Public Interest Law Center

Current Scholars

Class of 2023

 Julia Bodson

 Julia Bodson

Julia is interested in becoming a public defender and working towards the abolition of the prison industrial complex. She graduated with a degree in Statistics from the University of Chicago in 2016. While in college, she researched racial, ethnic, and class inequities in preventive cancer vaccination. After graduation, she worked as an Empirical Research Fellow at Stanford Law School, assisting Professor Alison Morantz on research about worker health and safety protections. Julia then transitioned to direct client services, joining the inaugural cohort of Partners for Justice Advocates at the Office of Defense Services in Delaware. Julia spent her 1L summer in the Appellate Division of the Rhode Island Public Defender's Office. At NYU, she represents employees in unemployment insurance hearings with the Unemployment Action Center.

Jesse Chung

Jesse Chung 

Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Jesse grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Arlington, Virginia. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 2018, where he majored in Environmental Studies and Economics. At Bowdoin, his growing interest in racial and economic injustice in the criminal system led him to volunteer with The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Maine and to conduct research on prison privatization and the history of indigent defense services in the United States. After college, Jesse spent two years at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where he investigated violence in Alabama prisons and spoke with incarcerated people around the country seeking legal assistance. Witnessing the dehumanization of poor and Black people in Alabama’s criminal system made Jesse passionate about the need to abandon our culture of punishment, abolish police and prisons, and build solidarity and power in our communities.

Jesse spent his 1L summer at the Hennepin County Public Defender in Minneapolis and his 2L summer at the Bronx Defenders in the Criminal Defense Practice. He hopes to use his law degree to represent indigent clients as a public defender. Outside of work, Jesse loves cooking, playing with his cat, and generally goofing off.

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Matthew Escalante

Matt is from Chicago, IL, and graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with a BA in Political Science and International Studies. As a first generation college graduate, Matt was committed to improving educational outcomes for others. Upon graduating college, he began his career as a preschool teacher with Chicago Public Schools. Throughout his six years in the classroom, Matt observed how his young students and their families confronted inequalities in the education, health, and immigration systems. This drove him to seek opportunities to affect change outside the classroom. In the summer of 2019, Matt started a new job as a paralegal within Legal Aid Chicago’s Health Justice Project where he helped clients navigate health harming legal needs and social determinants of health.

Matt hopes to use his legal training to advocate for marginalized communities like those who he worked with as a teacher. During his 1L summer, he interned with Advocates for Children of New York. At NYU, Matt is co-admissions chair of the Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA) and is also a student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic.

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Lily Gutterman

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Lily Gutterman graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a degree in Anthropology, writing her honors thesis on LGBTQ+ immigration activism and asylum. Prior to law school, she worked as a Strategy Manager for the International Rescue Committee, where she furthered her interest in issues of global migration and displacement and shaped the organization's strategic planning process to better serve refugees and asylum-seekers across its worldwide program offices. Previously, she served as the Deputy Director of Policy for Mayor Jorge Elorza in Providence, Rhode Island, where her core focus was designing programs and policies to promote educational equity for Providence youth.

In law school, Lily has focused on direct services and civil rights litigation to challenge punitive legal systems. She has interned with Oasis Legal Services in their LGBTQ+ asylum program, American Friends Service Committee’s Immigration Detention Team, and the Legal Aid Society’s Special Litigation Unit in its Criminal Defense Practice. At NYU, Lily is student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, Constitutional Law teaching assistant, research assistant for Professor Adam Cox, and staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change.

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Allison Hrabar

Coben Scholar

Raised in the Southwest, Allison graduated from Swarthmore College with degrees in Political Science and Film and Media Studies. Since 2017, she has volunteered with Stomp Out Slumlords (SOS), a Washington, DC campaign that supports tenants as they demand better treatment from their landlords. Working with SOS was a window into both the long history of militant tenant movements and the daily injustices at Landlord-Tenant court in DC. In 2019, Allison started as a paralegal/investigator for Neighborhood Legal Services Program’s eviction prevention project. At NLSP, she interviewed tenants facing eviction, documented their living conditions, and enforced their rights in court. She also sought to expand NLSP’s impact by building relationships between organizers, tenant leaders, and legal service providers. Allison plans to use her law degree to support tenant organizers fighting for safe and decent housing for all. 

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Humza Husain

Sinsheimer Service Scholar

Humza (they/them) graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Philosophy, concentrating in Ethics. They are passionate about criminal justice reform, specifically with community-centric solutions, autonomy, and economic justice for marginalized groups. While studying at Northeastern, Humza worked for Saheli Boston, a local organization that serves immigrant survivors of domestic violence within the South Asian community in Massachusetts. At Saheli, they worked on the ground directly under advocates, led grant writing projects, and created a guide to US Immigration law for South Asians. They also have a deep interest in the experiences of incarcerated people, and interned for Harvard’s Prison Legal Assistance Project as well as the Federal Defenders of NY. At Harvard, they spearheaded an initiative to uncover disciplinary policies from county jails through public records requests; most of their time was spent corresponding with incarcerated and accused people to provide free legal aid and research. They to utilize the privilege of a law degree to provide accessible civil legal services for marginalized groups, especially queer people of color.

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Bailey Jackson

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

Bailey grew up in Washington, D.C. In 2016, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Global Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in Social and Economic Justice. After graduating, she moved to New York City to work as a Legal Administrative Assistant at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project which ignited her interest in legal work. Wanting to gain work experience in the criminal legal system before applying to law school, she transitioned to a job at the Legal Aid Society as a Paralegal Casehandler in the Parole Revocation Defense Unit. In this role, she assisted public defenders in the representation of clients arrested for parole violations. Bailey came to law school to work as a public defender, and she is passionate about racial justice and prison and police abolition.

During her 1L year, Bailey co-founded NYU Parole Advocacy along with four classmates. NYU Parole Advocacy pairs law student volunteers with people incarcerated in New York State prisons to assist them in preparation for their Parole Board hearings. It is a project within the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) student group for which Bailey is a board member. Bailey spent her 1L summer in Atlanta, GA at Georgia Resource Center assisting staff attorneys and investigators in the post-conviction representation of clients on Georgia's Death Row. This school year, Bailey is a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic and a Paul Weiss Student Fellow with The Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law.

Bailey is grateful for the opportunities NYU Law has provided to further explore her interest in the criminal legal system and build community with similarly motivated classmates.

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Keiana James

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/or Criminal Justice

Keiana was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY by a blended family of New Yorkers and Jamaican immigrants. She graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science, French, and International Relations from Amherst College in 2016, finishing her studies by writing a French thesis entitled “Living in the Imaginary: An Exploration of Liminality Within Cahier d’un retour au pays natal and L’Énigme du retour.” This allowed her to infuse her own experience as a first-generation American living in various communities into a literary analysis of texts at the intersections of Blackness, home, and belonging. At NYU, she hopes to bring these experiences into her work with the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Additionally, she is a part of BALSA, the Law and Political Economy Association, CoLR, EPIC, the Review of Law and Social Change, and a Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Fellow. Keiana looks forward to using her legal education to continue to build an intersectional understanding of the carceral systems in place in the United States, while working towards their abolition in order to create an anti-oppressive system, and ultimately a new social contract.

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Yeji Jung

Starr Foundation Scholar

Yeji Jung (they/them) was born in Seoul and raised primarily outside Dallas/occupied Caddo land. A diasporic Corean now settling on stolen land in the so-called U.S., they are continuously learning their histories and connecting with their ancestors. Grounded in these lineages, they connect the land struggle on the Corean peninsula to land struggles everywhere, especially where they reside. They join anti-imperialist movements for liberation with a growing understanding of Indigenous sovereignty as environmental justice in the face of the global climate/capitalist crisis.

In their time on occupied Ohlone land/in the Bay Area, Yeji began learning how to organize through campaigns for ethnic studies, housing justice, and more. They graduated from Stanford University in 2018 with a B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. For their 1L summer, they returned to Ohlone land and worked at the Sustainable Economies Law Center to support the land rematriation work of Sogorea Te' Land Trust. In their 2L summer, they worked for the Yurok Tribe's Office of the Tribal Attorney. They strive to show up for community in various roles, including artist, facilitator, organizer, drummer, and snack supplier.

Jessi with Dog

Jessi LaChance

WilmerHale Scholar

Jessi LaChance (she/her) grew up in Nixa, Missouri. She is a first generation college graduate from the University of Chicago, where she received a degree in Law, Letters, and Society in 2014 and a Master’s degree in social work in 2015. From a young age she has been interested in the criminal legal system and abolishing the carceral state, a passion that was inspired by her own family’s experience with incarceration. After graduating with her Master’s degree she spent some time working as a social worker for The Exoneration Project in Chicago, and then moved to New York where she was a research associate for the Vera Institute of Justice. There she focused primarily on research around solitary confinement and prison conditions. Immediately before law school, Jessi went back to her social work roots and worked as a foster care licensing worker, training, licensing, and supporting kinship foster parents in rural Missouri. While her Vera Institute work on solitary confinement was most influential in her decision to pursue a law degree, her work in foster care exposed her to the need for defenders for parents in the family regulation system. While in law school Jessi explored the intersections of the family regulation system, criminal defense, and abolition. She completed her 1L summer internship with New Orleans Public Defenders' juvenile division, which represents youth in delinquency cases and parents in abuse and neglect cases. During her second year, she participated in the Federal Defenders Clinic at NYU, interned with an immigration attorney in Queens, and most recently spent her summer working with the Brooklyn Defender Services Integrated Defense Practice, which represents parents in Article 10 cases who have underlying criminal charges. In the Spring of her 3L year, Jessi will participate in the Pro Bono Scholars Program, interning full time with the Bronx Defenders Family Defense Practice. In addition to her work, Jessi volunteers with the Parole Preparation Project in New York, has two rescue dogs, and enjoys getting out of the city to hike whenever possible.

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Zakiya Lewis

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Zakiya (she/her) grew up in Boston, Massachusetts with her mother as part of a large, working-class West Indian extended family. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 2015 with a B.A. in Sociology and African American Studies. Zakiya worked extensively with Harvard’s student-run non-profit, The Phillips Brooks House Association, as a volunteer, counselor, and later co-director of one of its summer academic programs for low-income children in her hometown of Dorchester. After college, she continued to pursue her interest in education reform as a middle school science, math, and special education teacher with KIPP DC for five years. While teaching, she earned her Master’s degree in Education Policy and Leadership from American University in 2018. As a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar, Zakiya is excited to learn how to utilize the law to impact systemic inequalities and continue to advocate for marginalized and underrepresented communities.

At NYU, Zakiya has served as a Staff Editor on the Review of Law and Social Change Journal and a Teaching Assistant for the Lawyering Program. She spent her 1L summer at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem working in both their Family Defense and Criminal Defense Practices. During her 2L year, she did parole preparation work with the Racial Justice Clinic and spent the summer as an intern with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund working on 4th Amendment education cases. As a 3L, Zakiya will be joining the Juvenile Defender Clinic and is excited to serve as a Student Fellow and Research Assistant for the Center for Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging.

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Yulanda Lui

Yulanda Lui is from Toronto, Ontario and graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2017 as a Loran Scholar with a BA in Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice and a minor in Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies. Prior to law school, Yulanda co-founded Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice, a non-profit organization in Vancouver, BC's Downtown Eastside and Chinatown which provides and advocates for linguistic and cultural access to health and social services, and fosters the leadership of youth and immigrant elders. At NYU Law, Yulanda is a Birnbaum Women's Leadership Fellow, staff editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics, Co-Director of the NYU International Refugee Assistance Project, and 2L Leadership Co-Chair of the Women of Color Collective. During her 1L summer, she was an International Law and Human Rights Fellow at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. Yulanda is a strong believer that relationships are at the core of social change and she hopes to use her JD to develop and advance community-centered approaches to global human rights.

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Justin McCarroll

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/or Criminal Justice

Justin graduated from Emory University in 2017 with a degree in Philosophy and African American Studies. As an undergraduate, Justin was involved in advocating for social change and community growth with other student leaders. He was the President of Emory’s National Pan-Hellenic Council, helped charter Emory’s Black Pre-Law Society, and was chosen to participate in the creation of Emory’s Commission on Racial and Social Justice.

His undergraduate experiences led him to nonprofit work after graduation. Working for InCommunity, Justin had the privilege of developing a volunteer program, advocating for disability rights, and speaking at churches and schools about the organization. He also joined a small group of graduate students, teachers, and community activists which would later become the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition. FCRC worked with the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to bring together community members to raise awareness of the history of racial violence in Atlanta and commemorate more than 30 documented victims of lynching in Fulton County, Georgia. Justin hopes to use his legal training to fight for criminal justice reform and protect the civil liberties of marginalized and disenfranchised Americans.

This past summer, Justin worked for the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, a unique nonprofit law office that provides a holistic legal defense for children in Louisiana. Justin is a member of NYU’s Civil Rights Clinic, a staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change and serves as BALSA’s Political Action Chair.

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Lisa Meehan

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholar

Lisa (she/her) grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains on the coast of central California. She graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University with a triple major in Spanish, Community Health, and International Relations. Prior to matriculating at NYU, Lisa worked for three years as a legal assistant with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where she worked with low-income DC residents to obtain safety-net benefits including Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and SSI.

