Milo Vieland

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

The Project

Maya (she/her/hers) will establish a farmworker Medical-Legal Partnership hosted by the Central West Justice Center and in partnership with the Connecticut River Valley Farmworker Health Program to provide holistic care and advocacy in housing, benefits, and employment matters to farmworkers in Massachusetts.

Thousands of farmworkers in Western Massachusetts work for long hours and low pay to put food on our tables. In addition to extremely hazardous labor, farmworkers are twice as likely to live in severe poverty, face housing instability, poor living conditions, and food insecurity. Some farmworkers are also isolated and difficult to reach through traditional legal aid models. Maya’s project will develop and implement a Medical-Legal Partnership to address farmworkers’ unmet legal needs and work with medical clinic staff to improve the health and wellbeing of farmworkers and their families.

Maya is passionate about improving access to critical services for farmworkers in her community and aims to use her legal education to fight for the health justice and legal rights of this underserved population.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Maya will represent farmworker clients with their housing, benefits, and employment needs. She will be on-site in the farmworker medical clinic to provide advice and consultation to farmworkers. Maya will also engage with farmworkers and other organizations to conduct outreach and training on the rights and resources available to farmworkers. Finally, Maya will engage in policy advocacy on issues impacting farmworker health at the state and national levels.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Farmworkers are one of the most essential and underserved populations in Massachusetts. Having grown up in Springfield, I am proud to develop a model of holistic services to improve the health and well-being of farmworkers living in my community.

Maya McCann /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Bavani (she/her/hers) will create an innovative medical-legal partnership addressing the health inequities of Los Angeles’ underserved Asian Pacific Islander (API) population through language access and culturally informed legal services.

In Los Angeles County, approximately 43% of Asian Pacific Islanders are limited in their English proficiency, which can serve as an insurmountable barrier to obtaining basic needs. Language barriers, heightened racism, and generational poverty translate to a high prevalence of negative health outcomes and limited access to justice for the API community. Evidence-based research has proven that such racism and language barriers are fundamental causes of racial health disparities. Although medical-legal partnerships have been successful in addressing the social determinants of health, they often lack a race-conscious lens to account for racial health inequities. This project seeks to improve API health outcomes by improving culturally competent and linguistically accessible practices and reducing institutional barriers to care.

Fellowship Plans

Bavani will create a medical-legal service pathway within the existing healthcare structure of Community Medical Wellness Center and provide holistic legal services to Asian Pacific Islander patients. In addition to direct legal services, she will also conduct legal screening trainings for healthcare staff and host legal clinics. She will employ a race-conscious lens to challenge existing structures of poverty and unequal power within the legal and medical systems.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

Health justice cannot be achieved without prioritizing racial justice. It is my firm belief that every individual is entitled to equitable, quality care.

Bavani Sridhar /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Mary (she/her/hers) will apply the medical-legal partnership model to effectively reach and provide legal services to domestic violence survivors in the greater Boston community during pregnancy and early motherhood.

Domestic violence is integral to the leading causes of maternal death, and women who suffer domestic violence are three times more likely to experience perinatal death. The relationship between maternal health and domestic violence calls for a multi-disciplinary response. Medical visits, especially for pregnant women and new mothers, serve as a critical access point as they may be the only opportunity survivors have to disclose trauma.

By deepening and strengthening connections with health clinics, Mary will more effectively address the public health crisis that domestic violence toward perinatal women presents. Mary will build a coalition of medical and legal professionals addressing domestic violence at a time when healthcare is the safest entry point for offering protective legal assistance.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Mary will focus on the provision of legal representation, coalition building, legal education, and narrative/data collection. She hopes to create a path to legal assistance as an advocate who understands the intersection of family law and domestic violence, empowers perinatal survivors to make informed decisions about the safety and security of their families, and seeks to prevent unnecessary entanglement in the Family Court system.

Media

Four Northeastern Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

There are many survivors for whom domestic violence is just one piece of their struggle, survivors whose lives are complicated further by pregnancy and motherhood, and a lack of housing, food, healthcare, or financial security. It is my greatest privilege to meet these survivors where they are and advocate holistically for their needs.

Mary LeMay /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Lucie (she/her/hers) will launch a first-of-its kind clemency and family support project focused on holistic advocacy and outreach to lower-income Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) in Boston through direct representation, a public awareness campaign, and collaboration with community organizations. 

