Previous Peter M. Cicchino Public Service Award Recipients
Biographies from previous Peter M. Cicchino Award Recipients appear below as written for the annual awards dinner program book.
Recipients in the Category of Current Washington College of Law Student
Kathleen Kelly (2012): Kate Kelly was raised in a deeply conservative religious and political culture, and during her adult life has gone through a profound and utterly transformative intellectual and ethical transition solidifying her commitment to social justice. Kate has not abandoned her religious community but is determined to bring her progressive politics to it. During her undergraduate experience at Brigham Young University, she risked expulsion by planning one of the first and largest protests in the University's history, protesting the lack of free speech and acadmeic freedom on campus. In April 2012, she helped plan a conference in DC for LGTB Mormons and their allies. Before coming to law school, Kate served an 18-month mission for her church in Barcelona, Spain, as a HUD housing counselor and an Americorps Volunteer. Kate spent her first summer during law school at the Center for Constitutional Rigths as an Ella Baker legal fellow. She spent her second summer during law school at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. At WCL, Kate has been invovled in a range of events and projects. She has been heavily involved with the National Lawyers Guild planning two DC-wide Disorientations, many Legal Observer Trainings, and organizing the NLG Students Against the Death Penalty Day. She has also organized around the issue of torture and is a member of the group Witness Against Torture. Most recently she planned a mixed symposium of artwork and the activists depicted within the art called "Americans Who Tell the Truth," featuring the portraits of artist Robert Shetterly and speakers Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack, Bunny Greenhouse, Jennifer Harbury, and Ralph Nader. The event highlighted ethics and integrity in the context of fighting for positive social change. Kate is proud to be a graduate of the Washington College of Law, and hopes to follow the legacy of WCL graduate Alice Paul in her lifelong pursuit of equality and dedicate her progressive commitment as a lawyer to work for social justice, political change, and the empowerment of popular movements.
Richael Faithful (2011): Richael Faithful was raised in Fairfax, Virginia, outside of Washington D.C. Her pursuit for justice came early in life through the influence of her civil servant father and politically-spirited mother. While studying at The College of William and Mary, she was a campus activist focused on racial justice, housing access, and LGBTQ rights. During this time, she was mentored by old-style community organizers, and new-style activist scholars, both of whom contributed to her choice to attend law school. At WCL, Richael was Editor-In-Chief of The Modern American, a scholarly publication dedicated to diversity, where she implemented a re-vamping of the young publication. She has been involved in range of events and projects, including Immigrant Justice Week, PILRAP Awareness Week, and most recently, a conference entitled Roots & Reality II: Hip Hop, Law, and Social Justice Organizing. Richael is also committed to scholarship as a way to envision transformative change. She has written several law review articles to bring visibility to issues such as the treatment of transgender prisoners and land liberation for American Indians. After law school, she will spend two years as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Advancement Project in D.C. developing innovative legal solutions to support on-going grassroots efforts to dismantle Virginia’s system which permanently denies voting rights to people convicted of felonies. Throughout law school, she has remained deeply committed to a Southern peoples’ community-building movement and several spiritual healing communities, and hopes that she can contribute toward bringing together community-builders and conscious lawyers to solve urgent social problems.
Caleb Medearis (2010): Caleb Medearis is a 2010 Juris Doctor candidate. While at WCL, Caleb has demonstrated a passion for working in the public interest. As a first-year student, Caleb helped draft a proposal to add a public interest seminar to the 1L curriculum, which the Public Interest Student Coalition presented to the Curriculum Committee. That same year, Caleb volunteered with the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project (Project). Caleb found the experience so rewarding that he has continued to work for the Project throughout law school, both as a student teacher and Dean’s Fellow. Much of Caleb’s prominence among the student body stems from his accomplishments as a member of the Student Bar Association, which include serving as the first SBA delegate to the AU Student Health Advisory Committee, instituting a new accounting system for the SBA budget, and helping multiple student groups to expand their operations. Caleb is also a committed women’s rights activist. He was an active member of the Women’s Law Association during his first and second year. Caleb also worked for the Women and the Law Program and is currently a student attorney for the Women and the Law Clinic. Caleb graduated from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL, in 2007 with a B.S. in Economics.
