News

Equal Justice Works Welcomes Five New Members to the Alumni Advisory Council

/ Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPTEMBER 14, 2022— Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of the Equal Justice Works Alumni Advisory Council.

The Alumni Advisory Council (AAC) is a non-fiduciary advisory board comprised of a diverse group of 15 Equal Justice Works alumni who provide advice and counsel in support of the organization’s alumni engagement initiatives. AAC members work in partnership with the director of alumni relations to build lifelong relationships between Equal Justice Works, its Fellowship alumni, and current Fellows through programming, communication, and volunteerism. The AAC works to advance and promote the mission of Equal Justice Works and our programs while representing the interests and concerns of alumni to Equal Justice Works, and the interests of Equal Justice Works to its alumni.

AAC members are appointed to serve three-year staggered terms and may be reappointed for one additional consecutive three-year term. Members are reflective of the diverse strengths, Fellowship programs, geographic distribution, professional accomplishments, and public interest disciplines of the Equal Justice Works alumni community. Recently, the AAC welcomed five new members.

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest members to our Alumni Advisory Council and are looking forward to having each one of them contribute their diverse expertise, viewpoints, and experiences,” said Lynbea Toombs, the Director of Alumni Relations at Equal Justice Works. “The work of our Council members is immensely important to furthering our alumni engagement program and our organization’s mission; the commitment of our newest members to the communities they serve and to Equal Justice Works will continue to enhance the Council’s value.”

The new members of the Alumni Advisory Council include:

Headshot of Sarah Belton
Headshot of Sarah E. Belton

Sarah E. Belton, 2010 Fellow

Sarah’s Fellowship at Legal Services for Children addressed the unmet educational needs of youth pushed out from public schools due to school discipline, attendance, special education, and other issues. After her Fellowship, Sarah was a Supervising Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, where she led the Bureau of Children’s Justice within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section. She also worked as the first Cartwright-Baron Attorney at the Oakland office of Public Justice. Sarah now works as a Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law at the Mills Legal Clinic at Stanford Law School. There, she leads the Racial Justice Pilot Project, which is focused on combatting systemic racism and addressing harm to communities of color.

Headshot of Esha Bhandari
Headshot of Esha Bhandari

Esha Bhandari, 2011 Fellow

During her Fellowship at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Esha worked to secure greater procedural protections for immigration detainees with mental disabilities in removal proceedings. Esha now serves as the Deputy Director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, where she uses litigation and advocacy to protect freedom of expression and privacy rights in the digital age. She also focuses on the impact of big data and artificial intelligence on civil liberties. She has litigated cases including Sandvig v. Barr, a First Amendment challenge to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act on behalf of researchers who test for housing and employment discrimination online, and Alasaad v. Wolf, a challenge to suspicionless electronic device searches at the U.S. border.

Oscar Fernandez Headshot
Headshot of Oscar Fernandez

Oscar Fernandez, 2016 and 2017 Fellow

Oscar’s Fellowship afforded representation to unaccompanied children in removal proceedings before the immigration court, in asylum proceedings, and in other adjudicative bodies. After his Fellowship, Oscar became a staff attorney with his host organization, the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, where he continued working predominantly with unaccompanied minors and expanded his reach as an advocate to also represent adults with lower incomes who were seeking immigration assistance. Oscar is currently a Research Attorney and Practice Area Consultant at LexisNexis, where he works closely with law schools and firms in south Florida. He volunteers his free time through the company to further the LexisNexis Cares initiative of advancing the rule of law and caring for communities.

Headshot of Jilisa Milton
Headshot of Jilisa Milton

Jilisa Milton, 2019 Fellow

During her Fellowship, Jilisa worked at the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program’s Black Belt Disability Justice Project (BBDJP) to protect the rights of children with disabilities. After her Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Jilisa became a State Policy Fellow through the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. She currently works at Alabama Arise, a statewide, member-led organization advancing public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians who are marginalized by poverty and racial injustice, where she is a policy analyst and lobbyist on state budget and tax policy (economic policy) and racial justice.

Headshot of Claire Johnson Raba
Headshot of Claire Johnson Raba

Claire Johnson Raba, 2010 Fellow

Claire’s Fellowship at Bay Area Legal Aid provided a fresh start for people who suffered from coerced debt, identity theft, and consumer and tax debts incurred due to abusive relationships. After her Fellowship, Claire served as the Consumer Rights unit team lead at Bay Area Legal Aid for nine years, and taught Consumer Law for two years as an Adjunct Professor of Law at UC Hastings, College of the Law. Claire joined the UC Irvine School of Law Consumer Law Clinic as a Clinical Teaching Fellow in 2019, where she supervised students representing clients in complex predatory lending matters and affirmative policy litigation to halt unconstitutional government-imposed debt. Currently, as an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, Claire teaches Civil Procedure and Consumer Law and conducts empirical research on issues of access to justice, civil court modernization, legal technology, and consumer debt.

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To learn more about the Alumni Advisory Council, visit here.

We are thrilled to welcome the newest members to our Alumni Advisory Council and are looking forward to having each one of them contribute their diverse expertise, viewpoints, and experiences.

Lynbea Toombs /
Director of Alumni Relations

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow