Madison Wiegand Brown

The Project

Madison (she/her/hers) represents low-­income individuals exposed to lead in housing, in collaboration with community partners and private attorneys, strategically targeting portfolio landlords to achieve the highest impact.

Illinois has one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the country. Lead exposure in housing—the most common type of lead exposure for children—disproportionately burdens communities of color and people living in poverty. Lead exposure in children can cause life­long brain damage that impacts communities for generations. In housing, lead can be abated, and even small reductions in lead exposure can make a difference, preventing future harm.

Madison knew that she wanted to pursue justice for marginalized communities before she knew she wanted to a lawyer. Madison’s work is rooted in the belief that marginalized communities are knowledgeable, capable, and worthy of human rights. She hopes to use her voice and privilege to uplift those without the opportunities she has been given.

Fellowship Plans

Madison will directly represent low-­income families in Chicago who have been exposed to lead due to unsafe housing conditions with community ­informed impactful legal solutions. Madison will target portfolio landlords and landlords with repeat offenses. She will identify these bad actors by collaborating with community organizations in the areas most affected by lead. She will also work with community organizations to identify potential clients and directly represent these organizations. In pursuing these lawsuits, Madison will collaborate with pro bono and private attorneys, seeking holistic outcomes for her clients and creating a toolkit to provide comprehensive, enduring services.

Media

Making Our Communities More Equitable

I know what it is like to look around the room, as a small child and as an adult, and realize that no one is going to defend you, even if you are right. Tenants living in under resourced communities have the knowledge and strength to evaluate their needs, but an avenue for justice is missing.

Madison Wiegand Brown /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Jamitra (she/her/hers) will advocate on behalf of justice-involved women in Missouri to mitigate the collateral consequences of incarceration through legal representation, reentry services, and policy advocacy.

Missouri has recently seen the fastest-growing population of women in prison in the country. Women have unique experiences that result in incarceration such as childhood trauma, domestic violence, and/or substance abuse. Women also have unique risk factors for reentry, including declining mental health and self-esteem, financial insecurity, and parenting concerns which are not being addressed by the male-dominated prison industrial complex. Many collateral consequences of incarceration, such as struggling with employment security, locating adequate housing, reestablishing healthy relationships with loved ones, and securing benefits upon release, result simply from having a felony record and some are compounded by unresolved issues that occurred before or during incarceration as a result of an arrest and imprisonment.

Fellowship Plans

During her Fellowship, Jamitra’s project will invest in justice-involved women from the beginning of their terms to help them proactively address and eliminate some of the risk factors that contribute to recidivism upon reentry. Jamitra will assist women with their civil legal needs while incarcerated, including resolving outstanding municipal charges, family law issues such as child custody proceedings, and issues pertaining to housing, such as challenging eviction judgments on their record that occurred as a result of their arrest and subsequent incarceration. She will also assist clients with their post-incarceration needs such as obtaining public benefits or battling wage garnishment.

Our society’s systems overwhelmingly impact Black women and other women of color. The women I will be working with are fighting to overcome and live within systems that were not created with them in mind. As a Black woman who has had to navigate society in similar ways, I am excited for this opportunity to help justice-involved women in Missouri and promote racial, gender, and economic justice.

Jamitra Fulleord /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Project

Kemi expanded and improved delivery of direct legal services to African-American domestic violence survivors in San Francisco and Oakland through culturally competent representation, advocacy, community education, and collaboration with other legal and social services providers.

Although domestic violence affects households of all racial backgrounds, African-American women are at particularly high risk to experience domestic violence. Unfortunately, this underserved population is also the least likely to access and benefit from domestic violence services. Kemi’s project addressed the challenges uniquely faced by African-American domestic violence survivors that impede effective delivery of services to this population. Her project identified the need for Bay Area Legal Aid and other domestic violence service providers to provide culturally-competent services for African-Americans by making domestic violence resources more relevant to this population’s specific needs and more easily available.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Kemi:

  • Obtained numerous orders in family court for the safety and stability of her clients and their children
  • Expanded Bay Area Legal Aid’s outreach in predominately African-American neighborhoods in San Francisco and Oakland
  • Conducted focus groups with African-American domestic violence survivors to assess community needs and develop appropriate responses
  • Created training materials to educate service providers on working with African-American domestic violence survivors and understanding the context in which their abuse occurs

Where are they now?

Kemi works as a Staff Attorney in the Family Law/Domestic Violence Unit for Bay Area Legal Aid.

I am my best self when I am giving back to the community. My Equal Justice Works Fellowship will allow me the opportunity to serve some of our most vulnerable.

Kemi Mustapha /
Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

The justice AmeriCorps project is the result of a strategic partnership between CNCS-AmeriCorps and DOJ-EOIR to increase national service while facilitating the effective and efficient adjudication of immigration proceedings involving certain children who have crossed the border without a parent or legal guardian. The program will serve children under the age of 16 who are in removal proceedings that have not been consolidated with those of a parent or legal guardian, and who have been released from the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement or the Department of Homeland Security to the custody of local sponsors.

The program is expected to lead to greater efficiencies in immigration proceedings involving unaccompanied children, while responding to Congress’ call to “better serve vulnerable populations such as children,” as well as survivors of human trafficking and other abuse.

The Project

Sarah provided holistic civil legal help, in a trauma-informed manner, to promote stability for veterans in St. Louis by starting a legal aid Veterans’ Project, involving pro bono assistance.

Veterans are in dire need of vigorous, trauma-informed advocacy on their behalf in areas such as housing, public benefits, education, domestic violence, and consumer issues. Veterans’ household members often need legal help to ease the burden on the military person. A centralized, veteran-oriented project at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) is a helpful resource for different groups of veterans in St. Louis, making navigation of this complicated landscape much easier for veterans and their families.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Sarah has:

  • Provided full legal representation to 67 clients in areas such as housing, family law, and consumer protection, and has ongoing cases with 57 individual and organizational clients
  • Delivered advice, brief service, and referrals for 140 veterans and their household members, either directly through in-person meetings, phone calls, and emails or by working with VA caseworkers and other service providers
  • Cultivated partnerships with 13 community organizations to improve legal and social services for veterans in the St. Louis region through extensive outreach
  • Facilitated and/or participated in 10 presentations and workshops for veterans, attorneys, and non-attorney service providers on legal issues impacting veterans and their household members

Next Steps

Sarah plans to continue her career in public interest law. She is working with LSEM to secure new funding while they provide legal assistance to veterans and their household members.