Sophia Genovese

The Project

Sophia is a Senior Attorney at the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center (NMILC) where she leads the asylum and detention team. In this role, Sophia provides consultations, pro se assistance, and direct representation to noncitizens in immigration detention and non-detained asylum seekers while also participating in impact litigation. Sophia additionally engages in community organizing, movement lawyering, and advocacy to enact policies and legislation which supports immigrant communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted immigrants, especially those in immigration detention. Studies have shown COVID-19 spreads faster in carceral settings, which are plagued by wholly inadequate medical care. The combination of these things have proven lethal for immigrants in detention, making representation of them all the more necessary to ensure their release from custody. For non-detained immigrants, who are often essential workers, access to medical care is hampered by the lack of immigration status, language and cultural barriers, and geography. This project addresses those disparities and seeks to close the gap in accessing basic services by way of achieving lawful immigration status, referrals to services, and advocacy.

Fellowship Plans

Sophia’s motivation for pursuing public interest work, particularly in the immigration space, is deeply personal and political. She is incredibly privileged to have had access to higher education and law school despite economic hardship, and the familial support to pursue a career in public service. Due to systemic inequalities and racism, her immigrant clients are not afforded these privileges. Using the privilege of her law license, she wants to ensure that clients and immigrant communities have access to not only necessities, but the ability to live and thrive with dignity and abundance.

Media

Responding to COVID-19’s Impact in Immigration Detention Facilities

Meet the Student Fellows in the 2022 Disaster Resilience Program

The Project

The Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center formed in September 2001 to provide legal, technical, research and policy assistance to grassroots community groups engaged in a wide range of community development efforts throughout New York City. My project focuses on providing transactional legal services in collaboration with community-based organizations. This will enable immigrant and low-wage workers, especially in the Bronx, to energize economic opportunities through cooperative enterprise and small business development.

Media

The Project

Seth catalyzed systemic change by providing direct transactional and civil legal services and by leveraging community advocacy strategies. Additionally, Seth developed intake and referral systems to represent individuals on health care access and provide transactional legal assistance for community-based organizations. Ultimately, Seth worked to successfully implement health care access campaigns through community development and seek to reform the way that health care allocation decisions are made at the city and state levels.

The Project

I advocate on behalf of low-income, minority homeowners who have been victimized by predatory lending practices. I represent and provide pro se assistance to homeowners in foreclosure proceedings. This work involves appearing at court-based settlement conferences, investigating legal defenses, and assessing loan affordability and loan remediation options for homeowners encountering economic and other hardship. Additionally, I collaborate with community agencies to perform outreach and education regarding general foreclosure prevention issues.

The Inspiration

The Project

Michael established the “Community Youth Reentry Project” to provide legal representation for youth while they make the journey from courtroom to community.

Indigent youth reentering society after a criminal conviction face an overwhelming number of legal challenges. They can be suspended from school, evicted from public housing, and discriminated against during employment. With no right to counsel after conviction, they face these challenges alone. Michael’s project provides legal representation for youth during this essential time.

Fellowship Highlights

Michael’s Fellowship project, built through community-based partnerships throughout New York, became the foundation for his organization’s legal services model. Through direct representation and class action litigation, Michael’s project has supported thousands of youth and redistributed millions of dollars to those harmed by criminal record discrimination.

Next Steps

Michael stayed on as Staff Attorney at Youth Represent after the completion of his project. He was promoted to Director of Community Partnerships, Legal Director, and eventually appointed to his current role as Executive Director.

Media

2021 Scales of Justice Highlights

Mike Pope Named Executive Director of Youth Represent

The Project

Laurie Parise works for the National HIRE Network, a project of the Legal Action Center, whose mission is to provide leadership on key public policy initiatives to promote the employment of people with criminal histories. Laurie’s project expands on this work to address the unique issues that youth who have been involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems face when they re-enter society and the workforce. Laurie is the founding executive director of Youth Represent, a holistic youth defense and advocacy legal services organization borne of her youth reentry work as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, and made possible by a 2006 Echoing Green Fellowship award.

Equal Justice Works has allowed me to expand the reach of Youth Represent’s services to some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in New York City where our work is most needed.

Laurie Parise /
2004 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Nonprofit community development corporations (CDCs) build much of the affordable housing and community facilities in low-income neighborhoods.  They need legal help to get the most from new laws and programs that have encouraged green building in the private and public sectors. My goals are to help CDCs access green development resources so that residents can enjoy the health, environmental and economic benefits of green building, and to help Brooklyn A and other advocates develop an expertise in green community development.

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Project

Michael secured legally mandated special education services for disabled children who are at the center of a family court proceeding. Through the coordination of education advocacy and family court representation, Michael enabled The Children’s Law Center, one of the primary legal service providers to children in New York’s Family Court system, to address both the family court issues and special education needs of this particularly vulnerable population of children.

The Project

During Julia’s two-year Fellowship, she was part of the Storm Response Unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) delivering disaster related legal services to New Yorkers impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Julia also provides direct representation to tenants in housing court and assistance in accessing disaster related benefits.

Next Steps

Julia is currently a staff attorney and investigations coordinator at Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California.

No one should have to face these hardships alone. I am so proud to be an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, and to be a part of an organization dedicated to helping people.

Julia Howard-Gibbon /
2014 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow