PILI is pleased to welcome Militza Pagán as our newest Intern Representative on our Board of Directors. Militza is a 2L evening student at ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law and did her PILI Internship in the summer of 2014 at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI). During her first year of law school, Militza worked as the Deputy Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, where she focused on addressing the lack of high-quality education in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. She wanted to serve as a Representative on the Board because of her positive experience as a PILI Intern and “because PILI’s mission to expand legal services to low-income communities aligns with my reasons for becoming a public interest attorney.” Militza has worked extensively throughout her academic and professional career thus far to increase educational, civic-engagement, and citizenship opportunities for immigrant communities and people living in poverty. She was an Americorps Uniting America Fellow at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and worked at Junta for Progressive Action in New Haven, Connecticut while completing her undergraduate degree at Yale University.
During her PILI Internship at BPI last summer, Militza worked primarily in their Public Housing and Political Reform departments. Her work focused on ensuring compliance with Gautreaux motions and judgment orders through legal research, analyzing data on foreclosed homes, and drafting memorandums. Her Internship helped expose her to the housing issues facing those living in poverty in the Chicago area. One of her fondest memories of her Internship was discovering how lawyers can affect social change. “I enjoyed the type of work that I did and the opportunities to learn about ways that lawyers can play a role in developing anti-poverty policies,” she explained. “I saw the myriad of ways I can engage in public interest work throughout my entire legal career.”
Militza calls her experience during her PILI Internship “energizing” and says she enjoyed the PILI educational series luncheons held throughout the summer for Interns and Fellows. She attended many of the programs and learned about other areas of public interest law, including farmworker rights, housing law, and legal issues affecting homeless youth. Furthermore, she also took advantage of PILI’s advising program and networking events for Interns and Fellows which she says “provided me with opportunities to learn and engage with a variety of different people in public interest legal work.”
As she continues her law degree at Chicago-Kent, Militza stays engaged in public interest work as Vice-President of the Chicago-Kent Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the National Secretary of The United People of Color Caucus of the National Lawyers Guild. She is also on the Board of Directors at the Division Street Business Development Association, the Yale Club of Chicago, and the Yale Latino Alumni Association. She continues to explore different aspects of public interest law and seeks to use the law to provide opportunities to low-income people. “We are very fortunate in Illinois to have an organization that advocates for public interest law and provides a place for both the public and private sectors to connect,” she states. “I wanted to be a part of ensuring that PILI’s mission continues and expands.”