Public Interest Law Center

Staff Bios

Lisa Hoyes ’99, Assistant Dean for Public Service
BA SUNY Purchase
JD NYU School of Law

Lisa Hoyes joined the Law School from the Federal Defenders of New York, where she served as an Assistant Federal Defender from 2009 to 2015. At Federal Defenders, Lisa handled a wide variety of cases, including terrorism, narcotics, weapons, immigration, and securities fraud. As the Federal Defender liaison to two innovative court diversion programs, one for young offenders and one for defendants struggling with substance abuse, Lisa worked alongside the judges of the Eastern District of New York to implement and expand the programs.

Prior to joining the Federal Defenders, Lisa spent nearly a decade at the Bronx Defenders, advocating for thousands of indigent clients. She took a leave of absence from the Bronx Defenders in 2004 to serve as an NYU Law Fellow at the Equal Justice Initiative, working with Professor of Clinical Law Bryan Stevenson to represent death row inmates and other offenders facing life sentences under three-strikes laws. Lisa later returned to the Bronx Defenders as a Supervising Attorney and a member of the Advanced Felony Trial Unit.

After graduating from NYU Law, Lisa won a Soros Justice Postgraduate Fellowship to undertake a project she designed to provide civil legal services to juveniles involved in delinquency proceedings and the criminal justice system. For two years, she provided immigration, housing, family law, and benefits representation to young people under the auspices of Legal Aid’s Juvenile Rights Division and The Door’s Legal Services Center.

While at the Law School, Lisa was a Sinsheimer Scholar, an active member of BALSA, an associate editor of NYU Law Review, and a participant in the Juvenile Rights clinic. Lisa received a BA in Language and Culture and Political Science from SUNY Purchase. Contact Lisa Hoyes


Miriam Eckenfels-Garcia LLM ’13, Associate Director
BA, MA University of Basel, School of Law 
LLM NYU School of Law

Miriam is an international lawyer and an attorney admitted in New York State.  Prior to joining PILC in September 2015, Miriam was a senior legal counsel to the Palau National Congress, the legislature of the Republic of Palau from 2013-2015. In this capacity, she drafted bills for new and amended civil and criminal legislation and advised the members of Congress on human rights issues and Palau’s obligations under international law.  

Miriam obtained her LLM in International Legal Studies from NYU School of Law with a focus on transitional justice and international human rights.  During the LLM she worked as a remote consultant to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin and as an advocacy intern for Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict in New York.  

From 2010-2012, Miriam worked as the executive assistant to the Chairman of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and as an academic assistant at the University of Basel, School of Law, where she conducted research on corporate accountability for international human rights violations. Contact Miriam Eckenfels-Garcia


Sarah Hudson-Plush, Associate Director
BA University of Michigan
JD Cardozo School of Law

Sarah Hudson-Plush 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. Contact Sarah Hudson-Plush


Emily Kernan, Associate Director
AB Summa Cum Laude, Duke University
JD Harvard Law School

Emily Kernan joined the Public Interest Law Center in August 2015 from Advocates for Children of New York (AFC). As a staff attorney at AFC, Emily worked to improve educational outcomes for children involved in the child welfare system through individual representation and capacity-building efforts with foster care agencies. During this time, she also served as a part-time Public Interest Career Advisor at Columbia Law School’s Social Justice Initiatives, where she counseled law students and graduates about fellowships and public interest opportunities in child advocacy and other fields.

Before joining AFC in 2012, Emily worked at Lawyers For Children as Director of the Mental Health Advocacy Project, a project she started with a Skadden Fellowship in 2007. She represented children in foster care with mental health issues in New York City Family Court proceedings. She also engaged in policy work to tackle systemic problems, such as the over-prescription of psychotropic medications to children in care.

