Meet the SJI Team

Click on the profile of any staff member below for more information, including bios and instructions on how to make an advising appointment.

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Our Staff

Dean Eric Smock

Erica Smock has been the Dean for Social Justice Initiatives and Public Service Lawyering at Columbia Law School since 2017. 

Prior to joining Columbia, Dean Smock had a distinguished public interest career focused primarily on women’s rights advocacy. Most recently, she served as the Senior Director for Judicial Strategy & Lawyers Network at the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City, where she led strategic campaigns around the Center’s domestic litigation, including the successful Supreme Court abortion case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (2016).

After graduating from Columbia in 1995, Dean Smock clerked for the Hon. Anita B. Brody, U.S. District Court, E.D. PA, and Hon. Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. After spending one year as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers (where she engaged in pro bono work on women’s rights and domestic violence), she worked as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oregon and as Regional Staff Attorney at the Northwest Women's Law Center (now Legal Voice) in Seattle. Dean Smock then became Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she directed the national state legislative program and engaged in advocacy on reproductive rights issues. After working at SJI for a number of years, she returned to the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2014 to its newly formed Judicial Strategy team.

In addition, Dean Smock has spent time as a short-term volunteer attorney focusing on human rights and women's rights in Kenya and South Africa, and with the Pascua Yaqui tribe in Arizona. She has served as a consultant to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on access to justice issues. Currently she serves as Vice Chair of the ABA's Rights of Women Committee in the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section; and is a member of both the Center for Reproductive Rights Lawyers Network Advisory Committee and the Social Justice Legal Foundation's Advisory Board. Additionally she serves on the Columbia Law School Anti-Racist Steering Committee (2020-21).

Dean Smock graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree with Honors in Political Science.

Dean Smock's 2019-2020 Year in Review

"A New Leader at Social Justice Initiatives"

For advising appointments, please contact Dean Smock directly:
[email protected]

Maddie Kurtz

Madeleine Kurtz joined Social Justice Initiatives in January 2011, from a career as a public interest lawyer, clinical law professor, and director of law school public interest programs. Madeleine began her career as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society in New York City. She was a clinical professor and supervising attorney in the Family Defense Clinic at NYU School of Law, and a consultant to Volunteers of Legal Services, a non-profit organization in New York City that develops and administers pro bono programs. Prior to joining SJI, Madeleine was at Seton Hall Law School, where she was the director of public interest programs and student advising, developed pro bono projects, and administered the Externship program. Prior to that, at Rutgers Law School in Newark, she was Director of Pro Bono and Public Interest Programs. She has served on a number of boards and advisory committees, and has participated in training programs for legal services and volunteer lawyers on subjects involving child welfare, family court, foster care, and women in prison. Madeleine was a law student at Columbia, where she graduated a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and received the Jane Marks Murphy Prize for exceptional interest and proficiency in advocacy in clinical offerings. She earned a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Office: Big Warren 806
(212) 854-8360
[email protected]

To make an appointment with Maddie, please do so via Symplicity.

Tory HS

Area of counseling expertise: Grad advising

Tory Messina is an attorney with over seven years of experience counseling law students and alumni on how to achieve their public interest and government career goals. Prior to joining SJI, Tory worked at Lawyers Alliance for New York as the Pro Bono Manager, helping to connect attorneys with opportunities to assist nonprofits with transactional pro bono legal work. Tory previously worked at University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she is an alumnae, as the Associate Director of Public Interest and Government Counseling, helping students and alumni with a broad range of career interests including civil legal services; impact and advocacy organizations; local, state and federal government; public defenders; and alternatives to traditional practice. She also has expertise in LRAP and private civil rights law firms.

Prior to her work at University of Pennsylvania Law School, Tory coordinated New York and national pro bono and legal services projects at Pro Bono Net. Tory also has worked at a private law firm and managed a small business. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in history. She is admitted to practice in New York.

To make an appointment with Tory, please do so via Symplicity or via email.


Nadine Mompremier

[email protected]

Office: William and June Warren Hall 807b

Nadine F. Mompremier is the Assistant Director of Pro Bono and Summer Programs, where she oversees the administration of Columbia's Pro Bono program and summer funding programs, including Guaranteed Summer Funding (GSF), and works closely with students who are engaged with these programs.

