This academic year, 14 Wasserstein Public Interest Fellows have been named at Harvard Law School. The program brings outstanding public interest attorneys from across the country to campus for three days each to advise law students about pathways to public service. Wasserstein Fellows are selected based on the breadth and diversity of their public interest experiences, their ability to advise students and the areas of expertise that interest current students.
This year’s fellows include five Harvard Law School alumni: Elizabeth Forsyth ’11, senior attorney in Earthjustice’s Biodiversity Defense Program; Brian Hauss ’11, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project; Betsy Miller ’99, partner and chair, Public Client Practice, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; Dana Mulhauser ’06, founding chief, Independent Investigations Unit, Maryland Attorney General’s Office; and Jonathan Skrmetti ’04, chief deputy attorney general, Tennessee Attorney General’s Office.
Fellows, who on have been out of law school an average of 13 years, meet individually with students, speak with classes, and hold community discussions, and open meetings with interested student groups. The program was created in 1990 in honor of Morris Wasserstein through a generous gift from his family. The program is managed by Jillian Tuck, assistant director for J.D. and LL.M. Advising at the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising.
The visiting fellows are:
Interim Director, Strategic Litigation, Southern Poverty Law Center (September 27-29)
Nancy G. Abudu is the interim director of Strategic Litigation for the Southern Poverty Law Center. She also serves as deputy legal director of the organization’s voting rights program. In both roles, she leads a team of lawyers, community organizers, and technical experts in protecting the human and civil rights of people of color and other vulnerable populations in the Deep South through litigation, lobbying, and public education. Prior to joining SPLC, Nancy was the Legal Director for the ACLU of Florida and a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
Counsel, Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice (January 24-26)
Andrew Boyle is counsel in the Liberty & National Security Program of the Brennan Center for Justice, where, among other matters, he focuses on emergency powers. He has held fellowships with the Truman National Security Project, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He is also co-chair of the American Society for International Law’s (ASIL) International Criminal Law Interest Group, is a member of the Executive Committee of ASIL’s Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict, and has served as an observer at the Guantanamo Military Commissions. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Boyle prosecuted senior Khmer Rouge leaders on behalf of the United Nations for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. He has also served in the trial chambers of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where he worked on cases resulting from the 1994 genocide, completed a fellowship in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, and clerked for The Honorable Helene N. White of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Jia Min Cheng
Supervising Attorney, Advocacy and Community Engagement, Disability Rights California (September 22-24)
Jia Min Cheng is a supervising attorney at Disability Rights California (DRC), the largest protection and advocacy agency in the United States. As a member of DRC’s Advocacy and Community Engagement practice group, she supervises a team of advocates and attorneys providing support to persons with disabilities primarily in the legal areas of housing and health. Cheng has committed her career to public interest work. Prior to DRC, Cheng worked at Bay Area Legal Aid for eleven years. From 2011-2017, she directed a Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) with the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (“ZSFG”). In addition to providing wraparound legal services for ZSFG patients, she trained University of California San Francisco medical students and residents, and San Francisco Department of Public Health staff on civil legal options to address their patients’ social determinants of health.
Directing Attorney, Health Program, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley (November 1-3)
Abre’ Conner, as the directing attorney of health, leads the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley’s litigation, direct legal services, and advocacy regarding health equity and the social determinants of health that impact historically excluded communities across Silicon Valley. Additionally, Conner sits on the Law Foundation’s race, equity, and inclusion steering committee and leads work regarding jail conditions in Santa Clara County. At the Law Foundation, she specifically focuses her team’s work in community and movement lawyering that centers Black, Indigenous, AAPI, and Latinx communities. Conner supervises a team of nearly 20 staff and regularly advises law students on paths to public interest law. Prior to this position, she was a staff attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, where she advocated for the civil rights and liberties of people in the Central Valley and Northern California.
Staff Attorney, Capital Punishment Project, ACLU (October 13-15)
Olivia Ensign is a staff attorney with the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. Ensign represents clients in capital cases at the trial, direct appeal, and post-conviction levels across the southern United States. In 2019, she was named as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 for her ongoing work with the Capital Punishment Project.
Elizabeth Forsyth ’11
Senior Attorney, Biodiversity Defense Program, Earthjustice (October 20-22)
Elizabeth Forsyth ’11 is a senior attorney in Earthjustice’s Biodiversity Defense Program where she brings cases to address the biodiversity crisis across the United States. This has included working to ensure Endangered Species Act protection for species such as the Pacific fisher, coastal California gnatcatcher, California spotted owl, and Mexican wolf; protecting habitat from destruction from mining, including in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and the Cabinet-Yaak region of Montana; and stopping the Trump Administration’s risky oil and gas giveaway of public lands in Montana and California. Prior to her role in the Biodiversity Defense Program, Forsyth was an associate attorney in Earthjustice’s California Regional office in Los Angeles, where she worked primarily on matters aimed at curtailing new oil and gas drilling and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects in California, and cleaning up some of the dirtiest air basins in the country in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.