Emily received her JD from Harvard Law School, where she actively participated in the Child Advocacy Program and served as Co-President of the student group Child and Youth Advocates. Her clinical work involved court reform efforts to expedite permanency for children in foster care in Washington State and education advocacy on behalf of children exposed to family violence in Boston. Emily spent her summers at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland, California and at The Door’s Legal Services Center in New York City. Emily received an AB in Psychology from Duke University in 2003. Contact Emily Kernan


Naomi Sunshine, Associate Director
BA Yale University
JD Cum Laude, NYU School of Law

Before joining the Public Interest Law Center in 2018, Naomi Sunshine was Associate Director of NYU’s Lawyering program, where she taught Lawyering for three years. Prior to that, Naomi was an associate at public interest law firms in New York and San Francisco. There, she represented workers and consumers in federal and state wage and hour, employment discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, consumer, and disability access class actions. She previously clerked for Judge Constance Baker Motley and Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Naomi earned her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D., cum laude, from NYU School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow. During law school she participated in NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic, and interned at the ACLU, the NYCLU, the Urban Justice Center, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Immigration Equality. She served as an Articles Selection Editor for the NYU Review of Law and Social Change. Contact Naomi Sunshine.


Gail Zweig, Associate Director
BA Magna Cum Laude, University of Pennsylvania
JD NYU School of Law

Gail Zweig joined the Public Interest Law Center in September 2015 after having served in various capacities in the public and private sectors, and taught at several law schools, including on the NYU Law Lawyering faculty. Before joining PILC, Gail was Counsel to a small litigation boutique, concentrating her practice on representing a wide variety of clients in federal and state courts, and before regulatory bodies, mediators and arbitrators. Previously, Gail spent approximately six years as an Assistant US Attorney in the District of New Jersey in both the Criminal and Appeals Divisions.

Prior to being a federal prosecutor, Gail was Litigation Counsel and Special Advisor to the General Counsel of the New York City Council, and Counsel to its State and Federal Legislation Committee. She worked on various litigation matters concerning separation-of-powers issues under the New York City Charter, the City’s constitution. Gail also collaborated with legislators, mayoral agencies, and members of the public on developing a broad array of legislation.

After graduating from NYU Law, Gail served as an associate at two large law firms and was the first law clerk to the Honorable Sterling Johnson Jr. in the Eastern District of New York. Gail is a cum laude graduate of NYU Law, and was a member of the Order of the Coif and an articles editor and a symposium editor of the Annual Survey of American Law. She received her BA in history with honors and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. Contact Gail Zweig


Bryan Brown, Programs Manager
BA UC Santa Cruz

Bryan Brown joined PILC in September 2016 to manage the Root-Tilden-Kern Scholarship.  He is also the Programs Manager for the Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights.  Bryan previously worked at the Center for Pastoral Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary, assisting students as well as managing programs and events.  Prior to that, he served two years in the AmeriCorps program City Year, tutoring and organizing school beautification projects in underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Contact Bryan Brown


Kathleen Nguyen, Programs Manager
BA CUNY Hunter College

MA NYU Steinhardt, Expected

Kathleen Neilson originally came to NYU Law as the Public Interest Legal Career Fair Coordinator in 2015 and 2016.  She joined the PILC Team as a Programs Manager in March of 2016. Prior to joining the law school, Kathleen was the Director of Operations for SCOPE Art Show, where she organized and managed large-scale art events both internationally and domestically.  In her new position at PILC, she looks forward to engaging with students and alumni by organizing meaningful public interest programming and events. Contact Kathleen Nguyen


Shirley Wu, Administrative Aide
BA Wesleyan University
MA NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, expected

Shirley Wu joined the Public Interest Law Center in November 2015 after working for several years in MBA Admissions down the street at NYU Stern. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a Bachelor in Government and is currently working towards a Masters in Politics with a concentration in International Politics and Business at the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, focusing in particular on genocide, ethnic conflict, and foreign aid. Passionate about human rights, civil liberties, and social justice, she is excited to do her part to aid students on their path of public service. Contact Shirley Wu