While at NYU, Lisa has interned with Oasis Legal Services, where she worked with LGBTQ+ immigrants on affirmative asylum applications, and with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, where she worked with adolescents facing felony charges. At NYU, she is involved in the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex Advocacy Project and the Solitary Confinement Project. Lisa is also a Teaching Assistant for the Lawyering program, and a student advocate in NYU's Family Defense Clinic.

Lisa hopes to work directly with communities towards dismantling systems of oppression, and to use her law degree to stand up to state violence in its myriad forms.

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Ari Pomerantz

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Ari Pomerantz grew up in Washington, D.C. Before law school, he spent many years doing prisoner solidarity work with incarcerated trans people. Ari previously worked at HIPS, a sex workers' rights organization, doing harm reduction and community health work with unhoused trans people and sex workers. He also co-designed and facilitated a community organizing and political education fellowship for LGBTQ youth and researched trans employment discrimination for the D.C. government. After relocating to Boston, he worked at Kavod, organizing Jewish young adults around racial and disability justice issues. Ari spent his 1L summer interning at the Sustainable Economies Law Center. He provided legal support work for organizations that liberate land and create homes and healing spaces for unhoused and BIPOC queer and trans people. He is excited to continue to do transactional law to further reparations and land back movements.

Zaynab Said

Zaynab Said

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Zaynab (she/her) is a second-year student at NYU Law. Originally from Somalia, she immigrated to Georgia at a young age and spent majority of her life in metro-Atlanta. In December 2019, Zaynab graduated from Emory University with a BA in History with a concentration in law, economics, and human rights and Arabic. While at Emory, her interest in working in advocacy/organizing spaces with impacted communities, particularly with low-income communities of color, was further solidified through her experience serving as community outreach assistant for the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and her internships with Congressman Hank Johnson’s district office and Congressman John Lewis’ Washington, D.C. office.

At NYU Law, Zaynab is also a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar and serves as Co-Chair for the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), Diversity and Inclusion Chair for the Public Interest Law Students Association (PILSA), and is a student advocate with the Immigrant Rights Clinic. Zaynab spent her 1L summer interning at the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU. Outside of school Zaynab enjoys cooking, running, and rewatching Flavor of Love.

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Rebecca Schectman

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Rebecca (she/her) grew up in Charlottesville, VA and graduated in 2016 from the College of William and Mary. Before entering law school, Rebecca worked as a paralegal and Accredited Representative with the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) at Brooklyn Defender Services, where she helped provide universal immigration representation to detained New Yorkers. Rebecca has also worked as a paralegal in NYC public schools where she provided free immigration legal screenings and know-your-rights information to students and their families. From 2016-2017, Rebecca worked with UNHCR Malaysia and Tenaganita, a migrant rights organization, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. Her work there focused on fighting police extortion and detention of refugees as well as advocacy supporting migrant women workers’ campaigns.

Rebecca spent her 1L summer interning with Community Justice Project where she supported a team of movement lawyers working with grassroots organizers in South Florida. At NYU, Rebecca serves on the board of the National Lawyers Guild and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC). She is a student advocate with NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change.

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Daad Sharfi

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women's and Children's Rights

Daad Sharfi is a 2L from Chicago by way of Sudan. She graduated in 2017 from Yale University with a B.A. in Ethnicity, Race and Migration, and Economics. Upon graduating, Daad joined the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs where she conducted research on income inequality in Southwestern PA, factors leading to out-migration of Black residents from the region, and funding models for affordable housing, and coordinated a food entrepreneur project. Afterwards, she began working as an accredited representative and Community Fellow at Immigrant Justice Corps, where she represented primarily low-income immigrants throughout NY on legal matters ranging from adjustment of status and naturalization to asylum and temporary protected status. This summer, Daad interned at Just Futures Law, a non-profit that partners with immigrant and racial justice organizers to disrupt the criminalization and deportation of immigrants using innovative legal strategies and movement lawyering. At NYU, she serves as the Co-Chair of Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) and Co-coordinator of NYU Parole Advocacy. Daad will also be participating in the Immigrant Rights Clinic this year. She hopes to use her law degree to work at the intersection of criminal and immigration law, alongside immigrant communities.

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Austin Thierry

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/or Criminal Justice

Austin is an educator, dancer, and storyteller from Oxnard, CA. Navigating public high school after being homeschooled by his working mother and later attending UC Berkeley as a first-generation college student influenced his desire to work against inequality and injustice in the education system. At UC Berkeley, Austin’s studies in Political Economy focused on how U.S. domestic and international policies led to the problems he saw in his community and around the world. Austin’s work with various education and social justice organizations inspired him to pursue a career in immigration law. In 2016, Austin began working as a legal assistant at a law firm in San Francisco, CA where he primarily served LGBTQ asylum seekers from Mexico and Central America. Later that year, he began volunteering as an ESL instructor at the local service workers union hall in Oakland, CA. Seeing how education and social services can help immigrants through and beyond their immigration cases motivated Austin to attend law school and learn more about the impact attorneys can have as members of a wider community of people working to protect each other from harm inflicted by the state.

During his 1L summer, Austin interned at the New Orleans Public Defender’s office where he assisted attorneys with hearing preparation, case synthesis, and coordination with clients, witnesses, parole officers, and other third parties. As a 2L, Austin will be joining the Immigrant Rights Clinic and serving as the Diversity and Outreach Coordinator for the Suspension Representation Project. Austin is also a member of the Coalition on Law and Representation, the Black Allied Law Student’s Association, and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC).

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Celine Zhu

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Celine (she/her) was raised in Calgary, Alberta and bouncing around the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. The proud daughter of two Chinese immigrants—a contractor, who taught her grit; and a paralegal, who taught her the law’s power—she is interested in using her legal education to safeguard and further the rights of marginalized groups, particularly surrounding issues affecting immigrant and low-income women. Celine attended Barnard College, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Political Science. She served as Treasurer and Vice-President of her class, as well as President of the Columbia University Pre-Law Society, focusing in both roles on improving accessibility for low-income students. During her spare time, Celine enjoyed serving as a volunteer college counselor to low-income students through Matriculate and coaching a local middle school debate team. While at Barnard, Celine interned for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Clinton Foundation, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Pro Bono team at Proskauer Rose, and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau. Celine spent her 1L summer doing reproductive policy research at the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

Class of 2024

Ira Berkley

Ira Berkley

Coben Scholar

Ira Berkley grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. Ira attended Oberlin College, where they were active in campus arts and activism and interned with various LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and public interest law firms. After graduating from Oberlin College in 2018, Ira moved to Atlanta, Georgia. Ira joined The Southern Center for Human Rights as an Intake Specialist through Quaker Voluntary Service, a year-long fellowship at the intersection of spirituality and activism for young adults. As an Intake Specialist Ira corresponded with incarcerated individuals and their loved ones and advocated on their behalf before the parole board. After completing their fellowship, Ira remained at The Southern Center for Human Rights as a Public Policy Associate, which allowed them the opportunity to work with coalition partners to move forward groundbreaking legislation and research local criminal-legal policy issues.

