public school students in superintendent’s suspension hearings, helping to safeguard their right to education. She also interned with Brooklyn Defender Services as part of NYU Law’s Criminal and Community Defense Clinic. This past summer Hannah interned with the Criminal Defense Practice of the Bronx Defenders. As a 3L, she will continue to work with young people through the Juvenile Defender Clinic.
Hannah is proud to be from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She hopes to use her legal education to fight to keep families together and communities thriving.
Jack is passionate about creating sustainable and equitable communities in urban and rural areas across the country. He believes that strong health and environmental protections, increased access to affordable housing, and smart land use and development planning can reduce poverty and improve quality of life.
Before law school, Jack spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Oslo, Norway, where he researched environmental politics in the context of the welfare state. He then worked for two years at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC. During his 1L summer, he was a Ford Fellow in the Climate and Air program of the Environmental Defense Fund. As a 2L, he is a research fellow at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and a student advocate with the Environmental Law Clinic at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He plans to spend his 2L summer at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, a public interest environment and land use law firm in San Francisco. At NYU, he is also a board member of the American Constitution Society, active in OUTLaw and the Unemployment Action Center, and a Staff Editor on the Law Review.
Jack hopes to pursue a career in impact litigation and community organizing with an advocacy organization working to advance environmental and economic justice.
Brence D. Pernell
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
A commitment to improving public education for low-income and students of color inspired Brence to come to law school. He is particularly passionate about drawing from his own education experience in Blackville, South Carolina, a rural and mostly African-American community he still calls home.
Since beginning his legal career at NYU, he has become interested in how to effectively combine tools from the direct services, litigation, policy, and legislative advocacy arenas—as well as partnership with the private bar—to bring about comprehensive social justice reform.
During his 1L summer, Brence worked as a summer associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, where he spent much of his time on pro bono matters. His work included research support for a lawsuit involving racial profiling by the New York City Police Department and completing a report on the harms of preserving diplomatic immunity against human trafficking claims.
Brence spent the first half of his 2L year interning at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (LDF) in the Education Group and his second half completing the Community Development and Economic Justice Clinic. Outside of the classroom, Brence serves on the board of the Education Law & Policy Society and as a staff editor on the New York University Law Review, among other activities.
Brence hopes to use his law degree to bring about meaningful social change in the sphere of public education for students with backgrounds similar to his.
Joshua David Riegel
Joshua spent seven years working for the American Civil Liberties Union, first in its Women’s Rights Project, and most recently as the senior paralegal in its Racial Justice Program. While at the ACLU, he assisted with impact litigation and other advocacy aimed at leveling structural barriers to equality that disproportionately and adversely impact women, girls, and communities of color. From 2011 to 2012, he also facilitated a weekly support group for LGTBQ residents in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn as part of Queers for Economic Justice’s Shelter Project.
Born and raised in Aurora, Colorado, Joshua graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a BA (2002) and MA (2004), where he was a Barbara Wallace Cornwall Scholar. As an undergraduate, he studied history and cultural anthropology and, as a graduate student, studied women’s history with an emphasis in feminist and queer political thought.
Through his studies and professional endeavors, Joshua has become deeply interested in the history and development of the law as it relates to the mediation of power, the administration of difference and recognition, and the regulation of low-income and queer communities of color. As an attorney, he looks forward to a career advocating for economic and criminal-justice reform.
Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar
Seth is passionate about innovative and scalable solutions to big challenges. Whether through policy or social enterprise, he aspires to continue working at the leading edge of international development and environmental challenges. Motivated by new approaches to intractable problems like climate change and global food insecurity, he is excited about the ways in which his legal education can enhance the impact of his work.
Since arriving at NYU, Seth has sought out ways to assimilate his emerging legal training with these long-standing passions and aspirations. In his 1L year, he trained as a volunteer tax counselor, traveling by bush plane to rural Native Alaskan communities on an Alternative Spring Break trip and learned about the challenges to and benefits of delivering professional services in remote settings. He also joined, InSITE, a graduate student fellowship for students interested in technology, entrepreneurship, and venture capital and currently serves as its Vice President for CleanTech. He has performed researched on state and Federal clean energy policies through NYU’s Guarini Center on Environmental and Land Use Law and was awarded a Fellowship through the Center for his 1L summer internship in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget where he assisted in reviewing food, health, labor, and energy regulations at the Federal level. Seth supported the Natural Resources Defense Council in ongoing litigation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in Maine as part of NYU’s Environmental Law Clinic and is researching the balance between policies that promote financial inclusion and consumer financial protection in India.
Prior to law school, Seth worked in seven countries across four continents and in the nation’s capital. Immediately before law school, he served as Operations Manager in Kenya for the One Acre Fund, which is helping hundreds of thousands of the hardest working farmers grow their own way out of poverty. As a policy analyst in DC, he supported the White House Council on Environmental Quality in its efforts to move towards a first-ever national adaptation strategy. He hopes to continue this work – moving back-and-forth between policy and practice – with the tools to make an even bigger impact in the future.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Adrienne aspires to spend her legal career fighting against urban poverty and homelessness. She believes passionately in promoting economic justice and ending discrimination against minority and disadvantaged communities, including persons experiencing mental illness and formerly incarcerated persons.
As a 1L, Adrienne interned with the Legal Aid Society Homeless Rights Project, working with families in the New York City shelter system and assisting with impact litigation on behalf of shelter applicants and Hurricane Sandy survivors. Adrienne spent her 1L summer researching voting rights and learning about legislative advocacy as a Ford Foundation Fellow at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. She will spend her 2L summer at South Brooklyn Legal Services securing fair housing and government benefits for HIV positive and LGBT clients. Adrienne also serves as a staff editor for the Review of Law & Social Change and a board member for two NYU student practice organizations: Suspension Representation Project and REACH (Research, Education, and Advocacy to Combat Homelessness).
Adrienne’s long-term goal is to increase access to affordable housing, opportunities for employment, and social services for low-income, urban communities. She is interested in exploring these goals through work experience in direct civil legal services, impact litigation, and policy reform.
Matt is committed to working to remedy the inequities of the criminal justice system. His passion for criminal justice reform was sparked by his work investigating allegations of police misconduct prior to law school, where he saw firsthand how the burdens and benefits of policing were distributed.
