List of Past & Current Post Graduate Fellows
Meghan Best will work with the Children's Defense Fund. As part of her project, Meghan will be working with community organizations within the Mar Vista Gardens, a housing project in West Los Angeles, to document, analyze, and eventually brainstrom strategies to combat the overpolicing of juveniles. Additionally, and along with other organizations throughout Los Angeles, Meghan will study the collateral consequences of involvement in the juvenile delinquency system, particularly those related to housing rights for juveniles and their families living in HACLA communities. Along with gathering information and strategic planning with stake holders, Mehghan will also represent CDF clients in juvenile delinquency court.
Megan Bradley will work with Loyola's Project for the Innocent to represent individuals who were wrongfully convicted. Her project will focus on investigating claims and drafting habeas petitions for LPI's most difficult "cold" cases. During her fellowship, Megan will collect data on innocence claims, identify patterns that give rise to wrongful convictions, and advocate for criminal justice reform based on her research. Finally, Megan will work with LPI to execute advocacy plans and campaign for changes to unjust sentencing guidelines for youth offenders.
Marisa Sacks will work with the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing (JIFS) Clinic as a Training and Resentencing Fellow to provide services to clients at specialized hearings called Franklin hearings, as well as taining and materials for the attorneys who conduct those hearings. Franklin is a brand new remedy that allows youth offenders serving life sentences, and who are eligible for Youth Offender Parole Hearings, to present mitigating evidence pertaining to the "hallmark qualities of youth", in court proceedings. In addition to providing direct services to clients and representing clients at their Franklin hearings, Marisa will facilitate trainings for attorneys, clients, clinical students, and experts in Franklin hearings, with an eye toward creating a "best practices" manual to be used by practitioners throughout the state of California. Ultimately, Marisa will work with the JIFS Clinic toward its goals of remedying juvenile oversentencing and creating new law, policy, and practices in the area of juvenile sentencing in California.
Emmy Aceves will work with Legal Services of Northern California. Her project seeks to break the school-to-prison pipeline by reducing racial disparities in school discipline, particularly those related to "willful defiance" in Sacramento. The project uses a sustainable advocacy model where she will represent students in expulsion hearings, work to remove "defiance discipline" from schools, implement implicit bias training for teachers and administrators, and educate the community about its discipline rights.
Hannah Comstock will work with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) to minimize the effects of exclusionary school discipline and campus law enforcement practices that needlessly criminalize vulnerable student groups in the Inland Empire. Through her project, Hannah will represent students in school disciplinary proceedings, collaborate with local students' rights coalitions and community partners to pursue broader advocacy efforts, and challenge systemic discrimination through impact litigation.
Hannah Van De Car will work with the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights to implement Montgomery v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court's decision to make Miller v. Alabama retroactive. Collectively, these decisions offer the possibility of resentencing or parole for individuals who were convicted and sentenced as juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The project will focus on building coalitions with community members to end juvenile life without parole, and assisting defense advocates in parole hearings and resentencing litigation in Louisiana.
Alejandro Barajas will work with the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic to provide free direct legal services for the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Extended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants within the indigent immigrant community in East Los Angeles. Through Alejandro's project, he will also engage in education efforts to inform the noncitizen community of the status, eligibility requirements and benefits allotted through the programs. He will also train and mobilize law students and attorneys in the greater LA area to provide greater pro bono assistance in order to advance immigrant rights and related reform.
Cameron Bell will team with Demos working with the Voter Protection Project. The project is a three-pronged nonpartisan advocacy campaign that uses litigation, public education, and strategic communication, and policy advocacy to prevent practices that purge eligible voters from voter registration lists, effectively disenfranchising them.
