2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Caillean E. Daily

The Project

Caillean (she/her/hers) will focus on providing legal representation and education to veterans experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness and income insecurity in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

In 2021, the Veterans Administration surveyed 1,773 homeless veterans; each of the top ten unmet needs reported by respondents involved legal issues. A formal medical-legal partnership (MLP) between Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia-area veteran-serving medical facilities will provide veterans access to competent, accessible, and trauma-informed legal services. By meeting veterans where they are and working in conjunction with healthcare providers through a MLP, Caillean’s project will empower veterans with the assistance they need to address legal and medical needs adversely affecting their wellbeing.

Fellowship Plans

Caillean’s project is designed to increase access to a wide range of civil legal services for veterans in Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s core service area of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties, with specific focus on VA benefits and military discharge upgrades, through targeted outreach at veteran-serving medical facilities in the area.

Caillean will steward a continually growing number of veterans benefits and discharge upgrade cases as a member of the Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania team. She will engage with staff of veteran-serving medical facilities, including training VA healthcare teams, specifically social workers, to identify when a veteran may be facing one of a wide array of legal issues that Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania can assist with, particularly VA benefits and military discharge upgrades. She will work with the social work teams to discuss and create training materials surrounding race-, gender-, and sexual-orientation-/gender-identity-based discrimination as it relates to clients’ claims, specifically for post-traumatic stress disorder. She will conduct monthly outreach and intake, and provide direct advocacy, to reach more veterans and help them access healthcare, VA benefits, military discharge upgrades, and other legal services.

All people, regardless of class, background, and circumstances, deserve access to the support and resources they need to live with dignity and fulfillment. This belief brought me to law school, and I am honored to now be able to put this belief into action through my Equal Justice Works Fellowship

Caillean E. Daily /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Coco’s Fellowship provided legal representation and outreach to low-income veterans with mental illness in New York City to ensure that they have access to income, treatment, and housing.

Next Steps

Coco Culhane is the founder and executive director of the Veteran Advocacy Project. She is an adjunct professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, where she teaches the Veterans’ Rights Clinic. She sits on the New York State Discharge Upgrade Advisory Board, is a founding advisor to the NYC Veterans Alliance, and is a member of the Veterans’ Mental Health Coalition Advisory Board. She has presented on veterans’ legal issues and conducted trainings for attorneys, social workers, and students at conferences across the country.

The Project

Henry’s (he/him) project will provide low-barrier, trauma-informed legal services to Boston-area young queer and transgender people of color by establishing a community-based HIV prevention medical-legal partnership.

This Fellowship bridges a long-existing service gap between two programs within Justice Resource Institute, Inc. (JRI) programs where, due to funding restrictions, many Boston Gay Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) clients have been unable to access the legal services offered by the Health Law Institute (HLI). Boston GLASS offers HIV prevention services to Boston-area Queer, Trans, Black, and Indigenous people of color (QTBIPOC) ages 13-29. In Massachusetts, sharp racial disparities persist in measures of HIV risk: Hispanic/Latino individuals face nearly four times the risk of HIV infection than white individuals and Black individuals face nearly eight times the risk of white individuals. By extending HLI’s legal services to the clients at Boston GLASS, Henry will work in tandem with GLASS professionals to address the health-harming legal needs that tend to place the GLASS client population at heightened risk of HIV infection.

Henry is a gay man who has lived in the Boston area for almost all his life. He is interested in health justice, particularly as it pertains to HIV/AIDS.

Fellowship Plans

By extending HLI’s medical-legal partnership model to Boston GLASS, Henry will be able to meet community members where they are. He will work alongside skilled providers who have cultivated trusting relationships with clients to effectuate holistic, wrap-around, trauma-informed legal services. Henry will leverage this dynamic to provide advice, brief services, and full representation in housing, public benefits, and discrimination matters. He will also provide education and training to Boston GLASS staff and community members so that they can issue-spot health-harming legal needs and seek out appropriate resources. Henry will also build out HLI’s existing data collection and analysis capacity to promote the sustainability of the HIV prevention legal services model.

I am excited that this project moves HIV legal services upstream, focusing on HIV prevention in a medical-legal partnership model. But I am even more excited that this project allows me to support queer and trans people in my community.

Henry McDonald /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Mónica (she/her/hers) will leverage the collective-impact model to provide effective legal services and education to the special needs community at the Multi-Assistance Center (MAC) at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas.

According to the 2021 Justice Gap Measurement Survey in the United States, 10.7 million people with a disability have a household income below 125% of the federal poverty level. 82% of these households had at least one civil legal problem in the past year, 48% had five or more, and 27% had 10 or more. The disparity in access for these families goes beyond income inequality. These families are dealing with an onslaught of medical, behavioral, and emotional challenges, trying to do it all with extremely limited resources. The Multi-Assistance Center (MAC) at Morgan’s Wonderland is a one-stop-shop model connecting special needs families to the resources they need.

Mónica has dedicated the past 19 years to serving the special needs community as a volunteer, educator, and clinician. She went to law school to increase her skillset and to continue to expand on her mission.

