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Meet the Equal Justice Works Student Fellows in the 2024 Disaster Resilience Program

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Equal Justice Works is proud to introduce the 2024 class of Disaster Resilience Program Student Fellows. These seven law students will spend their summer working alongside Disaster Resilience Program Fellows as they help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. 

“Disasters often yield unique legal issues that require specialized knowledge and a dedicated pipeline of skilled public interest attorneys,” said Linda Anderson Stanley, director of fellowships at Equal Justice Works and chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness. “We are proud to continue our support of Student Fellows in the Disaster Resilience Program as they build expertise in disaster law, expand critical legal resources for communities affected by disasters, and help foster the next generation of disaster attorneys to build back more resilient communities.” 

Through the Disaster Resilience Program, Student Fellows will gain experience conducting disaster preparedness, response, and recovery legal work. They will help to provide civil legal services, engage in community education and advocacy efforts, and build capacity at their host organizations. 

Meet our Disaster Resilience Program Student Fellows and learn more about how they will be supporting a wide range of disaster-related legal issues, including natural resource management policy reform, immigration processes, and climate justice issues: 

Headshot of Kaila Wilkinson

Kaila Wilkinson will work with the Indigenous Resilience Project at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, which employs the delivery of native rights legal services to prevent any further dispossession of Native Hawaiian individuals and families in West Maui resulting from the August 2023 wildfire. Kaila will also work to reform natural resource management policies and practices that contributed to the disaster through impact litigation and community engagement. Kaila is a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law. 

Headshot of Sebastian Rios-Negron

Sebastian Rios-Negron, a student at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, will work with the Resiliency Law Center to strengthen just disaster redress initiatives, such as those made available through public assistance programs in the wake of disasters, and climate change mitigation efforts for disaster-prone communities in Puerto Rico. Sebastian seeks to ensure access to justice for the Puerto Rican communities who have been so affected by disasters. 

Headshot of Lili Mutter

At Florida Rural Legal Services, Lili Rodriguez (Mutter) will provide legal aid and develop disaster resiliency for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian. The project will culminate in an informational presentation to the public about common legal issues before, during, and after a natural disaster. Lili is a student at the Ave Maria School of Law. 

Headshot of Samantha Barkholz

Samantha Barkholz, hosted at Community Legal Services (CLS) of Mid-Florida, will address disaster resiliency issues while assisting to build CLS’s Disaster Unit, which is in its earliest stage of development. Samantha will also expand both public and government awareness of CLS’s available legal services. Samantha is a student at Seattle University School of Law.

Equal Justice Works LogomarkChristopher Marenco, a student at Barry University, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, will work at LatinoJustice PRLDEF to address climate justice issues facing Latinx communities in Florida and Puerto Rico. Christopher will provide legal services to community residents in various Central Florida counties directly impacted by Hurricane Ian. 

Equal Justice Works LogomarkAt the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, Samuel Nam will support immigrant communities facing legal problems due to humanitarian crises by assisting them with their naturalization process. Samuel will also help to remove other barriers to naturalization and disaster resiliency such as tax, probate, and other civil legal needs. Samuel is a student at the University of Houston Law Center. 

Equal Justice Works LogomarkMaria Ferreira-Spady will work with the Galveston-Houston Immigrant Representation Project to provide high quality legal services to immigrants facing deportation in the Houston area. Recognizing the overwhelming need to increase representation rates and access to due process in the Houston Immigration Courts, Maria plans to combine direct representation with pro se assistance and community outreach to achieve a greater overall impact. Maria is a student at Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law. 

Visit here for more information about Disaster Resilience Program. 

The Disaster Resilience Program is currently funded American Red Cross, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the California Wildfires Recovery, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Danaher Foundation. 

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow