Equal Justice Works Now Accepting Nominations for Alumni Board Member

Equal Justice Works is excited to announce that we are accepting nominations from our Alumni and Fellow community to fill an open position for a recent alum to serve on our Board of Directors beginning in 2023 for a three-year term.

We recruit new board members to strengthen our organization’s effectiveness and secure the resources we need to fund our very ambitious agenda to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service.  

Our Board consists of national leaders from every corner of the profession: judges, corporate counsel, law firm partners, law students, alumni, academics, and public interest advocates. We recognize and appreciate that this diversity on our board is one of the organization’s strengths, and we appreciate that board members bring a variety of skills and capacities.    

We welcome and encourage our Alumni and Fellow community to participate in the nomination process for a recent alum—defined as an alum who has successfully completed an Equal Justice Works Fellowship within the past five years. For the current position eligibility, the nominee will have successfully completed their Fellowship in the period 2017 – 2021.  This board member will have full and equitable membership on the Board entailing the same rights, obligations, responsibilities, and expectations of every board member, including service for a three-year term. Self-nominations are accepted. 

We recognize and appreciate that diversity on our board is one of the organization’s strengths, and we appreciate that board members bring a variety of skills and capacities. In deciding whom to invite to join our board, we need to balance these skills and capacities with the organization’s needs. 

We seek a board member who exhibits the following characteristics:  

  • Commitment to the mission and goals of Equal Justice Works 
  • Willingness to give time and talent 
  • Willingness to contribute a personally significant gift (i.e., one of their top three charitable contributions) 
  • Willingness to ask others to contribute a gift 

We want the board overall to have members who bring/add: 

  • Networks or linkages to individuals and organizations which can help advance Equal Justice 
  • Works initiatives or fundraising goals 
  • Demonstrated executive leadership quotient/recognized public stature 
  • Strategic thinking skills 
  • Diversity  
  • Nonprofit Board expertise  
  • Experience working with complex organizations 

Click here to submit a nomination.  The application will close on July 20, 2022, and nominees who are selected to move forward in the process will be notified in October 2022.   

For more information about the application process, please reach out to [email protected]. Visit here to learn more about the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors.  

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the recipients of the 2022 Regional Public Interest Award, recognizing eight law students for their exemplary commitment to public interest law and pro bono work.

“We are thrilled to announce the winners of our Regional Public Interest Award,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, vice president of law school engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “These exemplary law students share our commitment to increasing access to justice and it is an honor to recognize their leadership and service on their campuses and beyond.”

We are thrilled to announce the winners of our Regional Public Interest Award. These exemplary law students share our commitment to increasing access to justice and it is an honor to recognize their leadership and service on their campuses and beyond.

Aoife Delargy Lowe /
Equal Justice Works Vice President of Law School Engagement & Advocacy

These eight law students were selected by the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee for providing outstanding service through law clinics, volunteer work, internships, extracurricular projects, and other initiatives. These award winners will receive a commemorative plaque and a monetary reward.

2022 RPIA Winners
Photo of the 2022 Regional Public Interest Award Winners. Top row (L-R): Aranda Stathers, Christopher Kloth, Darcy Guio, Claire Comey. Bottom row (L-R): Victoria Bonds, Grace Wynelle Thomas, Maggie Belcher, Lauren Cook.

“I have and will continue to devote my life to public service and the advancement of others,” said Aranda Stathers, a second-year law student at Pennsylvania State University Dickinson Law. “Life has afforded me many opportunities to travel and advance my education. I believe it is my duty to leverage my privilege to benefit others, and I will continue to do so long after I graduate from law school.”

Below is the list of this year’s Regional Public Interest Award recipients:

  • Christopher Kloth
    Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law
    Gulf Region
  • Lauren Cook
    Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law at Campbell University
    South Region
  • Maggie Belcher
    Michigan State University College of Law
    Midwest Region
  • Grace Wynelle Thomas
    University of Texas School of Law
    Southwest Region
  • Aranda Stathers
    Pennsylvania State University Dickinson Law
    Mid-Atlantic Region
  • Claire Comey
    Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law
    Mountain Region
  • Victoria Bonds
    Loyola Law School Los Angeles
    Pacific Region
  • Darcy Guio
    Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
    Northeast Region

Equal Justice Works offers many opportunities for law students to serve the public interest law community on their campuses and nationwide. Visit here for more information.

The following letter was sent to 2021 Fellows in response to feedback regarding host organization supporting payments. 

Dear Fellows,

Thank you for the feedback and conversation we have had to date. I acknowledge your dissatisfaction that we cannot accommodate your request to give each of you or your host organizations an additional $7,000.

As you know, Equal Justice Works is devoted to creating opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service. We are always striving to do better. We don’t always get it right, but we are a learning organization that welcomes feedback and adapts when something can be improved, while also being thoughtful and deliberate about relationships, sustainability, fairness, and fiscal constraints in our community.

We are sympathetic to the very real challenges and concerns you have about public interest lawyer salaries. We appreciate your highlighting the significant disparity between the support we are providing to host organizations for first- and second- year Fellows beginning in September. You should know, however, that despite the $7,000 increase in supporting payments for the host organizations of the class of 2022, the median Fellow salary and distribution is very similar to what it was for the class of 2021.

Our biggest learning from our exchange is that five years is too long between adjusting host organization supporting payments, which they use to fund your salaries. Here is how we will move forward differently:

  • Beginning with the class of 2022, we will adjust our supporting payment to host organizations with each Fellowship class year. We will seek the advice of host organizations, sponsors, and our Fellowship alumni as we determine that increase.
  • We will continue to elevate public consciousness about the financial burdens and challenges public interest lawyers face and drive greater awareness of your contributions that clearly reflect the value of your work.

As always, we are grateful for your commitment to the work you do. We hope you will continue to make a positive impact for individuals, families, and communities across our country.

Thank you,
David Stern
Equal Justice Works Executive Director

Visit here for FAQS about host organization supporting payments.

Over the weekend, yet again we bore witness to the racist violence of our country. This horrific hate crime that resulted in the death of ten people is another painful reminder of just how much work is still needed to achieve racial justice in our country.

The actions we saw have brought new images of racism and injustice that Black communities continue to face. My thoughts are with the victims and their grieving families, as well as with our staff, Fellows, Alums, supporters, and host organizations in the Buffalo area.

As an organization committed to fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all, we have a strong obligation to stand up against racist violence. Black communities deserve better, they deserve justice. As always, I’m grateful to all our Fellows for fighting to enact meaningful change.

In solidarity,
David Stern
Equal Justice Works Executive Director

Today, the United States Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the nation’s 116th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Judge Jackson is the first Black woman to serve on the high court’s bench, and she is the first former federal public defender.

As the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, we believe in passionate leaders who share our commitment to equal justice and public service. Judge Jackson’s expansive career, including her work as a public defender, has enriched her understanding of people’s experiences with the justice system. Her diverse professional background will also provide a unique perspective to the Court’s work that is currently missing, yet essential to achieving our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.

During Judge Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, she described the important role public defenders play in protecting our core constitutional values. “Federal public defenders don’t get to pick their clients. They have to represent whoever comes in, and it’s a service. You are standing up for the constitutional value of representation.”

We had the honor of hosting Judge Jackson at our Conference and Career Fair in 2015, where she shared words of encouragement and insight with hundreds of law students in attendance. Her historic confirmation further serves as an inspiration to the public interest law community and to all future passionate public service leaders. We hope this decision will foster greater diversity in the federal courts with more appointments who come from civil rights and public defender backgrounds.

Hundreds of friends and leaders from all corners of the legal community tuned in on October 12, 2021, for the Scales of Justice—a virtual event to support our mission, celebrate the work of our Fellows, and honor Brian Ellis, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Danaher Corporation, with the Scales of Justice Award.

Thanks to generous event sponsors and donors, we raised more than $3.3 million to support our efforts to mobilize a community of lawyers committed to public service and equal justice!

