Leadership & Staff
Equal Justice Works staff is a dedicated group working to mobilize the next generation of public interest lawyers. A close community with a passion for ensuring the equal representation of all, Equal Justice Works staff is proud to support the work of our Fellows, member law schools, host organizations, NAC members and Board of Directors. We thank host and event sponsors for their generosity and for making our work possible.
FELLOWSHIPS & ADVANCEMENT
Patricia Reilly, Director of Philanthropy - BIO
Tammy Sun, Senior Manager, Fellowships & Advancement - BIO
Mia Sussman, Senior Manager, Pro Bono - BIO
Sterling Morriss, Manager, Fellowships & Advancement - BIO
Lauren Worsek, Manager, Fellowships & Advancement - BIO
Anne Brown, Fellowships & Advancement Coordinator - BIO
Carolyn Schorr, Fellowships & Advancement Coordinator - BIO
Brendan Simmons, Fellowships & Advancement Coordinator
FEDERAL PROGRAMS & STRATEGIC INITIATIVES
Sheila Strain Clark, Associate Director of Federal Programs & Strategic Initiatives - BIO
Taí Merey Alex, Program Manager - BIO
Katherine Jones, Program Manager - BIO
Toya Lynch, Program Manager - BIO
Qudsiya Naqui, Program Manager - BIO
Anna Cupito, Program Specialist - BIO
Melanie Pitkin, Strategic Initiatives Specialist - BIO
Sarah Lilly, Program Coordinator - BIO
Brian Stone, Program Coordinator - BIO
LAW SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT & ADVOCACY
COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING
Annie Hughes, Interim Director of Marketing
Yvonne Vargas-Santos, Director of Administration - BIO
Jamie R. Odle, Senior Manager, Alumni Relations - BIO
Steven Rice, Database Manager
Yazmin Alfonso, Events & Operations Specialist - BIO
Diana Miranda, HR & Benefits Specialist - BIO
Sarah Corcoran, Operations Assistant
Alex Peffley, Administrative Assistant
With more than 30 years of experience in public interest law, David Stern has helped develop Equal Justice Works into the nation's leading organization in mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. David has served as Executive Director for the past 19 years, vastly expanding the size and impact of the organization.
David joined Equal Justice Works, then known as the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL), in 1992 to establish a postgraduate fellowship program; in 1995 he was promoted to Executive Director. During his tenure as executive director, the organization's budget has grown from roughly $1.5 million to $15 million, staff has quadrupled, and more than 98 percent of ABA-accredited schools are now members of Equal Justice Works.
Under David’s leadership, Equal Justice Works has funded more than 1,200 public interest fellowships, with more than 85% of the former Fellows still practicing public interest law. Currently there are more than 200 full time lawyers working on the front lines to combat injustice, up from 150 a year ago (and up from seven when the fellowship program started 21 years ago); and there are 720 law students who advance justice through Equal Justice Works’ AmeriCorps JD program. In addition, Equal Justice Works is a national expert on student debt relief and provides tools to promote public interest law opportunities on campuses across the country.
David has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal, as a “Champion of Change” by the White House for his work fighting for equal justice for all, and as one of the "Greatest Washington Lawyers in the Past 30 Years” by The Legal Times.
In 2006, David was honored by the Mississippi Center for Justice for bringing national attention to the legal needs of survivors of Hurricane Katrina and for creating Equal Justice Works’ Katrina Initiative, which deployed lawyers to the Gulf Coast region to help the hundreds of thousands of people left without homes, jobs, or social services.
David received his B.A. from Union College and his law degree from Georgetown. After law school, David clerked for United States District Judges Roszel Thomsen and John Hargrove in Baltimore, Maryland. After clerking, David worked for a small commercial firm and then a civil rights law firm in Washington, DC. David serves as a member of the Advisory Committee for Voices for Civil Justice, a nonpartisan communications hub advancing fairness in America’s legal system.
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JEANNE VAN VLANDREN
Jeanne Van Vlandren was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Equal Justice Works in October 2013. Jeanne’s career spans the fields of education, emergency management, energy, housing, human services, and labor in the government and nonprofit sectors.