Fellowship Plans

Mónica will provide legal services in one convenient location where families are also receiving medical and social services and collaborate with these providers to serve families most efficiently. Mónica will provide community training on legal issues to families and MAC staff, host recurring legal clinics to provide direct no-cost legal services, and plan for the program’s long-term sustainability.

Media

Texas Access to Justice Foundation Sponsors Five Fellows

My lifelong goal has been to make a difference in the lives of special needs families. I believe this Fellowship is a perfect fit for me, as it will allow me to meet that goal by capitalizing on my experiences as a provider, a business leader, and an advocate.

Mónica Palma /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Through direct advocacy, educational outreach, and policy reform, Madisyn (she/her/hers) will advocate for Arizona K-12 students with chronic physical and mental health conditions who were denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Children with chronic health conditions face substantial barriers to obtaining an education, let alone an appropriate education. They are discriminated against solely because their conditions may be more complex or require more individualized care than their peers, neither of which justify denying a child the aid and accommodations needed to ensure they receive an appropriate education. Yet Arizona K-12 students with chronic conditions are increasingly being denied FAPE—an issue only worsened by teacher shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because any denial of an appropriate education is an egregious violation of a student’s rights and could substantially impact the student’s long-term academic trajectory, every case is urgent.

Madisyn’s project was inspired by her own experience as a student with chronic conditions and the concomitant challenges. She is committed to ensuring that all students receive an appropriate education.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Madisyn will represent students with chronic conditions against schools that have denied them FAPE. She will develop accessible “Know Your Rights” resources for students and parents regarding students’ rights to an appropriate education, including presenting in local communities to reach as many people as possible. Additionally, Madisyn will advocate for statewide policies that better support students with chronic conditions—particularly behavioral and mental health conditions—through research and communication with state representatives.

I’ve had to learn how to advocate for myself as both a patient and student. I can’t think of a better use for my education than helping others do the same.

Madisyn Puchebner /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Rachel (she/her/hers) will represent medically fragile children (MFC) in New York City in appeals of adverse Medicaid determinations and wrongful denials of medically necessary care. Her work at the New York Legal Assistance Group will ensure that medically fragile children can remain at home, and undertake systemic advocacy on related issues.

Many medically fragile children risk being placed into settings where infectious diseases, like COVID-19, are more easily spread—places like emergency rooms, nursing homes, rehab facilities, and group residences. The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) provision of the federal Medicaid Act guarantees medically necessary health care for children under age 21. EPSDT protections, however, are poorly enforced. This leads to unlawful denials of care and places medically fragile children at risk of institutionalization. Despite the significant legal needs of medically fragile children, few legal services providers exist for MFC in New York City to avoid institutional placement. This project will address this access to justice gap, and in doing so will help keep medically fragile children safely at home with their families.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Rachel will provide direct representation to medically fragile, low-income children through all stages of their appeals process to maintain Medicaid eligibility and access medically necessary care. She will also engage in policy advocacy and impact litigation by working with coalitions of other advocates and attorneys who are advancing the rights of people with Medicaid coverage. She will also facilitate community education for families of medically fragile children and lead educational trainings for pediatric clinicians through partnerships with local and national organizations. Finally, she will design legal trainings and toolkits to foster more sources of legal advocacy for these children and their families.

Rachel’s own chronic health condition, a voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia, as well as her background as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer fuel her commitment to ensuring all people have access to the health care, services, and supports they need.

Media

NYLAG Equal Justice Works Fellow Rachel Holtzman Joined Advocates in Support of New York Providing Continual Medicaid Coverage for Children From Birth to Age 6

Everyone deserves to receive care at home and in their communities surrounded by the people they love. I am excited to work alongside families, providers, and legal advocates to ensure a child’s income, disability, and race does not determine their ability to receive the care they need while staying home with their families.

Rachel Holtzman /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Courtney (they/them/theirs) will work with Disability Rights Maryland to combat the unjust segregation of people with psychiatric disabilities by using legal advocacy, outreach, and state legislative advocacy to expand access to community mental health support and reduce unnecessary hospitalizations.

Maryland is amid a devastating mental health crisis fueled by a dearth of affordable and culturally responsive community-based support. According to Mental Health America, Maryland ranks third worst state for unmet mental health needs, with over 30% of people reporting that they were unable to access mental healthcare when they sought it out. Black and Brown Medicaid beneficiaries are most impacted by these barriers to care, which contribute to unnecessary hospitalizations, and too often trigger a tragic spiral of job loss, homelessness, social isolation, and worsening mental health. A comprehensive advocacy strategy is required to ensure Marylanders can access the support needed to avoid unnecessary institutionalization.

Courtney’s Fellowship was inspired by their own experiences with unnecessary institutionalization that directly resulted from their inability to access appropriate and affordable community resources. Courtney hopes to ensure all disabled Marylanders can access the support they need to remain in their community and achieve their dreams.

