Meet the 2020 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows

The three-year program, offered through Social Justice Initiatives (SJI), provides specialized opportunities to students who plan to pursue careers in the public interest, human rights, nonprofit, and government sectors.

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The members of this year’s cohort of Public Interest/Public Service (PI/PS) Fellows are passionate about some of the most pressing issues of our time, including criminal justice reform, gender equality, and climate law. As part of the program, students (many of whom are the first in their families to attend law school) attend professional development workshops, mentor meetings with practitioners, faculty lunches, group outings, and social events. “The program allowed me to pursue my interests outside the standard curriculum from the very beginning of 1L year, whether it was by connecting me to faculty in my interest area, highlighting relevant pro bono opportunities, or ensuring that I was aware and utilizing all the resources available to me,” says Katja Botchkareva ’22, a member of the inaugural cohort

Meet the impressive members of this year’s class below.

Updated as of August 19, 2021

Terresa Adams portrait

Terresa Adams

Terresa Adams is passionate about human rights, specifically women’s rights, both internationally and domestically. She graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in political science and minors in economics and African studies. After graduation, Terresa became a member, and was later nominated as co-director, of her home chapter of Zonta International, an international women's rights organization, through which she attended meetings hosted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and helped facilitate her chapter’s partnership with the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the local Homeless Solutions organization. Terresa spent her 1L summer working for the United States Agency for International Development. At Columbia Law School, she has been actively involved in the Black Law Students Association, Empowering Women of Color, and the Human Rights Institute 1L Advocates Program. Terresa was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to the United States when she was 8. She is motivated to pursue human rights in part by the prevailing issues in her home countries, Jamaica and Antigua, and the prevailing issues affecting minorities, especially Black women in the United States.

Christopher Alter portrait

Christopher Alter

Christopher Alter is interested in civil rights, racial justice, and labor and employment rights. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in industrial and labor relations and a minor in inequality studies. Following his undergraduate education, Christopher worked as a litigation paralegal, eDiscovery administrator, and eDiscovery specialist at Outten & Golden LLP, an employee-side employment law firm. Christopher spent his 1L summer interning with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, Division of Civil Rights and Labor-Management. At Columbia Law School, Christoper is co-president of the Student Public Interest Network and a staff member on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. He is the first in his family to attend law school.

Hunter Baehren portrait

Hunter Baehren

Hunter Baehren is passionate about combating corporate crime and improving financial regulation. He studied political science and economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he graduated with honors and was a Robertson Scholar. Before law school, Hunter worked as a paralegal for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He also worked as a field organizer for the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Hunter spent his 1L summer working for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. At Columbia Law School, Hunter has served on the executive board of the Columbia Law and Political Economy Society and volunteered with the Tenants’ Rights Project. He is a staff member of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems. In his spare time, Hunter enjoys sailing.

Madhuri Belkale portrait

Madhuri Belkale

Madhuri Belkale hopes to work on issues related to immigration reform, racial justice, and criminal injustice. She graduated with high distinction and honors from the University of Iowa with a B.S. in psychology and political science. Her honors thesis explored the roots of sexual aggression on large college campuses and protective behavioral reduction strategies. As an undergraduate, Madhuri conducted research at three psychology labs (focusing on the intersection of social psychology and policy) and served in a variety of roles to foster equity and inclusion for marginalized and underrepresented communities on campus. During her 1L summer, Madhuri interned at the Texas Civil Rights Project, where she worked on projects related to voting rights, criminal injustice, and racial and economic justice. At Columbia Law School, Madhuri is a staff member on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and participates in the Columbia Clerkships Diversity Initiative. Madhuri is trilingual, the proud daughter of Indian immigrants, and the first member of her family to attend law school.

Molly Bodurtha portrait

Molly Bodurtha

Molly Bodurtha is interested in issues related to public integrity, transparency, development, and human rights. She graduated from Williams College with a double major in philosophy and Asian studies. Before law school, Molly worked at the National Committee on United States–China Relations and served as a Fulbright scholar in Cambodia, where she conducted research on the impact of investment projects on domestic legal development and vulnerable host communities. Molly split her 1L summer between the foreign policy team at Human Rights First and the Office of Chief Counsel for International Commerce at the Department of Commerce. At Columbia Law School, Molly is a staff member on the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, a student attorney in the Human Rights Clinic, and co-president of the Columbia Society for International Law. She is also a research associate with Oxford University’s China, Law, and Development project. She is proficient in Mandarin and Khmer.