Jeanne has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience. Most recently, she was an independent consultant on strategic management, leadership development, and program implementation for government sector clients and nonprofit organizations, including the National Community Action Foundation and the Partnership for Public Service. Previously, she served as the vice president at the Council for Excellence in Government.
She also has extensive public sector experience and has served in a number of senior-level positions in the federal government, including Senior Advisor and Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, General Manager for Students in the Office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education, and Director of the Office of State and Community Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to joining the federal government, Jeanne served as the State of Vermont’s Commissioner of Labor & Industry, Chair of the State Emergency Response Commission, and Deputy Secretary of the State Agency of Human Services.
Jeanne’s public service efforts extend into the community as well. Her philanthropic activities have included serving as a board member of the Vermont Community Foundation and the Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area. She currently sits on the board of Economic Opportunity Studies, Inc.
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Claire Cusella joined Equal Justice Works in August 2014. She served as the Scheduler and Political Assistant to Maryland State Senator Jim Rosapepe where she managed his daily and long-term schedule and international travel. She also worked as Sen. Rosapepe’s Finance Director for both his campaign and the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council, where he serves as Vice-Chairman. Additionally, Claire previously worked as a field organizer for the 2012 campaign of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) and as an intern for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s Rochester, NY office. Claire has a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from State University of New Yorkat Geneseo.
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Patricia Reilly is the Director of Philanthropy for Equal Justice Works. She practiced communications law at Kirkland & Ellis and Wiley, Rein & Fielding, both in Washington, D.C., for many years. Subsequently she directed the fundraising and communications operations of Norwood School in Bethesda, Maryland, where she also served as a trustee and Board Chair. While practicing law, Reilly served as an officer of the Federal Communications Bar Association, chaired the ABA’s Forum on Communications Law, and was a member of the ABA House of Delegates. Reilly's previous public interest experience includes working as a summer intern for DNA-Legal Services on the Navajo Reservation in Window Rock, Arizona. She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
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Tammy Sun joined Equal Justice Works as Senior Manager of Fellowships and Advancement in August 2013. Tammy was an Equal Justice Works Fellow from 1999 to 2001, developing a juvenile justice project at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta to address the abusive confinement of children in prisons and detention centers in the South. After her fellowship, Tammy practiced as a public defender in Oregon and Washington D.C. Tammy was a litigation associate at Davis Polk and Wardwell prior to her fellowship, and later clerked for a federal district court judge in Boston. More recently, she taught criminal law and procedure at Catholic University School of Law and University of Baltimore School of Law. Tammy received a B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
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Mia Sussman is the Senior Manager of Pro Bono at Equal Justice Works. She joined Equal Justice Works in March 2011. She previously worked as a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP from 2007-2011, where her practice focused on antitrust litigation. She also helped manage the firm's pro bono program, assisting Holocaust survivors in applying for reparations from Germany. Mia's previous public interest experience includes serving as Program Assistant at the International Senior Lawyers Project and as a summer intern at the Human Rights Law Network in Delhi, India. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Tufts University and earned her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where she served as an articles editor for the Michigan Journal of International Law. Mia also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. Mia serves on the the Board of the Washington Council of Lawyers, the Washington Lawyers' Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and on the Anti-Defamation League's Young Professionals Division Board. She also volunteers with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s Small Business Legal Clinics.
Sterling Morriss graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2011, where her passion for nonprofit management and fundraising was forged through volunteer work with an annual fundraising event benefiting the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. While in law school, she spent three semesters as a law clerk at the Department of Commerce's Office of General Counsel researching the constitutionality of Decennial Census methods and crafting departmental policy on the effect of green technology on comparative international economies. Prior to law school, Sterling held various positions with other foundations and nonprofits, primarily with a focus on the arts. She graduated summa cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a Degree in Art History in her native city of Dallas, Texas in 2007.