During the program, we highlighted Equal Justice Works Fellow Charlie J. Isaacs and the incredible work he is doing to protect tenants from landlord abuse and discrimination. We also heard from Fellow alumni Antonia Fasanelli, Diego Cartagena, Keegan Warren-Clem, Michael Pope, and Tirien Steinbach, who shared how their Fellowships launched their careers as public service leaders and how they are continuing to make an impact in our communities, our justice system, and our country.

We also heard from our 2021 Text-to-Give Fellow Fernanda Herrera Spieler, who spoke about how her parents’ experience as undocumented workers inspired her to fight for the rights of immigrants and ensure that all workers are equally protected by our justice system. In response, attendees texted in donations totaling more than $85,000 to fund one more 2022 Fellow who will pursue their passion to help people in need. 

A memorable moment in the program occurred when former board member Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) popped in to celebrate two major milestones for Equal Justice Works—executive director David Stern’s 30 years of service, and the organization’s 35th anniversary.

During the program, attendees had the opportunity to watch 2021 Scales of Justice honoree Brian Ellis in conversation with Judge Williams. Brian reflected on his family values; discussed his commitment to pro bono work and diversity, equity, and inclusion; and offered the following advice to Fellows:

“Just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep pushing because without you making a difference, we would be in a difficult place in many spaces. Keep knocking it out of the park. We’re here to support you.”

The program was rounded out with special appearances from Danaher Corporation president and CEO Rainer M. Blair; Equal Justice Works board member and co-president of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Ernest LaMont Greer; and 2021 Steering Committee member Gregg F. LoCascio, partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this program possible: Champion of Justice sponsors Danaher Corporation, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Kirkland & Ellis, Williams & Connolly LLP, and our other incredible event sponsors; the 2021 Steering Committee; and all who attended and supported The Scales of Justice!

Check out the full program here. 

The generosity and dedication of our community is helping to bring us closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.

Fellows—Just keep doing what you're doing. Keep pushing because without you making a difference, we would be in a difficult place in many spaces. Keep knocking it out of the park. We're here to support you.

Brian Ellis /
Danaher Corporation Senior Vice President & General Counsel

The following letter was sent from David Stern, Equal Justice Works Executive Director, to the Equal Justice Community in response to the Department of Education’s recent announcement to overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. 

Dear Equal Justice Works Community,  

Yesterday was a historic day for our public service professionals, including public interest lawyers, relying on educational debt relief through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Educational debt is an obstacle that prevents many graduates from taking relatively low-paying public service jobs and staying in them, and Equal Justice Works has been working to address this issue since this organization was founded 35 years ago. The promise of PSLF is that a borrower can earn forgiveness following 10 years of full-time public service and on time loan payments. PSLF ensures that our nation can attract and retain qualified and passionate professionals in public health, public education, and public safety jobs that are critical to the wellbeing of our communities and country.

At last, we are seeing real and positive change from our advocacy and are thrilled that the Department of Education announced major changes to PSLF both to improve the program going forward and address the problems of the past.

The Department of Education announced that it will offer a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible. The department promised to also pursue opportunities to automate PSLF eligibility, give borrowers a way to get errors corrected, and make it easier for members of the military to get credit toward forgiveness while they serve. These changes will be paired with an expanded communications campaign to ensure affected borrowers learn about these opportunities and encourage them to apply.

Up until this point, the Department of Education has rejected 98% of applicants for forgiveness.  Teachers, nurses, social workers, public service lawyers, doctors, and many others have relied on this program and then told that they did not have the right loans or the amounts paid were not exactly right (sometimes off by a penny), and many would have to start all over again. That is why this news is a huge victory for public service workers everywhere.

For those of you in the law school community, I urge you to share this news with your current law students, recent graduates, and alumni to ensure that those who might be eligible for this waiver enroll by October 31, 2022.

Read the Department of Education’s press release about the PSLF program overhaul here

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration’s order extending the federal eviction moratorium. The ban was a two-month order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that covered areas of the country experiencing high levels of community transmission of COVID-19.

“This decision to allow evictions to resume across the country hurts millions of people who are now at risk of eviction amid the continued spread of COVID-19,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “With states and local governments struggling to distribute tens of millions of dollars in federal rental assistance to those who are behind on rent and facing a loss of their homes, it’s only a matter of time until we see a wave of evictions. I’m grateful we have a program dedicated to placing lawyers and community organizers across the state of Virginia, where they are helping to ensure greater access to legal services for residents experiencing housing instability.”

Equal Justice Works will continue its efforts to mobilize passionate public service leaders to address housing instability at the individual, community, and systemic levels, and work to create equal access to justice for tenants as mass evictions loom.

Equal Justice Works invites eligible organizations to submit proposals for the Equal Justice Works Disaster Resilience Program. 

The Disaster Resilience Program mobilizes Fellows (legal aid attorneys) and Student Fellows (law students) to provide free civil legal aid in disaster-prone areas to ensure vital legal services are accessible, comprehensive, and responsive to the unique needs of individuals, families, and communities.

Twelve Fellows and twelve Student Fellows will join the second cohort of the Disaster Resilience Program and work full-time for two years at legal services organizations in New Mexico and Louisiana beginning October 2021. Fellows will help low-income families build economic security and disaster resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Equal Justice Works will support the Fellows and Student Fellows, as well as the host organizations throughout the program duration.

The Disaster Resilience Program’s second cohort is funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, California Community Foundation, and supplemented by Equal Justice Works. 

Please see the full Request for Proposals (RFP) and accompanying appendices, Notice of Intent to apply (requested, not mandatory; response by September 6), and the host organization application (due October 8, 2021, new extended deadline) links below.  

Anyone unable to meet the deadline due to Hurricane Ida should reach out to us individually to ask for an extension at [email protected] 

 *All 10 attachments/appendices for download also listed out on the application form* 

Resources

Before applying, please review the following materials:

Templates & Forms

The following materials are required for submission:

Application Forms

Notice of Intent Application

Host Organization Application

If you have any questions about the application process, please reach out to [email protected] 

Headshot of David Stern
Photo of David Stern

David Stern to retire from Equal Justice Works, effective once a new executive director is in place

Kate Fritz, Vice Chair of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors, to lead the Board of Directors’ Executive Director Search Committee

Equal Justice Works announced today that David Stern has decided to step down from his role as the organization’s executive director, effective upon the appointment and onboarding of his successor. Kate Fritz, Vice Chair of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors, will chair the Board’s Executive Director Search Committee, which will conduct a national search for the next executive director of the organization.

“In his 30 years of service to this organization, David has had an immeasurable impact, enabling countless law students and lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service,” said Board Chair Ivan Fong. “His leadership has been truly transformative, and I am so grateful to have had the privilege of serving as Board Chair during David’s final years as Executive Director. Although I will be sad to see him depart the organization, David and the Board have long been committed to a successful transition plan, and we have full confidence in the strength of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors, leadership team, staff, Fellows, and community.”

Under David’s leadership, Equal Justice Works’ budget grew from less than $2 million to more than $21 million, and from seven Fellows in 1993 to more than 200 Fellows in the field today. Significantly, 85% of the more than 2,500 Equal Justice Works alumni remain in public service.

David joined Equal Justice Works, then known as the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL), in 1992 to establish a postgraduate fellowship program; in 1995, he was promoted to executive director. Supported by David’s leadership, Equal Justice Works has evolved into the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law. David will continue to serve as Executive Director at Equal Justice Works until a new executive director has been identified and is in place.

“I am energized and inspired by the law students and Fellows who have served over the past 30 years, and I have watched with such pride and gratitude as they emerged as passionate public service leaders,” said David. “They give me incredible hope for the future and fuel my own passion for this organization and its mission. I have had the good fortune to work with a great staff and Board of Directors who helped Equal Justice Works become the amazing organization it is today, with so much potential for its future. The organization is well positioned to welcome a new executive director.”

See David Stern’s full bio here.

In his 30 years of service to this organization, David has had an immeasurable impact, enabling countless law students and lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service.

Ivan Fong /
Equal Justice Works Board Chair