Ira was deeply inspired by the trusting and constructive relationships between lawyers and the broader community that they witnessed while working with The Southern Center for Human Rights, and they are eager to learn more about the theory and practice of movement lawyering while at NYU Law. After law school, Ira intends to use their legal training to support radical movements at the intersections of prison abolition and environmental justice.

Kelsey Brown

Kelsey Brown

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Kelsey Brown was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She attended Vanderbilt University as a Chancellor Scholar, where she double majored in sociology and political science with a concentration in political theory. Beginning her sophomore year, she interned at the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, leading monthly discussions on feminism and the intersections with various social justice issues. During her time there, she encouraged her peers to include and center the experiences of Black women in their conversations on feminism. Though Kelsey always knew she wanted to attend law school, her internship at the Dekalb Solicitor General’s Office confirmed for her that the current structure of our legal system perpetuates and reproduces inequalities. These experiences led her to intern at the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia in the Reproductive Rights and Justice Department. In response to the now struck down abortion ban and the maternal mortality crisis in GA, she created and led a monthly discussion program called Reproductive Justice Learning Hours where community members could discuss a variety of issues, like immigration and the criminal punishment system, and analyze them through a Reproductive Justice Lens. Kelsey is incredibly passionate about political education and teaching people about the power of Black feminist theory. Since graduating in May of 2021, Kelsey has worked at Fair Fight Action on the Voter Protection team, helping to share voters’ stories in order to advance voting rights on a national scale. She hopes to use her law education to be active in transforming our legal system to advance liberation for all people and to anticipate underserved communities’ needs rather than responding to the scarcity justice.

Blair Childs-Biscoe

Blair Childs-Biscoe

Starr Foundation Scholar

Blair (they/she) is a second-year student at NYU Law. They are pursuing a legal career to provide strategic support to marginalized peoples and their movements. Blair was raised between the DC area and the US Virgin Islands, and is now based on Canarsie land (Brooklyn, NY). They received a BA in International Affairs and Economics from Northeastern University in 2019, where they were involved with Students Against Institutional Discrimination and created an archival research project examining Black trans and queer space and activism in DC. Afterwards, Blair worked at Whitman-Walker Health supporting LGBTQ and HIV+ people with legal name and gender changes and healthcare access before enrolling at NYU. As a law student, Blair’s interests primarily involve environmental justice, land use, and abolition. For their 1L summer they worked at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, doing transactional work supporting land rematriation to indigenous communities and creating opportunities for QTBIPOC land stewardship. This year Blair is involved with BALSA as a Public Interest chair, is a staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change, and is a legal fellow at NYU’s Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law. In the spring they will be a student advocate with the Civil Rights Clinic. In their free time, Blair loves going to their community garden, dancing, roller blading, and being in nature. 

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Yvonne Diabene

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice 

Yvonne grew up in both Ghana and Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and she quickly learned that systemic inequity transcends geography. As an undergraduate student at Brown University, she analyzed policies and social movements regarding economic (in)justice and civil liberties. Through the Engaged Scholars Program, she worked directly with various community members in the socio-political sphere advocating for better policies in education, immigration, and labor laws. She supported lobbying and legislative analysis on immigration and wage theft at Fuerza Laboral, a local labor union in Central Falls, R.I. She also spent a semester working to advance criminal justice, voting rights in the 2018 midterm elections, and fair 2020 Census policies  at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington, D.C. This experience inspired Yvonne’s capstone paper titled “Civil Asset Forfeiture: Unconstitutional Yet Legal Property Seizure by Law Enforcement” and fortified her interest in exploring policy through law. 

Yvonne aspired to use her legal education as a tool for equity and justice, including through pro bono litigation and legislative and social advocacy. She spent her 1L summer at the New York Legal Assistance Group supporting low-income, pro se litigants in the SDNY. 

Olivia Fritz

Olivia Fritz

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women and Children's Rights 

Olivia (she/her) is originally from Chicago, IL. In 2018, she graduated with distinction from Stanford University, where she majored in International Relations and minored in Creative Writing. Prior to law school, Olivia was a paralegal at Relman Colfax PLLC, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, DC. At the firm, she worked on fair housing, disability justice, police accountability, and employment discrimination cases. Olivia spent her 1L summer as a law clerk for the Illinois Prison Project. On campus this year, she is a coordinator for the Parole Advocacy Project, a co-chair of the Midwestern Law Society, a student advocate for the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, a research assistant for Professor Vincent Southerland, and a member of the Black Allied Law Students Association's community service committee.

Alijah Futterman

Alijah Futterman

Sinsheimer Service Scholar 

Alijah grew up on the south side of Chicago. She received a B.A. in Sociology at Stanford University, concentrating in data science, markets, and management and a minor in Spanish. During her time at Stanford, Alijah researched alternatives to carceral punishment and the traditional justice system. Through a Leadership Alliance fellowship at Columbia University, she designed a study about how restorative justice principles translated to practice at youth court in Harlem, and after her sophomore year of college, Alijah interviewed kids involved in the juvenile justice system and restorative justice programs. Following her research experiences, Alijah began to work within the legal system to advocate with communities who are oppressed by the systemic injustices entrenched in our laws. She interned with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division — Immigrant and Employee Rights Section through Stanford in Washington, and before her senior year of college, she was a judicial intern for Hon. Jorge L. Alonso in the Northern District of Illinois. After graduating from Stanford, Alijah worked as a legal assistant  for Medina Orthwein LLP, a civil rights law firm in Oakland, where she worked on race discrimination class action lawsuits and civil rights lawsuits on behalf of transgender people housed in California prisons.

Thao Ho

Thao Ho
Doris C. and Alan J. Freedman Scholar

Thao Ho was born and raised in Dorchester, a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Tufts University with a BA in American Studies and Community Health, then served as a paralegal and community organizer in a joint position with Greater Boston Legal Services’ Asian Outreach Unit, Asian American Resource Workshop, and VietAID. 

Growing up in a predominantly immigrant community, Thao witnessed her neighbors fiercely protect and celebrate her neighborhood despite facing challenges of gentrification, deportation, and over-policing. As a paralegal and community organizer, Thao worked to build the local power of Vietnamese nail salon workers and Southeast Asian community members facing deportation in Massachusetts. Moving forward, Thao hopes to use her legal education to provide accessible direct services to community members and support local grassroots organizing through a movement lawyering framework.

Vanessa Holman

Vanessa Holman

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice 

Vanessa grew up in West Orange, NJ. She graduated cum laude with Distinction from Yale College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a concentration in Neuroscience. While at Yale, she researched aging biases, connected indigent New Haven citizens to social services, and wrote her thesis broadly on the shortfalls of mental health law, titled "A review of the neuropsychological factors of antisocial behavior: Implications for the judicial system." She also served as a Board Member for the Black Solidarity Conference at Yale and Vice President of Mind Matters. After college, Vanessa worked with the Center for Court Innovation in both Brooklyn and Manhattan Criminal Courts, exploring the effects of procedural justice, restorative justice, community courts, treatment courts, and alternatives to incarceration and pre-trial detention. With CCI, she helped equip the disenfranchised with tools to surmount their own hurdles and regain agency in the legal process. At NYU, Vanessa will continue to use the law as a tool of empowerment and shape a career fighting for a legal system that works for the needs of all people. As a lawyer, she hopes to make contributions to several areas of public policy and public interest, from criminal justice reform and racial equality, to healthcare access, to environmental policy, to international human rights.

Jahnavi Jagannath

Jahnavi Jagannath

Dr. Milton and Fradie Kramer Scholar

Jahnavi Jagannath (she/her) is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and a resident of Washington, DC. She has worked as a policy analyst at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center since 2018, and before that was a field organizer on a senate campaign in Texas. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Policy Studies with a minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

She is interested in exploring and creating new forms of safety outside of prisons and police, investing in community care and reducing reliance on the carceral system. Jahnavi is also a visual artist and vocal musician, and enjoys spending time outdoors, coming up with new vegetarian recipes, and learning about the natural world.

Sang-Min Kim

Sang-Min Kim

Born in South Korea, Sang-Min grew up in Los Angeles. He graduated magma cum laude from UC Berkeley in 2020, majoring in political science and with a minor in public health, as a Gates Millennium scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member. During college, he served as a project manager and as a 2020 Human Rights Fellow at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center, where he investigated and verified war crimes and human rights atrocities through open source intelligence. Kim was also a Law Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School’s Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship program, an intern at the San Francisco’s District Attorney Office, and an open source fellow at the United Nations, where he conducted confidential legal projects surrounding Myanmar. He began his career by working on reunifying Korean divided families, which shaped his journey into one of public service. And right before law school, Kim was selected as a Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellow at the Arms Control Association, where he worked on the nonproliferation portfolio which mainly involved projects related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. He hopes to use his education and career to empower neglected and marginalized stories, human rights, and accountability in foreign policy.

Kaya Lawrence

Kaya Lawrence

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Kaya is a 2021 graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she studied Political Science, Global Affairs, and International Peace Studies. A Posse Scholar, Kaya was awarded a full-tuition, merit-and-leadership based scholarship to attend Notre Dame and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. While at Notre Dame, Kaya served as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Student Government where she developed policy and programming focused on promoting the spirit of inclusion and improving the experience of belonging for all students on campus.  Kaya also served as President of Shades of Ebony- an organization founded by Black women at Notre Dame to unify, empower, and inspire women of all shades through engaging dialogue and service in the local community. As a Gilman International Scholar, Kaya studied abroad in Italy where she interned with the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center and worked to prepare refugees and asylum seekers for the workforce and informed them of their rights as workers. Through her internship with the Orleans Public Defenders Office, Kaya gained greater exposure to the nuances of the criminal legal system.

Kaya spent her 1L summer at the Federal Defenders of New York in the Eastern District. This school year, Kaya is a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic. She also serves as the Training Coordinator for NYU’s Parole Advocacy Project which pairs law student volunteers with individuals incarcerated in New York State prisons in order to assist them in preparation for the Parole Board Hearings. Kaya is also the Public Interest Co-Chair for BALSA, a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change Journal, and a lawyering TA. These experiences have all culminated to shape Kaya’s passion for addressing institutional racism and systemic inequality in the criminal legal system. She hopes to use her legal education to develop the skills and expertise needed to implement systemic change within the system. 

Tamara Matheson

Tamara Matheson

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Tamara was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and primarily raised in Florida. She attended Swarthmore College graduating in 2018 with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Black Studies. While at Swarthmore, she interned at a number of nonprofits, becoming and became interested in conversations around reproductive rights and justice. This led her to the Center for Reproductive Rights after graduation, where she learned more about the contributions of both litigation and policy work to the reproductive justice movement. In 2019, Tamara joined the ACLU of Washington State’s Information and Referral program. During her time at the ACLU, Tamara helped lead the IRP program’s transition from “Intake” to a name and community-facing language more reflective of the program’s goals and the community’s needs. Tamara hopes to use her legal education to follow in the footsteps of those she has learned from — using the law as one tool to shape equitable policies and institutions for those who have been denied them time and again.

Helina Meressa

Helina Meressa

WilmerHale Scholar

Helina (she/her) is from Alexandria, Virginia and is a first generation Ethiopian American. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Global Development Studies and Foreign Affairs. She decided she wanted to attend law school after her work at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, an organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence and gender-based violence. As the Program Manager of the Immigration Practice, she interviewed potential clients and provided paralegal assistance to volunteer attorneys throughout the duration of their cases. She was drawn to the legal field after serving as a Family Advocate at a transitional housing program for immigrant and refugee families through AmeriCorps. She has also worked with the Young Center, collaborating with the social worker and lawyer of a newly-arrived unaccompanied minor being held in a detention center. Helina is interested in continuing her immigration work, but hopes to explore the intersection between immigration and criminal law while at NYU.

Liam Riley

Liam Riley

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women and Children's Rights

Liam is a proud Midwesterner from Minneapolis, MN. While studying at Yale University to receive his B.A in African-American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, he served as a public service fellow working with various New Haven organizations that focus on youth service and empowerment. Upon graduation, Liam returned home to serve his Americorps year at Rebound Inc., a rehabilitation and mentorship-based organization that runs group homes and programs for court-involved youth. He served as a behavioral and educational supporter and advocate for Rebound residents, and discovered his passion for the law working with those residents as they weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and murder of George Floyd. Since the completion of his service year, he has worked for the City of Minneapolis elections board and as a mental health associate at a short-term care unit. Liam hopes to use his legal education to promote juvenile justice and take a trauma-informed approach to juvenile criminal practice and advocacy.