Likhitha Butchireddygari portrait

Likhitha Butchireddygari

Likhitha Butchireddygari’s general areas of interest include white collar prosecutions and financial regulation. She graduated with distinction from Duke University in a self-designed major called digital democracy and data, which combined political science, computer science, statistics, and journalism. Likhitha has written for several professional news organizations, including NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, and FiveThirtyEight, on a number of issues, such as election security and criminal justice. From these experiences, she developed an interest in holding powerful individuals and organizations accountable. She spent her 1L summer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. At Columbia Law School, Likhitha is an editor for the Columbia Law Review and has been involved in the Columbia Journal for Gender and Law. Likhitha was born in India and grew up in Baltimore. She is the first in her family to attend law school.

Grace Coleman portrait

Grace Coleman

Grace Coleman is passionate about criminal legal reform, environmental justice, and gender equality. She graduated from Rice University with degrees in history and policy studies, with a concentration in law and justice. Prior to law school, Grace worked as an intern with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition to investigate the use of lethal self-defense in cases of domestic violence. Grace spent her 1L summer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Regional Counsel for Region 2, where she worked in the criminal enforcement division. At Columbia Law School, Grace is a staff member of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual and on the executive board of the Environmental Law Society. Grace is a native Texan who hopes to make her home state a more equitable, just, and safe place to live.

Kathrina Dabdoub portrait

Kathrina Dabdoub

Kathrina Dabdoub is interested in human rights, including state violence and transitional justice. She earned a First Class Degree in international relations and Middle East studies from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Following graduation, Kathrina worked as a legal case officer at Jamaicans for Justice where she documented human rights violations and provided support to survivors of police abuse and families of victims of extrajudicial killings. Kathrina spent her 1L summer at Just Atonement, where she worked on issues at the intersection of human rights and environmental justice. At Columbia Law School, Kathrina has volunteered with the Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic as a participant in the Pal Trek pro bono caravan and organized an event on how the structures of occupation and colonialism disproportionately limit Palestinians’ access to public health resources, especially during the pandemic, as part of Rightslink’s Human Rights Week. She is president of Columbia Law Students for Palestine and a staff member of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual. Kathrina is a proud Jamaican-Palestinian, backgrounds which fuel her dedication to human rights.

Allie Doyle portrait

Allie Doyle

Allie Doyle is passionate about issues affecting children and families. She graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a B.A. in economics and political science. While at Brown, she interned at Human Rights Watch, the Rhode Island Public Defender, and the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights. After her undergraduate studies, Allie volunteered as a rape crisis advocate at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and worked on a variety of litigation and pro bono cases at Mintz. Allie spent her 1L summer at the Center for Family Representation, where she worked on the criminal representation of parents and juveniles. At Columbia Law School, Allie has volunteered for Sanctuary for Families and received first place in the Williams Institute Moot Court Competition, which addresses issues of constitutional law affecting the LGBTQ community. This year, she is an extern in the Bronx Defenders’ family defense practice and a staff member on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Allie is a native New Yorker and performed stand-up comedy as an undergraduate.

Nkechi Erondu smiles

Nkechi Erondu

Nkechi Erondu is passionate about reimagining the criminal legal system through a transformative justice lens. She is interested specifically in community-driven responses to violence rooted in abolitionist praxis and hopes to practice community lawyering and advocacy. She earned a B.A. in African and African American studies and political science from Stanford University. Before law school, Nkechi worked as a research analyst at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center where she conducted research and evaluations relating to violence reduction, corrections and reentry, and children and families impacted by parental incarceration. She also provided technical assistance to local jurisdictions aiming to reduce their jail use and improve their overall justice system functioning. Nkechi spent her 1L summer interning with the Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services Division of the Public Defender Services of D.C., where she represented incarcerated people at the jail in administrative disciplinary hearings and assisted with record sealing motions. At Columbia Law School, Nkechi has been a member of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court and served on the Social Consciousness Committee of the Black Law Students Association. This year, Nkechi is an editor for the Columbia Law Review and a member of the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and the Paralegal Pathways Initiative. Nkechi is an avid gym-goer and aspiring mixologist.

