Public Interest Law Initiative

Eight PILI Alumni Receive 2019 Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Posted on: August 16, 2019

Equal Justice Works recently announced the 2019 Fellows and we were excited to learn that eight PILI Alumni are part of the class! The Equal Justice Works Fellowship is a program that funds public interest attorneys for two years while they work on a specific project at a host agency.

Five of the PILI Alumni will be doing their Equal Justice Works Fellowships at the agency at which they did their PILI Internship.

Kaitlin Cutshaw will promote housing and educational stability for children negatively impacted by eviction through direct representation and policy reform at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. “I completed my PILI Internship with Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), which is now my host organization for my Equal Justice Works Fellowship,” said Kaitlin. “I wouldn’t have been able develop my project to promote housing stability for school-aged children in Chicago had it not been for PILI!”

William Hrabe will advise and represent low-income families to remedy violations found by the Illinois State Board of Education of Chicago Public School’s widespread delay and denial of special education services to potentially thousands of children with disabilities at Equip for Equality. “I am so excited to get back to Equip for Equality and work to ensure that Chicago Public Schools’ students with disabilities get the services they need,” said Will. “My Equal Justice Works Fellowship allows me to continue the work I started with the advocacy coalition last summer as a PILI Intern.”

Susana Sandoval Vargas will provide direct representation, impact litigation and outreach to low-wage Latina immigrant workers in the Chicagoland area to empower them to defend their workplace rights and create systemic change at MALDEF. “As an immigrant, as a DREAMER, I know and understand first-hand the hardships that immigrants face in the United States every day,” said Susy. “For that reason, I am deeply passionate about my Equal Justice Works Fellowship project which will help protect the immigrant community. I am grateful to the Public Interest Law Initiative who gave me the opportunity last summer to work along side my host organization, MALDEF, to defend Latino civil rights.”

Carl Sessions will manage the only in-court brief advice desk for pro se tenants and identify and represent tenants who have viable claims related to uninhabitable conditions or landlord retaliation to secure relief and prevent displacement at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing. “My PILI Internship at Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) was integral to the development of my Fellowship, which will also be at LCBH,” said Carl. “As a PILI Intern, I represented tenants in eviction court and saw the manifold ways that the courts’ assembly line justice hurts working class people. My Fellowship will build upon the relationships and projects I began as a PILI Intern.”

Ana Torres will advocate for people of color undergoing a cycle of poverty and debt due to government policies such as Chicago’s punitive vehicle impoundment practices, which impose excessive financial penalties and other barriers to success at the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois. “The PILI Internship gave me a broader understanding as to what a career in public interest may look like, which further solidified my commitment to serving underrepresented  communities,” said Ana. “It also opened up the opportunity for me to work with what would turn out to be my Equal Justice Works Fellowship host organization a year later, and develop a project to challenge Chicago’s punitive fines and fees system which disparately impacts people of color with low income.”

The other three PILI Alumni Equal Justice Works Fellows will be working at different agencies than where they did their PILI, drawing on those experiences as they start on their work.

Ashley Carter was an Intern at Legal Aid Chicago and will now create a legal clinic for survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and stalking who seek Civil Protection Orders in Washington, DC at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. She said, “My experience solidified my passion for working with survivors of domestic violence, and I was able to litigate my first full Protection Order trial as a student attorney. I’m thrilled that my Equal Justice Works Fellowship will allow me to continue that work by opening a courthouse legal clinic for domestic violence victims.”

Candice Dundy was an Intern at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law and will now reduce the number of youth of color experiencing homelessness by providing holistic legal services with a race equity lens and engaging youth to inform and improve direct and systemic advocacy in Seattle at the Legal Counsel for Youth and Children. “Being a PILI Intern helped me prepare for this fellowship immensely,” said Candice. “Through PILI, I was not only able to participate in numerous networking events, but I was also able to obtain invaluable internships at Shriver Center on Poverty Law and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, both of which taught me immeasurable knowledge on effective advocating in the public interest field.”

Alison Heinen was a an Intern at the Chicago Legal Clinic and will now empower and educate detained immigrant mothers by providing them holistic direct representation and developing a coalition to bring them sustained attention assistance in Chicago at the Community Activism Law Alliance. “I would not have ended up in my fellowship placement without PILI! I had never heard of CALA until I attended a PILI luncheon where two attorneys from their staff spoke on a panel,” said Ali. “I was very excited about CALA’s community lawyering approach to legal advocacy. That excitement helped me land CALA as my host organization for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship focused on immigration law.”

We are so proud of all our PILI Alumni and the work they are doing! Learn more about the PILI Alumni Network here »

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