At NYU, Matt is a student advocate in the Civil Rights Clinic, where he works on §1983 actions about police practices for the New York Civil Liberties Union. He is also a staff editor on Law Review and co-chair of the Prisoners’ Rights and Education Project. He spent his 1L summer with the Orleans Public Defenders and will spend his 2L summer with the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Matt hopes to use his legal training to fight against mass incarceration. He plans to work at the intersection of race, class, and the criminal justice system through indigent defense, impact litigation, policy reform, and grassroots organizing.
Class of 2016
Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Juan graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a BA in History. During his undergraduate career Juan discovered his passion social justice. He began working with the Latino community in New Haven through Junta for Progressive Action. As the political action chair for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, he organized students on projects to expand bilingual resources in public schools and a municipal identification card program. In 2010, Juan worked with students from around the state of Connecticut to form a statewide network of students and advocates of immigration reform. This organization would become Connecticut Students for a DREAM and would promote increased access to education for immigrant students by hosting college access workshops and campaigning for the state and federal versions of the immigration reform.
Following graduation, Juan continued his development as an immigrants’ rights activist during his year in Mexico on a Fox International Fellowship. His research into the international political ramifications of US immigration policy will inform his future career as an immigrant’s rights lawyer. His experience as an advocate has inspired him to view law as a powerful resource for defending the rights of marginalized communities.
A native Californian, Aimee grew up in Los Angeles and has lived in Elk Grove, Davis, and Oakland. Aimee graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Davis in 2010, completing her BA in Linguistics and Spanish with minors in Japanese and Middle East/South Asia Studies. Aimee wrote an honors thesis and received a Department Citation for Outstanding Performance in Linguistics, the Leslie Campbell Award for Outstanding Senior, and the “Gold” Community Service Award. She worked in the California Assembly’s Chief Clerk’s Office and as a Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellow before exploring policy advocacy a nonprofit law firm.
Aimee’s greatest passion is community empowerment: in college, she tutored low-income students and volunteered as a peer educator and president of Students Against Sexual Violence. Currently, she volunteers with Women Escaping a Violent Environment and serves on the board of African Queens Dance Company. All of these experiences, combined with her proficiency in Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, French, and Louisiana Creole, have inspired in Aimee a desire to utilize legal advocacy strategies to strengthen community voices and support self-empowerment. Aimee will use her JD to build on her family’s legacy of participating in civic activism as a means of eliminating oppression.
Sinsheimer Service Scholar
Annie graduated with distinction from Yale University in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. During college, she served as managing editor of the undergraduate international affairs magazine, the Yale Globalist, and worked in the Ugandan Parliament. She has spent the last four years as a high school English teacher.
Annie joined Teach for America after graduation and taught literature at a high school in West Helena, Arkansas, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. In her second year, she served as a learning team leader for first-year TFA English teachers. When she returned to the Northeast, she joined the staff of Newark Collegiate Academy, the KIPP high school in Newark, NJ, where she helped lead the school’s new writing initiative and coached first-year writing teachers. At NCA, she also coached the cross-country team to – well, not victory, but at least some smiles.
Annie is from Pennington, New Jersey. She plans to use her law degree to ensure that students and their families have access to civil legal representation, so that they can take full advantage of their educational opportunities.
T. Patrick Córdova
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Patrick Córdova is a dedicated public servant and civil rights advocate. Patrick grew up in Orlando, Florida and graduated from Winter Park High School’s International Baccalaureate program. He aims to become a federal prosecutor after law school. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, Patrick became a strong voice for mental and emotional wellness as the live-in director of the Bridge Peer Counseling Center, a member of the campus wide Climate Change Task Force, and an Undergraduate Senator. Upon graduating, the University recognized his efforts by awarding him the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel and J.E. Wallace Sterling prizes.
Between his junior and senior years of college, he interned at the Bronx Community Pride Center. Charged with developing social service programs and providing care to clients, he frequently confronted public policy that adversely affected LGBT Bronx residents in seeking healthcare, housing, and education. Since graduating from college in 2009, Patrick has sought to repeal those discriminatory policies by electing LGBT advocates to positions of public influence. As finance director for Steve Pougnet for Congress and Gary Schiff for Mayor of Minneapolis, and as the Midwest fundraiser for the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, he helped generate the necessary resources for candidates to win.
Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar
Michael grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island, and is interested in issues of public policy, health care, and community development. Michael graduated from Brown University in 2011 with a degree in Public Policy. While at Brown, he first began to work on improving access to comprehensive health care with the organization Health Leads, which works with families in urban hospitals to address non-medical issues contributing to poor health. This experience set him on the path of working in community-oriented advocacy for improved health care access. After law school, he hopes to work to improve the complex health care system through direct representation, impact litigation, and policy advocacy.
Since graduation, he has continued to focus on health policy as a paralegal with the litigation department of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. At PPFA, Michael worked primarily on patient access issues arising from state-level health regulations and government funding programs. This work was complemented by continued volunteering in the community, both in the legal services department of Whitman-Walker Health, an HIV/AIDS clinic, and with Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children of DC, as an advocate representing the interests of a youth in the family court system.
Andrew W. Mellon Scholar
Olivia is a native Californian, hailing from Woodland, but after five years on the East Coast is slowly becoming converted. Olivia graduated with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 2012 with a major in Political Science and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Interested in the relationship between these two fields, Olivia completed her honors thesis on the origin and evolution of Peace and Conflict Studies and Security Studies. At Swarthmore, Olivia took on a number of leadership positions, including Co-President of the Student Council. Throughout college, Olivia was involved in a range of advocacy groups as well as mentoring programs for local middle school and high school students. Over the course of her undergraduate career, Olivia held a number of internships at nonprofit organizations including the Center for Progressive Leadership and the Center for American Progress. She hopes to focus on International Human Rights Law while at NYU.
Following graduation, Olivia spent a year as a Program Assistant with the Quaker United Nations Office in New York City. There she focused on the peace-building actions and architecture of the United Nations, as well as on the process surrounding the creation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Leo Gertner most recently served as deputy director at Service Employees International Union Local 615 in Boston, where he handled grievances and helped oversee contract enforcement for 15,000 janitors and security guards across New England’s offices and universities. He also worked previously as a case manager in a prisoner reentry program, helping people returning home from prison find housing and employment.
His interest in public service began in earnest during college on Chicago's South Side as president of Students for Human Rights, a campus group. He was awarded a grant by the University of Chicago's Human Rights Program to co-author a report on police brutality, racial discrimination, and gentrification while working at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs with a broad coalition of community groups. The final report was presented to the United Nations' Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Leo sees economic inequality and poor working conditions as barriers to democratic participation. After law school, he wants to provide legal services to workers in ways that empower them to take on various forms of injustice in their communities.
Leo attended the University of Chicago and majored in Anthropology. He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and immigrated with his family to the United States when he was three years old.
William and Mary Sterling Scholar
Claire Glenn grew up in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and graduated from Simley Senior High School. Claire graduated first in her class from Michigan State University in 2011, with a BA in Social Relations and Policy from James Madison College and a B.M. in Piano Performance from the College of Music. She has received numerous awards for her social justice research and advocacy, including the Regional Economic Innovation Center Author Award, Gillette Fellowship, Michael G. Schechter All-University Endowed Award, and MLK Advancing Inclusion through Research Award. She is dedicated to a career in public service law that holds businesses accountable, protects communities and stakeholders, and incentivizes responsible and sustainable corporate behavior on a global scale.
In 2010, Claire conducted research in Nicaragua, producing a senior honors thesis on health care in indigenous communities along the Pearl Lagoon, an area impoverished by corporate exploitation, civil war, and government neglect. Motivated to contribute to sustainable business development, Claire returned to Michigan and accepted an internship at the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) to launch the Microenterprise Network of Michigan. After graduation, Claire worked as Special Projects Coordinator at CEDAM, managing program development, community projects, and advocacy for three statewide initiatives.
A native of Newton, Massachusetts, Kathleen (Katie) Kavanagh published an award-winning children’s book, Home is Where Your Family Is, at the age of ten. It is the story of a young immigrant’s journey to America. Katie graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University in 2004 and moved to San Francisco shortly thereafter, where she worked as a legal assistant, and later a paralegal, for the Immigration Practice Group at Duane Morris LLP. During this period, she was also a volunteer teacher for La Raza Community Resource Center’s Citizenship Program. In 2008, Katie moved to Buenos Aires to intern with La Fundación Comisión Católica Argentina de Migraciones, an NGO providing legal and social services to asylum applicants in Argentina.
Katie is a committed advocate for immigrants’ rights. Most recently, she spent over four years as a paralegal at the San Francisco immigration firm Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, where she specialized in deportation defense, asylum, family-based immigration, and cases involving victims of domestic violence and other crimes. Katie is fluent in Spanish and volunteers as a translator for the online micro-lending platform Kiva. She is excited to expand her capacities as an advocate for immigrant communities through her legal education.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Tiffany was born in Texas, and raised in Houston, Taipei, and Dallas. Tiffany graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a M.S. in Earth Systems and a B.S. in Biology. Tiffany’s interest in social justice began at Stanford, where she was involved in volunteer activities and outreach to the homeless population. Following law school, she hopes to defend the rights of women and children in international human trafficking.
Following graduation, she moved to East Palo Alto, where she is currently co-directing the O’Keefe Family Center, a nonprofit that offers services to the low-income immigrant community such as after-school tutoring, teen leadership programs, and adult ESL classes. In 2010, she worked briefly at the International Rescue Committee in San Jose, where she piloted the Community Outreach Program to Chinese immigrants and asylees. She has been working as an Environmental Consultant at Insignia Environmental since 2010, where she prepares CEQA- and NEPA-based environmental analyses for utility and renewable energy projects. For the past three years, she has been volunteering as a mediator with the Santa Clara County, where she mediates day-of-court small claims cases for the Santa Clara County Superior Court of California as well as community cases through the County’s Dispute Resolution Program.
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Steve grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with an undergraduate degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. At Princeton, Steve served as the Chair of the Pace Council for Civil Values, a committee dedicated to improving civic engagement on campus. The recipient of a Martin Dale Award, Steve traveled to Azerbaijan to study and perform classical Azeri piano music.
For his commitment to social justice, Steve was awarded the Charles W. Puttkammer Fellowship for Prisoner Reentry at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, in Newark. During two years at NJISJ, Steve drafted municipal and state-level legislation relating to criminal histories, designed in-prison and post-release programs, helped secure a gubernatorial pardon for a client, and worked directly with individuals returning home from prison. While living in Newark, Steve mentored an amazing kid through Big Brothers Big Sisters. After completing his fellowship, Steve worked as a paralegal in the Appeals Bureau at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he wrote and submitted briefs to the New York Appellate Division. Following law school, he plans to continue working in criminal justice, with an emphasis on reducing barriers to successful prisoner reentry.
Amelia grew up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and has lived in Philadelphia since 2008. Amelia graduated summa cum laude from The University of Pittsburgh in 2008 with a degree in Sociology, a minor in Portuguese, and a certificate in Latin American Studies. As a student, Amelia completed an individual research project in rural Ecuador and spent six months studying in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. While at Pitt, she also interned at a program helping Burmese refugees resettle in Pittsburgh, and spearheaded a boycott of a college bar featuring a drink special with a racial slur.
She began her public interest legal career at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, advocating for low-income migrant farmworkers as a paralegal in PLA’s Pennsylvania Farmworker Project. In 2010, Amelia moved to Community Legal Services, PLA’s sister agency, where she worked for three years advising and representing tenants in subsidized housing. In 2011, she helped start and co-chaired the U-Visa Project for the National Lawyers Guild Philadelphia Chapter. The Project helps immigrant crime victims petition for legal status. Amelia is excited to use her legal education to continue working on social justice issues affecting immigrant communities and other vulnerable populations.
Brian Perbix was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. A 2009 graduate from Grinnell College with honors in Biology, Brian was awarded the President’s Medal for superior scholarship and leadership. At Grinnell he served as the Program Coordinator for the College’s Stonewall Resource Center and also completed internships with several community-based nonprofits, including the Streetworks Collaborative in Minneapolis, and the African Network for Integrated Development, in Sénégal.
For the past three years, Brian has put his passion for protecting the environment and empowering communities to work organizing against coal pollution with Prairie Rivers Network, an Illinois not-for-profit river conservation and advocacy organization. As a grassroots organizer, he worked on several campaigns opposing coal mines & coal-fired power plants, fought for tighter regulation and oversight of coal ash dumps, and helped build the Heartland Coalfield Alliance, a regional collaboration of community and advocacy groups working to advance a just and sustainable transition to a clean energy future in the Midwest. After law school Brian intends to continue to work as an environmental advocate, and hopes to focus on the intersecting issues of energy, water and environmental justice.
Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Meghna was born in India, and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Brown University in 2011, with a BA in International Relations. Meghna first gained experience organizing around issues of economic justice and criminal justice reform while advocating for the rights of homeless and low-income communities in Rhode Island. She cultivated a broader understanding of the relationship between the criminal justice system and economic marginalization as an intern at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and received a Slavery and Justice Research Award at Brown to study the history of Rhode Island’s first state penitentiary.
After graduating, Meghna spent a summer at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she analyzed the impact of the fiscal crisis on prison, probation, and parole systems around the country. She then worked as a Research Associate at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she helped lead the Center’s work against the rise of new debtor’s prisons, and worked on projects related to sentencing policy, foreclosure reform, and the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Meghna hopes to use her law degree to expand access to good credit and finances, especially in communities that are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.
Starr Foundation Scholar
Alexis graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2007 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE). At CMC, Alexis served as his class president, advocating for greater scholarship opportunities for future students, more visits from distinguished speakers, and safer campus policies for social events. During that time period, Alexis also worked for US Senator Patty Murray’s reelection campaign in 2004, earned a Keck Fellowship to travel and study European Union reforms in Eastern Europe in 2005, and interned for International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in Geneva, Switzerland in 2006, an organization that advocates for more just and effective criminal justice systems in developing countries.
After graduating college, he spent 1 year interning with CARE in Lima, Peru, working to develop microfinance projects for farmers in the country’s poorest regions while teaching English to Peruvian youth. Since returning to the United States in 2008, Alexis has spent the last 5 years teaching middle school math in Los Angeles through Teach for America. During this time, Alexis taught predominantly underserved Latino students at both traditional public and charter schools, leading his students to achieve significant measurable growth. He has also served as a department chair, teacher leader, instructional coach, professional learning community leader, and School Director during that time.
Alexis was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where he also coaches soccer to 8th graders and serves on his local neighborhood council. Although he will certainly miss the classroom, Alexis plans to focus both his study of law and his work after law school on education reform.
Chelsea graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 2008, with a BA in English and Political Science. At UCLA, Chelsea served on the Undergraduate Students Association Council and Project Literacy.
Chelsea worked for four years at the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Boston, Johannesburg, and New York City. She has worked with governments, donors, regulators, pharmaceutical companies, and other manufacturers to increase access to health commodities in resource-poor markets. In South Africa, she managed a team within the National Department of Health to implement a set of policies aimed at increasing access to HIV/AIDS services throughout the country. Most recently, she worked on pricing and procurement deals for vaccines and helped to structure market interventions that de-risk supply and facilitate new supplier entry in developing-country vaccine markets.
Chelsea was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and has lived in New York City for two years.
Raised in Avenel, New Jersey, Pooja is happy to be spending three more years in the tri-state area. She hopes to use her law degree to promote economic opportunity for low-income and minority communities. Pooja graduated from Yale University in 2012 with distinction in Political Science. While in college, she led or co-led legislative advocacy campaigns for in-state tuition for undocumented students, statewide education reform, and national healthcare reform as an active member of the Yale College Democrats. Pooja spent her summers at organizations including the Eagleton Institute of Politics, within its Program on Immigration and Democracy, and Demos, where she assisted with reports addressing economic security and access to affordable higher education.
After graduation, her interest in the link between financial stability and workplace fairness led her to Ritz Clark & Ben-Asher LLP, a plaintiff-side labor and employment law firm in New York City. She provided support for employment discrimination and wrongful termination cases, among others, during her time there as a paralegal.
Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar
Matthew grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota. He is looking forward to living in New York City to get his legal education before returning to his native state to fight for his policy goals. Matthew graduated from the University of South Dakota in 2011 with a degree in economics and political science. A member of the Army National Guard, his belief in public service led him to apply for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, becoming South Dakota’s recipient in 2010.
After graduating, Matthew took a job with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission as a utility analyst. There he worked primarily on rate increase filings made by the investor owned utility companies in the state, striving to keep electric rates as low as possible while ensuring South Dakota ratepayers received safe, adequate, and reliable service. He views the law as an essential tool in addressing some of the stark challenges faced by South Dakotans, particularly on the Native American reservations. Blending law and smart public policy, Matthew hopes to effect changes in the criminal justice system to craft a smarter and more rehabilitative institution.
Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Ke was born in Wuhan, China and raised in Tucson, Arizona. A graduate of University High School, she has been deeply influenced by the liberating potential of a progressive public education. While studying biochemistry as a Flinn Scholar at Arizona State University, Ke travelled around the world investigating education initiatives on a Circumnavigators Club Foundation Grant. This research inspired her to deepen her understanding of issues in domestic education, leading her to join Teach For America after graduating in 2010.
As a chemistry teacher at John C. Fremont High School in South Los Angeles, she witnessed how school reconstitution, followed by large budget cuts, left students disillusioned with schooling. In response, she engaged students in discussions about the role of social inequity in education. These discussions shaped her role as the Academic Decathlon coach, through which she witnessed the transformation of her decathletes into social justice advocates. These experiences, along with the prolific encouragement of her students, led her to pursue an MPhil in Education on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and now, a law degree. With a legal background, she hopes to improve the capabilities of all children, starting with the right to equal access to education opportunities.
Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar
Dian graduated with honors from Harvard University in 2011 with a degree in History and Literature. During college, Dian was involved with the Harvard Phillips Brooks House Association as a leader of the Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Program. Dian also served as a Regional Representative for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program/Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund in the greater Boston and Philadelphia areas.
Following graduation, Dian served as a Harvard Center of Public Interest Careers Fellow in New York City and helped launch an international grant-making venture philanthropy foundation. Consequently, Dian worked for EKO Asset Management Partners, an investment and advisory firm specializing in environmental markets and natural infrastructure. Dian helped manage the origination pipeline for EKO’s Green Carbon Fund and analyzed emerging natural resource related markets.
Dian worked for Acumen Fund in Nairobi, Kenya, helping to build financially sustainable organizations that deliver affordable goods and services that improve the lives of the poor. She conducted early-stage sector mappings of education investment opportunities for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Dian was born in Beijing, China and grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After law school, she hopes to advance her interest in law and social innovation.
Class of 2017
Jean-Luc Adrien | Sinsheimer Service Scholar
Jean-Luc was born in Haiti and moved to south Florida when he was eleven years old. In 2012, Jean-Luc graduated from the University of Florida with a double major in Political Science and Anthropology, coupled with a minor in Spanish. As a graduating senior, he was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame.
At the University of Florida, Jean-Luc’s interests included community empowerment, mentorship, and education. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Jean-Luc co-founded and served as Treasurer to Gators United for Haiti, an organization that fundraised to address relief efforts in Haiti. As a recipient of the University of Florida African American Studies Program Excellence Award, and troubled by the overrepresentation of people of color as offenders in the criminal justice system, he interned at the Gainesville Public Defender’s Office. There, Jean-Luc witnessed firsthand the devastating effects that a lack of educational opportunities had on a segment of Gainesville’s youth. This realization led to his desire to mentor at-risk students and served as the inspiration for his senior thesis concerning the effects of the New Orleans charter school movement on African American students’ educational achievement.
After college, Jean-Luc joined Teach for America and taught high school Spanish in Dumas, Arkansas, a small town in the Mississippi Delta. At Dumas High School, he founded the Dumas Knights, a mentorship group which provided ACT tutoring, community service opportunities, and college visits to 11th and 12th grade boys. He also specialized as the kicking coach and assisted in coaching the defensive line for the football team.
After his first year of teaching, Jean-Luc completed a fellowship with the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Education Division. As a fellow, he presented advocacy options to parents whose children had been unfairly disciplined by their schools. He also led a community workshop to update parents and educators on new educational laws that were passed in the Mississippi legislature. As an attorney, Jean-Luc will work to provide civil legal services to those who cannot otherwise afford them.
Zawadi Baharanyi | Starr Foundation Scholar
Zawadi is a native of Auburn, Alabama, with paternal roots in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She attended Columbia University intending to focus on human rights issues in sub-Saharan Africa, but after interning at the Orleans Public Defender’s office and later Common Justice, a New York- based alternative to incarceration and restorative justice program, she felt compelled to shift her focus to the rampant human rights violations occurring within the United States criminal justice system.
After graduating magna cum laude from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in political science, she returned to her home state to work on sentencing and prison reform issues as a post-undergraduate fellow with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) of Alabama, an indigent defense organization based in Montgomery, AL. During her three years at EJI, Zawadi investigated officer-on-inmate violence in Alabama’s prisons, helped formerly incarcerated clients transition to life outside of prison, and bolstered EJI’s public education work around mass incarceration and its historical antecedents.
After law school, Zawadi hopes to strengthen protections for the incarcerated and challenge the various legal barriers to successful re-entry for the formerly incarcerated.
Hugh Baran | Coben Scholar
Hugh grew up in Northern New Jersey and graduated from Yale University in 2009 with distinction in American Studies. While at Yale, Hugh worked with many progressive student organizations and spearheaded a range of social justice initiatives, including a campaign pressing the university to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression. As a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar, Hugh is working to expand the scope of his education and training to become a more effective, better-equipped advocate for social, economic, and racial justice.
Most recently, Hugh was part of the New York Regional team at BerlinRosen Public Affairs, where he crafted and implemented communications and media outreach strategies for a variety of organizations including Fast Food Forward, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Scaffold Safety Coalition, and Raise the Age NY.
Before that, he was a community and political organizer in Connecticut and Rhode Island for four years, working with the local UNITE HERE unions and broad labor-community coalitions to train emerging community leaders and push for electoral and legislative changes in New Haven and Providence. In 2011, he helped lead the field program that elected 17 new leaders to New Haven’s Board of Aldermen, a majority whose new agenda focused on jobs, youth, and public safety. He has also been active in a number of state and federal elections.
At NYU, Hugh hopes to cultivate his own approach to public interest law, exploring a variety of paths including public policy work, impact litigation, and other kinds of legal advocacy.
Jahnavi Bhaskar | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Jahnavi was raised in Maryland by parents who immigrated from India. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2010 with an honors degree in mathematics. While there, Jahnavi co-led a student group, the Chicago Justice Initiative, and with that organization began a tutoring program for formerly incarcerated men and women working towards their high school diplomas on Chicago's West Side.
After college, Jahnavi worked as an investigator at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) for four years. She found and interviewed witnesses, assisted in trial preparation, and testified in court in all levels of criminal cases, both juvenile and adult, from misdemeanor to first-degree murder. Jahnavi saw massive injustice in the criminal legal system during her time at PDS. But she also bore witness to the inspiring resilience and unstoppable life-force of the clients, families, and communities being targeted by that system, and was honored to join in their resistance. Jahnavi will use her legal training to stand in the way of systems that marginalize, dehumanize, and terrorize poor people of color, whether that be incarceration, deportation, or mental institutionalization. She intends to practice as a public defender.
Eboni Blenman | WilmerHale Scholar
Eboni was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and attended Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard, she majored in Spanish and Political Science and graduated with honors.
Throughout college, Eboni worked as a clerk at the Department of Justice, Civil Division. This opportunity peaked her interest in the legal field, but her volunteer experience would help Eboni develop a passion for public service. As an Intake Volunteer at the Visitors’ Services Center (now Voices for a Second Chance), Eboni helped inmates and former offenders obtain social services, apply for jobs and reconnect with estranged family members. Eboni also served as a Volunteer Resident Assistant at N Street Village, a shelter for indigent females. These volunteer experiences left Eboni wondering what might be the best solution to the ongoing cycle of incarceration and homelessness. She believed the answer might be a solid education.
