Inaugural Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Cohort

The program, offered through Social Justice Initiatives (SJI), brings together and supports a community of students seeking to use their legal training to effect positive change in society.

Tree in bloom in  front of Jerome Greene Hall

Designed for students committed to pursuing public interest or public service careers upon graduation, the three-year Public Interest/Public Service (PI/PS) Fellows Program (now The Max Berger ’71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program) provides students with specialized opportunities and resources for exploring public interest and government lawyering in the United States and abroad. PI/PS Fellows also become part of a close-knit community built on their passion for serving the public good. Meet the impressive members of the inaugural class of PI/PS Fellows below. 

Updated as of August 19, 2021


Young woman with wire rim glasses and long brown hair.

Katja Botchkareva ’22

Katja Botchkareva is interested in legal issues that affect immigrant communities, including immigration law, workers’ rights, and gender justice. Before law school, Katja volunteered at a refugee community center in Calais, France, researched organized crime in Central America with InSight Crime, and studied trends in Syrian refugee returns with iMMAP. She also worked on pro bono immigration cases at a Washington, D.C., law firm. At Columbia Law School, Katja worked with the immigration legal team at Make the Road New York and then with the health justice team at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest advocating for medical access and quality care for immigrant communities in New York City. She also participated in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, served as a staff member and articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and co-president of both the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Student Public Interest Network. After graduation, she started working at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition as a Skadden Fellow representing individuals experiencing health-harming conditions in immigration detention.

Bianca Larez Chavez

Bianca Larez Chavez ’22

Bianca Larez Chavez cares deeply about public defense and prison reform. Prior to law school, she worked as a field organizer with Hillary for America and spent two years teaching middle schoolers in South Boston. During her time at Columbia Law School, Bianca worked at Texas Defender Services and at the civil rights law firm, Neufeld Scheck & Brustin. Bianca externed with the Bronx Defenders and served on the executive boards for both the Latinx Law Students Association and Empowering Women of Color. She coached the award-winning Native American Law Students Association moot court team and was managing director of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual. Bianca was also an inaugural recipient of the Racial and Social Justice Fellowship. Upon graduation, Bianca began working at Phillips Black, a public interest law firm representing incarcerated individuals sentenced to the severest penalties under law in the United States.

Susannah R. Cohen

Susannah R. Cohen ’22

Susannah Cohen aspires to a career in civil rights and antidiscrimination law, with a focus on gender equity in the workplace. Before starting law school, she worked as a legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and as a public policy and research assistant at the American Association of University Women. Susannah spent her 1L summer in the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office. She split her 2L summer between the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section and Bantle & Levy, a plaintiff-side employment law firm. At Columbia Law School, Susannah was a notes editor for the Columbia Law Review and published a note titled “Redefining What It Means to Discriminate Because of Sex: Bostock’s Equal Protection Implications.” She participated in the Federal Appellate Court externship, the Williams Institute Moot Court, and the Eviction Moratorium Pro Bono Project. Susannah was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar during her 1L year and a James Kent Scholar during her 2L year. Following graduation, Susannah began working at Kaplan Hecker & Fink, a boutique public interest law firm in New York City.

Diana Costin

Diana Costin ’22

Diana Costin is interested in family defense and gender justice. Before law school, Diana created a body-positivity initiative at her undergraduate school, worked for a feminist documentary company promoting reproductive justice, and interned with Footsteps, a nonprofit that helps empower people to take control of their futures. While at Columbia Law, she was a legal intern for A Better Balance and worked at Brooklyn Defender Services in their Family Defense Practice. Diana participated in the Queens District Attorney’s Domestic Violence externship and the Sanctuary for Families Civil and Economic Empowerment externship. Diana was a staff member for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, a research assistant for Columbia Law School’s Equal Rights Amendment Project, and a participant in the Constitutional Rights in Life and Death Penalty Cases externship. After graduating from Columbia Law, Diana went to work for the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

Emily L. Drake

Emily L. Drake ’22

Emily Drake is interested in criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international environmental law. During her 1L summer, Emily served full-time on the COVID-19 Response Task Force with her National Guard unit and interned with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. She  interned with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office her 2L summer. At Columbia Law School, Emily has participated in the Queens District Attorney’s Domestic Violence externship, volunteered with Sanctuary for Families, served as the vice president of the Columbia Law School Military Association, and competed in the Jessup Public International Law Moot Court. She was a notes editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, where she published her work “Evaluating Autonomous Weapons Systems: A Dichotomic Lens of Military Value and Accountability.” After receiving a J.D., Emily started working at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Raisa Elhadi

Raisa Elhadi ’22

Raisa Elhadi is passionate about redressing government violations of human rights, both domestically and internationally. She is especially interested in working with populations that are affected by conflict, specifically in the Middle East. Her experience working with Syrian refugees in Beirut prior to law school fueled her passion for helping those whose rights have been violated by their own government. While at Columbia Law School, Raisa worked at the International Refugee Assistance Project and served as an Ella Baker Intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Raisa has served as a board member of Rightslink and Columbia Law Students for Palestine, completed a capital defense externship, and worked to defend the environmental rights of a rural town in Ecuador as a part of a pro bono caravan. She also served in mentorship roles at the Law School, including as coordinator of the 1L Human Rights Advocates Program. Raisa is an inaugural recipient of a Racial and Social Justice Fellowship. Following graduation, Raisa joined Repreive’s Middle East Death Penalty Project as a Global Public Service Fellow.

Adaeze Eze

Adaeze Eze ’22

Adaeze Eze is interested in U.S. law and policy in the foreign policy and national security space. Prior to law school, she interned with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and worked for the City of San Francisco on family violence issues. Adaeze spent her time at Columbia Law School exploring both the legal and policy sides of her interests. She interned at the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Adaeze was a co-head articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and on the boards of the National Security Law Society and the American Constitution Society. Upon graduation, Adaeze joined Hughes Hubbard and Reed.

Samuel Fishman

Samuel Fishman ’22

Samuel Fishman is interested in multiple social justice issues, including criminal justice reform, police accountability, and civil liberties protections. Before law school, Samuel worked in Philadelphia as a field organizer for the 2016 presidential race. He then spent two years as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Paraguay before working as a project assistant for Latin America and the Caribbean at the National Democratic Institute in Washington, D.C. During his time at Columbia Law School, Samuel worked at the Policing Project and then at the UCLA Latino Politics and Policy Initiative Voting Rights Project. Samuel also served on the board of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Following graduation, he joined the Clemency Project at Center for Appellate Litigation as a Kirkland & Ellis Public Service Fellow.

Daimiris Garcia

Daimiris Garcia ’22

Daimiris Garcia is passionate about international law, dispute resolution, and human rights. Before coming to New York, she was a Fulbright scholar and earned a master’s in international conflict resolution and mediation from Tel Aviv University in Israel. Daimiris has spent time living in France, Israel, and Vietnam, where she learned more about the intersection of foreign policy and law. For her 1L summer, Daimiris was in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Foreign Litigation. She split her 2L summer between the Center For Justice and International Law and Winston & Strawn. At Columbia Law, Daimiris participated in the Mediation Clinic, Davis Polk Asylum Clinic, Bronx Defenders externship, and Legal Reform in Tunisia pro bono project. She led the Public International Law pro bono caravan with Independent International Legal Advocates and a pro bono voter protection initiative with LatinoJustice. She is the former social justice chair of the Latinx Law Students Association and public affairs editor of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. She participated in the Southern District of New York Federal Court Clerk externship in the chambers of District Judge Lewis Liman as a 3L. Upon receiving a J.D., she went to work at Winston & Strawn.

Abie Green

Abie Green ’22

Abie Green cares deeply about a multitude of human rights and social justice issues, including governmental abuses and accountability, international human rights enforcement, and transitional justice. Abie previously interned at the New York State Division of Human Rights, which confirmed her passion for public interest work. She was later selected as a Global Human Rights Fellow, where she worked on refugee and immigrant rights as they intersect with racism. While at Columbia Law, Abie interned first for the immigration team of the International Rescue Committee in New York and then for the Truth, Reconciliation, and National Unity Commission of the Seychelles. She participated in the Human Rights Clinic and Tunisia pro bono caravan and served as vice president of public policy for OutLaws. She was also managing editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. After graduation, she began working at Urban Justice Center’s Domestic Violence Program as a Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann Fellow.

Ailee Katz

Ailee D. Katz ’22

Ailee Katz is passionate about criminal justice reform and civil rights advocacy, particularly as it relates to race and gender equality. Before law school, she worked at a plaintiff-side employment law firm, where she assisted individuals with Title VII employment discrimination cases and supported a successful race discrimination jury trial in federal court. During her time at Columbia Law School, Ailee interned for the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia, the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Service, Massachusetts’s indigent defense agency, and the New Hampshire Public Defender. Ailee participated in the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem externship and the Criminal Appeals externship with the Center for Appellate Litigation. She was an executive articles editor of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and had her note on race, protest, and domestic military deployment published. She also served as the co-president of the Public Defender Students of Columbia Law School and the public interest chair of the Columbia Law Women’s Association. Ailee was a James Kent Scholar and was awarded an inaugural Racial and Social Justice Fellowship. Upon graduation, Ailee went to work at the Legal Aid Society NYC Criminal Defense Practice, where she continued to represent low-income individuals.

