Sarah Hudson-Plush, Career Counselor
B.A. (English), University of Michigan, 2001
J.D., Cardozo School of Law, 2007
Sarah joined PILC, where she specializes in non-profit domestic organizations and post-graduate fellowships, as a part-time counselor in February 2012. After law school, Sarah was a Skadden Fellow at the Center for Family Representation, where she completed a project focused on the educational rights of indigent parents, including teen parents, involved in all stages of the child protective system. After completing her fellowship, Sarah remained at CFR, where she represented parents in neglect and abuse proceedings in Manhattan Family Court. Immediately prior to joining PILC, Sarah worked for a short time as a staff attorney at Advocates for Children of New York, where she represented families in special education matters and supported impact litigation work. Between college and law school, Sarah was a public school teacher, first as a Teach for America corps member in Newark, NJ, and then at a charter school in Hoboken, NJ.
Jorge Luis Paniagua Valle, Department Administrator
B.A. (Philosophy), Loyola University Chicago, cum laude, 2007
M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (Expected 2015)
Jorge Luis joined the Public Interest Law Center as its Department Administrator in August 2011. Before that, he served as a conflict resolution associate and outreach coordinator at The Center For Conflict Resolution at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles for several years, where he conducted bilingual mediations and telephone conciliations for indigent mono-lingual Spanish-speakers. At PILC, he works closely with the Assistant Dean for Public Service administering the events and programs for PILC as well as coordinating the Root-Tilden-Kern Program. He is currently an M.P.A. candidate in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy at the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.Rachel Peckerman, Associate Director
B.A. (Intellectual History & Religious Studies), University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, 2001
J.D., New York University, 2004
Rachel joined the Public Interest Law Center as an Associate Director in March 2010, where she specializes in domestic non-profit and criminal justice counseling and organizes the annual Legal Career Fair. After law school Rachel spent several years working as a public defender, first at New York County Defender Services, and then at the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn. As a public defender, Rachel represented hundreds of indigent clients accused of misdemeanors and felonies. Rachel acted as lead counsel in jury trials, as well as at school suspension, sex offender registration, parole revocation, and housing hearings. Rachel has served as a Career Consultant at New York Law School, where she specialized in working with public interest students. She is a Trial Skills teacher for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. She completed the professional course in culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute.
Sara Rakita, Associate Director
B.A. (International Studies), American University, magna cum laude, 1992
M.I.A., Columbia University, 1997
J.D., New York University, cum laude, 1998
As Associate Director of PILC, Sara specializes in international public interest law and also administers the summer public interest grants. Sara has worked extensively on human rights and the rule of law, primarily in Africa. Before joining PILC, she served as a long-term consultant to the Ford Foundation, where she was responsible for piloting and setting up TrustAfrica, a new African grant-making foundation that is now based in Senegal. After graduating from law school, Sara was the first NYU Fellow at Human Rights Watch and worked there four more years, including two years as the organization’s representative in Rwanda. Sara has also consulted for Amnesty International, Global Rights, USAID, and the Austrian development agency. While a student at NYU, Sara was awarded the ILC Fellowship to summer at the United Nations International Law Commission in Geneva. She has published numerous articles, reports, and chapters on issues related to human rights and Africa. Sara is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of Spanish and Russian.
Denise Tomasini-Joshi, Assistant Dean for Public Service
B.A. (Law & Society and Political Sciences), Purdue University, 1994
J.D., Columbia University School of Law, 1998
M.I.A., Columbia University, 1999
Denise is the Assistant Dean of the Public Interest Law Center and the director of the Root-Tilden-Kern Scholarship Program. Prior to leading PILC, she served as Legal Officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, where she lead efforts to implement alternatives to pretrial detention in Latin America. Her role at Open Society Justice Initiative involved forging partnerships across a wide and complex range of justice professionals while developing and executing strategic plans, training programs, and collaboration protocols among multiple government agencies. Denise also served as a senior policy analyst with the Council of State Governments’ Criminal Justice and Mental Health Consensus Project, where she developed and implemented protocols for collaboration among criminal justice and mental health agencies and presented at conferences nationwide. Denise has spoken and published widely on the issues of mental health and pretrial detention. Denise began her legal career as an attorney at the Columbia University/Goddard Riverside Tenant Assistance Project and at MFY Legal Services. She is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico.