A former paralegal who worked on immigration and criminal defense cases and a program coordinator who helped launch the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund at the National Women’s Law Center are the inaugural Greene Public Service Scholars at Columbia Law School.
Hannah Rosner ’21 and Caitlin Lowell ’21 were selected from Class of 2021 applicants to receive the full-tuition scholarships, which were created as part of a $15 million gift to Columbia Law School in 2017 from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation.
The three-part gift—the foundation’s largest single grant to the Law School—set aside $7 million to endow the Greene Public Service Scholars Program; $5 million for the Greene Scholarship Challenge, which offers a first-of-its-kind matching scholarship fund that will translate into a new $10 million scholarship endowment; and $3 million for the Jerome L. Greene Clinical Professorship, which was recently bestowed on Professor Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. As a result of the increased funding, the clinic now can accommodate double the number of students.
“I was absolutely thrilled [to receive the scholarship],” says Lowell. “Knowing I was going to go to a school where I could get the financial support and also the support of a public-interest community to make sure I’m successful in the work that I do was a major deciding factor.”
“It was really exciting,” says Rosner. “The Greene Scholarship definitely gave me a lot of security in my choice.”
Rosner, who grew up in Connecticut, studied history at Columbia College, where she wrote her senior thesis on the civil rights movement. After graduating in 2014, she worked at the Federal Defenders of New York where she prepared trial materials, advocated for clients with medical needs, and gathered information for sentencing hearings, among other responsibilities. She later worked as a paralegal at Brooklyn Defender Services with a focus on immigration cases.
“Once I worked at the Federal Defenders of New York, I knew I was never walking away,” she says of her experience in direct-service advocacy. She adds that she learned to look at crime and violence through the lens of systemic causes rather than just individual decisions.
Lowell’s focus has been on women’s rights and LGBTQ advocacy. The Maine native graduated from Columbia College in 2015, having completed internships at the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and then-U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s office—before working as a fellow of the Congressional Hunger Center.
In 2016, she took a position at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), where she helped lay the groundwork for the Legal Network for Gender Equity, a national resource designed to address sex discrimination. She also helped develop and manage the intake process for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which formed in the wake of the #MeToo anti-sexual-harassment movement with the support of people in Hollywood and attorneys Tina Tchen, Roberta Kaplan ’91, and Nina Shaw ’79, among others.
“I feel so grateful that I was able to be at NWLC when the Times’s Up Legal Defense Fund was launched,” she says. “I was able to be on a team where we were really building this from the ground up.”
“Caitlin and Hannah are accomplished and ambitious leaders who exemplify the spirit of public service, and we are proud that they will use their Columbia Law education to better the lives of others,” says Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law. “Their selection demonstrates the Greene Foundation’s commitment to social justice and education, and I am delighted that they will benefit from the foundation’s generosity and vision.”
“With this gift, we hope not only to make a Columbia Law School education more accessible to the best and brightest students, like Caitlin and Hannah,” says Christina McInerney, president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, “but also to cultivate legal minds whose focus is to serve their communities and fight for social justice.” Established in 1978, the foundation is dedicated to investing in opportunities that enrich and advance people’s lives, with a focus on organizations and projects devoted to the arts, education, medicine, and social justice.
“The foundation is proud to continue Jerry Greene’s support of Columbia Law School, which he credited for all of his success,” says McInerney. Greene ’28 was a successful lawyer, real estate investor, philanthropist, humanitarian, and loyal alumnus for whom the Law School’s flagship building is named.
Lowell and Rosner both express gratitude for the support of the Greene Foundation and Columbia Law School. They plan to continue their public-interest careers following graduation.
“The dream for me is to be in a position where I can do some combination of impact litigation, policy work, and also more direct services,” says Lowell.
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Published on December 12, 2018