Shanti Martin (2009 Co-Recipient): Shanti Martin is a 2009 juris doctor candidate. At WCL, Shanti has pursued her passion for serving the underprivileged. She interpreted for an asylum case in WCL’s Human Rights Clinic throughout her first year. The summer following she interned at Ayuda, Inc. in their immigration department. She assisted clients in writing their personal statements in support of their immigration cases and completing their immigration applications, and wrote a brief to the court in support of an asylum application, which the court granted. During both semesters of her second year at WCL, she externed at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, where she advocated for clients with local utility and governmental entities and conducted policy research for attorneys. The summer after her 2L year, she interned with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in San Francisco, CA. In her third year, she is a student attorney with WCL’s International Human Rights Clinic Immigrants’ Rights division. She is also on the board of the Poverty Law Society and is an organizer with the Public Interest Student Coalition. Shanti graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA, in 2001 with a BA in Justice, Peace, and Conflict Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Math.
Erik Swanson (2009 Co-Recipient): Erik Swansonis a 2009 juris doctor candidate and the Founder of Roots & Wings International. Founded in 2006, Roots & Wings International is a nonprofit organization that uses education programs to promote culturally sensitive development in rural indigenous Guatemala. Erik believes that sustainable social and economic development can only be achieved by investing in local individuals who determine their own community’s path to development. To that end Roots & Wings International currently funds 29 university scholarships to students whose families live on less than $2 per day; provides free academic counseling to hundreds of youth in their native language, K’iche’; provides after-school tutoring to 250 elementary students; and is preparing to open a community-based computer lab this year. Erik received his bachelor’s degree in Business and Public Administration from the University of Puget Sound and will begin his career working in the business transactions department at Bullivant Houser Bailey in Portland, OR.
Lindsay Jenkins (2008): Prior to law school, Ms. Jenkins was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras and a development associate for Bay Area Legal Aid. At WCL, she has been an active leader in the Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and as a student attorney with the Immigrants’ Rights section of WCL’s International Human Rights Law Clinic, Ms. Jenkins has represented clients on issues of immigrant labor exploitation, trafficking and diplomatic immunity, both in domestic U.S. courts and the Inter-American Human Rights system. Ms. Jenkins also traveled to Geneva to participate in the 39th Session of the UN Committee Against Torture and to New Orleans as part of WCL’s alternative winter break.
Lauren Bartlett (2007): A third year law student at WCL, Lauren Bartlett has spent much of her law school career dedicated to providing assistance and supporting communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She is a leader of the Student Hurricane Network (SHN), a national association of law students. Ms. Bartlett began fundraising and organizing for Gulf Coast communities in fall 2005. She helped organize the 2006 WCL Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans and Mississippi. In fall 2006, Ms. Bartlett participated in the Matchmakers for Justice program through SHN, in which she acted as an advocate on behalf of a displaced resident for 6 weeks. This spring, she coordinated over 1,000 law student volunteer trips to the Gulf Coast, including 39 students from WCL. She coordinated a survey project over spring break 2007 where 150 law students interviewed over 1,000 residents of FEMA Trailers in and around New Orleans. Ms. Bartlett spent her first law school summer working on issues relating to African American land loss in North Carolina, and her second summer addressing environmental justice and Hurricane Katrina-related human rights issues with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in New Orleans. Prior to law school, Ms. Bartlett worked with non-governmental organizations in California, Nepal, Ghana, Bangladesh and India, on issues relating to social and environmental justice. After law school, Ms. Bartlett will move to New Orleans, where she is founding a nonprofit organization called the Louisiana Justice Institute (LJI) with several local attorneys. LJI will focus on fostering social justice campaigns on behalf of impoverished communities and communities of color across Louisiana.
Kelleen Corrigan (2006): Kelleen, a third year law student, is one of 11 of Public Interest/Public Service Scholars in class of 2006. While at WCL, Kelleen has coordinated three Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trips, including the inaugural one. For the 2006 ASB, 27 students traveled to the Gulf Coast region to offer post-Hurricane Katrina legal and physical assistance. Also, during law school, Kelleen organized an experiential learning project focusing on immigration issues, acted as co-chair of the special contributions committee for the 2005 Equal Justice Foundation auction, and participated with Dean Claudio Grossman in the UN Committee Against Torture meetings in Geneva, Switzerland. Further, as a student attorney in the International Human Rights Law Clinic, Kelleen represented a detained female client in her removal hearing and conducted a fact-finding mission to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to investigate the claims of a mother whose daughter was murdered. An EJF fellowship recipient for the past two summers, she spent one summer working on detention issues with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) in Miami, Florida, and her second summer working on Inter-American human rights cases with the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kelleen is currently a law clerk with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Prior to law school, Kelleen was a volunteer with Peace Brigades International (PBI) in Bogota, Colombia, where she provided non-violent protective accompaniment to threatened human rights defenders. She is currently a member of the PBI-USA board of directors. She is also the cochair of the Colombia Human Rights Committee, a DC-based organization dedicated to supporting human rights and peace in Colombia. After law school, Kelleen will return to FIAC in Miami to work as an immigration attorney, funded through a 2006 Equal Justice Works fellowship.
Amy Zaremba (2005): A 2005 graduate of WCL, Amy Zaremba has been a steadfast advocate for the poor. She is currently director of the Transition Assistance Program, an outreach program in Washington, DC that works with the homeless, ex-offenders, and people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. At WCL, she co-chaired the Equal Justice Foundation, which raised enough money to award over 35 $3,000 fellowships to other WCL students working in the public interest sector for the summer. Ms. Zaremba has provided criminal legal defense and prior to law school worked with homeless populations in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston to provide child care, job coaching, and other essential services.
Shirley Rivadeneira (2004): A 2004 graduate of WCL, Shirley Rivadeneira has been a steadfast advocate for a living wage among low-wage workers. For the past two years she served as Chair of the Living Wage Committee for the National Lawyers Guild and was active in the American University Living Wage Campaign. Ms. Rivadeneira further dedicated her talents to the workers at WCL by offering classes in English as a Second Language. She was also a student attorney with the International Human Rights Law Clinic at WCL and a volunteer for the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, where she volunteered to visit detained immigrants in federal prisons.
Melanie Gabrielle Orhant (2003): A third-year law student at WCL, Ms. Orhant already has a decade's worth of experience in the protection of victims of trafficking in forced labor. She has founded Action for REACH OUT, which supports and advocates for women working in the commercial sex industry in Hong Kong. She has also initiated a national and international network of organizations working on trafficking; these are Freedom Network (USA) and the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, Thailand. After graduation, Ms. Orhant will work at Ayuda, Inc. in Washington, DC on an anti-trafficking project that will provide educational materials, pro bono legal services and outreach networks to assist trafficked persons.
Edna Yang (2002): A 2002 WCL graduate who was a student of Peter Cicchino in the last year of his life, Edna Yang has devoted her law school career to public interest work. She has taught high school students about their constitutional rights, and has helped students who have dropped out, aged out, or been expelled from high school to earn their high school diplomas. Ms. Yang has worked at organizations providing legal services to immigrants and victims of domestic violence. She has spent summers at Legal Services of Southeastern Michigan, University Legal Services, and Neighborhood Legal Services in Washington, DC.After graduation, Ms. Yang will move to rural Texas to search for a legal services position.
Angela Conyers & Stephanie Joseph (2001): For the past two years, Ms. Conyers and Ms. Joseph have provided educational, emotional, and legal support for incarcerated teen girls at a Washington-area detention facility. Their project began as part of a WCL program that teaches local high school students the basics of constitutional law, but the awardees developed a new program that also teaches criminal law to assist detainees through the juvenile justice system.
Cathleen Caron (2000): A 2000 graduate of WCL, Ms. Caron has been an active member of the Equal Justice Foundation, the Women's Law Association, and the National Lawyers Guild. Before attending law school, Ms. Caron was the regional coordinator of the Indigenous Rights Accord for the United Nations Mission to Guatemala. She continued her public interest commitments while in law school, interning with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe at the Tribal Attorney's Office and last summer with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama. Ms. Caron has also represented natives of Guatemala and Cameroon in asylum claims before the Immigration and Naturalization Service as a Student Attorney with WCL's International Human Rights Law Clinic.
Recipients in the Category of WCL Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primiarly in the United States
Douglas N. White (2012): Douglas N. Whiteis the Associate Regional Solicitor for the United States Department of Labor in Arlington, Virginia, where he supervises trial litigation arising under statutes enforced by the Department of Labor in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. He also advises the Department's client agencies on matters arising in the various enforcement activities that are conducted in those jurisdicitons. He has been with the Office of the Solicitor for more than 35 years, and he has both trial and appellate court experience.
Prior to assuming his current position, Mr. White was a supervisory trial attorney in the Division of Mine Safety and Health. Previously, he also was a supervisory attorney in the Philadelphia Regional Solicitor's Office, where he was responsible for directing litigation related to employment discrimnation, minimum wage, overtime, and child labor violations. In addition to his supervisory experience, Mr. White has worked as a trial attorney in the Department of Labor's national and regional offices, where he tried cases in federal district courts and before administrative law jduges. He has litigated cases under a wide range of statutes, including the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Equal Pay Act.
Mr. White has been admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He received his undergraduate degree from Bucknell University and his law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University.
Whitney Louchheim (2011): Whitney Louchheim is an attorney licensed to practice in the District of Columbia. As Co-Founder of Mentoring Today, she works daily with youth in DC’s juvenile justice system, both before and after they are incarcerated, to support their successful reintegration into their families and community. She also represents youth in DC’s criminal justice system as a public defender. Ms. Louchheim earned her Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law (WCL) in 2005. Prior to founding Mentoring Today, she joined Ms. Spain in founding Students United, a student group at WCL that matched law students with incarcerated youth at DC’s secure juvenile facility. Ms. Louchheim was a student attorney as part of WCL’s criminal defense clinic, and was also a Marshall-Brennan fellow, teaching constitutional law in a DC public high school. Also during law school, Ms. Louchheim served as a law clerk in the Parole Division of the Public Defender Service for DC and for a magistrate judge in the Child Abuse and Neglect Division of DC Superior Court. Ms. Louchheim’s commitment to community service prompted American University to award her the University Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community, as well as the Pro Bono Community Service Award. Before attending law school, Ms. Louchheim worked for the Honorable Judith Heumann in the field of disability rights and also volunteered at a transitional housing organization in Maryland.
Penelope Spain (2011): Penelope Spain earned her Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law (WCL) in 2005 and is an attorney licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland. As CEO of Mentoring Today, Ms. Spain advocates to improve re-entry services for youth transitioning out of incarceration and returning to the District. She also serves as a public defender, directly representing youth charged with acts of delinquency in DC Superior Court. Shortly after graduation from WCL, Ms. Spain supported the National Juvenile Justice Network as a Program and Policy Associate to promote statewide juvenile justice reform efforts across the US. While at WCL, Ms. Spain founded and directed Students United, a program that trains law students to serve as mentors and advocates for incarcerated youth. She also worked in the Trial Division and the Community Defender Program of the Public Defender Service for DC, where she focused on Latino outreach and projects to aid ex-offenders in reentering the community. In addition, she participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic and served as an interning Law Clerk for a judge in the Felony I Criminal Division of DC Superior Court. WCL and American University recognized Ms. Spain’s dedication to public interest by awarding her the Student Bar Association’s Pro Bono Community Service Award, the University Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community, the Office of Career Services’ Pro Bono Superstar Award, the Myers Scholarship, and the Mary C. Arends Scholarship for dedication to public service law and civil rights. Prior to attending WCL, Ms. Spain received a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. After receiving her BA, she moved to Venezuela where she taught literacy classes for rural families and mentored adolescent students living in a barrio community fraught with violence. Ms. Spain also worked with President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center to observe elections in Venezuela and Sierra Leone.
Shelia Bedi (2010): Sheila Bedi is a deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Her work focuses on education and juvenile justice reform in Mississippi and Louisiana. Sheila has extensive experience in civil rights litigation, community-based advocacy campaigns and legislative advocacy. As a former co-director of the SPLC’s Mississippi Youth Justice Project, she played a key role in permanently closing a notoriously abusive girls’ prison and in advocating for reforms that significantly reduced the number of children imprisoned in Mississippi’s training schools and established community-based alternatives to incarceration. Other important reforms in Mississippi include a training requirement for juvenile public defenders and standards for juvenile detention centers. She also represented imprisoned children in federal class action litigation challenging unconstitutional prison and jail conditions. Immediately after law school, Sheila worked as a civil rights teaching fellow and staff attorney at the Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation, where she established a prisoner’s rights litigation project and represented plaintiffs in cases involving race and disability discrimination, open government and freedom of information, racial profiling and religious freedom in state prisons. From 2008-2009, Sheila spent a year in Washington D.C., serving as Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute, a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to criminal justice reform and to reducing society’s reliance on incarceration. She has received the Heroes for Children Award, the NAACP’s Vernon Dahmer Award and the NAACP’s Fannie Lou Hamer Award for her reform efforts in Mississippi. In 2008, the American Bar Association Journal named her a Newsmaker of the Year.
