PILS 2019 Bios
Emma came to Georgetown interested in public defense and its intersection with immigration. Before law school, she spent two years at the Contra Costa Public Defender’s Office. She worked on designing and co-piloting their Community Lawyering for Youth Project, which was aimed at providing more holistic and client-centered advocacy for juveniles. Since starting law school, she has done two externships with the Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia and spent a spring break with the Orleans Public Defenders. Emma spent her 1L summer at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco and her 2L summer at the Office of the Alameda County Public Defender. She has been fortunate enough to participate in multiple clinics during the academic year. In her 2L year, Emma represented an asylum seeker in immigration court through the Center for Applied Legal Studies is currently defending people charged with misdemeanors and parole violations through Georgetown’s Criminal Justice Clinic. After graduation she will spend a year clerking for Judge Easterly on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals then hopes to being her career as a public defender.
David Atkinson grew up ten miles south of a small town in rural Missouri. He graduated with his B.S. from Truman State University, where he finished in the top 10 percent of all army ROTC cadets nationwide. While in college, he was selected for the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, studying Arabic intensively in Tunisia.
After college, David was an active duty paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division for three years, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. During his fourth year, he became a detachment commander. After leaving active duty, he transitioned into the Army with Reserves, attended Harvard, and graduated with a master of education for education policy and management.
Additionally, he graduated from Kansas State University with a master of science in adult and continuing education.
Annie Flanagan comes to Georgetown Law after spending over three years in the Capital Division of the Orleans Public Defenders. As Capital Coordinator, Annie worked to establish the office’s capital defense practice for pre-trail clients facing the death penalty in New Orleans. The division’s quality of representation using a holistic, client-centered approach was recognized by national experts during her tenure. She spent over two years leading mitigation investigations and managing care of OPD clients and their families. Annie brought experience with establishing organizational structures from her time as founding board member and President of New Incentives, an organization that currently works on poverty alleviation and maternal health in Nigeria. Annie’s passion for social justice emerged from a background of service in education and literacy, immigration and refugee services, and prisoners’ rights.
At Georgetown, Annie hopes to gain a deeper understanding of the intersections between civil rights, indigent defense, immigration and labor issues.
Eric is a Massachusetts native and comes to Georgetown Law with a background in public policy and community organizing. He is a graduate of Boston University, where he obtained degrees in political science and international relations, as well as jointly founded a global civic education program in local high schools. Eric has a diverse range of government and political experience, having worked in the Massachusetts state legislature, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, U.S. House of Representatives, and on both Congressional and Gubernatorial campaigns. In these positions, he observed the interactions between government and people, and has become most interested in issues of civic participation and voter engagement.
Most recently, he served for two years as Assistant Director at Common Cause Massachusetts, a nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to open, honest, and accountable government. Here, Eric helped lead successful legislative and grassroots campaigns for issues like reforming the state freedom of information law, enhancing rules for campaign finance disclosure, and helping to guide the implementation of a new early voting program.
He plans to focus his Georgetown education on civil rights, legislation, and other public interest areas. Eric hopes to use his future law degree to continue promoting both justice and reform.
Valencia is a New York native, who grew up watching her parents work in their Harlem community. Her father, a landlord and butcher shop owner in Harlem, mentored and trained young men in the neighborhood to become butchers. While her mother, a school psychologist at a Bronx public high school, often invited students craving a stable home life into their home. Inspired by her parents to make a difference in her community, Valencia volunteered in her congressman’s office, organized youth leadership and cultural awareness conferences with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, and organized carol singing and toy drives for the Pediatric Care Unit in Harlem Hospital. Valencia attended Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University as a Life Gets Better, Presidential Scholar where she earned a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Business Management. While pursuing her degrees, she continued her commitment to the community by volunteering in youth and health awareness programs. Upon graduation, she returned home, where she spent the past ten years working healthcare and real estate.
Valencia’s relationship with the healthcare system is both professional and personal. After losing her mother to cancer, the summer after her freshman year in college, Valencia committed to work in healthcare to help other families faced with similar obstacles. She completed four healthcare oriented internships in marketing and sales at Schering Plough Corporation and the Pharmacy Department of St. Barnabas Hospital, gaining exposure to the development, marketing, dispensing and regulation of medications. After college, she was a Clinical Research Coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center in the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. As a Coordinator, she guided patients through their participation in clinical trials, advocating for their best treatment along the way. Her experience was critical in helping her father battle cancer upon his diagnosis. Caring for her ninety-five-year-old father exposed Valencia to the inherent bias based on age, race, gender, perceived economic status and education that affect the quality of care. Concurrently, Valenica worked in New York real estate, managing tenant relations for VISHEG Enterprises and as a licensed salesperson for DSA Realty.
Valencia has come to realize that she can best help families caring for loved ones, by addressing systemic issues that affect patients’ quality of care. While at Georgetown Law, Valencia will study how law relates to the economy and demographic bias to improve the quality of systems that affect our everyday lives.
Emma hails from New York City. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 2014 with a B.A. in Government. At Wesleyan, she worked for three years for the Center for Prison Education (CPE). Through teaching classes to incarcerated people, Emma became outraged at the injustice of punitive penal sanctions. Her senior year, she saw a need for education in juvenile facilities, so she founded and directed a tutoring program. Emma interned in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on the Standby Defense Team for Radovan Karadzic, the former President of Bosnia-Herzegovina charged with genocide. This further formed her interest in ensuring everyone, no matter how heinous the alleged crime, receives the best representation possible.
After graduation, Emma moved to Florida to work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. As a Community Advocate focusing on juvenile justice and education reform, Emma investigated facts for Office of Civil Rights complaints about disproportionately high punishment of students of color, conducted data analyses and presented reports on arrest rates, prison deaths, and corporal punishment, and co-led a campaign to stop Florida’s practice of trying children as adults. She is most proud of her work tirelessly traveling through rural Florida interviewing incarcerated kids and advocating for improved conditions of confinement.
At Georgetown Law, Emma plans to focus on criminal defense and prison reform. Dedicated to spending her legal career zealously advocating for the most oppressed members of society, her goal is to use her J.D. to become a public defender, ultimately returning to impact litigation to challenge mass incarceration.
Emma’s passion for defense was first evident on the soccer field, where she was dubbed the “most tenacious” player as a kid. A collegiate athlete and an avid hiker, Emma’s tenacity has taken her to the top of cliffs around the world.
Cedric is a Kenyan, born and raised in Monbasa (a small island along the East African Coast). He graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a B.A. in Philosophy (first class). His commitment to issues of social justice especially for refugees and other marginalized groups has seen him work in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania among other countries. He helped found a community based organization that deals with protection of vulnerable women and children fleeing the war in Somalia.
In Northern Kenya, he organized teen mothers to begin income generating activities. Cedric has also carried out researches that range from peace to food security in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan. Between 2012 and 2013 he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Chiedza a philosophical journal that reflects on an array of issues in the global south. In 2013, Cedric Co-directed a TV series on peace and reconciliation. For the past year he was the Assistant Director of Advancement for a free high school for HIV/AIDS orphans. He hopes that these interests will see him through a joint degree J.D./LL.M in International Business and Economic Law.
He is particularly interested in finding out how refugees and other marginalized groups can find a place in the global economy. With an interest international matters, Cedric is also a Global law scholar and Arrupe Scholar for Peace.
In his free time he volunteers with Kenya Red Cross where he is a life member. He also enjoys early morning jogs (doing what Kenyans do best–run) and he is an ardent supporter of Manchester United Football Club. Over the years he has developed an interest in reading fiction. He equally relaxes by writing short stories.
Growing up the daughter of a struggling single mother and hearing whispered tales of the injustice her family experienced as Vietnamese refugees, Nikki developed a passion for the arenas of human rights and social justice activism. From a young age, she possessed an intimate knowledge of marginalization and an understanding of what it meant for systems to fail and for people to fall through cracks.
In addition to her position with the Israeli Ministry of Justice, in which she produced a 130-page sociological report on Eritrean refugees that was circulated as a resource for NGOs such as Amnesty Internation and the Red Cross, Nikki has acted as a researcher for PROOF Media for Social Justice, investigating rape as a weapon of war in various countries. She also worked as a researcher for Focus Forward, creating inmate resumes and collecting information on specialists in recidivism.
While an associate at the the Sciences Po Human Rights Law Clinic, she conducted in-depth examinations of a Canadian mining company operating in the Congo and assisted with the production of a Carter Center “Guide” for local actors scrutinizing extractive industries. As a paralegal for a complex litigation firm, she helped develop the socioeconomic analyses for jury preparations during the Arab Bank trial, the first successful civil suit under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.
Most recently, Nikki assisted on trafficking victims’ vacatur cases and worked closely with a client on a presidential pardon petition with the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. She also coordinated a “letters of hope” campaign for refugees with various faith-based institutions in Montclair, NJ. These letters were distributed on a crowd-funded service trip to the Calais-area refugee camps in France, where she worked with L’Auberge des Migrants and taught an intermediate English course. Nikki graduated with honors from Yale University, where she double majored in Religious Studies and Anthropology. Upon graduation, she received a Herbert and Jean Cahoon Award for her community service work in the greater New Haven area.
Nikki looks forward with great anticipation to learning how to be a better advocate, capable of giving dignified and compassionate service while also turning a conscientious lens upon the socioeconomic and cultural processes that produce and perpetuate injustice. While at Georgetown Law, she plans to dig deeper into the intersections of criminal justice, migration, health, and faith-based activism. She is particularly intent on focusing on refugee advocacy, an issue very close to her heart.
In her free time, Nikki enjoys reading, hiking, cooking, painting, and traveling.
Arielle has worked in advocacy for survivors of sexual violence since graduating from the University of Oregon in 2011. Immediately prior to coming to Georgetown, she worked for the Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center, a national nonprofit that assists American women living or traveling overseas who experience domestic violence, sexual assault, or sex trafficking. She coordinated resources and services for safe international relocations for violence survivors and their families, and collaborated with American Embassies around the world, with other national and international nonprofits, and with different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Her career serving gendered violence survivors began at a community-based domestic violence shelter and advocacy agency, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV). At CARDV, Arielle helped survivors, many of whom were isolated in rural Oregon, navigate civil and criminal legal systems, find resources to establish stability after fleeing violence, and develop plans for long term safely and healing. In partnership with a local residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, she developed a new program to educate and support teen survivors of dating violence, sex trafficking, and child sex abuse.
As an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, Arielle interned at the local Child Abuse Assessment Center helping families understand the complex legal process that occurs after a report of child physical or sexual abuse. She also served as a Student Senator and a member-at-large on the Erb Memorial Union Board of Directors, and worked at the Women’s Center where she created a Volunteer Program to increase involvement and activism in women’s issues on campus. Arielle plans to use her law degree to influence law and policy to reduce barriers and increase safety for those most vulnerable to violence in our society.