Fellowship Plans

Courtney will use trauma-informed lawyering to help individual clients challenge service denials barring access to community mental health support. Courtney will also create resources to provide impacted individuals with information on their rights to community inclusion. In addition, Courtney will engage in systemic advocacy by using legislative advocacy to expand community-based alternatives to hospitalization and evaluating whether systemic litigation may be needed to guarantee the right to community integration.

As someone who’s experienced unnecessary institutionalization due to an inability to access community support, I was fortunate to have lawyers to help me gain access to the support and resources I needed to thrive. I hope to use my Equal Justice Works Fellowship to pay that advocacy forward to others in my community.

Courtney Bergan /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Through the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance Perinatal Legal Assistance & Well-being (P-LAW) Project, Courtney (she/her/hers) will increase economic security for perinatal patients through direct legal representation, patient and provider education, and systemic advocacy.

Washington, D.C. has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and Black patients experience higher rates of pregnancy-related death and preterm birth than white patients. Economic instability is a key driver of these health disparities, which can contribute to chronic stress, poor nutrition, and a higher risk of dangerous health conditions. While perinatal patients experiencing income insecurity often qualify for public benefits and child support, these programs are difficult to navigate and frequently require legal intervention to access. Courtney’s project seeks to reduce barriers to economic security for perinatal patients at MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MWHC), most of whom are Black and live in communities that are underserved by health and social services.

During law school, Courtney spent three semesters working on economic security legal issues with clients served by the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance. Courtney was inspired to respond to the stress-inducing legal barriers that prevent many families from accessing critical benefits and income support.

Fellowship Plans

In partnership with P-LAW, Courtney will develop a new screening tool to determine if a patient is not fully accessing available benefits. She will represent patients who were wrongfully denied access in appeals. Courtney will also create a range of materials and opportunities for perinatal patients to understand their rights related to income support, including tailored “Know Your Rights” materials and a monthly “Ask an Attorney” walk-up table in the obstetrics waiting room at MWHC. To further the impact of her Fellowship, Courtney will engage patients and health care providers in advocacy efforts to improve the public benefit and child support systems in Washington, D.C.

Media

Morgan Lewis Co-Sponsors Three Public Service Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Economic security has the potential to improve health outcomes for parents and infants. Through this project, I look forward to helping perinatal patients start a new chapter of life with less stress and more stability.

Courtney Bernard /
2023 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Jane (she/her/hers) will provide representation to Tennesseans enrolled in the state’s healthcare programs; develop tools to identify racial and wealth disparities in health coverage; and advocate for policy changes to address how systemic racism impairs Tennessee’s public safety net.

Over one million Tennesseans rely on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to meet their health needs. Community advocates devoted to ensuring these programs meet those needs have long advocated for a focus on health equity when delivering these programs. However, policymakers lack the data to assess claims that eligible households across Tennessee do not fully realize the promises made by these programs. Jane will provide direct representation to Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP beneficiaries and track the health equity outcomes for each program. Through her work, Jane will create tools that identify healthcare gaps and address their collective impact on Tennesseans.

Jane’s passion for movement lawyering inspires her to balance legal services and data analysis with principled community organizing and first-hand narratives of health injustice as essential components of the effort to improve Tennessee’s ability to provide quality healthcare to all households in need.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Jane will represent Tennesseans seeking access to complete Medicaid, CHIP, and SNAP coverage. She will uplift stories from community members whose race, income, environment, debt, and education impact their ability to receive coverage. Additionally, she will collect and analyze data from state agencies to create an interactive health equity dashboard accessible to all Tennesseans.

Without a focus on health equity in direct representation and policymaking, Tennessee's public safety net will continue to have systemic failures. I am passionate about supporting the fight to improve the state's health programs in the long-term.

The Project

Milo’s (he/him/his) project will provide holistic legal representation to low-income transgender clients in Chicago facing insurance coverage denials for transition-related medical care.

Transgender people face significant barriers to obtaining transition-related healthcare. Despite the overwhelming consensus of medical associations and clinicians that transition-related healthcare is effective, medically necessary, and often life-saving, transgender patients must navigate a complex and ever-changing array of health insurance policies to obtain coverage for surgery, while simultaneously attempting to update their names and gender markers on identification documents. Furthermore, the poverty rate for transgender people is 29%, twice that of the general population. Lack of economic security compounds issues of access to medical care for low-income transgender people, who also face barriers to public assistance access. Without comprehensive legal assistance across these issues, many transgender people are barred from essential medical care, economic security, and full civic participation.

Milo’s experiences fighting for his own and others’ healthcare have shown him the power of legal advocacy to create meaningful change in people’s lives.

Fellowship Plans

During his Fellowship, Milo will utilize the medical-legal partnership between Legal Council for Health Justice and Howard Brown Health to provide holistic legal services to transgender clients. He will represent clients facing insurance denials for transition-related healthcare. He will offer legal assistance with the processes of name and gender marker changes on vital records. Additionally, he will advocate for clients’ economic security by providing comprehensive legal assistance with public benefits.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Trans people are in the practice of relying on each other for access to medical care and other resources. This project is an extension of that mutual support.

Milo Vieland /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow