Chris will help achieve justice for low-income individuals and families, primarily on the Westbank of the greater New Orleans region. His work will prevent housing instability caused by evictions by defending the legal rights of clients through legal aid, advocacy, and community education. Additionally, Chris will address the housing needs of low-income individuals and families by assisting with legal assistance, advocacy, and community education with addressing habitability issues caused by natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida and/or landlord neglect.
Through the advocacy of legal rights and community education outreach, our project will improve housing stability within the New Orleans region. Housing stability will help our area better respond, react and cope with disasters and the stresses caused by them.
Chris considers himself blessed to have the opportunity to work for the people in his community who need assistance the most. There are few positions in his field that would have allowed him to work directly with his clients and never worry about collecting a fee. Legal aid and public interest victories provide him with the most fantastic sense of purpose.
Eliana worked to protect and restore the rights of survivors of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration through legal clinics, public education, corporate partnerships, and policy advocacy led by impacted people.
In the 50 years since Nixon’s announcement of the War on Drugs, the political campaign has severely damaged Black communities through mass incarceration, economic dilapidation, state-sanctioned violence, and the reduction of community resources. Eliana’s project focused on providing civil legal aid to individuals with conviction histories to help them obtain economic justice while helping to remove the actual systems that contribute to these injustices.
During her two-year Fellowship, Eliana:
- Collaborated with Viola cannabis brand, a Black-owned multi-state operator, to author a 100-page Know Your Rights toolkit titled A New Leaf: A How-to Guide for Successful Reentry After a Cannabis Conviction, which serves as a self-help guide for folks with drug-related convictions in all stages of reentry. Eliana also hosted community legal trainings on the content of the toolkit.
- Hosted corporate legal compliance trainings for cannabis employers to teach them how to respect the rights of criminal justice-impacted applicants under California’s Ban the Box legislation.
- Engaged in policy work to advocate for the decriminalization of drugs and creation of expungement laws through her participation in coalitions such as Drug Policy Alliance’s Federal Cannabis Regulations Working Group. She also had the privilege of educating legislators on best practices for decriminalization and expungements through speaking engagements, including serving as a panelist at the Minority Cannabis Business Association’s Federal Policy Forum.
- Directly represented individuals with drug-related convictions in expungement hearings and administrative hearings against state licensing boards who denied applicants an occupational license. Eliana was the first attorney in California to argue for client relief under a newly enacted law, AB2138, which prohibited certain boards from denying licensure due to an expunged conviction.
- Collaborated with her sponsors on reentry clinics – serving 90 clients – and legal research projects.
After her Fellowship, Eliana will continue to advocate for the rights of survivors of the War on Drugs in a leadership position with The Hood Incubator and through her own independent consulting for NGOs and government agencies. The Hood Incubator leverages the legal cannabis industry as a model for healing and equity through economic development, community organizing, and policy advocacy. This is Eliana’s dream job as it is a national, Black-led grassroots organization committed to building a movement for cannabis justice so every Black person can generate wealth, health, and prosperity for their communities.
Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) suffers from chronic overcrowding giving rise to conditions that breed rampant infectious diseases. In OPP, even the healthy are at risk for contracting incapacitating and deadly diseases. Elizabeth advocated for the medical needs of clients. In raising awareness of the dangerous conditions at OPP, the project will also lay another plank in the efforts to reduce the size of OPP.
Robert provided legal services to clients and worked to recruit, involve and supervise volunteers in delivery of legal services on consumer debt/protection, unfair collection practices, predatory loans and foreclosure prevention.
Our goal is to provide universal representation to unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings who meet the requirements of the EJW-AmeriCorps program. To be eligible for the program the unaccompanied minor’s Notice to Appear must have been filed before he turned 16, and he must have his first master calendar hearing in the year 2015.