PILS 2013 Class
Jeremy Blasi came to Georgetown Law with a decade of experience documenting and working to remedy labor rights violations in the supply chains of global corporations. As Director of Investigations for the Worker Rights Consortium, he coordinated investigations of labor practices in garment factories in over a dozen countries, resulting in payment of more than $5 million in illegally withheld compensation and the reinstatement of over a thousand workers who had been unlawfully terminated.
While in law school, Jeremy has continued his research and advocacy on behalf of low-wage workers. Among other experiences, he has documented forced labor at a Walmart seafood supplier in Louisiana employing migrant workers from Mexico (NY Times article and editorial); put together a class-action lawsuit on behalf of hotel workers in Los Angeles who were forced to purchase their own cleaning supplies and work off-the-clock (LA Business Journal article); investigated labor rights violations at a Whole Foods distributor in Washington and California (report); and helped develop and lead a training program for California's state wage-and-hour inspectors on conducting effective worker interviews (summary).
Jeremy has also worked as a law clerk at the ACLU of Southern California, where he assisted with litigation on behalf of homeless veterans suffering from PTSD (NY Times article) and coauthored a report on the criminalization of youth under Los Angeles' daytime curfew (report).
His Note, "Using Compliance Transparency to Combat Wage Theft," was published in January 2013 by the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy. He has also collaborated with professors Mark Anner and Jennifer Bair on a forthcoming article in the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal on the history of the U.S. garment industry and efforts to eradicate sweatshops.
Jeremy grew up in Los Angeles and graduated summa cum laude from UC Berkeley.
Lauren Dollar graduated from Emory University in 2005 with a major in international studies. In 2006, she volunteered in post-Katrina New Orleans working in a free legal clinic assisting hurricane victims with insurance claims, participating in public housing advocacy, and monitoring the prison conditions in the Orleans Parish Prison. She also interned with the International Rescue Committee and Refugee Family Services, and worked with the Emory Living Wage Campaign. After graduation, she completed a Master's of Philosophy in Justice and Transformation from the University of Cape Town in 2008. From 2007-2010, she worked at the South African and Dutch branches of Young in Prison, where she coordinated programs for juvenile offenders in multiple juvenile correctional facilities in Cape Town, South Africa, and worked on organizational development in Amsterdam.
Abbey graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008 with a self-designed major in "Crime and Punishment." Prior to attending law school Abbey worked as an associate for the US Program at Human Rights Watch, where she assisted on various reports focusing on human rights violations within the United States, including on criminal justice, sexual assault, and immigration policy. Abbey's career interests in indigent defense, sentencing policy, and improving prison conditions stem from a 2005 internship at the DC Public Defender Service, where as a criminal investigator she was first exposed to conditions within the DC jails.
At Georgetown, Abbey participated in the Juvenile Justice Clinic (3L year) and the Community Justice Project Clinic (2L year). Since beginning law school she has clerked at the Institutional Services Program in the Community Justice Division of the DC Public Defender, representing individuals in their jail disciplinary hearings and assisting with other issues related to their incarceration; at the DC Prisoners' Project of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, working on impact litigation to improve conditions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons; and at the Alexandria, VA, Public Defender Service. She also volunteered at the Father McKenna Center serving homeless men.
At the University of Michigan Abbey received high honors for her thesis on the impact of nomenclature on students' perceptions of the incarcerated population. For two years Abbey led weekly theater workshops in local Michigan prisons through Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Program. While in college she also worked with the Sentencing Project, National Criminal Justice Association, Washtenaw County Public Defender, and for a Michigan state representative.
Abbey rode her bike across the country, worked on an organic produce farm, loves to cook (and eat), and is from New York.
Vasanthi (Vasu) Reddy
Vasu Reddy is in her third year at Georgetown Law, with an interest in legislative advocacy on civil rights, racial justice, and reproductive justice. After graduating, Vasu will serve as Women's Law and Public Policy Fellow at the National Partnership for Women and Families in the Workplace Fairness section. Vasu has interned at the National Women's Law Center, New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee for Privacy, Technology and the Law. She serves as treasurer for Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice and on the editorial board of the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy. Before law school, Vasu worked at Sanctuary for Families, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to serving domestic violence survivors, sex trafficking survivors, and their children. Vasu graduated from Harvard College with a Bachelor of Arts in Government.
Stacie Reimer Smith
Prior to her studies at Georgetown Law, Stacie Reimer Smith spent four years developing her career in the non-profit and government sectors. Stacie earned her B.A. from Northwest University in 2006. Following graduation, Stacie worked as a case manager for a social service non-profit that serves homeless families. Stacie was responsible for low-income housing management, new client intake, and client advocacy and support. Stacie then joined the Peace Corps as a youth development worker in Bulgaria. During her two years in Bulgaria, Stacie became fluent in the language and worked in partnership with local schools and non-profit organizations. Her main projects focused on improving the quality of life for orphans, disabled children and at-risk youth. These projects included the creation of a sensory room for autistic children, the creation of an after-school club for at-risk youth, human trafficking awareness campaigns, and HIV/AIDS education.
At Georgetown, Stacie is involved in the Georgetown Human Rights Action group’s advocacy committee and anti-trafficking committee. During her 1L year Stacie worked as a student volunteer at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and interned with the Rebecca Project for Human Rights. During her 1L summer Stacie interned at the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India, where she worked on public interest lawsuits concerning women’s health. Currently, Stacie is interning at the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and is a Law Fellow for Prof. Ross. Stacie is also a staff member of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law. Stacie plans to use her law degree to work in either a non-profit organization or a government agency working to combat human trafficking.
Kelly Whitener is currently a 3E at Georgetown and works for the Senate Committee on Finance, managing the Medicaid, CHIP, and prevention and wellness portfolios. As an undergraduate, Kelly studied psychology and Spanish at the University of Michigan and worked with children with special needs. In 2002, Kelly joined the Peace Corps, serving for three years in Ecuador as an urban youth development volunteer. Her time in the Peace Corps sparked an interest in policy. Upon her return to the US, Kelly studied public health policy at UCLA while working as a case manager in community mental health clinics. After completing her graduate work, Kelly was selected as a David A. Winston Health Policy Fellow which brought her to Washington, DC. Since moving to Washington, Kelly has continued to focus her work on improving the health of low-income children and families.
PILS 2014 Class
Katie graduated from the University of Virginia in 2007 with a BA in Foreign Affairs and a minor in Global Cultures and Commerce. While at UVa, Katie participated in an international relations and human rights study abroad program in Geneva, Switzerland and was an active member of UVa's chapters of Amnesty International and the community service fraternity, APO. She also interned at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development in Geneva, at Amnesty International in Washington, DC, and at Human Rights Watch in New York. After graduating, Katie joined the U.S. Peace Corps as an Environment Volunteer in Madagascar. She spent her service working with subsistence farmers to improve agricultural practice as well as with local NGOs to encourage conservation of the rainforest. Katie placed a special emphasis on women's empowerment in her work in Madagascar.
Since entering law school, Katie has interned for the Global Justice Center, an international human rights legal organization in New York whose mission is to use international law to bring human rights "from paper" to actual practice, as well as for MidPenn Legal Services, a legal aid firm in Pennsylvania. Katie is also a Global Rights Scholar at Georgetown and she is interested in international human rights and rule of law in developing countries.
Justin's passion for public interest law stems from his Christian faith and the clear biblical teachings to "do justice and love mercy" (Micah 6:8). Justin graduated from Gordon College in 2007 with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies and a minor in foreign languages (Spanish and Koine Greek). Prior to law school, Justin worked in the Outreach Department of Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, where he supported the work of Grace's 80+ global and regional ministry partners and helped coordinate over two dozen domestic and international service projects. Justin also worked as a paralegal for the Law Offices of Jeffrey B. Rubin in Boston, MA, a firm specializing in criminal defense and immigration law. There, he worked closely with the predominantly Spanish-speaking clientele to prepare applications for permanent residency, naturalization, asylum, and withholding/cancellation of removal. Justin hopes to explore many areas of public interest law while at Georgetown, especially international human rights, immigration, and criminal law. Whatever Justin finds himself working, he is grateful to be learning a practical way to put his faith into action. He also knows that he could not accomplish any of this without the support of his incredible wife, Lauren, whom he joyfully married on June 4, 2011.
Becca grew up in New York City and graduated from Wesleyan University in May 2008 with High Honors in the Science in Society Program, with concentrations in Psychology and Sociology. Undergraduate internships at Planned Parenthood and the Innocence Project led to her interest in addressing health disparities and criminal justice system reform, and inspired her to attend law school to develop tools to effect systemic change. After graduating from Wesleyan, Becca worked for two years as a paralegal and then conducted field work for the study "Stress and Justice in the South Bronx" at Columbia University-New York State Psychiatric Institute. Becca also spent a month with the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, India, where she studied community-based primary health care, the village health worker system, and methods for stimulating economic development in rural communities.
At Georgetown Law, Becca is a Staff Editor for the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy and President of the Executive Board of HouseReach, a student-run initiative to help DC's homeless population through direct service and advocacy. She spent her 1L summer and 2L fall as an intern at the Legal Aid Society of DC, where she worked in the Public Benefits Unit. She is currently a law clerk with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and will spend her 2L summer at the Urban Justice Center in New York, working in their Mental Health Project. Becca is particularly interested in securing access for clients to community-based, comprehensive mental health services.
Jennesa is interested in legal issues that impact economic justice and civil rights. At Georgetown Law School, Jennesa is on the Executive Board of two student organizations, the ACLU of Georgetown Law and of HouseReach, which works to address homelessness in Washington, D.C.In the fall of 2012, as part of the Center for Applied Legal Studies asylum clinic, Jennesa worked to successfully represented a client applying for political asylum. Jennesa also volunteered at the Employment Justice Center's Workers Rights' Clinic and prepared job applications for low-income people with the JobSquad. During her 1L summer Jennesa worked on healthcare related class action litigation and Supreme Court amicus briefs in furtherance of the needs and rights of patients, particularly the low-income elderly, with the AARP Foundation Litigation. This summer she will work on civil rights cases in New York City at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP.
Before starting law school Jennesa worked for the Chief Counsel of the New York State Senate, as the Director of an innovative program to intervene in the spread of gun violence across New York State, and for the Strong Economy for All Coalition, an alliance of community organizations and labor groups.Jennesa also traveled to Georgia and Florida as a staff member on Barack Obama's 2008 Presidential campaign and has worked on several New York State campaigns, including for NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In support of health care reform proposals for young adults, she helped start a national advocacy organization, "Young Invincibles."
Jennesa graduated from Swarthmore College in 2008 with an Honors Major in Political Science and an Honors Minor in Sociology & Anthropology. At Swarthmore Jennesa spearheaded successful campaigns to implement more ethical consumer practices as Swarthmore, formed a student organization to improve labor practices, served on the Committee for Investor Responsibility, and prepared taxes for low-income people. In response to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, Jennesa helped found the Genocide Intervention Network (now United to End Genocide). She was also a Presidential Fellow at the Center of the Study of the American Presidency & Congress.
Aparna is from Greenville, South Carolina and graduated from Duke University in 2005. While at Duke, she interned at the Legal Aid Society in Asheville, North Carolina, where she helped Domestic Violence victims represent themselves in court. She spent a summer in Cape Town, South Africa, teaching a speech and debate workshop to kids in the township of Phillipe. For the past few years Aparna has been working in the Office of Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, where she served as a Legislative Assistant for health care, women's issues, education, immigration and Social Security. She advised her boss during the historic health care reform debate, helping the Congresswoman focus her legislative efforts on women's health. Aparna wrote legislation to provide legal protections for victims of sexual assault in the military, which passed in the House of Representatives. Aparna has also worked in the Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski, and the health policy office of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Aparna took a break from Capitol Hill to serve as a field organizer during Obama presidential campaign in North Dakota and Wisconsin. Aparna is interested in women's issues, poverty, health care and human rights. She hopes to use her law degree to continue public policy work in one or more of these areas.
Clare grew up in Berkeley, California and graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a degree in Political Science. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Clare participated in Project BRITE (Bruins Reforming Incarceration Through Education), where she tutored young inmates at Juvenile Probation Camp Vernon Kilpatrick. Before coming to law school, Clare spent time working at a juvenile detention facility in Cusco, Peru, worked as a waitress in the Bay Area, and volunteered with young inmates in Oakland, leading creative writing workshops and preparing weekly publications that circulated throughout California juvenile halls. After her 1L summer, Clare worked in the Juvenile Division of the San Francisco Public Defender and is currently interning with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, in the Juvenile Services Program. This coming summer she will be working at the National Center for Youth Law. Clare's passion for juvenile defense and her desire to affect systemic changes in juvenile justice brought her to Georgetown Law, and she is eager to continue fighting to reduce recidivism among young offenders.
Lee grew up in New York City and graduated from Yale University with a dual degree in English and Ethnicity, Race and Migration. Before starting law school, Lee worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker for numerous media outlets including PBS, MSNBC and Newsweek. She has covered presidential elections, the war in Iraq, the debate over healthcare, and immigration. "Someone Else's War," a documentary that she directed about the abuse of Filipino contractors on U.S. military bases in Iraq, has won numerous awards including the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Student Visionary Award. The ACLU recently cited her film as a source for its 2012 report "Victims of Complacency." Since arriving at Georgetown, Lee has pursued her passion for immigrants' rights by working with the school's Center for Applied Legal Studies. Working with a team of clinic supervisors and another law student, she succeeded in winning relief for a client who sought protection under the Convention Against Torture. She has also served as a law clerk for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and is currently interning with the Women's Refugee Commission's Migrants Rights and Justice program. She lives with her husband Danny and her two year-old daughter Maya.
PILS 2015 Class
Fawah N. Akwo
Fawah grew up with five siblings and countless cousins in the coastal town of Limbe, Cameroon, in west Central Africa. In 2004, she moved to the United States to enroll at MIT and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. While at MIT, Fawah co-founded and won both a Baker fellowship and an MIT-Microsoft iCampus grant for OpenCameroon: iREACT (Internet Resources Equipping Africans for College and Technology), a program where she trained high school students and local NGO staff in Cameroon on how to leverage Internet technologies for learning.
After college, Fawah worked as a Software Engineer at Oracle, where she developed customer relationship management (CRM) web applications. During her time in Silicon Valley, she founded schoolpikin.org, a crowd-funding website to enable youth in developing countries to organize and garner support for service projects in their communities.
Fawah maintains an active interest in international development and in public sector reform. She is especially interested in platforms that combine legal theory with technology to foster public sector transparency and accountability, and protect free speech on social media. At Georgetown Law, Fawah plans to explore international human rights, women’s rights and cyberlaw.
Adina is passionate about advocating for refugee and migrant rights. She spent a year in Cairo, Egypt as a Fulbright scholar providing legal aid to refugees who had fled from Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia through The Resettlement Legal Aid Project. Adina has interned at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, assisting Haitians, Cubans and others seeking safety through legal status in the Caribbean, and at Asylum Access Ecuador, advocating for Colombian and other refugees at the policy-level.
Adina is pursuing joint Juris Doctor and Master of Public Policy degrees at Georgetown. At Georgetown Law, she is active in the international and human rights law communities as a Global Law Scholar and Human Rights Associate. She is a member of the International Migrant Bill of Rights (IMBR) Initiative and the Sudan Human Rights Project. This summer Adina will provide legal representation to detained asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR).
Adina graduated magna cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in International Area Studies and Urban Studies.
Rachel F. Cicurel
Rachel Cicurel graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in June 2010. She spent her senior year at Medill as an investigative journalist for the Medill Innocence Project, and helped uncover overwhelming evidence of innocence in the case of a prisoner from a Chicago housing project who was wrongfully convicted of double homicide and sentenced to life without parole shortly after his 15th birthday. She also worked with three other students to expose juror recantations in the case of Texas death row inmate Henry "Hank" Skinner, whose case was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in October 2010. Since graduating from Northwestern, she has spent two years at the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project (MAIP) in DC and has been involved in working to correct a 7 co-defendant wrongful conviction surrounding an infamous DC murder which occurred in 1984.
Jim grew up in New Jersey with his parents and younger brother, and graduated from Duke University with a degree in economics. While at Duke, he facilitated discussions and retreats with the Center for Race Relations, and directed Project BUILD, a community service program that introduces freshmen to each other and to the Durham community. After college, Jim worked on the policy staff of then-Gov. Jon Corzine's re-election campaign, focusing on education policy and economic issues. After the campaign, he took a job at Educational Testing Service, analyzing test data for reliability, validity, and fairness. Wanting to advocate more directly for equity in America's education system, Jim left ETS to join the staff of The Education Trust, a non-profit research and advocacy group whose mission is closing achievement gaps and promoting high achievement for all students. Among other issues, he is concerned about mounting student loan debt and the increasingly unaffordable price of higher education, and hopes to use his Georgetown education to help address this. When not working, Jim enjoys cooking and culinary adventures of all kinds.
