Previous Service Award Recipients
JEANNE M. ATKINSON, CLASS OF 1992
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Career has Spanned 15 years or more
Jeanne M. Atkinson, the Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) since 2013, has long been active in protecting the legal rights of vulnerable people. A longtime immigration attorney, Atkinson previously served as the Director of Immigration Legal Services for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the director of their Refugee Center.
Atkinson was also a partner in establishing the Family Justice Center in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is currently a member of the advisory board of Catholics for Family Peace, two organizations dedicated to the prevention of domestic abuse and the care of its victims.
Since joining CLINIC, Atkinson helped launch the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, which provides pro bono representation for detained families located in Karnes and Dilley, Texas. She also founded and co-chairs the Committee for Immigration Reform Implementation, a 27-member consortium, which, through trainings, online resources and national conferences, has increased the capacity of people and agencies dedicated to serving immigrants nationwide.
Organizations including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have often turned to Atkinson for her expertise. In 2013, she took part in a delegation with the USCCB to southern Mexico and Central America to examine the “push factors” that lead people from the region to migrate north.
Atkinson holds a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law and a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.
AARON C. MORRIS, CLASS OF 2005
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Career has Spanned 5-15 years
Aaron C. Morris is Immigration Equality's Executive Director. Prior to becoming ED, Aaron led the organization's law and policy programs. He has supervised Immigration Equality's legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and lobbying efforts. During his nine years with Immigration Equality, Aaron has built close relationships with members of Congress, with top government agents at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, and with the White House. As a national leader in LGBTQ immigration law, Aaron was invited in 2015 to provide oral arguments as amicus counsel before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Godoy-Ramirez v. Holder. As amicus, Aaron explained to the Court that an immigration judge had fundamentally misunderstood what it means to be transgender when she concluded that transgender women were safe in Mexico because that nation's capital had recognized marriages for same-sex couples. The case was one of three that were argued at the same time, resulting in a published decision positively changing the law in nine states. Morris developed his interest in immigration law while at WCL. As a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic at WCL, he worked under the supervision of then faculty member Muneer Ahmad, who later helped Morris secure a position as an immigration law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. In 2014, the LGBT Bar Association named him as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.
BLAKE PARADIS, CLASS OF 2017
Winner in Category of Current Washington College of Law Student
Blake’s personal, professional and academic pursuits have all demonstrated a passion for public service. Before beginning at Washington College of Law (WCL), Blake was the Communications & Outreach Manager at a racial justice nonprofit in Oakland, CA; World Trust Educational Services. Learning the underlying systems promoting inequality and working with community members on issues of social justice inspired her to pursue a law degree.
While at WCL Blake was extremely engaged, especially in the public interest community on campus. Blake was been a dedicated member of the Human Rights Brief since her 1L year and served as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the publication. She was also a Senior Staff Member on the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, a Dean's Fellow with the Office of Public Interest, and a Student Attorney with the D.C. Law Students in Court Clinic where she represented low-income tenants facing eviction. She also held positions as a Student Advisory Board Member for the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, and Alumni Chair on the EJF Executive Board. She also participated in the Action for Human Rights alternative winter break where she worked with Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) and Southeast Legal Services, assisting the organizations with legal research.
Off campus Blake interned with organizations focused on protecting constitutional and civil rights across issue areas including; Alliance for Justice (AFJ), a progressive civil rights advocacy organization; the Government Accountability Project, a public interest litigation nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of whistleblowers; the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); The Legal Aid Society of New York, working on systemic criminal justice issues in New York City; the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS); and Equal Justice Under Law, a nonprofit focused on addressing civil rights abuses in the criminal justice system. Blake will begin her postgraduate work as a Law Clerk with Senior Judges at D.C. Superior Court and as a Fellow with the Justice Policy Network.
