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 (now part of The Max Berger ’71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program) 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 September 9, 2022

Terresa Adams

Terresa Adams ’23

Terresa Adams is interested in human rights, specifically women’s and children’s rights and government. 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 and her 2L summer interning in the Research and Investigation Unit of Physicians for Human Rights. At Columbia Law School, Terresa has served as a research assistant for Professor Sarah Knuckey and participated in the 1L Human Rights Advocates Program, Black Law Students Association, and Empowering Women of Color. Terresa was a staffer, and is now the pro bono coordinator, of the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual. She is also a student consultant for the Center for Public Research and Leadership, where she assisted a government agency to improve the experiences of elementary students in a large, diverse school district. Terresa is a 2022 Racial and Social Justice Fellow and a student ambassador for Columbia’s Social Justice Initiatives and Office of Admissions. 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 in 2022

Christopher Alter ’23

Christopher Alter is interested in labor and employment rights, public defense, and direct services. 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 in the Division of Civil Rights and Labor-Management of the Office of the Solicitor in the U.S. Department of Labor. For his 2L summer, he interned with the Bronx Defenders, Civil Action Practice. At Columbia Law School, Christopher externed for the Civil Rights Bureau in the New York State Office of the Attorney General and served as co-president of the Student Public Interest Network and the executive production editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. He is the first in his family to attend law school.

Hunter Baehren portrait

Hunter Baehren ’23

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 and 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 and his 2L summer working for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. At Columbia Law, Hunter serves as editor in chief of the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, has served on the executive board of the Columbia Law and Political Economy Society, and has volunteered with the Tenants’ Rights Project. Hunter is a native Ohioan and enjoys sailing in his spare time.

Madhuri Belkale in 2022

Madhuri Belkale ’23

Madhuri Belkale is interested in legal issues that affect immigrant communities, including immigration defense, asylum law, and civil rights. Madhuri graduated 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. Before law school, she interned at a nonprofit providing global access to education and organized with a local voter empowerment organization in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Madhuri spent her 1L summer at the Texas Civil Rights Project, where she worked on criminal injustice and voting rights projects. She spent her 2L summer at Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, a civil rights firm focused on Section 1983 lawsuits. At Columbia Law, Madhuri has participated in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and served as a staff member and articles editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and the Columbia Journal of Race and Law. She also served on the executive boards of the South Asian Law Students Association, Empowering Women of Color, and the Midwest Society and on the student management team of the 1L Human Rights Advocates Program. She also previously participated 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 in 2022

Molly Bodurtha ’23

Molly Bodurtha is interested in the intersection of public integrity, 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 was a Fulbright scholar in Cambodia, where she researched the impact of investment projects on domestic legal development and rural 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. Molly spent her 2L summer at two placements in Washington, D.C.: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Advisor. At Columbia Law School, Molly serves as the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law’s ombudsperson. She was a member of the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic, co-president of the Columbia Society for International Law, and vice president of the National Security Law Society. She is also a research associate with Oxford University’s China, Law, and Development project and is proficient in Mandarin and Khmer.

 

Likhitha Butchireddygari portrait

Likhitha Butchireddygari ’23

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. Likhitha spent her 1L summer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. She spent her 2L summer in the Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel. At the Law School, Likhitha is an articles 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 ’23

Grace Coleman is passionate about environmental justice, especially the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color. 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. For her 2L summer, Grace interned with the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston, South Carolina, office working on environmental issues that affect the state. At Columbia, Grace is an articles editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and her note, “Not So Sweet: Sugarcane Burning, Florida’s Right-to-Farm Act, and Unconstitutional Takings” will be published in the journal. Grace has previously interned for Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang at the Southern District of New York and served on the executive board of the Environmental Law Society. She 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 ’23

Kathrina Dabdoub is interested in human rights issues, especially international criminal and humanitarian law, corporate accountability, 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. For her 2L summer, she interned at the Corporate Accountability Lab. At Columbia Law, Kathrina is a participant in the United Nations externship, an articles editor for the Human Rights Law Review, and a board member of Columbia Law Students for Palestine. She has previously participated in the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic, served as a research assistant for Professor Amber Baylor, and presented a paper at the annual Human Rights Institute Student Paper Symposium. She has also volunteered with the Al-Quds University Human Rights Clinic as a participant in the Pal Trek Pro Bono Caravan and with the Public Defenders of Columbia Law School Parole Advocacy Project. Kathrina is a proud Jamaican-Palestinian, backgrounds which fuel her dedication to human rights.

Allie Doyle portrait

Allie Doyle ’23

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. She spent her 2L summer defending youth at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem. At Columbia, Allie has volunteered with Sanctuary for Families and the Suspension Representation Project, coached the Gender and Sexuality Moot Court team, and served as a staff editor on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. She has also participated in the Bronx Defenders and Center for Appellate Litigation externships. Allie received first place in the Williams Institute Moot Court competition, which addresses issues of constitutional law affecting the LGBTQ+ community. Allie is a native New Yorker.