Sahil Singhvi

Sahil Singhvi

Sahil Singhvi graduated from Wesleyan University in 2018 with a BA in Economics, Sociology, and an interdisciplinary program called the College of Social Studies. Sahil was a writing tutor at the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, where he worked with incarcerated men pursuing their Associate’s Degrees. Sahil also served as a research assistant for Prof. Lori Gruen, conducting primary source research on transformation and change during incarceration. He wrote his undergraduate thesis in the form of a novella, exploring the conferral of legal and political rights to over-policed subjects of an imagined surveillance state. His thesis received high honors and earned Sahil the Hallowell Prize for outstanding work in the study of social studies.


After graduating from Wesleyan, Sahil spent a year as an intern investigator with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where he assisted staff with fact-finding efforts and trial preparation for felony cases. He spent the subsequent two years at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law as a Research and Program Associate in the Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. Sahil’s work focused on the protection of civil rights and civil liberties in the policing and national security spheres, and in particular on the implications of surveillance on the First Amendment rights of protesters. Sahil hopes to use his law degree to protect the rights of marginalized people everywhere.
 

Briana Thomas

Briana Thomas

Andrew W. Mellon Scholar

Briana Thomas was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. As a native New Yorker whose family is from Trinidad and Tobago, she is very passionate about issues affecting BIPOC communities. She received her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Economics from Georgetown University in 2021. During her undergraduate career, she held leadership roles in cultural affinity organizations, tutoring programs, and worked for the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access. She was also influential in reshaping the Sociology department at Georgetown in addition to other organizing efforts. Academically, she completed a senior thesis that explored healthcare discriminatory practices and their internal effect of health and wellness on Black women. Her previous professional experiences include interning with PR2 Politics, The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Throughout all experiences, she worked on issue areas consisting of voting rights, educational equity, and immigration policy. She is primarily interested in education policy, criminal legal system reform, and juvenile justice. In her free time, she loves to dance, listen to music, try new food, swim, dig deeper into her astrology interests, and hang out with friends and her family.

Ry Walker

Ry Walker

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Women and Children's Rights

Ry Walker was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. In 2020, she graduated cum laude from Yale University with a degree in Astrophysics and African American Studies. While in college, she organized with students fighting for a campus safe from sexual misconduct and for fairer financial aid policies. In her academic work, she wrote about the role of NYC school police officers in the implementation of broken windows policing and the implications of surveillance technology in schools for students of color. In her summers, Ry interned for Girls for Gender Equity and the National Women's Law Center where she studied issues of educational equity for girls of color, including the impact of dress code policies and the history of school police brutality. Prior to matriculating to NYU, Ry worked as the Digital and Program Associate for PowHer New York, helping to organize events and write reports for the coalition of gender justice organizations.

Yimeng Wang

Yimeng Wang

William and Mary Sterling Scholar

Yimeng was born in 西安 and is a settler/immigrant currently located on Treaty 13 land, the Traditional Territories of the Anishinaabe peoples, Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. They graduated from the Arts & Science Program at McMaster University in 2021 with a Combination in Political Science and a Certificate for Applied Ethics and Policy. During their time in university, Yimeng received an Undergraduate Student Research Award allowing them to investigate how community art practices and embodied knowledges facilitate healing among queer and disabled East Asian settlers. At McMaster, they were the Coordinator of the Women and Gender Equity Network (WGEN), a student-run peer support service centring the needs of survivors of sexual violence, folks under the trans umbrella, and all individuals who experience gender-based oppression. Yimeng worked with students, institutional offices, and community organizations to develop programming that created safer spaces for these communities and helped challenge colonial cisheterosexist structures of harm. Yimeng has also been involved in organizing efforts throughout the local community, deepening their understanding of land-based knowledge to support food sovereignty/security in Indigenous and settler communities. Their involvement in community-led activism has helped them develop a strong belief in the necessity of solidarity, transformative justice, and collective care in creating more inclusive futures for everyone.

Ashley Williams

Ashley Williams

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholar for Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/or Criminal Justice

Ashley (she/her) is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a citizen of Cherokee Nation. Ashley attended the University of Texas at Austin where she triple-majored in Business Honors, Finance, and African and African Diaspora Studies. Following earning a Master of Social Science from the University of California Los Angeles, Ashley joined the Center for Public Policy Priorities where she advocated for equitable state higher education policy—stewarding the passage of two state laws to improve college access and student debt in the state. Ashley also worked as an organizer and elected negotiator for the unionization and inaugural Collective Bargaining Agreement in her workplace. Ashley plans utilize her legal education to continue her passion for working at the intersection of race and economic equity to drive systemic change.

Class of 2025

 

OBA

Obi Ananaba

Raised in Tennessee, Obi (she/her) graduated from Columbia University in 2019 with a degree in Psychology, double concentrating in Education and Race and Ethnicity Studies.  At Columbia, Obi was a resident of the Intercultural Resource Center and a board member of Columbia’s Women in Law and Politics. She also worked as a counselor at The Door, a resource center for young people in NYC. After graduating, Obi joined the Legal Aid Society’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit in their Juvenile Defense Practice as a paralegal. As a member of the Special Litigation Unit, Obi assisted advocates in bringing class action litigation on behalf of juvenile clients. Obi hopes to use her law degree to continue to empower and advocate for young people of color.

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Savannah Baker

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice 

Savannah graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill as an honors laureate with a major in Political Science and Philosophy along with a minor in Social and Economic Justice. Raised in rural eastern North Carolina, Savannah's passion for social justice grew out of her experience advocating for educational equity within her community. While at University Savannah held leadership positions in a number of organizations raising awareness about the injustices facing Black and Brown people within the criminal legal system. Outside of University, Savannah assisted in the policy efforts of ReprieveUK, working toward the abolition of the death penalty internationally while also holding the government accountable for their complicity in torture and rendition. Savannah has also served as a summer fellow at EmancipateNC, an organization that supports North Carolina’s people as they free themselves from mass incarceration and structural racism. Savannah currently serves as board chair of EmancipateNC. Savannah is a former Investigative Fellow at the Civil Rights Corps, where the core of her work focused on challenging money bail, fighting debtors’ prisons, and ensuring prosecutorial/police accountability. Savannah's primary interests are in challenging the criminal legal system and turning her passion for justice into power for her community.

JB

Jalen Banks

Jalen Banks is a recent UC Berkeley graduate and Virginia native. She decided to become an attorney after tutoring incarcerated folks at San Quentin State Prison and witnessing the racial and economic inequities in the U.S. carceral system. After graduating from law school, Jalen plans to provide direct legal services for incarcerated folks and people in underserved communities. She also hopes to help foster the next generation of Critical Race theorists and prison abolitionist lawyers.