Hyun Kim ’22

Hyun Kim is interested in criminal defense, civil liberties, and economic and racial justice. Prior to attending law school, Hyun worked as a paralegal with the New York Legal Assistance Group Clinic for Pro Se Litigants in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), assisting pro se litigants with civil rights, employment discrimination, and other legal matters. While at Columbia Law School, Hyun interned for SDNY and the Federal Defenders of New York in their 2nd Circuit appellate and SDNY trial practices. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hyun worked on various prisoners’ rights pro bono projects, such as The Bronx Defenders’ Health Is Justice Project, and published work in Law in the Time of COVID-19. Hyun participated in the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem Criminal Defense externship and was articles editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Following graduation, he began working at Sanford Heisler Sharp.

Kate Kobriger

Kate Kobriger ’22

Kate Kobriger is interested in public health, including access to care and health education, drug policy, and advocating for victims of domestic violence. Before starting law school, Kate worked as a healthcare information technology project manager before becoming a business and policy analyst for Wisconsin Medicaid. Kate spent her 1L summer at Community Health Advocates and her 2L summer at the Public Interest Law Center. At Columbia Law, Kate was the co-director of the Law School Writing Center and executive editor for the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. She was a coach for the Williams Institute Moot Court on sexual orientation and gender identity law and was involved in the Domestic Violence Project’s pro bono Uncontested Divorce Project. Kate was a Richard Paul Richman Leadership Fellow and a Catalyst Public Service Summer Fellow and Equal Justice America Summer Fellow. Kate is pursuing a joint J.D. and MPH with a concentration in population and family health at Columbia University.

Geesu Lee

Geesu Lee ’22

Geesu Lee is interested in global humanitarian issues, peacebuilding, and refugee protection. During his military service from 2013 to 2016, Geesu served as a U.N. peacekeeper in Lebanon. He went on to work at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Seoul and interned at the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. During his 1L and 2L summers, Geesu interned at Just Atonement and Safe Passage Project, respectively, where he worked on human rights litigation and immigration defense for minors. At Columbia Law School, Geesu participated in the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic and advocated for international fair trial practices through the TrialWatch initiative at the Clooney Foundation for Justice. Upon graduation, Geesu joined the Clooney Foundation for Justice as a Global Public Service Fellow.


August (Gus) Leinbach

August "Gus" Leinbach ’22

Gus Leinbach aspires to a career in labor and tenants’ rights. Before law school, Gus spent two years as an AmeriCorps member in Minneapolis. He worked with residents at an affordable housing organization, which reinforced his interest in tackling issues of social and economic inequality. Gus spent his 1L summer in the housing program at Mobilization for Justice in New York, and he interned with Manhattan Legal Services’ Tenants’ Rights Coalition Housing Unit during his 2L summer. At the Law School, he volunteered with the Tenants’ Rights Project, served as a National Lawyers Guild Legal Observer at demonstrations in New York, and was a board member of the Student Public Interest Network. Gus also externed with the Center for Popular Democracy and participated in the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic. Upon graduation, Gus went on to work at Manhattan Legal Services in their housing unit.

Bridgett McCoy

Bridgett McCoy ’22

Bridgett McCoy is interested in movement lawyering for intersectional climate and environmental justice. Before law school, she worked as an environmental consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Bridgett also worked as a field organizer in Maine during the 2018 midterm elections and has spent time volunteering with an immigrant rights group and on a campaign to establish a carbon tax in Washington, D.C. During her 1L summer, Bridgett worked for the climate justice organization Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy. For her 2L summer, Bridgett interned for the Peruvian office of EarthRights International and completed pro-bono projects for Water Protector Legal Collective and the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. At Columbia Law School, Bridgett participated in the Immigrant’s Rights Clinic and the Advanced Immigrant’s Rights Clinic and was an extern in the New York Attorney General’s office. She was a notes editor with the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and wrote and published a note, “Critical Infrastructure, Racial Geography, and Protest in Cancer Alley, Louisiana.” Bridgett served as the social justice chair for the Society of Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the pro bono chair, and then the 3L chair, of the Environmental Law Society. After graduation, Bridgette joined the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense as a David W. Leebron Human Rights Fellow.

Stephanie Nnadi

Stephanie Nnadi ’22

Stephanie Nnadi is passionate about a career at the intersection of law and public policy. Before attending law school, Stephanie served as a page for the Ohio Senate, interned for U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, served as the public policy fellow for the Columbus Partnership, and volunteered with Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. During her 1L Summer, Stephanie interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. She spent the first part of her 2L summer at Covington & Burling and the latter part with the Georgia Democratic Party’s Voter Protection Team. At Columbia Law School, Stephanie participated in the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic, interned for Judge Denny Chin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, served as mentorship chair of First Generation Professionals, and worked as a research assistant for Professor Elizabeth Scott. She was named a Davis Polk Leadership Initiative co-fellow and was awarded one of the Law School’s inaugural Anti-Racism Grants for co-founding the Law School Pathways Program. In her 3L year, she externed for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and served as development and media editor on the Columbia Law Review. Upon graduation, she received a Millstein Public Service Fellowship and joined The White House Counsel’s Office as an associate counsel.