Nkechi Erondu in 2022

Nkechi Erondu ’23

Nkechi Erondu is dedicated to engaging in critical harm reduction efforts while also reimagining a criminal legal system that employs policies and practices rooted in transformative justice. 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 Service for the District of Columbia, where she represented incarcerated people in administrative disciplinary hearings and assisted with record sealing motions. For her 2L summer, she interned at the Bronx Defenders working in the criminal and impact litigation divisions. At Columbia Law School, Nkechi serves as executive notes editor of the Columbia Law Review. She served on the executive boards of Empowering Women of Color and the Black Law Students Association. She also participated in the Frederick Douglass Moot Court and the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic. This past year, Nkechi was awarded a Racial and Social Justice Fellowship. Nkechi is an avid gym-goer and aspiring mixologist.

Fatima Hasanain portrait

Fatima Hasanain ’23

Fatima Hasanain is interested in labor and employment law, immigration and refugee issues, and civil rights. 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 for a nonprofit that supports state-based ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage and expand healthcare access. She also worked with University of California, Berkeley’s Public Service Center to provide mentorship and leadership opportunities to eighth-grade girls in her community. Fatima spent her 1L summer interning at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York, assisting with discrimination and civil rights work. She spent her 2L summer at Outten & Golden and Bredhoff & Kaiser, two public interest law firms focused on labor and employment issues. At Columbia, Fatima is a managing editor for the Columbia Law Review and a participant in the Columbia Clerkships Diversity Initiative. She has also participated in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, worked as a research assistant for the Human Rights Institute’s Kashmir Project, and competed on LaLSA’s Asylum and Refugee Law Moot Court. Fatima has also held leadership positions with Empowering Women of Color, ACLU-CLS, and the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Fatima is a proud child of Pakistani immigrants and the first in her family to attend law school.

Chakshu Hurria 2022

Chakshu Hurria ’23

Chakshu Hurria aspires to a career focused on direct representation and policy change for those impacted by 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. Chakshu spent her 1L summer at Mobilization for Justice, a New York-based direct services organization, focusing on employment discrimination and re-entry issues in their Workplace Justice Project. For her 2L summer, Chakshu interned with the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, where she conducted indigent defense work in her home community in the Bay Area. At Columbia Law School, Chakshu is executive director of outreach for A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual and the student director of the Paralegal Pathways Initiative, a collaborative re-entry initiative, which hones the skills of former jailhouse lawyers and connects them to employment opportunities in the legal field. She has previously participated in the LaLSA Asylum and Refugee Law Moot Court and has served as a staff editor for the Columbia Journal of Race and Law and A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual. Chakshu was born in India and is the first in her family to attend law school.

Emily Katz portrait

Emily Katz ’23

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. For her 2L summer, Emily worked for the Fair Elections Center, helping with ongoing voting rights litigation. At Columbia Law School, Emily is an online editor for the Human Rights Law Review. She has also externed with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, clerked for a district court judge in the Eastern District of New York, served as a staff member on the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, volunteered with the Uncontested Divorce Project, and served on the board of the National Security Law Society.  Emily grew up in the California Bay Area and plays three instruments.

William R. Leo portrait

William R. Leo ’23

William Leo is passionate about environmental policy and an equitable energy transition as well as democratic integrity and economic justice. William graduated from Georgetown University with degrees in philosophy and English literature, writing his senior thesis on W.C. Williams. Before law school, William worked as a political consultant in Portland, Oregon, and helped progressive candidates run their campaigns in local elections. His experiences instilled in him a deep interest in the democratic process, constitutional governance, and ecological practice. William spent his 1L summer working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York working on civil litigation on civil rights and environmental matters. For his 2L summer, he was a law clerk in the NETI-Honors program in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. During his time at Columbia Law, William participated in the New York Attorney General Externship and worked for the EPA at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. He is senior articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law and research assistant for Professor Michael Gerrard. He has volunteered as development chair for the Columbia Law chapter of the American Constitution Society and the Columbia Law School Democrats. Born and raised in Oregon, William has a deep love for natural beauty and a longstanding interest in 20th-century poetry.

Eileen Li

Eileen Li ’23

Eileen Li is interested in technology, antitrust law, and comparative international law. She graduated from The University of Chicago with a B.A. in political science. Before law school, Eileen worked as a paralegal at Davis Polk & Wardwell. 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 with the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and her 2L summer in the Technology Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission. At Columbia Law School, Eileen is a notes editor for the Columbia Law Review. She has previously served as 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.