In Massachusetts, clemency—whether in the form of pardon or commutation—is a critical tool that enables the Governor to retroactively combat the detrimental impacts of the criminal justice system, which include the disproportionate incarceration of BIPOC and QTPOC. Over the past few decades and in the wake of the “War on Drugs,” the number of clemency grants, particularly in the form of commutation, has dwindled: in 2020, there were more than 100 petitioners seeking commutation with only one successful petitioner. Clemency petitioners often cannot access legal representation at all because there is no right to counsel in the clemency process and there is a dearth of attorneys available to provide pro bono representation. 

Fellowship Plans

Lucie will start a clemency pro bono clinic housed in the CORI & Re-entry Project at Greater Boston Legal Services that will provide legal assistance and representation to people seeking clemency. Contact with families and support networks is often critical to future successful clemency petitions. Lucie will host community meetings and “Know Your Rights” events to help people stay connected to their loved ones who are incarcerated. To address systemic reform, Lucie will combat the unfavorable view of clemency among the Governor, Governor’s Council, and Parole Board in Massachusetts by engaging in a public education campaign that raises awareness about the potential to reimagine clemency as a tool for racial justice. 

Media

Celebrating the 2021 Fellows Upholding LGBTQ+ Rights

Movement work grounded in abolition and redistribution of power is what creates long-term and sustainable change, but community-based legal advocacy is an essential way to mitigate the immediate violence the criminal justice system enacts upon BIPOC and QTPOC.

Lucie Gulino /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

MacKenzie reduces evictions, subsidy terminations, homelessness, and family separations for youth and families impacted by interpersonal and community violence in Chicago through holistic legal advocacy and extended representation.

Legal Aid Chicago’s housing clients, particularly Black youth and families, disproportionately need supports to address trauma and interpersonal violence but are more likely to be met with discrimination and punishment, including through subsidized housing policies. MacKenzie represents families who seek support because of a safety concern or who have a loved one who is discriminatorily alleged to create a safety concern and refers them to community-based supports. By centering survivor goals and addressing unfounded uses of housing policy to target young people, this project reduces evictions, subsidy terminations, homelessness, and family separations, particularly for Black youth and their families.

MacKenzie is indebted to Chicago’s organizers, particularly youth of color for educating her on the difference between accountability and punishment before she attended law school, and for continuing to fight for and model a better Chicago.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, MacKenzie has:

  • Provided direct representation to more than 40 families impacted by the community or intimate partner violence, and/or discriminatorily alleged to be a safety concern
  • Interviewed, advised, and provided referrals for over 80 tenants dealing with a variety of landlord-tenant matters, including conditions issues, moves within a subsidy program, utility lock-outs, and COVID-19-related protections
  • Enforced the rights of survivors to move for safety, end a lease in an emergency, or remove an abusive family member from a lease
  • Enforced the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act on behalf of Black parents and youth impacted by trauma or mental health diagnoses
  • Conducted seven presentations for community-based organizations and other providers on topics including evictions and fair housing issues
  • Collaborated with eight groups and attended 30 coalition-building meetings to advance her work
  • Investigated systemic racial discrimination issues in Chicago rental housing

Next Steps

In the next year, MacKenzie plans to:

  • Continue to represent youth and families impacted by discrimination and violence and develop best practices for achieving safety for survivors of non-intimate partner violence
  • Continue to investigate and develop strategies to challenge systemic racial discrimination in Chicago rental housing
  • Share lessons learned from working to keep families safe and together in subsidized housing

While only creative, system-change work will transform Chicago into an equitable city, movement-aligned legal advocacy provides a key tool to reduce the current impacts of violence and discrimination—and empower young people to join these efforts.

MacKenzie Speer /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Kristen will promote economic justice for survivors of domestic violence and other vulnerable populations through direct representation and community trainings on debt collection.

Nearly every victim of domestic violence suffers from some form of financial abuse. The rise of easily accessible credit cards has rapidly increased financial abuse through consumer credit, also known as coerced debt. By knowing the victim’s personal information, an abuser can destroy a victim’s credit score by opening unauthorized credit cards in the victim’s name and then hiding the bills. Damaged credit scores impede a victim’s ability to access necessary resources for leaving an abusive relationship such as obtaining housing, a vehicle, and even employment.

Kristen’s experience as a teacher and organizer ground her commitment to advocating for economic justice for survivors of domestic violence and their families.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Kristen will represent consumers in small claims court and develop a coerced debt defense. She will train volunteer attorneys and domestic violence advocates to help victims identify and address financial abuse. Through representation in debt collection proceedings, challenges to credit reporting issues, and community programming, this project will ensure that victims are not unjustly separated from the economic resources necessary to secure their independence.

Media

Bor-Zale, Nawab and Warren Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

I am honored to join the work of GBLS in helping survivors of domestic violence regain financial stability.