Sana Shahzad smiling

Sana Shahzad ’22

Sana Shahzad seeks to provide access to justice for minority communities in Pakistan. Before law school, Sana served as president of Next Generation Pakistan, where she led social mobility and advocacy efforts to promote transgender rights, menstrual hygiene, and access to quality education for children from low-income backgrounds. As the pro bono officer of the London School of Economics Students’ Union Law Society, she organized the Law Society’s first Legal Aid Conference, which attracted human rights advocates from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. While at Columbia Law, Sana interned for a public interest law firm and the Bronx Defenders in their Criminal Defense Practice. Sana served as an anti-trafficking fellow for Sanctuary For Families and participated in the Capital Post-Conviction Practicum and Smith Family Human Rights Clinic. She aspires to establish her own pro bono defense and strategic litigation firm in Lahore, Pakistan. After receiving a J.D., Sana began working at The Bronx Defenders serving low-incoming clients.

Roger Antonio Tejada

Roger Antonio Tejada ’22

Roger Antonio Tejada is passionate about social justice issues, including civil rights, criminal justice reform, and educational equity. Before law school, Roger was a bilingual teacher through Teach for America in his hometown of Passaic, New Jersey; a Fulbright scholar in Porto Alegre, Brazil; a Special Education Instructional Fellow at Relay Graduate School of Education in New York City; and a policy fellow for Newark Public Schools and the New Jersey Department of Education. He spent his 1L and 2L summers interning for the ACLU of New Jersey as a John Paul Stevens fellow and working at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, respectively. At Columbia, Roger served as a University senator, chair of the Interschool Governing Board, and treasurer of First Generation Professionals, the Latinx Law Students Association, and the Columbia Law School Democrats. Roger is also an inaugural Racial and Social Justice Fellow. Roger is currently pursuing a joint J.D. and M.P.A. in urban and social policy at Columbia. 

Brandon Vines

Brandon Vines ’22

Brandon Vines focuses on challenging wrongful state violence, both domestically and internationally, with a particular focus on open-source investigation. Before law school, Brandon worked for The Carter Center monitoring the Syrian conflict and electoral violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Brandon founded and heads the 3dl Project, a volunteer group of nine investigators preserving digital evidence of crimes against humanity. While at Columbia Law, Brandon was a Stevens Fellow with the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Alabama. He spent the first half of his 2L summer as a capital intern with the Georgia Resource Center and the second half with WITNESS. Brandon was the coach of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Moot Court, executive articles editor of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, co-president of Columbia Law School Public Defenders, and board president of the Public Interest Law Foundation. He supported post-conflict truth finding in the Central African Republic as a member of the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic. Brandon is an inaugural Racial and Social Justice Fellow and James Kent Scholar. Following graduation, Brandon joined Human Rights Watch as a Sandler Fellow to monitor human rights violations in order to support survivors and create positive change.

Dante Violette

Dante Violette ’22

Dante Violette is committed to social change through peacebuilding, foreign policy, and human rights law. Prior to law school, Dante served as an intern, then director of operations, for Refugee Youth Service in France. He later became a licensed social worker and engaged in child protection and asylum work for unaccompanied refugee minors in informal camps. While at the Law School, Dante interned for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and for the Women’s, Peace, and Security Program at The Earth Institute. He split his 2L summer between Debevoise & Plimpton in their public international law practice group and with Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Dante was the Black Law Students Association’s International Service Trip committee chair for Transitional Justice in Rwanda, a member of the School for International and Public Affairs’s International Fellows Program, and has been involved with the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic’s Armed Conflict in the Central African Republic Project. He participated in the Externship on the Federal Government: Semester in Washington, D.C., as an extern with the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Advisor. Following graduation, he returned to Debevoise & Plimpton’s public international law practice group.

Oren Vitenson

Oren Vitenson ’22

Oren Vitenson is interested in antitrust law, technology, and corporate regulation. Before law school, Oren worked at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., where he helped investigate and litigate antitrust cases as part of the Honors Paralegal Program. For his 1L summer, Oren was accepted into the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Student Honors Program in the Division of Enforcement. He spent the first half of his 2L summer working on antitrust and pro bono matters at a Washington, D.C., law firm and the second half working in the Technology Enforcement Division of the Bureau of Competition at the Federal Trade Commission. At Columbia Law School, Oren was involved in the Columbia Antitrust Law and Economics Association, First Generation Professionals, and the Columbia Business Law Review. Upon graduation, Oren returned to the Federal Trade Commission to work as an honors attorney.