Brian Hauss ’11
Staff Attorney, Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, ACLU (October 27-29)
Brian Hauss ’11 currently works as a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, where he focuses on free expression issues. Since joining the ACLU in 2012, he has worked on a number of cutting-edge cases at the forefront of constitutional law. He has argued in numerous federal and state trial and appellate courts, consulted with members of Congress about constitutional issues posed by federal legislation, and discussed First Amendment issues in prominent national and global media outlets. Hauss has been the lead counsel in cases striking down laws restricting participation in politically- motivated boycotts, prohibiting the use of terms like “burger” to accurately describe plant-based products (such as “veggie burgers”), and restricting the right to protest outside courthouses. He also has experience defending defamation lawsuits, challenging “fake news” laws, and challenging government retaliation against individuals or groups based on their protected speech. He has authored or co-authored numerous Supreme Court amicus briefs on behalf of the ACLU and other groups.
M. Dru Levasseur
Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, National LGBT Bar Association (January 19-21)
Dru Levasseur is the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association. As a leading figure in the LGBTQ+ equality movement for 25 years, 15 of which in the legal profession, Levasseur has extensive experience in law, advocacy, philanthropy, and community organizing. He leads the LGBTQ+ Bar’s DEI Consulting Practice, Lavender Law 365®, the only LGBTQ+ inclusion coaching and consulting program designed specifically to enable the implementation of best practice standards for LGBTQ+ equity across law firms, law schools, and companies. Previously, Levasseur was senior attorney and transgender rights project director for Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV. From 2009 to 2019, a critical time in history for advancing the civil rights of transgender people, Levasseur led Lambda Legal’s transgender rights work through strategy development, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. He served as counsel in landmark impact litigation cases and amicus briefs in federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Betsy Miller ’99
Partner and Chair, Public Client Practice, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll (October 4-6)
Betsy Miller ’99 is a seasoned litigator and industry thought leader on leadership development and organizational change management. With over 20 years in private and government practice in Washington, D.C., Miller has built a reputation for deftly leading some of the country’s highest profile government litigation and investigations. As chair of Cohen Milstein’s Public Client Practice, Miller currently represents state attorneys general in the ongoing national opioid litigation. She previously negotiated a $2.2 billion resolution as a lead counsel for states prosecuting consumer fraud cases against the nation’s largest credit rating agencies. Her approach to these complex cases is grounded in the principles she has used as a professional mediator and in her fifteen years as an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, where she has taught courses on negotiation strategy and conflict resolution. A certified leadership coach, Miller regularly speaks and writes on the changing legal landscape and talent development for the 21st century lawyer, with a focus on advancing women and diversity in the legal profession. Before joining Cohen Milstein, Miller had a distinguished career in public service.
Dana Mulhauser ’06
Founding Chief, Independent Investigations Unit, Maryland Attorney General’s Office (October 18-20)
Dana Mulhauser ’06 is the founding chief of the Independent Investigations Unit of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office. The unit was created by statute in 2021 as part of a package of police reforms throughout the state. It is charged with overseeing the investigation of all police-involved fatalities in the state of Maryland. From 2019 to 2021, she was the founding chief of the Conviction and Incident Review Unit at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The unit investigates and prosecutes all cases involving misconduct by public officials, including police shootings and other excessive uses of force. It brought some of the first excessive force cases and police shooting cases in St. Louis County in decades. The unit also created a conviction review process to examine prior convictions for claims of innocence or official misconduct. Prior to that, she spent a dozen years at the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where she was a prosecutor specializing in hate crimes, police excessive force, and human trafficking cases.
Adviser, Office of the United Nations Secretary-General (November 8-10)
Naresh Perinpanayagam is an adviser in the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General, the former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres. He first joined the U.N. Secretary-General’s office in January 2017, where his initial assignment was recruiting senior staff for the new secretary-general. He now works in the secretary-general’s political team with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, where his tasks include attending the secretary-general’s private meetings with world leaders, and reviewing public messaging, including reports, statements, and speeches. He previously worked for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan as a human rights investigator in civil war zones on the Congolese and Ethiopian borders.
Legal Director, Immigrant Advocacy, Legal Aid Justice Center (November 3-5)
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg joined the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program in 2011, and became its Legal Director in 2015. He specializes in consumer, housing, civil rights, immigration, and employment litigation in federal and state court. Sandoval-Moshenberg is also LAJC’s Team Leader for consumer law. He was awarded the 2016 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year award from the Virginia State Bar, and the 2013 LASSY award from the Virginia Poverty Law Center for greatest achievement in consumer law.
Jonathan Skrmetti ’04
Chief Deputy Attorney General, Tennessee Attorney General’s Office (October 6-8)
Jonathan Skrmetti is the chief deputy attorney general of Tennessee. In that role, he has worked as a negotiator in multi-billion-dollar settlement talks in the complex national opioid litigation, coordinated with other states to launch groundbreaking antitrust suits against the world’s largest tech platforms, and managed 160 attorneys through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to joining the attorney general’s office, Skrmetti spent nearly a decade as a federal prosecutor and five years in private practice. At the Department of Justice, he prosecuted high profile cases involving child sex traffickers, violent hate groups, and corrupt public officials.
New Orleans Director, Vera Institute of Justice (September 20-22)
William Snowden is the director of the New Orleans office of the Vera Institute of Justice. He began his legal career as a public defender in New Orleans, where he witnessed the discriminatory practices removing jurors from the jury panel. He created The Juror Project, and presents at high schools, colleges, churches and other community gatherings discussing the importance of jury service, the discriminatory practices of some prosecutors, and the factors at play removing diversity from the jury.