Regina Tamés Noriega, AUWCL LLM Class of 2001
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primarily Abroad or in International Law
A lawyer from the Universidad Iberoamericana with a Master's Degree in International Law and a specialization in human rights from American University, Regina holds a certificate in Health and Human Rights from Harvard University and a certificate in Bioethics and Law from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM). She has been the Executive Director of the Information Group on Reproductive Choice (GIRE) since April 2011. Before that, she worked in the Latin America and Caribbean Office of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), as well as the Mexican Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OACNUDH) and the National Commission of Human Rights. Regina has also been a fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights, at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, at the Center for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and at the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). Regina has taught undergraduate and master's-level law courses on human rights in many universities including Universidad Iberoamericana, ITAM and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). Currently, she is teaching a course on gender and human rights in the law department of the Universidad Iberoamericana. She is a pioneer in introducing the gender perspective into Mexican law, having helped found the Network of Latin American Academics in Gender, Sexuality and Law and is its current network coordinator. Regina Tamés is part of the Civil Society Advisory Group for the Regional Office of UN Women; the Global Validation Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV and Syphilis; the Citizen's Advisory Board of the National Population Council; the Consultative Assembly of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination; the Board of Directors of Catholics for the Right to Decide; and a Founding Partner of Equis, Justice for Women. In 2014, Regina was included in Forbes México's list of Mexico's 50 Most Powerful Women and in 2015, Mexico's Elle Magazine chose her as one of the 10 women who inspire them to accomplish their goals.
Lydia Edwards, AUWCL Class of 2006
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primarily in the United States
Lydia Edwards is a current Equal Justice Works Fellow and public interest attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services. She is the recent recipient of the Racial Justice Fellowship from Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation fellow she will be using her Tax LLM to create cooperative businesses for the formerly incarcerated and undocumented immigrants. Lydia was recently endorsed by the Boston Globe in her run to be Massachusetts' next senator. She also was named a 2015 Bostonian of the year. Lydia is also the coordinator of the Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers in that role she coordinates the statewide implementation of the landmark Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. Lydia graduated from American University Washington College of Law in 2006.
Judson Kempson, AUWCL Class of 2016
Winner in Category of Current Washington College of Law Student
Jud Kempson, AUWCL Class of 2016, came to the study of law after a career in public education. In 1994, Jud began his education career in San Francisco as a middle school teacher at Everett Middle School, which served predominantly low-income children of color in the Mission District. After several years as a teacher, he also served as a vice principal and principal at various middle schools in the Bay Area. At the end of his education career, Jud became the assistant superintendent of educational services for Burlingame School District. At AUWCL, Jud has continued to deepen and develop his understanding of education law and policy, particularly in the areas of special education and civil rights. Beginning with the Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, Jud worked with high school students in the District to learn their constitutional rights. As a member of the Administrative Law Review, Jud analyzed the Department of Education's authority to promote the Common Core and served on the Note & Comment Editorial Board. Jud has interned with the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education and the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, working on legal matters related to the enforcement of civil rights laws, including Titles IV, VI, and IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He has also interned at New Leaders, Inc., an education non-profit dedicated to the recruitment, training, and placement of effective administrators in urban schools that serve predominantly low-income students and students of color. Lastly, working as both a student-attorney in the Disability Rights Law Clinic and as an intern with the Navajo Nation Department of Justice through Alternative Spring Break, Jud continues to be an advocate for those in need. He hopes to bring his experience as an educator to his new career as an attorney to secure and further students' civil rights in public education.