Will Harrell (2009): Will Harrell currently serves as the Independent Ombudsman for the Texas Youth Commission. He was appointed by the Governor’s Conservator for the TYC in May of 2007. In his capacity as Chief Independent Ombudsman, Will has been instrumental in reforming the Texas juvenile justice system. His research of issues of education, mental health care, medical care, and alleged mistreatment has been critical to improved services for youth in the State system. In February 2008 the Texas Monthly Magazine featured Will as one of 35 people shaping the future of Texas. Previously, Harrell was the executive director for the ACLU of Texas. He advanced a comprehensive criminal justice reform agenda before the Texas Legislature for representing the NAACP and LULAC. Will has received numerous awards for his contributions to the ACLU and public interest community, including the esteemed NAACP “Torch Bearer Award.” He was the Chair of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition from 2001 to 2007 and on the advisory board of the UT Law School Journal on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Will also has served as Executive Director of the New York City-based National Police Accountability Project and worked at the ACLU National Prison Project. Will has also taught comparative law in several countries. Will received his BA in History from the University of Texas at Austin, and his JD (1990) and LL.M in international law (1997) from American University Washington College of Law. Will also studied at Oxford University and American University, School of Public Affairs.
Michael Kirkpatrick (2008): Since 2004, Mr. Kirkpatrick has served as an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, DC, in which capacity he achieved a due process victory at the U.S. Supreme Court and a jury verdict for a plaintiff in a civil rights challenge to racial profiling by an airline in federal court in Massachusetts. Prior to his current position, Mr. Kirkpatrick served as a senior trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a staff member of the Farm Worker Division of Texas Rural Legal Aid, where he litigated employment and civil rights cases on behalf of migrant workers.
Naznin Saifi (2007): Naznin Saifi is the managing attorney for the Prince William Branch of Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV). Ms. Saifi is a member of the Prince William Bar Association and serves on the Pro Bono and Family Law committees. She is Vice Chair of the Prince William Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Committee and a conciliator for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. During her tenure as managing attorney, Ms. Saifi has expanded LSNV’s uncontested divorce clinic in Prince William County and is currently working with other members of the bar to develop a simple wills project. Ms. Saifi also conducts regular community legal education seminars at the local homeless shelter. Prior to LSNV, Ms. Saifi served at the Legal Aid Society of Mercer County in Trenton, New Jersey and the Spokane Legal Services Center in Spokane, Washington. While at Legal Aid in Trenton, Ms. Saifi distinguished herself in the area of public benefits law, conducting statewide training of new advocates in the area of Work First New Jersey, as well as a variety of continuing legal education seminars focusing on welfare and public benefits housing law. Active in the state bar, Ms. Saifi was selected to serve on the Long Term Planning and Pro Bono committees for the state bar, and was Chair of the Minorities in the Profession section. Ms. Saifi was also appointed as the state bar representative for the New Jersey Supreme Court Task Force on Minority Concerns.
Antonia Fasanelli (2006): Antonia Fasanelli is the Staff Attorney of the Crowell & Moring Affordable Housing Initiative at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. The Initiative aims to preserve and expand affordable housing in the District of Columbia by providing legal representation to tenants at risk of displacement, advocating for policies that promote the preservation and creation of affordable housing, and conducting educational workshops on housing rights. The Initiative is an expansion of Antonia’s 2002-2004 Equal Justice Works Fellowship, in which she focused on the preservation of federally subsidized housing.
Kevin Layton (2005): A 1997 graduate of WCL, Kevin Layton is the Deputy Political Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). With over 600,000 members, HRC is the nation'’s largest gay political and civil rights organization. Mr. Layton manages HRC’s grassroots and federal and state electoral teams to support the organization's federal and state legislative and electoral activities on matters of concern to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In the spring of 2003, Mr. Layton co-taught Sexual Orientation and the Law as an adjunct faculty member of WCL.