Jessica Mark will add a new component to Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles' (LAFLA) government benefits advocacy. Through her project, individuals encountering major barriers to public assistance due to their lack of knowledge of the rules or government agency error, misapplication of the law or intransigence will get the legal assistance from an attorney that they need to access subsistence benefits. The project will focus on Skid Row and South Los Angeles targeting populations most in need which will include individuals with criminal histories who are trying to improve their lives, the mentally ill, seniors, and persons with disabilities.
Dean Conklin will work with Learning Rights Law Center on providing advocacy to students with mental health needs who are in the foster care system. Dean's project focuses specifically on issues created due to the elimination of AB 3632 funding, as well as issues that exist for children who have trouble accessing county-delivered services because of out-of-county foster care placements. Dean will provide direct services to children who are facing these daunting issues, and will also work with Learning Rights to develop educational materials and provide in-person training to help involved schools, administrative agencies, and affected families streamline communication and understand their legal rights and responsibilities.
Laura Diven will be joining the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP) in serving the legal needs of over 60,000 people living with HIV in Los Angeles County. LA HLPP is a collaborative program of the UCLA School of Law, the AIDS Legal Services Project of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Disability Rights Legal Center, and Inner City Law Center. LA HLPP offers a comprehensive legal intake system, education, outreach, and direct legal services for those living with HIV. Laura will be focused on expanding LA HLPP’s services to currently underserved populations, primarily women and those living in the perimeter cities of Los Angeles County.
Natalie Klasky will work with Public Counsel's Consumer Law Project to ensure Veterans and low-income individuals in Los Angeles County are protected against the predatory practices of for-profit schools. Her fellowship seeks to address other consumer law violations against Veterans, such as those involving payday lending and harassment by collection agencies. To achieve the goals of this fellowship, Natalie will conduct legal research and intake to determine the viability of an impact litigation case against for-profit schools taking advantage of Veterans living in the Los Angeles area. In addition, Natalie will provide direct consumer law services for Veterans through legal clinics and at those clinics, she will survey other consumer law needs. Natalie will work with the Consumer Law Project to develop "Know Your Rights" workshops. Furthermore, she will work on a national level with the American Bar Association (ABA) to address Veterans' consumer law issues. Lastly, Natalie will conduct legal research and intake with the Consumer Law Project for all low-income individuals to bolster her knowledge of this area of the law and further pursue her passion to work for social justice.
Mieko Failey will focus on healing the damage caused by discrimination and advocating for full access and equality for all people regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Ms. Failey's project, The Violence within and Violence Against LGBTQ Youth Legal Advocacy (VIVA Project), will provide direct representation to and advocacy on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning youth victims of bullying, dating violence, sexual assault, and hate crimes.
Claudia Menjivar will support the Western Center on Law and Poverty's belief that low-income Californians deserve the finest possible legal representation before every institution that shapes their lives - courts, the legislature, government agencies, and private organizations. Ms. Menjivar will provide assistance to the poor focusing on public benefits, healthcare, affordable housing and access to justice issues through impact litigation; legislative and policy advocacy; negotiations and collaborations with state and local government; and support for local legal aid programs. Ms. Menjivar's project and newly created position seeks to improve access to the state's three largest basic needs programs, CalWORKS, CalFRESH and Medi-Cal, for the 2.5 million low-income persons with limited English proficiency through litigation, policy advocacy, and training of legal services staff.
Kelsey Williams will work with the Association of Pro Bono Counsel (APBCo), a membership organization of attorneys, who on a full-time basis manage the pro bono programs at major law firms across the country to elevate firm participation in pro bono activities and support ongoing pro bono work. In partnership with OneJustice, the nationwide APBCo IMPACT (Involving More Pro bono Attorneys in our Communities Together) program will sponsor Ms. Williams' project to provide free wrap-around legal representation to low-income survivors of domestic violence and abuse and assist them by addressing their long-term legal needs such as housing, eligibility for public benefits and immigration status.