Laura McFeely

Laura McFeely ’23

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. She spent her 2L summer with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Practice in the Bronx. At Columbia, Laura is an articles editor for A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual and an extern for the Center for Appellate Litigation. Laura has participated in the Bronx Defenders externship, been a staff member on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review, and volunteered with 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 ’23

Anna Belle Newport is committed to dismantling the ways that the family regulation and criminal legal systems exacerbate racial and socioeconomic inequities. 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 decided she wanted to be a family defense attorney. 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. She spent her 2L summer with the Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice. At Columbia Law School, Anna Belle has externed with the Bronx Defenders and the Center for Appellate Litigation and was a research assistant to Professor Maeve Glass. She is the executive notes editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and her note, “Civil Miranda Warnings: The Fight for Parents to Know Their Rights During a Child Protective Services Investigation,” will be published in its forthcoming volume. She also served as a staff editor for the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, the vice president of the Columbia Law Students for Palestine, and the public interest co-chair for Outlaws. This past year, Anna Belle was awarded a Racial and Social Justice Fellowship and was selected as a Bergstrom Child Welfare Fellow.

Austin Owen portrait

Austin Owen ’23

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 with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation Section and his 2L summer as an intern with the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Courts Section. At Columbia Law School, Austin is an articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. He has externed with the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, in the offices of political-military affairs and employment law, and has served as the co-president of the National Security Law Society. Austin is originally from Vestavia Hills, Alabama.

Lee Rea portrait

Lee Rea ’23

Lee Rea is interested in empowering people in their daily lives through alternative forms of law, including movement lawyering and mediation. 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 Alexis Hoag, studying cultural competency in indigent defense. During her 2L summer, Lee interned with TakeRoot Justice, an organization providing legal partnership to grassroots movements. While at Columbia Law School, Lee has externed with the Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem’s Community Defense program and served as co-president of the Suspension Representation Project. Prior to law school, Lee started two businesses and built an off-grid tiny house.

Tyler Ritchie portrait

Tyler Ritchie ’23

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. For his 2L summer, he worked at the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Consumer Protection. At Columbia Law School, Tyler is externing with the U.S. Department of Justice's Voting Section and is the design and layout editor for the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems. He was previously a curriculum coordinator for the High School Law Institute and a student representative on the Task Force on Grading. 

Emma Shumway

Emma Shumway ’23

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. For her 1L summer, Emma interned for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate-U.S. Clean Air Program, where she worked to ensure clean air for communities. During her 2L summer, she worked with the Northeast Earthjustice office on national toxics litigation, the clean energy transition, and enforcement of the rights of communities disproportionately burdened by pollution. At Columbia, Emma is an intern with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 and a member of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. She has externed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 and the New York Law Department Environmental Law Division. Emma has been a member and coach of the Environmental Law Moot Court competition team, co-president of the Environmental Law Society, and editor in chief of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. She received the Richard J. Lipson and Paul S. Lipson Prize in Contracts and is a James Kent Scholar.

Julianna Simms portrait

Julianna Simms ’23

Julianna Simms is interested in pursuing justice on behalf of Black femmes, women, and girls, which has led her to focus on family law, reproductive justice, and criminal defense/abolition. Julianna holds a B.A. in political science and African American studies from Yale University. Julianna’s academic research, human rights work, and pro bono advocacy have all informed her interest 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. During her 2L summer, she interned with the Brooklyn Defenders Service Family Defense Practice. At Columbia Law School, Julianna has participated in the Frederick Douglass Civil Rights Moot Court as both a team member and an editor. She has also participated in the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and served as the president of Queer and Trans People of Color at Columbia Law School. Julianna was also a joint staffer for the Human Rights Law Review and Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, where she drafted a chapter of the manual dedicated to informing LGBTQ incarcerated people of their rights. Recently, she worked with the Survivors Justice Project in Theatre of Change to develop artistic approaches to advocating on behalf of criminalized survivors of domestic violence. She is also an intermediate ceramicist and maintains a hydroponic herb garden.

Patricia Elizabeth Stewart portrait

Patricia Elizabeth Stewart ’23

Elizabeth Stewart’s areas of interest include domestic violence, gender-based violence, and criminal justice reform. 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. Elizabeth spent her 1L summer in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and her 2L summer in the Department of Justice’s Office of Policy and Legislation. At Columbia Law School, Elizabeth was an extern in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Queens District Attorney’s Office and an articles editor for the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems. Elizabeth grew up on the island of Guam before moving to North Carolina in 2002.

Headshot of a woman wearing a black jacket and beige blouse

Imani Thornton ’23

Imani Thornton is passionate about reparational justice and defending historically oppressed persons within the criminal legal system. Imani holds a B.A. in politics from Princeton University and an M.A. from University of California, Los Angeles in African American studies. 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. During her 2L summer, Imani interned with the Illinois Prison Project, an organization that employs direct representation, advocacy, and education to fight against repressive carceral policies in the state of Illinois. 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 ’23

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. 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. She spent her 2L summer as a legal intern for Appalachian Mountain Advocates. At Columbia Law School, Katherine is a member of the Community Advocacy Lab Clinic and a managing editor for the Columbia Human Rights Law Review. Katherine also competed with the Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Team and continued in the program as a coach.