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Jahne Brown

Jahne grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2020, she graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in History and a minor in human rights. At the University of Chicago, Jahne served as the first woman to be Student Body President in two decades. Outside of school, she held internships at the University Community Service Center, the National Guestworker Alliance, and Orleans Public Defenders. Prior to matriculation at NYU Law, she was a civil rights paralegal for two years at Neufeld, Scheck, & Brustin LLP. In this position, she worked closely with exonerees. In her free time, Jahne is an avid reader and a (middling) runner.

NCM

Naomi Chasek-Macfoy

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship for Women and Children's Rights 

Naomi Chasek-Macfoy was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Naomi graduated with honors from Brown University in 2018. At Brown, they studied Africana Studies and were involved in prison justice organizing, anti-racist student organizing, and interned with several legal services organizations, including a summer at The Bronx Defenders. After graduating from Brown, Naomi moved to Washington, D.C. to join the firm Cohen, Milsten, Sellers & Toll as a paralegal in their Human Rights practice group. At Cohen Milsten, Naomi worked on human rights cases against U.S.-based multinational corporations and international state actors concerning forced labor, state violence, and abuses related to the extractive industry.

Naomi is deeply committed to building a more just future for all marginalized peoples through collective organizing and struggle. After law school, Naomi intends to use their legal training to continue to support social movements working at the intersections of racial, economic, and gender justice.

DC

Don Chen

Don grew up in Michigan and Illinois and studied International Relations at Pomona College, where he wrote his senior thesis on the politicization of Chinese international students in the United States. In college, he interned at the Housing Rights Center in Los Angeles and China Labour Bulletin in Hong Kong.

After graduating from Pomona, Don taught English in Taitung, Taiwan through a Fulbright fellowship and worked at the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC. He conducted research and advocacy with nationwide grassroots supporters and coalition partners to lobby Congress to support efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, prevent war with Iran, and improve civilian casualty reporting. Afterwards, Don worked as a congressional staffer in various capacities, most recently handling military issues.

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Maryum Elnasseh

Maryum is a native of Richmond, Virginia and the daughter of Egyptian immigrants. A firm believer in the power of writing to bring about change, Maryum obtained dual degrees in journalism and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2020. After graduating, she joined the editorial team at In These Times, an independent magazine that provides investigative reporting on corporate and government wrongdoing and is dedicated to advancing movements for social, economic, and racial justice. As a journalist, Maryum has reported about a wide range of issues, including Islam in American jails and prisons, the lack of funding for historic Black cemeteries, environmental justice and pipeline resistance efforts, and the proliferation of illegal Israeli settlements. In her free time, Maryum enjoys reading Arabic poetry, bike riding and skateboarding (despite the painful falls), and drinking strawberry milk. She dreams of a more humane world and hopes her legal education will provide her the tools to effectively bring about large-scale, lasting change.

JF

Jennifer Fu

Jennifer Fu (she/her) was born in Guangzhou, China, and grew up moving around the US South and Midwest. She graduated from Rice University in 2020 with degrees in English and Sociology. Prior to law school, Jennifer spent a year in Taiwan working with an Indonesian migrant labor union as a Fulbright Scholar. Her research centered on how workers used information and communications technology to navigate bureaucracy and build resistance when their physical mobility was heavily monitored and restricted. Jennifer has also spent time working with the Texas Innocence Network, the Public Defender Service for DC, and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation in Houston. She hopes to learn more about how lawyers can work in tandem with other activists and service providers in establishing safer and more equitable communities. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, oil painting, perusing furniture stores, and warm weather.

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Lexi Ivers

Jacobson Public Service Scholar for Women, Children, and Families

Lexi Ivers (she/her) is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up between there and Wilmington, Delaware. She has spent the past four years working on behalf of children and families from low-income backgrounds. Most recently, she served as a Program Associate for the Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative at Ascend at the Aspen Institute, an organization committed to the economic and social mobility of families through the two-generation approach to poverty. There, she focused on the opportunities and challenges faced by parenting students on their journey toward postsecondary completion. Prior to the Aspen Institute, she served at the New York City Department of Homeless Services, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive homeless system. In her role, she collaborated across city agencies to advance holistic service delivery models for children and families living in New York City shelters.

Lexi graduated from American University in 2018, where she studied legal history and public policy. Collecting art, traveling, spending time with loved ones, and dance bring her joy in her free time.

FK

Fatou Kaba

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship for Women and Children's Rights 

A child of Gambian immigrants, Fatoumata (Fatou) Kaba grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. In May 2022, she graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Justice and Peace Studies. While in college, Fatou sat on the boards of student organizations like Georgetown Women of Color and the Minority Pre-Law association where she worked with other passionate students to create spaces of opportunity and comfort for students of color. Fatou spent her summers working with a variety of non-profit organizations including The Salvation Army, The Women and Family Ascending Association, and The Cooperman College Scholars Program where she provided indirect and direct support to children and families in her community. Fatou has also interned with the New York Office of the Attorney General and worked with the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. Fatou has always been passionate about uplifting the voices of marginalized people and dismantling systems of injustice. She looks forward to using her legal education to further service those in need.

SK

Sam Karnes

Sinsheimer Service Scholar 

Sam (he/him) grew up in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017 as a Plan II Honors student with a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic. Upon graduating, he spent a year abroad in Meknes, Morocco where he continued his university Arabic studies through the Arabic Flagship Program. When he returned to Austin, Sam served as an employment case manager at Refugee Services of Texas, a local Austin refugee resettlement agency. As a case manager, he supported refugees and other displaced persons in securing employment and pursuing their long-term professional goals. Afterwards, Sam became a Community Fellow at Immigrant Justice Corps where he represented primarily low-income immigrants living in New York as an Accredited Representative. He conducted legal screenings, provided legal advice, and filed affirmative immigration applications for benefits like citizenship, adjustment of status, Temporary Protected Status, DACA, and more. Sam hopes to use his law degree to provide community-based legal assistance to immigrant groups and to help dismantle the US immigration deportation machine.

BK3

Bailey Kendall

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship for Women and Children's Rights 

Bailey grew up on her family’s farm in Washington, IN. She received a B.A. in American studies and economics at the University of Notre Dame in 2019. While at Notre Dame, she wrote a senior thesis on border militarization and Catholic pilgrimage practices in El Paso, TX. After graduating, she briefly returned to El Paso to live and work at Annunciation House, a migrant shelter, before serving an AmeriCorps year with the Northwest Justice Project’s farmworker unit in Yakima, WA. There, she gave presentations on immigration and labor rights and performed legal rights outreach at H-2A worker camps. She moved to Chicago, IL, to work on the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Children’s Projection Project. At NIJC, she helped attorneys build immigration cases for young clients, and did Know Your Rights presentations and legal screenings with youth detained in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Bailey hopes to use her legal training to work towards legal systems that recognize the dignity of laborers and their right to just treatment.