Joanna Florentyna Furmanska will work with attorneys at Inland Counties Legal Services to create the first nonprofit immigration unit in the Inland Empire. The project will focus in particular on serving victims of violence and human trafficking. Joanna will collaborate with local victims' rights and anti-trafficking coalitions to reach out to victims, educate the public and coordinate services. She will also work with these groups to strengthen relationships with local law enforcement agencies. Finally, she will create a network of experts and pro bono attorneys who will commit to serving victims in the future. Immigrant victims in the region will thus have a more holistic support system.
Brendan Hamme will work at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California to secure the rights of all students to an education, freedom of speech, due process, privacy and to learn in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. Brendan will pursue these goals through an aggressive campaign of impact litigation, policy advocacy and community engagement. Specifically, he will: 1) expand the Juvenile Rights Project model, which brings Loyola Law School students to local high schools to teach the students their civil rights vis-a-vis the police and expand this policy to other law schools in Southern California; 2) develop a similar program teaching such students their First Amendment rights on their campuses; 3) continue the work begun combating invasive cell phone searches and seizures; and 4) work with the Seth Walsh Student Rights Project to address the current epidemic of bullying confronting LGBT youth.
Emily Robinson and H. Marissa Montes will work with Homeboy Industries, Inc. alongside Eleanor Miller, Director of Legal Services, to 1) provide immigration relief to constituents of Homeboy Industries, Dolores Mission, and the East L.A. community through direct legal services, and 2) educate law students, community members, and current legal practitioners on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Emily and Marissa will provide legal representation to immigrants with minor criminal convictions who are eligible for humanitarian immigration. They will engage Loyola Law School students to host community outreach events, and to assist with identifying clients who are eligible for their services. Additionally, Emily and Marissa will develop materials and hold monthly workshops to train immigration and criminal defense attorneys and community leaders to equip them with the legal tools needed to protect immigrants from wrongful deportation based on minor criminal convictions.
Veronica Aragón will work with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) to narrow the gap between the normative international human rights standards and the current status of women’s rights in the Americas by focusing on women’s access to justice. Spending the first year in Washington, D.C. and the second in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Veronica will implement a four part strategy: 1) research and publication to create a knowledge management system accessible to human rights defenders throughout America and from which to build a litigation strategy; 2) initiate litigation before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights to deepen the jurisprudence on women’s rights in the Americas and monitor country compliance with past jurisprudence to ensure domestic implementation of international norms; 3) conduct regional and country-specific education and outreach activities to assist local human rights defenders in bringing cases at the domestic and regional levels; and 4) advocate before nation states through regional mechanisms such as the General Assembly of the Organization of American States and through domestic human rights organizations.
David Szeles will work at the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) to expand their affirmative gender based asylum program as well as provide legal services, screenings and placement for detained immigrant victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes and asylum seekers at a newly opened detention center in Orange County. David's project will begin to address a critical gap in legal services in Orange County where no single service provider has had the capacity to serve this unrepresented detainee population.
Anna Walther will work with the indigenous people of Guatemala to protect their collective rights, especially the right to consultation concerning the exploitation and use of their ancestral lands. Working with the Office of Human Rights of the Archdiocese of Guatemala, Anna will collaborate with a team of lawyers dedicated to making the pluricultural society of Guatemala a less exclusionary society and a society that respects and fosters human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. Her work will focus on the proliferation of large scale industrial projects, extractive and agricultural, on indigenous peoples' lands and the processes related to consultation of the affected communities. The project also includes an educational element to make the communities aware of their collective rights.
Rachel Brewer will create a project for Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLS-LA) that analyzes the existing public policies regulating foster youth care and how those policies are actually implemented in Los Angeles County. The project will provide direct legal representation at foster care benefits administrative hearings, and advocacy and education to foster care children and their caregivers to ensure the receipt of the proper level of benefits.
Daniel James Ediger will seek to enhance access to civil legal services for low income elderly persons, their families, and caregivers in Idaho at Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS). Dan's project will focus on justice for the under privileged and poor through increased direct representation, development of topical community seminars and mobile legal clinics and the creation of a comprehensive Guidebook of Idaho Elder Law Rights and Options.