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Lauren Worsek joined Equal Justice Works as a Manager of Fellowships and Advancement in September 2014. She previously worked as an employee benefits associate for Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Washington, DC, where she maintained an extensive pro bono practice primarily focused on immigration law. As a direct result of this immigration work, Lauren earned the firm’s Pro Bono Associate of the Year distinction in 2013. She also served on the firm’s pro bono committee, where she promoted and facilitated public interest opportunities for other attorneys. Prior to joining Seyfarth Shaw, Lauren practiced real estate tax law in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Lauren earned her B.A. in psychology and sociology from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was as an editor for the Washington University Journal of Law and Policy. During law school, she served as a foreign law clerk in Jerusalem, Israel to Justice Dorit Beinisch, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, a legal intern in the Washington, DC Office of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA) in St. Louis, Missouri. Lauren is member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Next Generation Board and does volunteer work with her dog, Oscar, through People Animals Love.
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Carolyn Schorr joined Equal Justice Works as a Fellowships and Advancement Coordinator in July 2014. She previously interned for Human Rights First and worked with their Refugee Representation team on opening a new office in Houston to assist asylum seekers. Her background in development and social justice is what inspired her career in the non-profit sector. She attended George Mason University, where she graduated cum laude with a degree in International Studies.
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Sheila Strain Clark is currently the Associate Director of Federal Programs & Strategic Initiatives (FPSI). She joined Equal Justice Works as a Senior Manager for the FPSI unit in May 2014. Sheila most recently served at the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) as the Program Manager of the DC YouthLink Initiative. In that role, she managed over $6,000,000 in city funds for a nationally awarded juvenile justice program focused on improving public safety and increasing positive outcomes for court-involved youth. Prior to DYRS, she held various leadership positions at non-profit organizations across the District of Columbia, including as Division Director with the United Planning Organization, Executive Director with the Northwest Church Family Network, and Assistant Director with the North Capitol Collaborative. Sheila has worked closely with service-learning programs, starting with an early career internship at the Corporation for National and Community Service in the Learn and Serve America Program. She has also coordinated an AmeriCorps funded “pilot” program at the George Washington University. Sheila holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Howard University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland at College Park. She is a licensed social worker in the District of Columbia and an active member of many professional organizations.
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Jamie Odle is Senior Manager for Alumni Relations at Equal Justice Works, cultivating and securing opportunities for public support for the organization’s initiatives. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Access to Justice Foundation in Kentucky, where her work primarily focused on legislative and administrative advocacy efforts to increase funding for civil legal services. She comes to Equal Justice Works from the District of Columbia Primary Care Association, an organization promoting access to health care for low-income residents, where she managed the development program. Jamie has a B. M. from the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
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TAI MEREY ALEX
Taí Merey Alex joined Equal Justice Works in January 2014 as a Program Manager. She manages several Federally funded projects, with a focus on the VISTA Affordable Housing Preservation Project – a national law and organizing project that pairs Legal Fellows with Community Organizers to preserve affordable housing through capacity building. Prior to joining Equal Justice Works, Taí was with the Center for Court Innovation for several years, where she managed a Help Center in a community court in Harlem, and oversaw a reentry based program for young adults. Taí’s commitment to social justice began as an AmeriCorps member in East Harlem, where she assisted children with learning disabilities and facilitated an after-school program in the community. She has focused her career on the advancement of housing rights, economic empowerment, and the protection of civil rights through a variety of public interest initiatives. She graduated magna cum laude from Pace University with a B.A. in English, and holds a J.D. from CUNY School of Law. Taí grew up in Puerto Rico and Vermont.
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Katherine Jones joined Equal Justice Works as a Program Manager for the Federal Programs & Strategic Initiatives unit in November 2014, providing support and management to the AmeriCorps JD program. She comes to Equal Justice Works with a passion for national service, having served two terms as an AmeriCorps Member and advocating with Service Nation for the advancement of national service. Previously, Katherine assisted in the management of the Community HealthCorps AmeriCorps program at the Community Health Center, Inc. and supported community development initiatives at the Residential Life Office at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, coordinating events and assisting Resident Assistants in program development. Katherine has significant experience in the areas of community development, advocacy, and cross-sector collaborative initiatives with an interest in juvenile justice. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Connecticut, with a minor in Sociology, and a Master in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a concentration in Public Management.