After college, Eboni joined Teach for America and taught in Newark, NJ. There she started Girls with Goals (GWG), a school-based group to help young girls develop their self-esteem and professional goals. Eboni is excited to return to New York to complete law school. At NYU she hopes to further explore the intersection between the education and criminal justice systems.
Viviana Bonilla López | William and Mary Sterling Scholar
Viviana is a San Juan, Puerto Rico native who describes herself as a journalist, mental health advocate, and storyteller. In 2014, she graduated with the highest distinction from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, earning a BA in journalism with a minor in entrepreneurship. As an undergraduate, Viviana was certified as an Online Counseling and Suicide Intervention Specialist and worked in the mental health system as a volunteer, intern, and research assistant. In 2011, she co-founded Rethink: Psychiatric Illness, a student organization aimed at raising awareness about mental illnesses and increasing help-seeking behaviors among students. In this role, she spearheaded the creation of the university’s first-ever mental health advocacy training, which has attracted over 360 students and earned the organization the 2012 Diversity Award. As an intern with the mental health non-profit organization Clubhouse International, watching poor government policies defund quality programs sparked Viviana’s interest in legal and policy work. Her interest in law heightened as she supported students with mental illnesses in accessing disability services and defending their ADA rights. In the journalism field, she has experience as a writer, photographer, videographer, researcher, translator, and editor. Her work has been published in numerous publications including USA TODAY College and the Center for Investigative Journalism of Puerto Rico, as well as referenced in a report to the United Nations.
Viviana looks forward to focusing on mental health policy and disability advocacy at NYU Law and adding “public interest lawyer” to her list of roles.
Mitchell Brown | Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar
Mitchell was born in Fredericksburg, VA and is interested in civil rights and legislative law. Mitchell, a 2012 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Economics and a Minor in Philosophy. His senior year at A&T, Mitchell served as the Vice President of Internal Affairs for Student Government Association. In addition to his student government service, Mitchell was Chaplain for the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. Mitchell also interned with Common Cause-North Carolina, registering students and members of the community to vote. As a Common Cause intern, he helped to promote the collegiate voice in the fight against the 2011 Voter ID bill in North Carolina. It was during this struggle that he recognized his call to enter the legal profession. As an attorney, he intends to fight injustices in voting rights and education that are still being waged against many sectors of our society. Mitchell is very passionate about this pursuit, because out of our right to vote flows every other fundamental right that we have, and out of the cultivation of our minds, the table is set for the United States’ future success.
Mitchell served as a 2012 Teach For America Corps Member, teaching 8th grade special education at KIPP Central City Academy in inner city New Orleans, LA. It was during his two-year service that he further realized his desire to study law because he witnessed firsthand educational injustices, specifically dealing with allocation of resources to schools and the treatment of students with special needs. Mitchell believes that every child has the right to an excellent education, and their dreams and aspirations are in jeopardy if we don’t adequately educate them. Therefore, Mitchell emphasized teaching his students life skills through coaching football and basketball. Mitchell’s inspiration for entering the legal field originates from a biblical and community standpoint. He believes that he has been called to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to defend the defenseless, and to empower those who feel powerless. Mitchell will strive to do this by working as a legal advocate in the civil rights arena, aiming to ensure that the United States lives up to its promises made in our Constitution.
“If purpose is present, then nothing can stop the determined individual from his/her rendezvous with destiny” (Anonymous).
Antonio Changanaqui | Andrew W. Mellon Scholar
Antonio graduated with honors from the College of William and Mary in 2011 with a degree in Sociology and Economics. Realizing his passion for social justice, Antonio was particularly alarmed by the unfair treatment experienced by indigent defendants in the criminal justice system, and the widely understood yet unaddressed systemic factors which cause it. This knowledge led Antonio to the DC Public Defender Service (PDS), where after college he completed an internship and fellowship before assuming the role of staff investigator.
At PDS, Antonio led investigations from the initial stages of an arraignment through the final stages of a jury trial for both juvenile and adult defendants. He also led investigations aimed towards gaining positive appellate results for defendants convicted at the trial level, including several individuals convicted of murder. In addition, Antonio was heavily relied upon to investigate the cases of Latino defendants who lacked English fluency. His experiences in this role made him critically aware of the severe cultural and linguistic barriers to fair treatment confronting Latino defendants, and the unsatisfied need for measures to erode these barriers.
During his two and a half years at PDS, Antonio worked alongside talented and dedicated public defenders on multiple felony cases that resulted in trial victory or dismissal. These outcomes reinforced Antonio's considerable trust in the power of passionate advocacy. Guided by this trust, he desires to use his legal degree in order to confront and undermine the entrenched obstacles faced by indigent defendants seeking fair representation in the criminal justice system.
Olivia Gibbons | Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families
Olivia is passionate about immigrant and refugee rights, in particular as they intersect with historically vulnerable groups such as women and children. A native of Seattle, she graduated with highest honors from the University Honors Program at Seattle University with a degree in Spanish and International Studies, with minors in Philosophy, Latin American Studies, and English. Olivia led a spring break immersion program for college students to better understand the realities of migrant workers and undocumented families in Washington’s rural Yakima Valley. While in college, she was able to pursue different internship opportunities, among them working as a legal intake counselor for the ACLU of Washington, as a legal assistant for the Defender’s Association, an organization that represents children and teenagers accused of crimes, and as a development intern for Washington New Americans, a nonprofit promoting immigrant integration and pathways to citizenship. She was also a campaign intern and later a constituent services intern for Washington’s Senator Maria Cantwell, managing the immigration and border protection caseload. While studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, Olivia volunteered for a legal clinic serving indigenous women seeking legal counsel about intimate partner violence and other family issues.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Olivia returned to Mexico to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, where she taught classes to undergraduate and graduate students in English and intercultural studies at the University of Guadalajara. She also created a feminist workshop with a theoretical foundation and applied lessons on self-defense, sexual health, and relationship violence. As an attorney, she hopes to combine her commitment to immigrant communities with her passion for advocacy and furthering just protection and empowerment for women and their families.