Jenna Gilbert will empower refugees throughout Ecuador to assert their rights through the development of a mobile legal aid clinic and the training of local community legal advisors. Jenna will work with Asylum Access in Africa helping refugees receive asylum and legal sanctuary in the countries to which they flee. Jenna's project will help to protect refugees from unlawful or unjust detention, deportation, torture and death with emphasis on providing the necessary tools for refugees to rebuild their lives in a new home, free from fear.
Megan Hayati will work with the Levitt and Quinn Family Law Center (LQFLC) to provide legal representation in family law matters to low-income working families living and working in the greater Los Angeles area. Megan's Intercountry Family Adoption Initiative is a legal project proposal which will provide community education to families on their rights under the Adoption Hague Convention, educate attorneys about the implications of the Hague and their responsibilities to their clients in their intercountry adoption process.
Amanda Anderson will provide legal support at the California Women's Law Center (CWLC), a non-profit organization that works extensively with community organizations to identify persistent and emerging issues of concern to women and girls, to implement strategies to address those concerns and make it possible for individuals to know, understand and change the laws that govern their rights. Amanda's project is a comprehensive public education, training and advocacy program designed to ensure that disabled female veterans' receive the benefits they are entitled to. Through research of the substantive and procedural law regarding veterans' benefits, conducted outreach to women's veterans organization in Los Angeles, and investigation of the barriers that female veterans encounter when trying to access their benefits, Amanda will produce and distribute a legal resource guide for female veterans to help them through the Veterans Administration disability benefits process, create a pro bono program to match disabled female veterans with firms providing pro bono representation, and advocate for public policy solutions to their systemic problems uncovered by the program.
Melissa Keaney works with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) as a staff attorney to research, document, report on, and challenge -through litigation and other advocacy- state and local law enforcement participation in federal immigration enforcement. Melissa's project will address the pressing needs of low-income immigrants and their families by focusing on state and local involvement in federal immigration enforcement and the inherent constitutional and human rights problems with the current framework.
Srividya Panchalam will undertake work with the Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) to establish a Housing and Homelessness Rights Initiative. The project will address the needs of people who are homeless and encompass work to combat systemic discrimination against people with disabilities who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Downtown and Skid Row in Los Angeles via education, litigation and legislative advocacy.
Jaime Cartagena works with the HIV & AIDS Legal Services Alliance, Inc. (HALSA) to provide legal advocacy to the Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS immigrant community. HALSA provides a wide scope of immigration services in order to help people living with HIV disease in the areas of health care, benefits, employment insurance, debtor relief, discrimination and housing. Jaime's project will focus on HIV + undocumented women who face violence in their homes and who most often have contracted HIV from their male partners. With extensive outreach and training efforts to non-legal HIV/AIDS service providers, Jaime will help to provide and negotiate any positive resolution to the women and children who usually have no means of financial support and are totally dependent on their abusers.
Tommy Hung Keng Lim works as a staff attorney in the Community Economic Development (CED) Unit at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). Tommy will spearhead a new community economic development effort, the Small Business Legal Aid for Los Angeles, that will focus on small business development by rendering both legal and technical services sought by small business owners who are unable to afford such services from a private attorney.
Naomi Svensson works as a legal fellow for the International Justice Mission (ILM) to provide litigation support for the legal team in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. IJM is a human rights organization that partners with governments in the developing world to help secure the rights of victims subject to violent forms of injustice. IJM's mission is to contribute to the significant reduction of child sexual exploitation and child sex-trafficking in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Silhanoukvile. Naomi's project will encompass research that would focus on the motives and methods employed by the human traffickers, brothel owners or others involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. The research would seek to obtain trafficking intelligence from the unique perspective of the perpetrator and to learn factors of prevention and rehabilitation from incarcerated women who have been convicted of sex-trafficking related offenses and are typically the operators of the establishments that traffic underage girls for sexual exploitation.