Sarah Rempel , AUWCL Class of 2007
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primarily Abroad or in International Law
Sarah is the Policy Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., (CDM) where she works to secure stronger protections for migrant workers and to bring about lasting, systemic change in the guestworker programs. Sarah supports migrant workers in bringing their voices and experiences to policy discussions and debates, and she promotes policy changes that will improve migrant workers’ recruitment and working conditions. Recently, Sarah coordinated advocacy efforts that culminated in the signing of a ministerial declaration between the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, and the Mexican Secretary for Labor and Social Welfare, Alfonso Navarette Prida. As a result of CDM and allies’ petitions and the declaration signing, the governments conducted “Know-Your-Rights” education and outreach across the U.S. and Mexico and committed to act to protect migrant workers. Sarah also leads the advocacy committee of the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG), a coalition of 18 organizations including unions, advocacy groups, and anti-trafficking groups who drafted groundbreaking legislation to protect migrants: ensuring that anti-trafficking legislation that regulates international labor recruiters or brokers was included in the Senate immigration bill. Prior to working at CDM, Sarah was an attorney advisor in the Attorney General’s Honors Program at the Department of Justice. She volunteered with CDM in Zacatecas, Mexico, and clerked for the Honorable Robert B. Kershaw of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. During law school, Sarah was the Haywood Burns Memorial Fellow for Social Justice at Farmworker Justice and represented immigrant workers through the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Sarah received her J.D. with honors from American University Washington College of Law and her B.A. with highest honors from Bethel College (Kansas).
Edna Yang , AUWCL Class of 2002
Winner in Category of Alumna or Alumnus Whose Work is Primarily in the United States
Edna Yang is the Legal Director for American Gateways, formerly the Political Asylum Project of Austin (PAPA) where she oversees all of the legal programs and services for the agency. Edna also served as the Interim Executive Director for American Gateways in 2012. She began her work at PAPA in 2002 as the coordinating attorney for the Program Representing Immigrant Survivors of Abuse, providing direct representation to immigrants seeking relief under the immigration provisions of the Violence Against Women Act. She became the Legal Director for the agency overseeing all legal services and programs in 2006. In addition, Edna represents indigent immigrants before the Immigration Service, the Immigration Court, and in Federal Court. She also conducts training sessions for law enforcement officials and social service providers throughout central Texas and nationally about how to work with, and provide services to, immigrants in the community. She organizes outreach and educational sessions for immigrant members of the community. Edna served as a Council Member on the State Bar Immigration and Nationality Section from 2012-2014, and from 2004–2005, she served on the Austin Commission for Immigrant Affairs. She is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Texas. She is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the National Immigration Project, and the National Lawyer’s Guild. Edna received her B.A. in Russian Language and Literature and Political Science from the University of Michigan, and graduated with a J.D. and an M.A. in International Studies from American University. Edna was a student of Professor Cicchino and was one of the first students to win the award named after him, as the 2002 Recipient of the Peter M. Cicchino Awards in the Category of Current Washington College of Law Student.
Pious Ahuja , AUWCL Class of 2015
Winner in Category of Current Washington College of Law Student
Pious Ahuja is passionate about human rights, particularly concerning vulnerable populations—women and refugees. Prior to law school, Pious volunteered at Sakhi, an anti-domestic violence organization and at the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization founded after 9/11. During law school, Ms. Ahuja studied in the Hague and then worked at the Human Rights Law Network (“HRLN”) in New Delhi, India, where she led and participated in fact-finding trips to investigate conditions surrounding Rohingya refugee camps, hospital conditions for pregnant women, and legal and medical ramifications surrounding acid-attack victims. At HRLN, she also drafted a petition for a gender-caste-based acid-attack petition to provide rehabilitation services for acid-attack victims, which the Indian Supreme Court later accepted. Following that experience, Pious led a fundraising effort to raise funds for an acid-attack victim’s immediate physical and legal needs. To further raise awareness about acid-attacks, Pious helped organize a panel on acid-attack violence. Pious also established the AUWCL Chapter of Amnesty International (AIWCL). Through AIWCL, Pious organized a panel on Applying Human Rights and a Legal Framework to Gaza and Mechanisms to Address Violence Against Women in the United States and Abroad. Pious has also been active in the Alternative Spring Break at the Navajo Nation and in the Alternative Winter Break in New Orleans. Presently, Pious is a senior staffer with the Human Rights Brief, and a student attorney for the International Human Rights Law Clinic where she represents clients in irregular renditions, gender-based violence petition cases, and statelessness cases. Pious hopes to continue working with vulnerable populations and advancing their rights following law school.
Gary C. Norman (2013)
An attorney, a dispute resolution professional, and a visible civic leader with a disability, Gary C. Norman is changing attitudes and perceptions about guide dog handlers. In his current day-to-day work, Mr. Norman serves as an Assistant Attorney Advisor at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In this role, he is a staff counselor to the Administrator on reimbursement appeals. He is also a federal mediator, helping parties to resolve workplace disputes. In 2009, Governor O’Malley appointed Mr. Norman to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, where he is serving his second full term as an Associate Civil Rights Commissioner. At the Commission, Mr. Norman is the holder of portfolios on disability issues and dispute resolution. Moreover, Mr. Norman has co-founded a new non-profit named the Mid-Atlantic Lyceum whose purpose is bringing people with diverse perspectives (from the left and the right) for dialogue and improved decision-making. Mr. Norman is interested in the intersections among animal law, disability law, healthcare law, and dispute resolution; being hopeful that tools like public policy facilitation might be applied to address healthcare disparities. A legal scholar skilled with letters, Mr. Norman has published prolifically in such law journals as his forthcoming article with Joshua L. Friedman in the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights. Recognizing his genius and creativity, the Center on Medicine and Law at the University Of Baltimore School Of Law has consequently selected Gary to be its Senior Advisor. Thus, he served, in 2012, as a briefer on disability law at the WCL Healthcare Law Project’s Inaugural Conference on Global Health, Gender, and Human Rights. Mr. Norman is admitted before the United States Supreme Court, in Maryland, and in Ohio. In 2011, Gary obtained his post graduate law degree or Masters in Letters of Law from the Washington College of Law, where he also earned certificates in administrative law and healthcare law. While attending to his post graduate studies as a working professional, Mr. Norman involved himself in the student life of the law school, serving as Secretary of the LL.M. Executive Board and speaking at a bi-annual conference on law students with disabilities. Notably, he completed his first year of the LLM with his first guide dog Langer (now since retired) and completed his second year with his current guide Pilot. In 2009, the United States Jaycees recognized Mr. Norman as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Americans. A native of the greater Cleveland area, Mr. Norman obtained his J.D. from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He is sincerely thankful for the partnership of his wife Laura N. Norman, L.C.S.W.-C. And for the support and affection of his surrogate family members, such as Debra T. Berube, Esq. and Tom E. Rogers, M.S.
Douglas N. White (2012)
Douglas N. White is 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.
Lisa K. Piper (2013)
Lisa K. Piper graduated from WCL’s J.D. program in 1999. After graduation, she represented children and their best interests in criminal, civil, and abuse and neglect cases in northern Virginia’s Juvenile & Domestic Relations Courts. In 2004, Ms. Piper closed her law practice and moved to Kabul, Afghanistan to coordinate a teacher training project for the Academy of Educational Development.In 2005, Ms. Piper began working for Save the Children, based in northern Afghanistan. In addition to managing programs in health and nutrition for all of its northern offices, she applied her knowledge as a child advocate to Save the Children’s child protection and education programs. In Afghanistan, children are forced to quickly grow up and childhood is often a luxury. As a response, Ms. Piper managed programs that educated parents and communities on how to meet their children’s developmental needs as well as programs designed to develop children’s critical thinking skills. Through these activities, Afghan children had safe and protective environments where they could learn, grow, and help resolve problems in their communities. In 2009, Ms. Piper moved to La Paz, Bolivia to be Save the Children’s Deputy Director for Programs. In Bolivia, she managed a small yet high impact project focused on children in conflict with the law. That project successfully raisedawareness regarding the difficult situation of incarcerated children and youth. As a result, the Bolivian Ministry of Justice invited Save the Children to provide recommendations for needed changes to its Juvenile and Adolescent Code. In 2011, after a year in Pakistan with the International Rescue Committee as Director of Programs, Ms. Piper returned to Afghanistan. She is currently serving as the Country Director for War Child Canada, managing programs in early childhood development, improved livelihoods opportunities for women, and youth empowerment and skills development.
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.
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.