Erin Loubier (2004): A 1998 graduate of WCL, Erin Loubier serves as a public benefits attorney at the Whitman-Walker Legal Services Program in Washington, DC, where she provides representation to HIV-positive and AIDS-infected clients. Through Whitman-Walker she also trains volunteers, participates in local benefits coalitions, oversees the development of publications and other resources, and supervises weekly clinics. Prior to law school, Ms. Loubier assumed a leadership role at the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL), paving the way for WCL to host NAPIL's public interest career fair for several years. As a law student, she participated in numerous public interest activities within the law school community, including serving as Director of WCL's Equal Justice Foundation.
Maria-Cristina Fernandez (2003): A 1992 graduate of WCL, Ms. Fernandez is managing director of the Latin American Youth Center, an organization serving young Latinos and families in Washington DC that is one of the largest non-profit service providers in the District. The Center provides innovative educational, health, and workforce programs, including sponsorship of a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop that employs local youth. Ms. Fernandez also chairs the DC Citizen Complaint Review Board, which resolves citizens' complaints against local police officers. Previously, she served as a congressional staffer, a prosecutor, a poverty lawyer, and a policy advisor on violence against women/ juvenile violence.
Angus Love (2002): A 1975 graduate of WCL, Angus Love has served since 1989 as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, which provides free legal services to 70,000 institutionalized persons in Pennsylvania. He litigates cases ranging from physical abuse of prisoners to the high cost of telephone calls originating from prison facilities. Mr. Love won an equal protection challenge against the Pennsylvania Motor Voter Act of 1995, which sought to disenfranchise ex-felons for a period of five years. He notes that he began representing inmates when, as a student at WCL, he participated in a legal clinic that represented inmates at the Lorton Reformatory. Mr. Love, who has authored numerous publications on prison issues, has also served on numerous boards and commissions, including as Chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association and member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
Jonathan Shapiro (2001): Mr. Shapiro has distinguished himself as a criminal defense attorney, particularly in capital punishment cases, some of which he has pursued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Shapiro made the news when he was knocked unconscious by one of his clients in court, but nonetheless sought to remain counsel.
Lydia Watts (2000): A 1996 graduate of WCL, Ms. Watts is the co-founder, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Women Empowered Against Violence, Inc. (WEAVE), a D.C. non-profit organization that offers legal services and support to survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Watts and her co-founders conceived the idea of WEAVE while students in WCL's Domestic Violence Law Clinic. For the first year of WEAVE's operations, with an operating budget of $500, Ms. Watts alone provided all the direct representation and other services to women who sought WEAVE's assistance. WEAVE now assists hundreds of area women in gaining access to the justice system's protections and victim counseling, thanks in large part to Ms. Watts' diligence and efforts.
Recipients in the Category of WCL Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primiarly Abroad or in International Law
Rochus Pronk (2012): Rochus Pronk, a Fulbright Scholar, graduated from WCL's LL.M. program in 1995. After graduation, he helped establish the War Crimes Research Office at WCL to assist the Offices of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The assistance the WCRO has provided, both during Mr. Pronk's two years as coordinator, and in the years since, has been instrumental in combating impunity for perpetrators of serious international crimes, especially in marginalized areas such as Rwanda, East Timor, and Cambodia, where courts often lack the necessary staff and expertise to try perpetrators effectively on their own. After he left WCL, Mr. Pronk moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Netherlands, where he served as a trade attache in Shanghai and then a Permanent Representative to the European Union. In 2001, he returned to his earlier focus on addressing international conflict, working as Deputy Head of Mission at the Dutch Development Cooperation Program in Kabul, Afghanistan. While there, he coordinated with international agencies, local communities, and the Afghan goverment, with an eye to ensuring that Afghans were the primary drivers of the development process. In the years since, Mr. Pronk has also worked for the Dutch government in Ramallah in the West Bank, where he assisted in the development initiatives. After a second assignment in Afghanistan, this time in the Southern Uruzgan province, Mr. Pronk moved to The Hague, The Netherlands, where he works today as the head of the Afghanistan Taskforce at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, overseeing Dutch policy and the development in the war torn-country.
