Megan Wood

The Project

Megan will provide holistic, client-centered legal services to victims of elder abuse, and strengthen and improve the network of existing services to prevent abuse and serve victims.

The project addresses barriers for older adults seeking services to combat abuse and exploitation, as well as barriers for Adult Protective Services (APS) and other social service agencies seeking to prevent and stop the abuse. Megan plans to serve older adults experiencing abuse and improve collaboration with APS and other providers through outreach and training.

Megan’s legal career has consisted entirely of public interest work, and she is proud to continue that work through this project. Megan has worked for Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS) since 2011 doing a variety of civil legal aid work, including protective orders, evictions, and public benefits cases. Her experience with the legal issues that impact poor and marginalized people in her community will serve her well in focusing specifically on the issue of elder abuse.  Megan hopes to improve the coordination of services in the counties within her project and to better PSLS’ resources and response to this legal issue.

Fellowship Plans

Megan is one of two Elder Justice Program Fellows at PSLS serving a 17-county rural area in central Illinois. Megan will focus on direct services to victims of elder abuse, as well as education and outreach to seniors, social service providers, and law enforcement.

Media

Supporting Fellowships that Help Older Survivors of Domestic Violence Regain Agency Over Their Lives

Representing Older Survivors of Sexual Assault Through Trauma-Informed Lawyering

B-N Attorney Fighting Elder Abuse Through National Fellowship

The Project

Will advised and represented low-income families to remedy violations found by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) of Chicago Public School’s (CPS) widespread delay and denial of special education services to potentially thousands of children with disabilities.

ISBE found that CPS implemented policies and procedures that systemically delayed or denied services to potentially thousands of students with disabilities. There are over 52,000 children with disabilities enrolled in CPS, many of whom were harmed by procedural violations that were designed to cut $29 million in special education funding. Will’s project identified those students who were harmed, ensured they receive the services to which they are entitled, and created supports to ensure that students have access to the services they deserve in the future.

Fellowship Plans

During the two-year Fellowship, Will:

  • Attained a leadership position with the Special Education Advocacy Coalition of Chicago (SPEACC), the group that brought the CPS violations to ISBE. He worked with CPS, ISBE, and other advocates to develop a remedial system that will automatically provide compensatory services to 10,515 students.
  • Established a CPS Public Inquiry Hotline that provided free legal advice and information about what CPS did and whether their child might be eligible for extra services to nearly one hundred families.
  • Developed numerous fact sheets to help spread awareness and information about CPS’s violations and presented webinars to parents/guardians on special education law generally, CPS’s violations specifically, and students’ special education rights during Covid-related school closures.
  • Successfully advocated the ISBE Board extend their monitoring/oversight of CPS due to their violations.

Next Steps

Will plans to continue practicing special education law in Chicago and representing students with disabilities. He will remain involved with SPEACC and will continue serving as an advocate for students who were harmed by CPS.

Media

Chicago’s special education department will be monitored for another year

Chicago parents could have more time to file special education complaints

Chicago Public Schools To Compensate Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services

CPS Offers Millions in Added Support for Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services

I have seen how vital these services can be, and as a result, I am best suited to ensure that students within CPS have the same opportunities as those living elsewhere.

William Hrabe /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Inspiration

The Project

The project works with Carle Hospital and clinics and the local VA to address legal issues that affect patients’ health care. We are able to eliminate some of the financial stresses that affect health, such as medical debt and a lack of health insurance, and we also assist with other legal issues, such as evictions, advanced directives, and family matters. Furthermore, it involves working with hospital and clinic doctors and staff to help identify common community problems that affect health and can be dealt with by the legal system, through a program of referrals.

I wanted to help people live healthier lives, and this requires an understanding of problems faced by the low-income population, so the health care system can become more proactive and less reactive.

Donis Barnes /
2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The project involves assisting low-income individuals and veterans, referred to us through Carle Foundation and the local Veterans Affairs office, with a variety of legal issues including medical debt relief, Social Security Disability Insurance appeals, Medicaid appeals, housing issues, and family matters. On a broader scale, the project enables medical providers to address the root of the problems that afflict low-income households by giving them access to legal aid.

I am committed to social justice because everyone deserves an equal opportunity to better their lives via access to basic necessities that most of us take for granted.

Sunny Desai /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Chautauqua County, in southwestern New York, has many thousands of veterans around the area—from the Second World War to the recently separated and the currently serving. Unfortunately, inadequate housing, poverty, educational issues, and access to representation and legal services (e.g. for wills and powers of attorney) are longstanding problems that a targeted approach to solving information and awareness issues can mitigate and solve.

Service to one’s nation is one of the highest callings possible, and with knowledge and appreciation of the efforts of veterans—like my grandparents, in the Second World War era and my uncle, who was a Marine—I want to be able to help assist them with what I learned in law school and beyond.

The Project

I will provide a range of legal services to central Ohio veterans, while partnering with local nonprofits and government agencies to ensure the most comprehensive approach to meeting clients’ needs.

I would say this work is, on some level, a tribute to the veterans in my family—most notably my grandfather, who served in the Air Force for many years before working for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Project

Land of Lincoln is servicing low income and elderly clients in 15 counties in the Eastern Regional Office where we are staffed. We’re currently working with VA, the Salvation Army, and various other veteran groups to direct veterans our way for civil legal problems.

 

The Project

Our project seeks to provide legal assistance to Veterans throughout East Central Illinois. While our office is located in Champaign, Illinois, we have partnered with the VA Illiana Health Care System in Danville and an outpatient center in Decatur to reach a greater number of veteran clients. Our partnership with the Illiana Health Care System is an outgrowth of Land of Lincoln’s existing Medical Legal Partnership (MLP). Through the MLP, healthcare providers and social work staff at healthcare facilities refer clients to our program. In addition, we have partnered with the local Salvation Army and hope to soon partner with other veterans service organizations in the area.

I am excited to be serving low income veteran clients through my fellowship at Land of Lincoln. After working with elderly clients last year, I became familiar with the common struggles faced by veterans navigating the justice system. I am additionally honored to be serving the men and women who have served our country especially because my grandfather served in the Army in WWII and has been an active member of his local veteran’s organization for the rest of his life.

The Project

E. Alex Espinoza provided legal assistance to Veterans who are homeless or who are at risk of becoming homeless and with income eligible military families on issues including landlord tenant matters, home foreclosures, problems with health and disability benefits, child support and other family law matters, consumer and medical debt, drivers’ license reinstatement, and expungement/sealing of criminal records.

The Veterans Legal Corps project is highly important, as it reflects what we value as a nation. In the military, we live by the code of never leaving a fallen comrade. In every generation since and before 9/11, our veterans have stood up to serve when no one else could or dared to: They faced danger and privation in our name, and received very little in comparison, thus embodying America. We as a nation must also subscribe to this creed to leave no veteran behind; otherwise, we also leave behind our values as a people, making all of our collective sacrifices and accomplishments meaningless.

As an Iraq War veteran, military officer, and second-generation American born overseas, I have the responsibility to ensure that no veteran is left behind after completing their service.

E. Alex Espinoza /
Equal Justice Works 2014 Fellow