Angela Groves | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Angela, a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, is driven by a passion for social justice. Angela graduated with honors from Princeton University with a BA in the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and a Certificate in African American studies. Upon graduation, Angela received the Harold Willis Dodd Prize for clear thinking and moral courage. While at Princeton, Angela served in leadership positions in Class Government, the Black Student Union, the Princeton Association of Black Women, Community Action, and Mathey Residential College, among others. After studying abroad in South Africa, she co-founded the social enterprise Ubomi Beads, which aims to empower women in South Africa. Angela’s senior thesis evaluated the impact of the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative, a community-based approach to urban education reform, on social capital.
Motivated by the deep educational inequalities examined in her senior thesis, Angela spent the past two years teaching Social Studies at Miami Central High School in Miami, Florida as a Teach for America corps member. Following her service at Miami Central, Angela served as the Dean of Students at Aspire, an academic and leadership program for high-achieving girls with limited academic resources. Her experiences as an educator in underserved communities solidified both her belief in the power of communities and her desire to serve as a civil rights advocate. She will pursue a legal career in community-centered civil rights advocacy and impact litigation, specifically focusing on issues impacting marginalized youth.
Angela is currently serving a four-year term as a Trustee of Princeton University.
Ajani Husbands | Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice
Born in Houston, TX to Barbadian parents, Ajani Husbands is passionate about social justice in the United States and abroad. Ajani graduated in 2005 from Stanford University with a BA in International Relations and a Minor in African/African-American Studies. On campus, he held leadership positions in a variety of community organizations, revamped the Alpha Boys Club (his fraternity’s mentorship initiative for Black, middle-school males), and taught a public speaking course to graduate students. During his sophomore year, he co-founded Project W.R.I.T.E. (Writing and Reading as Integral Tools for Education), which continues to provide creative writing training for low-income high school students each summer. The program is now in its tenth year of existence.
Ajani is also a Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow and has served as a U.S. diplomat with the Department of State for seven years. During that time, he has worked in Eritrea, Haiti, Pakistan, and South Sudan. As a diplomat, Ajani focused on a range of projects including human rights reporting, using music as a vehicle to generate dialogue on women’s rights, incorporating social media into long-term messaging strategies, and promoting youth access to the arts. In his most recent assignment, Ajani served as the spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in South Sudan, where he led efforts to implement the Young African Leadership Initiative in the country. He also helped to evacuate over 1,200 American citizens and third country nationals from South Sudan during the onset of the December 2013 civil war, while simultaneously implementing a nine-day diplomatic strategy to promote peace amidst the civil unrest.
Ajani holds an MA in International Development from American University and completed his thesis on the impact of China on various measures of development in Africa. He hopes to combine his legal career with his passion for social justice and foreign policy background.
Oscar Londoño Jr. | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Oscar is interested in how the community lawyering model can be used to support the movement-building efforts of community organizations and activists on issues related to racial/economic justice. Recognizing that "the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house," Oscar believes that legal strategies should be used to serve (not supersede) the strategic objectives of grassroots organizing, community education, and collective action.
After graduating summa cum laude from Cornell University with a B.A. in Sociology, Oscar worked in a number of public-interest organizations in Miami. In the Juvenile Direct File Unit of the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office, he worked alongside public defenders to advocate against the practice of transferring juvenile defendants, some as young as fourteen years of age, into the County's adult court system. Following that experience, Oscar worked at a low-income public high school in South Miami Heights as an academic interventionist and mentor to at-risk students with City Year Miami.
He then worked as a community organizer with Public Allies Miami in the poverty-stricken neighborhood of Liberty City, where he worked with local residents and community-based organizations to develop and implement asset-based community development programs and initiatives. Most recently, Oscar worked as an Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for The Children's Movement of Florida, where he helped organize grassroots and grasstops campaigns aimed at passing state legislation around issues of early childhood education and universal health care access for children.
Kartik Sameer Madiraju | Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar
Kartik was born in Montreal, Canada. Since the age of 13, he has structured his pursuits around environmental justice. Kartik was trained as a chemical and Bioresource engineer at McGill University (BEng in 2012, and MSc in 2013) and has conducted research in renewable energy and wastewater treatment since 2004.
While at McGill, he engaged in a rigorous study and practice of environmental policy reform. In 2010 Kartik worked in India with Greenpeace in a campaign to improve nuclear safety laws, and later with renowned lawyer M.C. Mehta to successfully stay 300 hydroelectric dam projects along the Ganges, that had been approved without environmental impact assessments. Kartik’s work in India inspired him to pursue environmental law as a career.
For one year starting June 2013, Kartik served as the Insight Collaborative Fellow and trained in conflict management, principled negotiation and effective communication with the non-profit Insight Collaborative. He applied his skills with several environmental conservation groups around the world, including Navdanya in India, Palau Conservation Society in Palau, and Friends of the Earth Middle East in Israel, Jordan and Palestine.
Kartik hopes to use his legal education and his prior training to bring innovative reform to environmental regulations in North America, especially through the use of dispute resolution.
In his spare time, Kartik is a vocal environmental advocate, contributing to academic, creative and popular publications. Since 2008, after representing Canada at international science fairs, Kartik has been a member of Youth Science Canada and mentors high school students in their science projects. He is an avid badminton player and fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
A native of New York City (who is happy to return home), Jessica graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 2011 with a degree in history. At Yale, Jessica devoted herself to furthering women’s rights and reproductive justice. As Co-Director of Community Health Educators, she helped lead Yale’s largest student volunteer organization, which provides a comprehensive health curriculum to 2,000 students in New Haven public schools. She also led the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale, a group dedicated to coordinating progressive political action. Her interest in law was sparked by her internship at the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and her examination of the seminal sex discrimination case EEOC vs. Sears, Roebuck and Company, for which she was awarded Yale’s Steere Prize in Women’s Studies.
After college, Jessica was awarded a George Mitchell Scholarship for postgraduate study in Ireland, through which she pursued an MPhil in Gender and Women’s Studies at Trinity College Dublin. Jessica’s thesis research examined why Irish women politicians ran for office and their relationships to feminism. While working towards her MPhil, Jessica interned at the Irish Family Planning Association.
Following her year in Ireland, Jessica returned to the United States to continue advocating for reproductive justice. At the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington DC, where she has spent the last year and a half, Jessica worked to help introduce and promote the Women’s Health Protection Act, a piece of legislation designed to end harmful state-level restrictions on abortion, and to broaden access to abortion coverage for Peace Corps Volunteers. After law school, she plans to continue her work in women's rights advocacy and hopes to use her law degree to effect broader policy changes.
Oluwadamilola (Dami) Obaro | Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar
Dami is very excited to begin her legal education at NYU. She first became interested in justice issues while volunteering as a medical advocate for rape survivors in Chicago. In addition to her work with rape survivors through the YWCA and the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline, she also worked as a case manager for asylum seekers through the Heartland Alliance. Her frequent interactions with the legal system through these experiences kindled an interest in legal work, and so after graduating from the University of Chicago in 2012 she accepted a job as a legal advocate with the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in San Francisco, where she has worked for the past two years. At HAP, she helped people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness apply for disability benefits, appeal parking ticket citations, and solve other various legal issues. She also assisted attorneys with their eviction defense cases. Cognizant that law and lawyers are only a part of the fight for social justice, she volunteered with the San Francisco Tenants Union and Causa Justa, two housing rights organizations that utilize many tools and strategies in addition to legal ones.
During her two years in the Bay Area, she lived in an intentional social justice community, which was a wonderful way to learn from others and live on a tiny budget. She hopes that the Root community will also be a space where she can be both challenged and heard by others. She intends to pursue a career in legal aid, and is looking forward to exploring her budget managing skills in the city with only the second highest rent in the country (the first would be San Francisco).
Astha Sharma Pokharel | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Astha is from Kathmandu, Nepal and grew up in Rome, Italy. She graduated from Durham University in 2012 with a degree in Politics. She is interested in civil rights, women’s rights, and international law. During and after law school Astha is interested in understanding how inequalities are maintained by legal systems and frameworks – national and international – and how this can be disrupted and reformed.
In 2012 Astha moved to Kathmandu to work at the Forum for Women, Law and Development. She started by doing research on the exclusion of historically marginalised groups in the constitution-drafting process in Nepal. She also did research on the implementation of legislation on human trafficking. She became increasingly convinced of the importance of complementing legal reforms with community mobilisation in order to effect transformative social change. She left FWLD and moved on to GalliGalli, an organisation working to improve citizens’ access to information on government services. At GalliGalli she focused on examining the structures of power within District Administrative Offices – local quasi-judicial bodies.
In Kathmandu, Astha has been involved in starting Chaukath, a network of feminists who engage critically with socio-economic, political and cultural issues in Nepal.
Narisa Silver | Filomen M. D’Agostino Scholar for Women or Children
Narisa graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 with a major in Sociology – Social Inequality and minors in International Studies and African Studies. During her undergraduate years, Narisa devoted herself both in and out of academics to understanding how the current state of the world was reached, and what can be done to effectively change it. This led to experiences from mentoring college-bound students living on the US-Mexico border to working as a graduate-level research assistant for the African and African American Studies Research Center. These experiences strongly contributed to her decision to pursue a career in public service.
Narisa was born and raised in California, but her interest in exploring other ways of life took her to the East Coast and Mexico after graduation. She served as a Citizen Schools National Teaching Fellow in Massachusetts after graduating from college, and then worked as an international instructor for Save the Children in the indigenous community of San Mateo Ozolco, Mexico. Afterward, she worked as a bilingual paralegal for the Immigrant Victims Representation Project at Catholic Social Services of Fall River, where she wrote, translated, and edited original affidavits for use in court, referred clients to community resources for basic needs such as mental health treatment and adequate housing, and managed the entire immigration department's intake system. This experience showed her how effective and culturally sensitive legal services work can transform the lives of those most in need, regardless of age, gender, background, or country of origin.
During her time at NYU Law, Narisa hopes to contribute to the school's tradition of effective client advocacy and academic excellence. Her broad legal interests include criminal defense, international work, sentencing policy reform, advocating for multicultural victims of domestic violence, and improving America's public transportation systems. Her greatest inspirations to help the disadvantaged and victimized through the legal field are her own upbringing and personal life experiences. In her spare time, she enjoys watching documentaries, traveling, cooking, bicycling, and studying foreign languages.
A Chicago native, Kate graduated from Brown University in 2010, with a dual BA in History and Africana Studies. She completed her undergraduate honors thesis in Africana Studies, examining historical and modern forms of racial injustice, particularly those manifested in the criminal justice system. Her research, which included interviews with wrongfully and formerly incarcerated people and survivors of police torture in Chicago, sparked and deepened her interest in issues of incarceration and racial justice.
After college, Kate was an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, working on poverty-alleviation in both Minnesota and Washington, DC Kate’s experience culminated in her publishing a report on public defense systems and the intersection of poverty and mass incarceration. After the Fellowship, Kate joined Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), a nonprofit sentencing reform organization in Washington, DC As FAMM’s case research director, Kate identified, investigated and wrote FAMM’s profiles – real stories of people and families impacted by harsh mandatory sentencing laws – for use in FAMM’s advocacy and public education efforts. She remains passionate about advocating for greater fairness and compassion in the justice system, and for those impacted by it.
Erica grew up in Washington, DC, and is interested in issues involving the American criminal justice system, especially issues surrounding police accountability and the impact of reliance on private for profit prisons. Erica graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012, with a degree in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law, and African and African American Studies. While there she focused her studies on the relationship and impact of the Criminal Justice System on communities of color.
Erica served as President of the University of Virginia's Chapter of the NAACP and under her leadership the organization raised issues with the University regarding the growing income disparity between the white and black community, as well as mass incarceration, and the disenfranchisement of African Americans because of the disproportionately high levels of incarceration in that community. For her efforts, she was awarded the 2012 Student Humanitarian Award. She was additionally awarded a Degree "With Distinction" for her thesis work examining the ways in which privatized prisons reinforce the mass incarceration of African-Americans.
After graduating from the University of Virginia, Erica served as a paralegal with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affair where she was responsible for supporting attorneys challenging civil rights violations in the areas of Disability Rights, Fair Housing, and Police Misconduct. Consistent with her academic focus and her concern about police accountability, Erica was involved in initiatives such as DC Books to Prisons Project and CopWatch DC, an advocacy initiative focused on addressing concerns regarding racial profiling in the DC Metropolitan Area.