Stephanie M. Gusching portrait

Stephanie M. Gusching

Stephanie Gusching is passionate about human rights and foreign policy. She hopes to work at the intersection of law, policy, and advocacy to affect change for vulnerable populations, especially women and refugees. Stephanie graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in public policy and a minor in Spanish. Before law school, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to work as an English instructor and refugee camp volunteer in Bulgaria. It was through this experience and her undergraduate work on gender-based violence that she solidified her interest in human rights. She spent her 1L summer as a legal intern at Oxfam America, where she conducted research on corporate accountability for human rights abuses. At Columbia Law School, Stephanie has been actively involved in Rightslink and the Columbia Law Women’s Association. She is also a member of the Human Rights Clinic.

Fatima Hasanain portrait

Fatima Hasanain

Fatima Hasanain is interested in labor and employment law, civil rights, and international human rights, with a particular emphasis on immigration and refugee issues. She graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in history and a minor in public policy. Before law school, Fatima worked at Berkeley’s Public Service Center to provide mentorship and leadership opportunities to eighth-grade girls in her community. She also worked for a nonprofit organization that supports state-based ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage and expand healthcare access. During her 1L year, Fatima worked as a research assistant for the Human Rights Institute’s Kashmir Project, competed on LaLSA’s asylum and refugee law moot court, and served as a 1L representative for the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Fatima spent her 1L summer interning at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York. As a 2L, she is an editor for the Columbia Law Review, a member of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, a participant in the Columbia Clerkships Diversity Initiative, public interest chair for Empowering Women of Color, and the communications director for ACLU-CLS. Fatima is a proud child of Pakistani immigrants and the first in her family to attend law school.

Chakshu Hurria portrait

Chakshu Hurria

Chakshu Hurria aspires to a career focused on racial justice and using law, technology, and public policy to reform the criminal legal system. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with bachelor’s degrees in economics and legal studies. During college, Chakshu worked to improve prison conditions as an intern at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project in Washington, D.C., and assisted in teaching an undergraduate course exploring the intersection of data science and law. She served the Berkeley community as a member of a student-run legal clinic and through student government work aimed at financial aid reform, campus safety, and sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention. Chakshu spent her 1L summer at Mobilization for Justice, a New York-based direct services organization, in their Workplace Justice Project. At Columbia Law School, Chakshu has participated in the LaLSA Asylum and Refugee Law Moot Court and was a staff editor for the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. Chakshu was born in India and is the first in her family to attend law school.

Emily Katz portrait

Emily Katz

Emily Katz is interested in national security and human rights law, and has a particular passion for women's rights and gender equality. She graduated with a B.A. in political science from Stanford University. Emily has spent time in South Africa, India, and Myanmar, where she studied LGBTQ discrimination and voter suppression. She also worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer in her hometown helping community members navigate their family law cases. Emily spent her 1L summer working for the international NGO Landesa, where she focused on improving youth access to land rights in sub-Saharan Africa. At Columbia Law School, Emily has volunteered with Sanctuary for Families’ Uncontested Divorce Project, worked as a staff member on the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and organized events for Rightslink. Emily plays three instruments and is training for her first half-marathon.

William R. Leo portrait

William R. Leo

William R. Leo is passionate about environmental justice and administrative law. At Georgetown University, William studied philosophy and English literature. He graduated with honors and continues to have a deep interest in language and the structure of logic. Before law school, William worked in electoral politics in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.  His experiences instilled in him a deep interest in the democratic process, constitutional governance, and ecological practice. As a Columbia Law student, William has interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the New York Attorney General’s office, where he investigated civil rights violations and supported attorneys defending the public interest. This year, he is an editor for the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law and executive board member of Columbia Law School’s American Constitution Society. Will was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and the Willamette Valley, and spent his first year of college at the University of Oregon.

Eileen Li portrait

Eileen Li

Eileen Li is interested in tech antitrust law and comparative international law. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in political science and spent her senior spring interning at a speechwriting firm in Washington, D.C. Eileen worked as a paralegal in the Financial Institutions Group at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. She then joined the 2020 presidential campaign of Elizabeth Warren as a staff writer, where she helped advocate for consumer protection, tech regulation, voting rights, and more. Eileen spent her 1L summer working on antitrust issues within the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. At Columbia Law School, Eileen is a staff member on the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, an extern with the Knight First Amendment Institute, and on the board of the Law and Political Economy Society.  She is an Atlanta native and fluent in Mandarin.

