PILS 2017

Becca BalisBecca Balis' career in emergency humanitarian response has brought her to conflict and post-disaster contexts for the past four years. During that time, she specialized in protection, focusing most of her work on child protection in complex emergencies. She managed child protection and education programs in refugee camps at the Liberian border during the Côte d'Ivoire 2011 crisis. This motivated her to continue learning about refugee rights in other types of crises. She acquired further experience in IDP camps in post-earthquake Haiti, in Mali during the 2013 conflict, and with child protection and development programming in Tunisia, Nigeria, and Ghana. More recently, she conducted protection needs assessments in persecuted Rakhine communities in Myanmar and in typhoon-affected communities in the Philippines. Balis has experience with the UN and international humanitarian NGOs as well as locally based NGOs. At Georgetown law and with the PILS community, she looks forward to developing a public interest focused foundation in International Humanitarian Law, concentrating in forced displacement, to pursue her career in refugee protection.

Balis graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, where she majored in international relations and history and minored in African studies. She spent a summer volunteering in Ghana for a girls empowerment NGO, where she became determined to return to west Africa upon graduation. She received a Princeton in Africa fellowship to work in Liberia in 2010-2011.  At Penn, Balis was the editor-in-chief of the Journal on International Relations, produced by the IR honor society, and was a volunteer for the Penn International Business Volunteers' Africa non-profit projects. She also volunteered with West Philadelphia Community Outreach and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In her free time, Balis' cureless wanderlust and borderline adrenaline addiction have found her atop Mt Kilimanjaro, on cliffsides in the Sahel, and navigating rapids throughout Laos. These pursuits she hopes to continue nearer to DC in the coming years. 


Caitlin Callahan

Caitlin Callahan graduated from Northwestern University in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and International Studies, and a Minor in Global Health. As an undergrad, Caitlin was involved with several social justice initiatives; she co-founded and directed the Northwestern Living Wage Campaign on campus and held public interest-oriented internships both in Chicago and New York City. Caitlin also spent time in Peru working as a consultant to a development organization and conducting research on social enterprise models. Following graduation, Caitlin served as a Global Health Corps fellow in New York City, where she worked to improve the nutritional health of the city’s vulnerable populations, particularly women and children. In her most recent position at a public health institute, she supported programs to deliver reproductive health care to low-income New Yorkers and coordinated a city-wide coalition dedicated to breaking down barriers in access to effective contraception. Looking forward, Caitlin plans to focus her studies on human rights and global health law to strengthen her ability to advocate for health equity, specifically in terms of universal access to reproductive health care for all women. 


Kate Hathaway

Before enrolling at Georgetown, Kate Hatheway lived in Montgomery, Alabama and worked as a paralegal for over three years at the Equal Justice Initiative. She assisted formerly incarcerated clients with reentry, provided support to clients currently in prison, and also participated in investigations of sexual and physical abuse at Alabama prisons. Kate previously worked for the Justice Policy Institute on a project to reduce the number of women incarcerated in Alabama. She graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a degree in German Literature and Cultural History.

During law school, Kate has interned for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, Orleans Public Defenders, Louisiana Capital Assistance Center, Southern Center for Human Rights, and Gideon's Promise. She is currently a student attorney in Georgetown’s Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, where she represents clients in their D.C. Superior Court cases and at parole revocation hearings. She also serves as a research assistant for Professor Allegra McLeod and for Georgetown's Prisons and Justice Initiative. After law school Kate plans to provide zealous representation to people charged or convicted of any and all crimes who cannot afford an attorney.


Speare Hodges

Speare Hodges has spent his entire professional career serving in the public interest both internationally and domestically. As an undergraduate at Emory University, he was recognized by President Jimmy Carter for research on foreign direct investment in Nicaragua with support from Emory IDN-CIPA and Gilman Scholarship programs. After graduating in 2010, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Olmos, Peru, where he was awarded Peru’s Volunteer Excellence Award for successes working with local community partners, government agencies, and international development organizations to implement HIV/AIDS prevention and higher education access programs. Returning home with a renewed sense of economic justice, he worked as a foreclosure prevention paralegal in Staten Island Legal Services’ Homeowner Defense Project and at the Center for New York City Neighborhoods coordinating foreclosure prevention and Hurricane Sandy recovery programs across the five New York City boroughs.

His first summer at Georgetown Law, he was awarded the ABA’s Janet Steiger Fellowship to work in the New York Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Frauds and Protection. Next summer, he will be working as a Summer Honors Legal Intern at the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. He also competes on with the Moot Court Appellate Advocacy team, works as a research assistant, is the President of the Consumer Law Society, and is a Staff Editor for the Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law and Policy. In his spare time, he enjoys playing classical piano, volunteering his Spanish fluency at legal at various legal intake programs, and gymnastics.


Sochie NnaemekaSochie Nnaemeka is a New Yorker born to Nigerian parents. As an undergraduate at Yale University, Sochie double majored in History and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  In 2008, she took time off from school to serve as a field organizer for the Obama campaign in Toledo, Ohio.  Upon graduation, Sochie moved to Miami, Florida where she spent two years as a rank and file leader in the casino industry fighting alongside her coworkers to build their own union in the shop.

She spent the past five years talking to and organizing hundreds of students, clergy, workers, elected officials and the unemployed around issues of racial, social and economic justice. As a political and community organizer with UNITE HERE, a progressive service sector union, and a founding organizer of New Haven Rising, a community-based membership organization, she trained organizers, ran political campaigns for champions of social change, and built teams of residents committed to collective struggle.  She successfully led a campaign securing a community benefits agreement between an underserved neighborhood in New Haven and a new developer that included living wage jobs for local residents and financial contributions to youth programming. 

Sochie plans to the study the law to explore the ways in which it can better protect, serve, and embolden working people. She loves city parks, cooking, contemporary African fiction, and 60’s soul and rock.


Alison TannerAlison Tanner came to Georgetown Law after spending nearly three years working for the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.  At the ACLU Alison assisted with a number of litigation matters, including challenges to South Dakota's law that requires women to visit a crisis pregnancy center before obtaining an abortion, a restriction on Medicaid funding for abortion in Alaska, and a law in Alabama that would have forced three of the five abortion providers in the state to close their doors.  She was also heavily involved in protecting the federal contraception benefit, and tracked more than 100 challenges to the law.  Prior to joining the ACLU, Alison worked in the Office of the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.   She earned a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Political Science – Public Service from the University of California, Davis, where she served the student body as a Senator and an advocate for pregnant and parenting students’ rights.  


Julia WardJulia Ward graduated magna cum laude from Elizabethtown College in 2013 with degrees in Political Science and Political Philosophy and Legal Studies. While an undergraduate, Julia held several internship positions in Pennsylvania state government, including the Department of General Services, Department of Public Welfare, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. During her junior year, Julia studied in The Gambia for a semester, where she volunteered for an NGO and taught eleventh grade English at Sheikh Mass Kah Senior Islamic Secondary School. Her experiences in The Gambia sparked an interest in international law, especially as it relates to women’s rights. Immediately following graduation, Julia was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to Namibia where she worked with the Gender Research and Advocacy Project of the Legal Assistance Centre, a public interest human rights law firm. As part of her Fulbright project, Julia worked on modifications to make the protection order application process for domestic violence cases more efficient. She also developed materials regarding children’s rights for students across Namibia and assisted in the creation of an online database of all Namibian laws in order to make the law more accessible to the public. Julia is eager to gain more knowledge and experience in the fields of international human rights law and women’s issues during her time at Georgetown Law. 


Nick WertschNick Wertsch grew up attending public schools in St. Louis, MO and graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Government and English. He took a semester off from college to work as a field organizer for the Obama campaign in his home state of Missouri in 2008. After graduating, he moved to India to work with an Indian NGO providing media and legal advocacy on land rights issues. Later, Nick returned on a Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowship to study energy politics, democracy, and community organizing in India. He has also interned at the White House and worked at SmartPower, a nonprofit marketing group that promotes clean energy. In his current position as program coordinator at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Nick oversees community engagement and student programs focused on organizing, policy, and research around economic justice issues. He is interested in ways to combine community organizing and legal strategies to serve the public good, both domestically and abroad.


Tahir Duckett

Tahir serves as the National Young Worker Coordinator at the AFL-CIO.  He directs the AFL-CIO's engagement with and development of young workers both inside and outside of the labor movement. From 2007 to 2013, he worked as the Deputy National Field Director at Working America, where he helped manage and maintain all aspects of a grassroots effort that has organized over 3 million workers. He also led Working America's efforts around staff recruitment and diversity. Prior to serving at Working America, he worked as the Field Director for the Democratic Party of Georgia, where he helped managed field campaigns for two of the most competitive congressional races in the country, and as Canvass Director for Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. on their fundraising project with the Democratic National Committee. He is the Founder and President of the Board of ReThink, a D.C. based non-profit that runs grassroots level anti-sexual violence campaigns centered around redefining consent and sexual entitlement among men and boys.

He was raised in Atlanta and received a B.A. in Religion and Political Science from Emory University. He is enrolled in evening division at the Law Center.


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