Post Date: April 27, 2005

On Thursday, April 28, the Gary Bellow Public Service Award will be given to an accomplished student and alumna for their community-focused work. Chi Mgabo, 3L, will receive the student award for her human rights advocacy, and Luz Herrera ’99 will receive the alumna award for her legal service for underserved communities in California. The ceremony and reception will take place at 4 p.m. in Austin East.

Chi Mgbako currently serves as president of HLS Advocates for Human Rights, an organization she co-founded. During her 1L summer, she worked in Tanzania for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and she worked the following summer on political asylum cases involving sexual slavery, religious persecution, and female genital mutilation on behalf of Sierra Leonean and Nigerian refugees at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic. Before coming to HLS, Mgbako taught an African women’s history and human rights course in Ghana, volunteered in an orphanage in Nigeria, coordinated a child care program in Harlem, and taught at an Americorps Summer Reads program, among other activities. After graduating from HLS, she will work with international human rights organization based in Senegal on post-conflict peace building in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Luz Herrera works a solo practitioner in Compton, California and provides legal services — primarily family law, estate planning, real estate and small business transactions — largely to immigrants and working class individuals. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Herrera grew up in Whittier, California and, after graduating from HLS, worked for a prominent law firm for two years. In 2002, she opened her own practice to serve lower-income clients in the Compton area.

The Gary Bellow Public Service Award was created by students in 2001 to honor Professor Bellow. Bellow was the founder and former faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Clinical Programs. Each year, students, alumni, and faculty nominate candidates; representatives from nearly all student organizations select a shortlist; and the student body selects the winners.