Erika Sato

The Project

Erika (she/her/hers) will collaborate with crisis-response mutual aid groups nationwide to provide legal assistance and develop programs for replicable and sustainable grassroots economic regeneration.

At the outset of COVID-19, people instantly recognized that government aid and charity would be insufficient. Within weeks, communities all over the country began organizing mutual aid networks, at a scale unseen since the Great Depression. Transfers of money, food, and favors have radically reconfigured the flow of resources in communities and reshaped how households can meet their needs. 

These groups have turned to the Sustainable Economies Law Center en masse for legal advice on issues relating to tax, governance, privacy, liability, and entity formation. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of legal support needed. 

Fellowship Plans 

During her Fellowship, Erika will work closely with mutual aid groups as they grow and develop into permanently organized communities that can support their members with access to money, jobs, and economic stability. She will engage in education and training programs on financial regulations and services; help these groups build governance structures for sustainable growth, creating paid jobs and long-term skill development for current volunteers; and help them enter partnerships with local banks or credit unions for lending with borrower-friendly rates and terms.

Erika’s background motivates her commitment to developing a grassroots movement for economic justice and sustainable change.


Eight from Harvard Law named Equal Justice Works Fellows

When I was twelve, my mother—the breadwinner of our family—fell suddenly ill and passed away. Ultimately, it was a supportive community that empowered my family to recover and heal from our loss. In this moment, as communities grapple with the twin health and economic crises wrought by COVID, I felt really inspired by the mutual aid movement’s grounding in hope and community support.

Erika Sato /
2021 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Alexander advanced the use of litigation and policy advocacy to expand the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in schools, families, health care, child welfare systems, and juvenile justice facilities.

Transgender (“trans”) and gender nonconforming (“GNC”) youth are an exceptionally vulnerable population. 72% of the over three hundred annual trans callers to NCLR’s legal helpline are low income, and 60% are people of color. Trans and GNC youth face daunting systemic barriers to achieving long-term health and well-being, including: Extremely high rates of harassment, physical assault, and sexual violence in schools; family rejection; serious barriers to equal health care; and severe overrepresentation and higher rates of abuse in foster care and juvenile justice settings. Almost 50% of trans youth attempt suicide before their 20th birthday.

Fellowship Highlights

Alexander helped litigate precedent-setting cases in the federal courts establishing the rights of trans and GNC youth and adults in schools (Doe v. Volusia), hospitals (Prescott v. Rady Children’s Hospital), and prisons (Edmo v. Corizon), as well as challenging the transgender military ban (Doe v. Trump and Stockman v. Trump). He co-drafted AB 2119, a bill making California the first state to guarantee trans foster youth the right to access gender-affirming health care, and testified before the California Senate Judiciary to secure the bill’s passage. He also authored the Trans Youth Handbook, a first-of-its-kind legal resource guide for trans and GNC youth and their families.

Alexander was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Law and Policy in 2018 and one of the National LGBT Bar Association’s 40 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 in 2019 for his accomplishments during his Fellowship.

Next Steps

Alexander will be serving as the Founding Director of the Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. He will also be teaching the Law School’s inaugural course on Gender Identity and the Law.


My Impact: A Conversation with 2017 Equal Justice Works Fellow Alexander Chen

National Center For Lesbian Rights Equal Justice Works Fellow Alexander Chen Makes Forbes 30 Under 30 List

LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic launches at Harvard Law School

The Supreme Court Doesn’t Understand Transgender People

Harvard Law School Opens LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic

CA First to Guarantee Gender-Affirming Healthcare for Trans Foster Youth

Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic and NCLR Release First-Of-Its-Kind Comprehensive Legal Resource for Transgender Youth