CP

Coleman Powell

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice 

Coleman is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. In 2020, he graduated from Swarthmore College with Highest Honors and a special major in Comparative Racial & Transnational Politics as well as a minor in Arabic studies. During college, Coleman supported the participatory defense movement and researched the intersections of the Black radical tradition and current movements for abolition. Additionally, he has done policy work exploring the implications of the progressive prosecutor movement, most importantly conceptualizing how to move power outside of the prosecutorial office and promote decarceration. These experiences taught Coleman the power of centering Black political agency in the work that he was doing.

After graduation, Coleman worked for two years as an investigator at Civil Rights Corps (CRC) supporting litigation challenging the criminalization of poverty and advocating for decarceration. He supported pre-trial detention litigation, COVID-19 jail litigation, private probation litigation, prosecutorial diversion program litigation, and the Police Accountability Collaborative project. He has spent significant time developing workshops that frame collective understanding of safety as a defining component of abolitionist theory and practice, most recently co-teaching a course entitled “Designing for Communal Safety” at Stanford’s Design School. He is inspired to use his legal training to continue this work. Coleman is interested in supporting those ensnared in the prison industrial complex, and exploring the ways impact litigation and direct representation can be means of advancing grassroots movements for abolition.

SS

Swetha Saseedhar

Swetha Saseedhar was born in Tamil Nadu and raised in the midwest. She graduated from the University  of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Biology and French and a minor in Global Health. Her experience growing up in the global south and midwest exposed her to the ways in which corporations have engaged in environmental racism and exploited communities for profit. This led to her interest in environmental and climate justice. During her time at Corporate Accountability, she organized to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for fueling the climate crisis and advocated for people-centered solutions to the climate crisis. Outside of work, as a youth organizer at SustainUS, she worked with youth climate organizers globally to expose the ways that the Global North and transnational corporations have caused and exacerbated the climate crisis and worked with movements in the global south to uplift frontline solutions. She also spent a year as an Urban Fellow working on city policies at the NYC Mayor’s Office and as a policy researcher at NAACP working on energy justice. At NYU Law, she hopes to continue to support movements for liberation and communities fighting for environmental and climate justice.

NS

Nephy Smith

Lindemann Family Public Service Scholar 

Nephy Smith (she/her) was born and raised in Jackson, New Jersey. She first came to New York as a John W. Kluge scholar at Columbia University. She graduated with a degree in American Studies and Creative Writing and studied the relationship between mixed media and social movements. During her undergraduate years, she held a number of leadership positions in affinity and service-oriented student groups. Nephy is returning to New York after two years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She served as a Client Advocate at the East Baton Rouge Office of the Public Defender after being paired with the office through her fellowship, Partners for Justice. In her role as a Client Advocate, Nephy strove to reduce the impact and scope of the criminal legal system, eliminate barriers to resources, and decriminalize poverty. In addition to this work, Nephy was an active member of the organization's abolitionist reading group, supplementing her work experience of addressing the social and societal factors that contribute to harm with study and discussion.

Nephy is interested in public defense and also hopes that her legal education can show her the various paths available to reduce the impact of the criminal legal system. She is particularly interested in increasing access to affordable housing, employment, and political participation for system-impacted individuals.

Nour

Nour Soubani 

Sullivan & Cromwell Scholar

Nour Soubani is an organizer and writer from Michigan. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Arabic, International Studies, and American Studies at the University of Michigan, and her Master’s degree in Middle East Studies at the Harvard Center for Middle East Studies. Nour has worked as a grassroots community organizer in Dearborn, Michigan focused on ending racial profiling and surveillance of Arabs and Muslims, and as an analyst in Washington D.C supporting litigation related to the Middle East and Muslim communities globally. She has researched and written on Islamophobia, Muslim identity, and contemporary politics. Nour is interested in international, human rights, and civil rights legal work as a tool for movement-building.

ST

Soreti Teshome

Filomen M. D'Agostino Scholarship in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties and/or Criminal Justice 

Soreti (she/her) was born in Ethiopia and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. She attended the University of Chicago and studied Public Policy and Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies. She was involved in student organizing around campus policing and student efforts to improve institutional support for low-income students of color. During her time at UChicago, Soreti received a Truman Scholarship and a thesis award for her paper on diversity policy and the experience of black students at UChicago. After graduating, Soreti worked as a paralegal at the Innocence Project where she assisted with active litigation and acted as a point of contact and support for clients. Following her time at Innocence Project, Soreti was a resource coordinator at Manhattan Justice Opportunities, an alternative to incarceration program of the Center for Court Innovation. At NYU, Soreti plans to explore public defense and how lawyers can support grassroots movements for radical systems change and abolition.

BY

Byul Yoon

Byul Yoon has been a community organizer and facilitator for over thirteen years. She has trained thousands of organizers and worked on issues ranging from corporate accountability to reproductive justice. Byul graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University in 2013, where she studied International Relations and Korean. While in school, she led winning campaigns for campus food service worker and garment worker rights and co-founded the state-wide Ohio Student Association to tackle issues of economic and racial justice. After graduating, she led a national campaign to block the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership. She then served as national Domestic Campaigns Coordinator at United Students Against Sweatshops where she launched a new national training program and supported direct action campaigns for campus worker rights. In 2017 she helped lead a delegation of Korean American organizers to south Korea to build solidarity with Korean social movements opposing U.S. militarism and war. Byul saw the need to build a more powerful anti-imperialist movement here within the U.S., so she began building a new organization to reignite the youth anti-war movement and connect domestic and international struggles against state violence. In 2020 she co-founded Dissenters, a new anti-militarism organization led by young people of color, which now has over 20 chapters across the country. Byul is looking forward to leveraging the power of the law to support internationalist movements working to abolish the U.S. military industrial complex at home and abroad.

EZ

Emily Zhu

Emily Zhu was born and raised in Kansas. Emily graduated from Harvard College, Class of 2020 with a joint degree in Sociology & Statistics and a minor in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. During college, Emily interned with the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy and the LA County Department of Public Health, and they wrote their senior thesis on the carceral system as a site of health and environmental injustice. Additionally, Emily was involved in campus advocacy for Ethnic Studies, directed a free bilingual citizenship tutoring program, and volunteered with the Chinese Progressive Association and Chinatown Community Land Trust. After graduation, Emily has continued to deepen their involvement in Boston Chinatown as a facilitator for the Chinatown Stabilization Committee. In this role, they supported tenants organizing against rapid gentrification and displacement, developed political education materials, and – most recently – helped launch a campaign around zoning in the neighborhood. Emily hopes to use their legal education to work towards health, housing, and economic justice in immigrant communities and support grassroots organizing that builds worker and tenant power.