Hannah Gordon grew up on Long Island, New York. She graduated with honors from Cornell University with a Bachelors of Science in Industrial and Labor Relations. For her senior honors thesis, she researched the impact of policy and legal precedent on women’s pensions. As an undergraduate, she was the president of the Industrial and Labor Relations Women’s Caucus and brought speakers and programming to campus to address gender issues in the workplace. As president of the Women’s Caucus, she also coordinated fundraising events for the local women’s opportunity center. Hannah spent a semester interning at the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that provides support for political candidates who advocate for women’s rights. After college, Hannah continued to pursue her interest in gender equality while working at the Feminist Majority Foundation, a non-profit feminist organization. At the Feminist Majority Foundation, Hannah worked on various women’s equality issues, such as reproductive rights and equal pay. She intends to pursue a career as an employment and women’s rights lawyer, focusing on employment discrimination.
Chayla C. Jackson
Chayla C. Jackson graduated with high honors with a B.A. in African American Studies from University of Maryland, College Park and is an alumnae of the Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program. While in college, Chayla served on the University Student Judiciary and interned for the Honorable Senator Nathaniel Exum in the Maryland General Assembly where she testified before the Finance Committee on two worker's compensation bills. She was also involved in the University of Maryland college chapter of NAACP, and it was her work with them that introduced her to the prison industrial complex and school-to-prison pipeline. Passionate about motivating youth to educate themselves and mentorship as a prevention mechanism against the school-to-prison pipeline, Chayla became involved in mentoring programs. She coordinated a weekly mentoring program throughout the year for girls ages 7 to 18 in her hometown and organized a spring semester Saturday Freedom School, modeled after the freedom schools of the Civil Rights Movement, for local 7th graders. Both programs used culture and history to educate and empower youth.
After graduation, Chayla became involved in the Prince George's County Drug Policy Coalition, Inc. and currently, sits on the Board of Directors for Community Outreach Services, Inc., helping them fulfill their mission as a human services non-profit aimed at helping adult and juveniles in the criminal justice system successfully reintegrate into the community. This summer Chayla will be interning with Judge Arthur L. Burnett, Sr. researching social policy issues. Chayla is interested in criminal justice, juvenile justice, and civil rights.
David S. Mitchell
David was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. After college, he worked on a failed gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts and then moved to Washington, DC. This first stint in the nation's capital lasted nearly four years, spent mostly as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). He handled health care and Social Security issues for the senator and worked on the landmark health reform law that passed in 2010. Over the last two years, David studied domestic policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he earned a Master’s degree in Public Affairs. While a student at Princeton, David co-wrote a report on urban education reform for the National Association of State Boards of Education and co-produced a documentary short on education financing in rural Georgia. Over the years, David has held internships with Salon.com, the Office of Management and Budget, the New Democrat Network, and the National Association of Community Health Centers. He once held a temporary job as a pre-market tester of children's toys. He is passionate about enhancing social mobility in the U.S., particularly through health, education, and tax policy, and hopes one day to help craft legislation in these areas.
Whiquitta grew up in the Arkansas Delta. She graduated magna cum laude from Alabama A&M University with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. As an undergraduate, she was the president of the political science honor society on campus, the pre-law society, and captain of the women's basketball team. Whiquitta was named to Espn's top 100 list for women's college basketball players. As an undergraduate at Alabama A&M, Whiquitta interned with the Madison County Commissioner's office, helping inmates secure jobs upon release. Her activities during undergrad and growing up in the Arkansas Delta influenced her interest in prison reform and criminal defense. Her passion for defending the marginalized has led her to Georgetown. As a 1L Whiquitta currently interns for The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, regarded by many as the nation's model public defender office. She also works with the DC Snap program providing food assistance opportunities to the needy. Whiquitta continues on her path of pursuing justice and opportunity for all.