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Toya Lynch joined Equal Justice Works as a Program Manager for the Federal Programs & Strategic Initiatives unit in October 2014, providing coordination and management to the AmeriCorps programs. Previously, she was a Program Monitor for a DC government agency that provided programming for youth in the juvenile justice system. She comes to Equal Justice Works with program management experience from overseeing DC government funded programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Employment Program. Toya holds a Master in Education, in Counseling and Workforce Development from Bowie State University and a BA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County.
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Qudsiya joined Equal Justice Works as a Program Manager for the Federal Programs & Strategic Initiatives unit in November 2014. She manages the justice AmeriCorps program - a collaborative effort of Equal Justice Works, the U.S. Department of Justice, and AmeriCorps - that will enhance access to legal counsel for unaccompanied immigrant children. Qudsiya comes to Equal Justice Works with significant experience in the immigration field, specifically on child migration issues. Prior to joining the team, she served as a Program Associate in the Unaccompanied Children Program at the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City, where she managed, trained, and provided technical assistance to a national network of legal service providers that assist immigrant youth fighting deportation. She has also represented Central American and South Asian immigrants seeking asylum and other forms of protection in the United States at the New York Legal Assistance Group and the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia. Qudsiya holds a B.A. in political science with a concentration in human rights from Barnard College, and a J.D. from Temple University Beasley School of Law.
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Anna Cupito is a Program Specialist in the Federal Programs and Strategic Initiative department at Equal Justice Works, where she is responsible for supporting the AmeriCorps Fellows and AmeriCorps JD members and the host sites they work with. She previously served as an AmeriCorps member with Arlington Works!, where she taught English as a Second Language and led parent engagement classes for Spanish-speaking parents in Arlington, VA. A native of the Greater Cincinnati area, she graduated from American University with a B.A. in International Studies.
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Melanie Pitkin joined Equal Justice Works as a Strategic Initiatives Specialist in November 2014. Previously, Melanie worked as a Program Officer at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where she provided oversight and support to democracy development programs in Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. Her responsibilities included managing projects, developing proposals and conducting policy research and analysis. Melanie previously interned in the Office of U.S. Representative Mark Udall (CO-02) and at Freedman Consulting, LLC, where she researched fundraising opportunities for non-profit and federal clients. Melanie also interned at the non-profit organization, Help Argentina in Buenos Aires, where she organized fundraising events and translated information on local anti-poverty initiatives. Melanie is originally from Boulder, Colorado and received her B.S. in International Culture and Politics from Georgetown University.
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Sarah Lilly is currently a program coordinator in the Federal Programs and Strategic Initiatives unit, supporting the various AmeriCorps programs offered by Equal Justice Works. Sarah was an Equal Justice Works summer intern before joining the team full time in August 2014. Previously, Sarah worked at Ohio University’s Political Science Department and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, where she researched issues pertaining to transnational racial policy diffusion, community economic development, and LGBTQIA communities. Sarah received her B.A. in Sociology-Criminology & Political Science and a Certificate in Law, Justice & Culture from Ohio University. She is a Baltimore, Maryland native.
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Brian Stone joined Equal Justice Works as a Program Coordinator in the Federal Programs and Strategic Initiatives unit in October, 2014, where he supports AmeriCorps Fellows and AmeriCorps JD Members. Brian previously served in the Public Policy Office of the United Methodist Women, where he tracked legislation related to social justice issues and supported members working to train their communities about human trafficking in the United States. Brian previously interned for U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) and the Middle East Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving relations and understanding between people from the Middle East region and the U.S. Brian earned his B.A. in International Studies from Miami University.
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Isaac Bowers is Director for Law School Engagement & Advocacy, overseeing the Student Debt, Student Engagement, and Law School Relations programs. He was previously responsible for the organization's educational debt relief initiatives. In that capacity, he wrote a weekly blog for U.S. News; conducted monthly webinars for a wide range of audiences; advised employers, law schools and professional organizations; and worked with Congress and the Department of Education on Federal legislation and regulations. Prior to joining Equal Justice Works, he was a Fellow at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP in San Francisco, where he represented citizen groups and local agencies in environmental litigation and land use and planning issues. Isaac received his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
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Lauren Fuchs is the Program Manager for Law School Engagement & Advocacy at Equal Justice Works where she focuses her time on managing the planning and implementation of the annual Conference and Career Fair and working closely with the law school members. She was previously a Client & Practice Development Assistant at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in Washington, D.C. and served as a press intern for the Office of U.S. Senator John Kerry. Lauren earned her M.A. in Political Science from American University and holds a B.A. in Communications-Public Relations from Salisbury University.
