American University Washington College of Law Students Awarded Prestigious Peggy Browning Fellowship


Washington, D.C., April 8, 2013 - The Peggy Browning Fund has awarded prestigious 10-week summer fellowships to five American University Washington College of Law students. They were selected from more than 500 applicants from 139 participating law schools. The students are: Shauna Agan, Kristian Alfonso, Julie Dabrowski, Nolan Lafler, and Emily Pantoja.

Peggy Browning Fellows are distinguished students who have not only excelled in law school but who have also demonstrated their commitment to workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer and personal experiences.

Second year AUWCL student Shauna Agan first became interested in labor issues watching her dad work his way up through the Operative Plasterers' and Cement Masons' International Association to become a Business Manager.

“His drive to help others with workers’ rights resonated with me. Working with the labor movement is important to me because being a part of the labor movement is more than just a job, it is a family of union brothers and sisters," said Shauna.

In addition to her JD, Shauna is also working towards a master's in public policy. She has held internships with Senator Tom Harkin, the Democratic National Committee, the American Federation of Teachers in the Human Rights and Community Relations Department, and for the Senate HELP Committee conducting labor practice investigations.  Shauna also has helped with grassroots organizing campaigns. In the future, Shauna plans to work for a union or labor organization as a labor lawyer. Shauna will spend the fellowship working at American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Washington, DC.

Kristian Alfonso is a first year AUWCL student whose parents have been union members for 20 years or more. Her father is a member of the UFCW and her mother is a retired member of the Health Professionals & Allied Employees. Alfonso graduated from the University of Richmond with a double major in International Studies and Spanish. At the University she was president of the Club Swim Team and studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a member of the Business Law Society at American University Washington College of Law. She became interested in labor law after studying the Hispanic immigrant population as an undergraduate. Alfonso will spend the fellowship working at Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Washington, D.C.

Second year Julie Dabrowski's interest in workers’ rights began during an undergraduate internship at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she wrote a report on the benefits of diversity in the health care industry.  Her legal experience includes work in employment and wage discrimination law at Gary M. Gilbert & Associates, P.C. and a judicial internship with the Honorable Judith N. Macaluso on the District of Columbia Superior Court.  At law school, she is on the editorial board of the American University Law Review and is excited to be working next year as a student attorney for the Disability Rights Law Clinic. Julie has also participated for the past two years in the Action for Human Rights Alternative Winter Break and volunteering at several nonprofit organizations in New Orleans.  Outside of school, she is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area, and is the proud “big sister” of 12-year-old Olivia. Julie will spend the fellowship working at Mehri & Skalet PLLC in Washington, DC.

Originally from Rochester, NY, Nolan Lafler a second year AUWCL student was raised in a non-union household with a father who worked for 40 years in a large processing plant.

“My father feels expendable, undervalued and has not enjoyed a day of job security since the 1980’s.  I feel the consequences of a family being left vulnerable and unrepresented at work,” said Nolan.

While at undergraduate studies at State University of New York at Albany, Nolan participated in the Washington Semester Program on Capitol Hill, and spent much of his senior year working in the Political Action Department of the Civil Service Employees Association, AFSCME’s largest affiliate in New York. He spent last summer as a law clerk in the Solicitor’s Office at the U.S. Department of Labor, and is currently a member of the American University International Law Review.  On the off chance that free time presents itself, he very much enjoys catching a Nationals game, dropping a line in the water, and spending too much time with his dog. Nolan will spend the fellowship working at AFSCME – American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO in Washington, DC.

Second year Emily Pantoja’s involvement in the labor movement began when she was just six years old, walking a picket line in St. Louis with her father.

“As a young child, I did not understand the importance and symbolism of hundreds of people coming together to fight for their rights, but it is what drove me to where I am today,” said Pantoja.

During law school, Pantoja has represented members of the American Federation of Government Workers in a variety of employment disputes and has become the co-managing editor of the American University Labor and Employment Law Forum. As she enters her third and final year of law school, she wants to “represent the American worker because they are the backbone of this country and when we stand together, there is nothing we can’t do.” Pantoja will spend the fellowship working at O'Donoghue & O'Donoghue, LLP in Washington, D.C.

The Peggy Browning Fund is a not for-profit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent union-side attorney who was a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 1994 until 1997. Peggy Browning Fellowships provide law students with unique, diverse and challenging work experiences fighting for social and economic justice.  These experiences encourage and inspire students to pursue careers in public interest labor law.


In 1896, American University Washington College of Law became the first law school in the country founded by women. More than 100 years since its founding, this law school community is grounded in the values of equality, diversity, and intellectual rigor. The law school's nationally and internationally recognized programs (in clinical legal education, trial advocacy, international law, and intellectual property to name a few) and dedicated faculty provide its 1700 JD, LL.M., and SJD students with the critical skills and values to have an immediate impact as students and as graduates, in Washington, DC and around the world. For more information, visit