Prior to joining Columbia Law School, Nadine was a Law Coach at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), where she counseled and advised SEO Fellows on navigating and excelling in their corporate law internships and first year of law school and provided guidance on professional development, networking, and drafting legal memoranda. Nadine started her legal career as an Associate at the law firms of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Ropes & Gray, where she engaged extensively in pro bono work including matters related to various legal clinics, voter and election protection, and visa, residency, and asylum applications, while specializing in executive compensation and employee benefits, a practice that consisted of advising private equity clients in all benefits, compensation, and employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions, including structuring management equity arrangements and negotiating employment agreements, deferred compensation, and other incentive arrangements. 

Nadine graduated cum laude from the Howard University School of Law, where she served as the Executive Solicitations & Submissions Editor of the Howard Law Journal, and earned her undergraduate degree in Law & Business from Temple University, where she served as student body president.

Devi Patel, smiling with an ivy-covered wall behind her

Office: William June Warren 804
[email protected]

Devi Patel is the Assistant Director of the Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program at Columbia Law School. In her role, she advises Public Interest/Public Service Fellows and leads the development and implementation of the Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program, which provides specialized resources, mentorship, and a sense of community to students who plan to pursue public interest, human rights, or government careers upon graduation. 

During law school, Devi worked at Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Law Project, Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, and Safe Passage Project. Upon graduation, she worked as a Staff Attorney and Poverty Justice Solutions Fellow at Sanctuary for Families, a statewide legal services organization for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. She focused on protecting and advancing the rights of survivors who faced challenges that threatened their economic stability. She represented clients in a wide variety of landlord/tenant disputes, affirmative litigation, and public benefits administrative hearings. She also provided legal advice to hundreds of New Yorkers through the New York City Family Justice Centers, an initiative of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.  

She went on to join Legal Information for Families Today as the Pro Bono Programs Manager, where she oversaw the development of a statewide pro bono program established to increase access to justice for New Yorkers navigating the complex and charged Family Court process. She assisted in the training and supervision of pro bono attorneys and legal interns, and managed partnerships with the judiciary, legal services organizations, law firms, and law schools.

Devi is a graduate of New York Law School, where she was a Carbonell Fellow in Law and Policy and recipient of the Alexander D. Forger Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession for her demonstrated commitment to the public interest. A native North Carolinian, she earned her bachelor's degree in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from North Carolina State University. Devi serves on Social Justice Initiatives' Racial Justice Subcommittee and the New York City Bar’s Diversity Pipeline Initiatives Committee. She has developed and presented CLE programs, conference presentations, and law school seminars on cultural competency in the legal profession. She is admitted to practice in New York.


Office: Big Warren 805
(212) 854-7486
[email protected]

Rachel Salem Pauley is the Director of Government Programs in the Office of Social Justice Initiatives at CLS and has been a Lecturer-in-Law since 2014.  In her role, she has counseled hundreds of law students and graduates with regard to public service careers and professional development opportunities. She is also responsible for the law school’s semester in Washington, D.C. program. She has focused on developing and overseeing formal programming with government officials in order to expose students to the vast array of government career opportunities with an aim to promote public service and increase attorney diversity throughout government.

Prior to CLS, Pauley served as the Director of Training and Special Investigative Counsel for the New York State Inspector General, where she also ran the internship program. Before that, Pauley served as Confidential Assistant for Legal Matters for the New York State Attorney General and was a member of the Public Integrity Bureau. She also clerked for two New York State judges. Pauley began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

Pauley, a native Washingtonian, graduated from Fordham Law School and was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. There, she also received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award. She earned a joint Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Columbia University. In 2009, she was named one of Columbia University’s 25 most influential athletic alumnae.

To make an appointment with Rachel, please do so via Symplicity.


Cassandre Theano

[email protected]
Office: William and June Warren Hall 807a

Cassandre C. Théano joins Columbia from a career as an international human rights lawyer and advocate. Cassandre began her career as a law clerk followed by a number of years in private practice before engaging in strategic litigation and advocacy on various human rights issues.

Currently, she serves as the ABA Section of International Law Diversity and Inclusion Fellow and is an Adjunct Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Previously, Cassandre was the Associate Legal Officer for Inclusion and Equality at the Open Society Foundations (The Justice Initiative), focusing on citizenship and equality. In that capacity, she led the litigation and advocacy work related to the restoration of citizenship rights for Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, Black Mauritanians in Mauritania, and various ethnic minorities in Cȏte d’Ivoire and Kenya. She was also instrumental on Temporary Protected Status advocacy and other related immigration policies affecting black migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. She regularly provides advice on strategy, policy, and funding to human rights and advocacy organizations.

She was also a Human Rights Legal consultant for MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization and for Netflix on the docuseries Rotten which explores human rights abuses in the food supply chain.

Cassandre grew up in Haiti and moved to the U.S. at 16. She earned her undergraduate degree in International Relations and French Literature and her Master’s degree in French Society, Politics and Culture from New York University. She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, with a concentration on International Human Rights Law and a certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. At Georgetown Law, she participated in the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, where she successfully advocated including protections for women’s land and property rights in Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. She was also the Senior Articles Editor of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law.  

She is fluent in French, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.

Natalie Stephenson

Office: William June Warren 807.1
[email protected]

Rebecca Hinde

Office: Big Warren 800
(212) 854-3535
[email protected]

Iliana Ortega

Office: Big Warren 800.1
(212) 851-1931
[email protected]

Diana Pedi

Office: Big Warren 800
(212) 854-3318
[email protected]

Haley Harvis

Haley Harvis is an attorney who has worked in diverse practice areas in big firm, small firm, and non-profit environments. Most recently, in the spring of 2018, Haley was a volunteer attorney at Sanctuary for Families, working on Family Court proceedings with the Courtroom Advocacy Project. Before that she was of counsel to Harvis & Fett, a boutique civil rights firm, where she worked on Section 1983 litigation prosecuting false arrest, malicious prosecution, and police brutality cases. Haley began her legal career as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in the litigation department, where she represented multinational corporations in complex regulatory and internal investigations. She also spent time teaching at Poly Prep Lower School in Brooklyn. Haley graduated from Brooklyn Law School cum laude and served as a Notes & Comments editor of the Brooklyn Law Review. She earned a B.A. in child development with a minor in English from Tufts University. While at Tufts, Haley was awarded a University College of Citizenship and Public Service grant.

Please contact Haley to make a counseling appointment. Please e-mail your resume to Haley before your appointment.

Kiran Singh

Kiran Singh is an attorney with experience working both for the government and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Social Justice Initiatives, Kiran was Assistant General Counsel at Success Academy Charter Schools, a non-profit organization that runs charter schools in New York City. For five years, Kiran served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She was a trial attorney responsible for prosecuting hundreds of criminal cases involving domestic violence, weapons, narcotics, assault, robbery, and fraud. At the DA’s Office, she was a member of the Domestic Violence Unit, Hate Crimes Unit, Public Assistance Fraud Unit, and Identity Theft Unit. Kiran received a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She graduated from Brown University, Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude with a degree in political science. While at Brown, she was awarded the CV Starr Institute Award for Leadership in Public Service.

[email protected]

To make an appointment with Kiran, please do so via Symplicity or via email.

Payal Shah is a human rights lawyer with over 15 years of experience designing and implementing international, regional, and national legal advocacy strategies to strengthen human rights norms and remove legal barriers relating to gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights. Most recently, Payal has worked as an independent human rights consultant with several UN agencies, regional and international non-governmental organizations, and universities. She is also a fellow with the University of Toronto Faculty of Law’s International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program. 

Prior to these roles, Payal directed the Asia Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. In 2018, Payal served as a practitioner-in-residence at Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute. She has published extensively on sexual and reproductive rights in Asia and globally, including on maternal morbidity and mortality, safe abortion, adolescents' rights, infertility, and contraceptive information and services. Payal is a graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was named a Jack Kent and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and earned a certificate in comparative and international law.