Jaime Cartagena works as a staff attorney at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (LACLJ), a non-profit organization that provides free legal assistance to low-income residents of Los Angeles in the areas of family law (domestic violence restraining orders, child custody and visitation, child support, divorce, paternity; housing law (eviction defense, affirmative litigation regarding wrongful eviction, slum conditions, and tenant education; and, public benefits law (Social Security, SSI, Calworks, Medicare and Medi-Cal). Jaime's fellowship project will encompass the Chinese Legal Advocacy and Awareness Project which serves immigrant survivors of domestic violence, expanding the immigration practice to include services to immigrants with HIV/AIDS.
Marie Claire Tran works as a staff attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. Her fellowship project aims to reduce employment barriers for people with criminal records. Specifically, she focuses on increasing the accuracy and reliability of those records as well as limiting their dissemination by private companies. The Shriver Center champions economic opportunity through laws and policies that help people move permanently out of poverty. Through policy development, communications, and diverse advocacy strategies, the Shriver Center leads a national network of advocates and attorneys who are taking action to end poverty. The Shriver Center is improving the lives of low-wage workers, advancing families toward economic security, and creating communities of opportunity.
Shauna Curphey is currently a staff attorney for the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center. She provides legal assistance involving cases of police misconduct in Portland and works to protect the rights of political activists. The Northwest Constitutional Rights Center is a non-profit legal and advocacy organization that works to safeguard and extend the civil rights and civil liberties of political activists working in the areas of human rights, animal rights, worker's rights, the environment, women, and people of color.
Heather McGunigle works for the Disability Rights Center, as their Inland Empire Director which serves both the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Heather focuses primarily on providing special education outreach, training, and advocacy services as well as strategic litigation. The Disability Rights Center is the oldest cross-disability legal advocacy organization in the country. The Center is located on the campus of Loyola Law School. Their mission is to promote the rights of people with disabilities and the public interest in awareness of those rights by providing legal and related services.
Amy Woo is currently a staff attorney in the domestic violence unit at the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. Amy assists undocumented immigrants and refugee women who cannot obtain services from other legal aid organizations and who are the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence. The Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice is a non-profit legal services firm that provides free legal representation to indigent residents of East, Southeast and Northeast Los Angeles. The Center provides legal services to low income, disabled and elderly residents regardless of their immigration status.
Blanca Banuelos is currently a staff attorney in the migrant unit with California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA). Blanca is responsible for providing services to the migrant farm worker community. She provides litigation support on cases filed on behalf of farm workers. CRLA is a statewide non-profit organization providing free legal services to low income clients. CRLA focuses its services in a variety of emphasis areas, including: housing, education, labor, rural health, environmental justice, civil rights, public benefits, community building and economic development.
Phong Sara Wong joined both the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Inc. and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) with the Access to Justice Project. The project is designed to assist countless numbers of indigent individuals whose fee waiver applications have been erroneously denied with obtaining basic court access. Phong is currently working to establish a uniform statewide fee waiver application process. The Western Center on Law & Poverty is the state support center for California's many local services. WCLP specializes in high impact class action policy litigation affecting poor persons in California. Cases involve welfare, housing, health, and other areas, including civil rights. LAFLA provides direct legal services to Los Angeles' poorest communities. LAFLA offers a full range of legal services. These services are provided in seven substantive areas of law - Housing, Government Benefits, Family Law, Immigration Rights, Consumer, and Community Economic Development.
An Le is currently a staff attorney with the Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates (KIWA). She is working on developing the Korean Workers Rights and Outreach Project. The project serves to assist victims of human trafficking and undocumented immigrant workers with wage and hour claims. KIWA is a non-profit organization that fights for economic and social justice by empowering and organizing Korean Immigrant workers.
Anel Flores serves as a staff attorney for Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). Her position was designed to combat various policy issues affecting low-wage workers. LAFLA provides direct legal services to Los Angeles' poorest communities. LAFLA offers a full range of legal services. These services are provided in seven substantive areas of law - Housing, Government Benefits, Family Law, Immigration Rights, Consumer, and Community Economic Development.
Joanna Fawzy is currently a staff attorney with the Cancer Legal Resource Center. Joanna is working on developing a nationwide resource directory of legal resources and a Patient Guide on the laws facing those with cancer. The Cancer Legal Resource Center is an on-campus community-based resource program, which provides information and education outreach on legal issues to people with cancer, cancer survivors, care givers, health care providers, and employers.
Minah Park is currently a fellow with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC). She is working as an advocate for worker's rights and analyzing the intersection between immigration laws and worker's rights. The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is one of the leading law firms in Southern California dedicated to providing the growing Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) community with multilingual, culturally sensitive, legal services, and civil rights support.
Adalila Garcia is the first HEED staff attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, Los Angeles Chapter. Adalila assists HEED's pro bono lawyers in international human and environmental rights. This project gives the Loyola Post-Graduate Fellowship Program an opportunity to expand into international law and global issues. HEED (Human, Economic and Environmental Defense) was founded in 1996 by the National Lawyer's Guild, Los Angeles Chapter, as a separate Chapter project with the mission of using international law to widen and protect the fundamental human, economic and environmental rights of present and future generations of human beings and the biosphere.
Vanessa Lee is currently a fellow with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. She is working on a project aimed at protecting and improving the rights of Asian and Pacific Islanders with limited-English proficiency through a comprehensive strategy of advocacy, education, research and assessment. The Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is one of the leading organizations in Southern California dedicated to providing the growing Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community with multilingual, culturally sensitive, legal services, education and civil rights support.
Lisa Sergi is currently a Legal Advocate for Catholic Charities in Orange County. She provides educational workshops, training programs, and staff/client consultations in the areas of family law, immigration, domestic violence, and child custody. Catholic Charities is a neighborhood-based social service organization, which partners with the public and private sector to improve the quality of life of people in Orange County. By addressing the issues that contribute to poverty and isolation.
Davilena Bailey O'Connor was a Law Fellow with Break the Cycle. Davilena's duties centered around enhancing the Education and Outreach and Legal Services programs. Davilena left Break the Cycle as a Post-Graduate Fellow due to personal reasons. Break the Cycle is a non-profit organization offering education, intervention and legal services to young people concerning domestic violence related issues.
Sister Sharlet Wagner is currently in the second-year of her public interest fellowship. She is currently working for the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). Her title of "Detention Project Attorney" allows Sister Wagner to provide pro bono legal services to immigrants who are being detained by the INS and are in deportation proceedings. CARECEN is a public interest organization that provides direct immigration services. They assist clients in preparing applications for asylum and suspension of deportation.
Carol Oh' Basile is currently the Executive Director and Founder of the Neighborhood Legal Center. The NLC provides legal services to low-middle income families in areas of family law and criminal law. Carol oversees all operations of the organization she created through her Loyola Law School public interest fellowship.
Jedidiah Minoff completed his 2-year fellowship with Public Counsel. Jedidiah oversees the Juvenile Court Intervention and Advocacy program. The program provides legal services for children with mental-health issues and delinquency histories. He also directs the group's legal education outreach and serves as a policy advocate. Public Counsel was so pleased with Jedidiah's work that they created a position for him at Public Counsel. He was also named one of the top 20 lawyers under the age of 40 by California Business Law. Public Counsel offers a wide variety of legal services to the poor.
Denise Baez completed her 2-year fellowship with Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Denise represented minors and women being held in detentions. Catholic Legal Immigration was also pleased with Denise's work that they created a position for her as well. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network is a public interest agency that provides immigration legal services to the poor.