Javier Vásquez (2011): Javier Vásquez earned his LL.M. in international legal studies from the Washington College of Law (WCL) in 1996 and obtained his law degree in Panama, from Santa Maria La Antigua University in 1992. As the Human Rights Law Advisor of PAHO/WHO, Mr.Vasquez advises Member States, PAHO/WHO’s national offices, Ombudspersons, and civil society organizations on international human rights law issues and strategies for reforming national health laws, policies and programs in a manner consistent with international human rights law instruments, especially those that protect the “right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” (“right to health”). He has conducted training activities and missions in 30 countries of the Americas for public health officials, judges, legislators, civil society organizations, international human rights bodies and other actors on the international and regional human rights treaties and standards that protect the right to health and other related human rights and fundamental freedoms. Mr. Vasquez has been involved since 2000 in several national consultations for reforming health services and laws related to the health and wellbeing of groups in situation of vulnerability such as persons with physical, intellectual and mental disabilities; persons living with HIV/AIDS; LGTBI groups; indigenous peoples and other ethnic/racial groups; children; women; older persons; second hand smokers; persons affected by neglected diseases and young people; among others. Shortly after graduation from WCL, he was selected as a Romulo Gallegos Fellow by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights where he worked on the first report regarding violations to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with mental disabilities. While at WCL, he worked for Disability Rights International (DRI) where he collaborated in the first DRI´s fact finding mission to Mexico with regard to the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons retained in mental health institutions. Prior to attending WCL, Mr. Vasquez implemented a literacy campaign and human rights program in the National Psychiatric Hospital of Panama with the Committee of Orientation and Support for Panamanians, a national Non-Governmental Organization. In addition, in 2008, Mr. Vasquez received the “PAHO/WHO exceptional leadership award” in recognition of his invaluable contributions and leadership on promoting and protecting the right to health and other related human rights in the Americas.
Cathleen Caron (2010): Cathleen Caron is the founder and Executive Director of the Global Workers Justice Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to promoting portable justice for transnational migrants. Prior to launching Global Workers, she was in East Timor where she directed a national needs assessment of the human trafficking situation for the Alola Foundation, chaired by East Timor’s First Lady. Additionally, Cathleen worked in Florida as a staff attorney with the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, successfully litigating class action employment cases on behalf of foreign migrant farmworkers. She has also consulted with Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative on labor migration issues. Before entering law school, she worked in Guatemala for over three years where she assisted Guatemalan lawyers in domestic human rights litigation, researched the needs of internally displaced persons in urban squatter settlements, and directed a regional indigenous rights program for the United Nations. Cathleen graduated from the American University Washington College of Law where she was awarded the Outstanding Law Graduate Award and the Peter Cicchino Award for Outstanding Public Advocacy. She completed her undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College.
In 2009, there was no recipient for this cateory.
Chin Kongnyuy Geraldine (2008): Ms. Chin is the founder and Executive Director of the Women Empowerment Institute Cameroon, a non-profit organization that promotes human rights and democracy in the northwest province of Cameroon. In 2005-06, Ms. Chin earned an LLM at WCL as a Fulbright Scholar. Prior to that, she worked at the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Church in Kumbo-Cameroon, designing and implementing human rights and peace-building initiatives, including election observation. She has also advocated successfully for debt relief for Cameroon. Additionally, Ms. Chin chaired the first Women’s Cooperative and Micro Finance Institute in Kumbo, which has over 11,000 members.
Layli Miller-Muro (2007): Layli Miller-Muro is the Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting women from human rights abuses through the provision of legal aid and public policy advocacy. Ms. Miller-Muro founded the organization in 1997 following her involvement in a high-profile case that set national precedent and revolutionized asylum law in the United States. In that case, a 17-year-old girl who had fled Togo in fear of a forced polygamous marriage and a tribal practice known as female genital mutilation, was granted asylum in 1996 by the US Board of Immigration Appeals. This decision opened the door to gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum. Prior to founding Tahirih as Executive Director in 2001, Ms. Miller-Muro was an attorney at Arnold & Porter where she practiced international litigation and maintained a substantial pro bono practice. Prior to joining Arnold & Porter, Ms. Miller-Muro was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals.
Rachel Micah-Jones (2006): A 2005 Echoing Green Fellow, Rachel founded and serves as Executive Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (CDM), the first transnational workers’ rights law center in central Mexico. With a base of
operations in Zactecas, CDM addresses workplace injustice by connecting Mexico-based workers with U.S. advocates. Through outreach, referral services, legal representation, and policy projects, CDM addresses issues pertaining to migrant workers? rights. CDM is rapidly expanding its services and is in the process of developing two specialized outreach programs – one that focuses on migrant women and the other on health and safety. Prior to founding CDM, Rachel worked with the Migrant Farmworker Unit of Florida Rural Legal Services where she represented some of Florida’s 250,000 migrant workers. She worked on employment, housing and civil rights matters, litigating cases in federal and state courts, including a case at the federal appellate level. She also conducted worker education sessions before immigrant farmworkers on basic labor and civil rights and prepared bilingual legal educational materials relating to housing, civil and employment issues. Rachel received her J.D. from American University?s Washington College of Law in 2003. At WCL, she was a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic where she represented immigrant clients on a range of matters before the Department of Homeland Security. She also worked as a law clerk in the Civil Legal Services Unit of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
Neha Misra (2005): A 1994 graduate of WCL, Neha Misra has worked vigorously around the world to promote the rule of law. For over ten years, her work has focused on issues related to labor, workers' rights, gender, trafficking in persons, and democracy and elections. Ms. Misra worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina on post-war democracy and in the United States as a Senior Attorney-Advisor with the U.S. Department of Justice. Since 1998, Ms. Misra has worked in Jakarta, Indonesia for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, AFL-CIO, where she has directed projects on democracy/elections, labor law reform and implementation, and human trafficking. Her work has been recognized by the governments of the United States and Indonesia as one of the key factors for a decrease in the reported incidence of human trafficking in Indonesia.
Felipe Gonzalez (2004): A 1991 LLM graduate of WCL, Felipe Gonzalez serves as a law professor and Vice-Director of the Center on Research at Diego Portales University in Santiago, Chile. He is also Director of the Latin American University Program on Public Interest and Human Rights Law. Professor Gonzalez has obtained funding to develop law clinics throughout South America that focus on human rights. He has taken numerous cases of human rights violations to the Inter-American System of Protection of Human Rights and has published extensively on human rights.
Victor E. Abramovich (2003): A 2000 masters' degree recipient from WCL, Mr. Abramovich is executive director of the Center of Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the premier nongovernmental organization (NGO) for human rights in Argentina. In this capacity, he achieved a landmark settlement in which the government acknowledged its culpability in the case of a minor who died while in police custody, and CELS became the first NGO to use the independent evaluation office of the International Monetary Fund to challenge its policies in a particular country. Mr. Abramovich is the author of two books on social rights, and has taught extensively on the topic.
Romina Picolotti (2002):A 1999 recipient of a Masters in International Law from WCL, Romina Picolotti is founder and director of the Access to Justice Program of the Center for Human Rights and the Environment in Cordoba, Argentina. Ms. Picolotti's work focuses on the protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples, who suffer disproportionately from the adverse effects of unsustainable natural resources extraction. She obtained an injunction from the Organization of American States against the government of Nicaragua to halt private ventures in indigenous areas of the Atlantic coast. This groundbreaking decision and a subsequent victory in the case before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights have paved the way for an entirely new form of advocacy for environmental issues at human rights tribunals. Ms. Picolotti likewise seeks to have environmental issues addressed by bodies such as the World Trade Organization and United Nations agencies working on racism and discrimination.
Marcela Huaita Alegre & Luz Rioseco (2001): Both awardees in this category received their LL.M. degrees in International Legal Studies with Specializations in Gender and the Law. Ms. Alegre has returned to Peru, and Ms. Rioseco has returned to Chile; in their home countries, both work with women's rights organizations and teach law school courses on women's rights.
Hassan Jabareen (2000): A 1996 LLM graduate of WCL, Mr. Jabareen is the founder and General Director of Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel. Established in 1996, Adalah is the first Arab-run legal center in Israel and works to use Israeli domestic law and international human rights standards to achieve equal rights for all in Israel. Under Mr. Jabareen's direction, Adalah has submitted petitions to the Supreme Court of Israel to prevent budgetary inequality in allocations made by the Religious Ministry and to obtain preventive health services for women and children in "unrecognized" villages. Mr. Jabareen has also taught civil rights courses at Haifa University, Rupin College and Tel Aviv University. Prior to founding Adalah, he worked for four years as a Staff Attorney with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.