Ashley Matthews is a Program Manager for Law School Engagement & Advocacy for Equal Justice Works. She helps expand law student membership and maintain Equal Justice Works’ leadership position on student debt in the legal community. Previously, Ashley worked as the Communications Manager for Legal Services Corporation, where she helped design communications strategies to increase public and congressional appreciation of federally funded civil legal aid. She has also led the digital communications team for PSJD, the largest public service initiative of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). Ashley has previously interned with Advancement Project, Florida Legal Services, Georgia Justice Project, and the Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office. She received her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law and holds a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Hampton University. Ashley is a native of Houston, Texas.
Michelle Gaeng is a Coordinator for the Law School Engagement & Advocacy unit. Prior to joining the team in January 2015, Michelle worked as a Field Organizer for the Nevada State Democratic Party in Las Vegas. She was responsible for organizing and staffing events and rallies on behalf of the 2014 Lieutenant Governor candidate. Michelle is also a former intern for U.S. House of Representatives Minority Whip, Steny Hoyer (MD-05), and the 2008 Marylanders for Marriage Equality Campaign. Prior to that, she interned at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, where she staffed events, planned international travel, and attended committee meetings. She is a graduate of Emory University with a B.A. in International Studies and History.
Yvonne is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. and recently served in senior positions at Year Up Inc. in Operations and Human Resources. Yvonne has 15 years of corporate and nonprofit experience in operations, event planning, and human resources. She has maintained a specific focus on strategic growth, fundraising, and people development. Yvonne holds a master’s in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Human Resources from Cambridge College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Marymount Manhattan College. She began her career in film and event planning before finding her true passion in people and leadership development. Yvonne also holds a certification in Computer Information Systems, and enjoys using her technological prowess to create innovative business strategies.
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Yazmin Alfonso joined Equal Justice Works as the Operations Specialist in July 2014. She recently worked for the Cochran Firm as a Mass Tort and Intake Specialist. Additionally, Yazmin previously served on the staff of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (FL) as a Press Assistant as part of her graduate certificate program in Political Communication at American University. Prior to the Hill, she was the Founder and President of the Student Ambassadors for Service Learning group at the University of Cincinnati, connecting the University with community partners and working with local non-profits. Yazmin holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Cincinnati and currently working towards her M.S. in Global Communication.
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A New York native, Diana joins Equal Justice Works as Human Resource and Benefits Specialist. Diana holds a BA from SUNY Oswego with a double major in Psychology and Spanish, as well as an MBA from the University of Phoenix, with a Certificate in Human Resources. Diana comes to us from Harlem Children's Zone; a non-profit organization dedicated to providing employment opportunities in over 70 programs to Harlem Natives and running 2 charter schools within the neighborhood. At Harlem Children's Zone, Diana worked as an HR Generalist. Prior to, she managed the internship program at Year Up New York; a non-profit organization which works to bridge the opportunity gap for young adults. Diana has worked as an Office Manager at HSM Americas, Inc; a company that held management training conferences for Corporate America. She also spent three years at Edwin Gould Foundation; a non-profit foundation that funds afterschool program, as Project/Office Assistant to the President. Diana began her professional career as a school teacher; teaching Spanish to grades K-8 in New York City. Diana offers a wealth of information and experiences, as well as support to the Equal Justice Works and their stakeholders.
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Anne Brown is a Coordinator in the Fellowships & Advancement unit. Prior to Equal Justice Works, Anne interned for Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06) in his legislative office on Capitol Hill and his District Office. Anne also worked on Dean Vanderstelt’s Congressional campaign in Michigan’s Second Congressional District. Throughout her undergraduate career, Anne worked extensively to develop a program to prevent sexual assault and harassment on her college campus and conducted community service outreach and development. Anne graduated cum laude from Hope College in West Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science.
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