Kristen Bor-Zale /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Alexandra expands healthcare access for immigrant communities who are experiencing low-income situations in Massachusetts through direct legal representation, policy advocacy, and community outreach.

Through the Public Charge rule, non-U.S. citizens could have their admission to the United States denied or their applications for lawful permanent residency refused. In March 2021, it was announced that the 2019 Public Charge Final Rule would no longer be in effect. Despite the end of that rule, immigrants still fear its effects and do not to enroll in or upgrade their health insurance coverage, incurring unaffordable medical debt or a lack of access to medical services due to being uninsured or underinsured. Alexandra works to identify and alleviate these barriers to healthcare access.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

During the first year of the Fellowship, Alexandra has:

  • Grown the project into a fully operational Medical-Legal Partnership for Immigrants with Rian Immigrant Center and Boston Medical Center, and Alexandra receives legal referrals from Boston Medical Center.
  • Alexandra has provided brief advice and full representation to 68 clients in healthcare access, unaffordable medical debt, and insurance enrollment cases.
  • She has given five trainings on the intersection of health insurance eligibility and immigration.
  • She has been active in three legislative coalitions focused on healthcare access for immigrants, healthcare access for young people, language access, and Medicaid reform and contributed to policy-based efforts to alleviate barriers to healthcare for immigrants.

Next Steps

In the next year, Alexandra plans to:

  • Continue to provide direct representation to clients in their insurance enrollment, unaffordable medical debt, and health insurance access.
  • Assist in the expansion of the Medical-Legal Partnership to two additional health providers.
  • Develop pro bono clinics for her sponsors and volunteer lawyers and law students.
  • Take an active role in policy advocacy initiatives in the policy coalitions she works with, and identify new coalitions to work with, to increase the project’s profile within immigrant communities.

Media

Bor-Zale, Nawab and Warren Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

As the daughter of an immigrant who received support from initiatives similar to this project, I feel compelled to continue to address the barriers to healthcare that low-income immigrants face.

Alexandra Warren /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Sarah advocates on behalf of incarcerated women in Massachusetts and serves their unique legal needs through trauma-informed representation, rights education, policy reform, and increasing public awareness

Because incarceration has traditionally been framed as a men’s issue, the unique challenges women face while in custody are erased and their needs remain unmet. Acknowledging how incarceration affects women, specifically, is critical to advocating for those needs. An overwhelming majority of incarcerated women have experienced sexual violence, which is then compounded by their experiences in custody. Women are also more likely to be primary caregivers and have distinct medical needs.

As a woman of color, Sarah is motivated to advocate on behalf of her fellow women of color, many of whom are disproportionately impacted by the criminal and carceral systems.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Sarah has:

  • Provided advocacy, advice, and referrals on 43 matters for incarcerated women, both cis and trans
  • Partnered with a data analysis firm to design a survey for incarcerated women regarding their experiences with sexual trauma
  • Testified in front of a Massachusetts state legislature joint committee in favor of a bill that would implement a five-year moratorium on the construction of new jails and prisons

Next Steps

In the next year, Sarah plans to:

  • Distribute the survey widely to collect data on incarcerated women’s experiences with trauma
  • Partner with sponsors to interview incarcerated women throughout Massachusetts to hear their stories of experiences during and prior to incarceration
  • Publish a report based on survey data and stories from interviews detailing incarcerated women’s experiences with trauma and proposed solutions as devised by directly impacted women
  • Implement a media and legislative campaign based on the report to raise public awareness and push for systemic change

Media

Women in Massachusetts Prisons Targets of Sexual, Mental Abuse: Study

A Different Way Forward: Stories from Incarcerated Women in Massachusetts and Recommendations

Massachusetts Organizers Call for No New Women’s Prisons and an End to Their Construction

PLS Considers a Different Way Forward for Women’s Prisons

Fostering a More Just Society

Bor-Zale, Nawab and Warren Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowships

My life experiences taught me the value of empathy, and it is empathy that is at the heart of trauma-informed representation.

Sarah Nawab /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Yvonne worked to extend anti-discrimination laws to workfare and other welfare-related programs through advocacy, monitoring of employment laws and practices, and targeted litigation to enforce civil rights protections, particularly for African-American workers.

What’s Next?

Currently, Yvonne is a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge. Previously she served as counsel at Miller & Chevalier, where she worked on employment and employee benefit cases in local and federal courts.

Media

Judge Yvonne Williams Sworn in to Superior Court

D.C. Judge Explains Leniency in Hate Attack