John Lowry portrait

John Lowry

John Lowry is interested in national security and federal law enforcement. He graduated from Cornell University with a degree in biology and is pursuing a joint M.P.A. at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Before attending Columbia, John worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He worked on the Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and on its initial preparations for the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. John spent his 1L summer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he assisted prosecutions of government corruption and organized crime. John also served two years in a volunteer fire department and is a paramedic-trained emergency medical technician.

Laura McFeely

Laura McFeely

Laura McFeely is passionate about ending mass incarceration and changing the criminal legal system, which she believes is deeply rooted in the history of racism in America. She graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, where her thesis about the racist media coverage of crack cocaine in the 1980s won the Jones Prize for best thesis in American history. Laura’s career has focused on advancing equality in American society: in education, through supporting equal access to rigorous teaching about American democracy at the Case Method Project at Harvard Business School; in economic development, through her research on the racial wealth gap and its impact on minority-owned businesses for the nonprofit Interise; and in employment, as a paralegal at the plaintiff-side litigation firm Sanford Heisler. Laura spent her 1L summer working with the trial and capital habeas units at the Federal Defenders for the Middle District of Alabama. At Columbia Law School, she is an extern with the Bronx Defenders, a staff member on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and a volunteer for the Paralegal Pathways Initiative. She has also volunteered with the Health Is Justice Project to build a database of compassionate release motions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anna Belle Newport

Anna Belle Newport

Anna Belle Newport is passionate about criminal justice, Palestinian rights, and advocating for parents accused of neglect. Anna Belle earned her B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors. After serving as a Fulbright Research Fellow in Amman, Jordan, she spent two years as a bilingual advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sex trafficking with the Arab-American Family Support Center at the Brooklyn Family Justice Center. It was through this work that she came to see the systemic flaws and racial injustices of the family court system. Anna Belle spent her 1L summer in Tulsa, Oklahoma as an intern with Still She Rises, the first holistic defense office in the country representing mothers in the criminal and civil legal systems. At Columbia Law School, she is a staff member of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, an extern for the Bronx Defenders, and vice president of Columbia Law Students for Palestine. She has also served as a staff editor for the Columbia Journal of Race and Law.

Austin Owen portrait

Austin Owen

Austin Owen is interested in public international law and American foreign relations law. He received a B.A. in government and foreign affairs with high honors from the University of Virginia, where he was a Jefferson Scholar. Before law school, Austin spent two years working at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., where his work focused primarily on American diplomacy and U.S.-Iran/U.S.-North Korea relations. Austin spent his 1L summer as an intern in the Civil Division’s Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. At Columbia Law School, he is the co-president of the National Security Law Society and a staff member of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. This year, he will intern for the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Austin is originally from Vestavia Hills, Alabama.

Lee Rea portrait

Lee Rea

Lee Rea is interested in empowering people to fight daily injustices and in movement lawyering with communities engaged in the struggle for autonomy and decentralization of power. She graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University with a B.A. in political economy and Spanish. Before law school, Lee worked for grassroots criminal legal reform organizations and a plaintiff’s firm handling public interest cases. Lee spent her 1L summer at the Center for Family Representation, an organization providing holistic, free defense to parents accused of creating a risk to their children. She also worked as a research assistant for former Lecturer in Law Alexis Hoag, studying cultural competency in indigent defense. Lee is co-president of the Suspension Representation Project at Columbia Law School and an extern at the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem Community Defense program. Prior to entering law school, Lee started two businesses and built an off-grid tiny house.

Tyler Ritchie portrait

Tyler Ritchie

Tyler Ritchie is interested in protecting voting rights and promoting educational reform. He holds a B.A. in history from Vanderbilt University and a M.A. in history from Brandeis University. His master’s thesis was a study of U.S. foreign policy in the Congo in 1960–1961. Before law school, Tyler spent eight years as a high school teacher at an independent school in Milwaukee teaching U.S. history and U.S. government. Tyler spent his 1L summer interning for the Center for Educational Equity where he worked on appellate litigation to promote the constitutional right to an education. While at Columbia Law School, Tyler has volunteered to teach teenagers about the Constitution. He is a staff member of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and a curriculum coordinator for the High School Law Institute.

Emma Shumway

Emma Shumway

Emma Shumway is interested in issues of environmental justice, including the disproportionate impact of pollution on communities of color and ensuring a just transition to a clean energy economy. Emma earned her B.A. in environmental studies with a focus in psychology from Middlebury College. Passionate about motivating action on climate, Emma's senior thesis was a psychological study that examined the relationship between the framing of environmental issues, political orientation, and reported opinion on climate change. During her undergraduate career, she interned with a variety of environmental nonprofits and gained exposure to national conservation policy, the inequities of green-space access, and urban food deserts. Prior to coming to law school, Emma worked on environmental issues as a full-time organizer, which solidified her desire to pursue a career in environmental law. Emma spent her 1L year studying the intersection of climate and the Clean Air Act as a member of the Environmental Moot Court competition team. For her 1L summer, Emma continued her clean air research as a legal intern for the Climate-U.S. Clean Air Program at the Environmental Defense Fund. This year, she is an intern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 and a member of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law.

Julianna Simms portrait

Julianna Simms

Julianna Simms is interested in reproductive justice, criminal justice reform/abolition, and youth advocacy.  She holds a B.A. in political science and African American studies from Yale University. Julianna’s academic work and experiences with Amnesty International and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP have all informed her interest in pursuing public interest law. Specifically, her experience with cases pertaining to asylum and family reunification cemented Julianna's passion in pursuing law as a tool for social change. For her 1L summer, Julianna interned at The Door, a New York-based youth organization, where she assisted legal staff with providing comprehensive and cutting-edge advocacy to young persons in immigration and asylum proceedings. At Columbia Law School, Julianna was a member of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court team and won Best Petitioner Brief at the regional level. This year, she is a participant in the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and serves as the president of the Queer and Trans People of Color at Columbia Law School. She is also an intermediate ceramicist and maintains a hydroponic herb garden.

Patricia Elizabeth Stewart portrait

Patricia Elizabeth Stewart

Elizabeth Stewart’s areas of interest include justice reform, child advocacy, and public policy. She graduated with high distinction from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in political philosophy, policy, and law. Elizabeth spent a year volunteering in the Philippines with International Justice Mission, where she served alongside local lawyers, law enforcement officials, and social workers working to eradicate online sexual exploitation of children in the region—experiences that inspired her to pursue law and use her degree to advocate for vulnerable communities. Upon returning to the United States, she served as a federal employee in the Department of the Interior for nearly four years. For her 1L summer, Elizabeth interned in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where she contributed research for ongoing cases. At Columbia Law School, Elizabeth is an extern in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Queens District Attorney’s Office and a staff member of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems. Elizabeth grew up on the island of Guam before moving to North Carolina in 2002.

Imani Thornton portrait

Imani Thornton

Imani Thornton’s areas of interest are reparational justice and dismantling the prison industrial complex. Imani earned her B.A. in politics from Princeton University and an M.A. in African American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before attending Columbia, she was a research and writing intern for the African American Policy Forum and a communications associate at Free Spirit Media, a nonprofit providing young adults in communities of color with media literacy and hands-on media production experience. During her first year at Columbia, Imani became increasingly interested in the relationship between property and criminal law and seeks to explore how the law has been used for and against certain populations. Imani spent her 1L summer at Loevy & Loevy, a civil rights law firm based in Chicago, where she assisted attorneys on matters of wrongful litigation, policing, and the rights of incarcerated people. A proud Midwesterner, she grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, which helped ignite her interest in how race and class historically intersect.

Katherine Wilkin portrait

Katherine Wilkin

Katherine Wilkin is passionate about supporting frontline communities at the nexus between climate change, human rights, and social justice. She earned her B.A. in English and global environments and sustainability from the University of Virginia. Before law school, Katherine worked as a community organizer in her Central Appalachian hometown fighting the expansion of fracked gas infrastructure, and in that role helped shape a community-led watchdog program using geospatial analysis to track and report environmental harms. During her undergraduate career, she studied the direct impacts of climate change on coastal communities and neighborhood-level strategies for resilience. Katherine spent her 1L summer as a legal intern for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, advocating for government accountability with a focus on environmental justice. At Columbia Law School, Katherine is a member of the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and a staff member of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Katherine also competed with the Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Team and continues in the program as a coach.