In June, Bethany Rubin Henderson ’02 and Adam Stofsky ’04 were named Echoing Green Fellows for 2009.
Echoing Green, a global nonprofit supporting emerging social entrepreneurs, provides up to $90,000 over two years to each of its fellows, plus technical assistance, consulting support and other benefits. Henderson’s and Stofsky’s projects were chosen as two of 14 to receive fellowship support this year, out of a field of nearly 1,000 applicants.
Henderson’s project, City Hall Fellows, is a national service corps program she founded that works to motivate and empower diverse, top college graduates to tackle social ills from within existing city government institutions. City Hall Fellows combines hands-on work experience inside city agencies with intensive training in public sector leadership, offering fellows the opportunity to experience, and improve, local government from the inside.
Before coming to HLS, in 1998 and 1999, Henderson [Photo left] was an Urban Fellow in the City of New York’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, where she worked to develop a strategy for effectively using Internet technology in government operations and service delivery. During that time, she also co-authored a review of the Urban Fellows program. After receiving her J.D., she practiced law for five years at the business litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges.
Describing her project on the Echoing Green website, Henderson said, “While I attended law school and launched a legal career, the idea of developing a robust city government service corps on a national scale nagged at me until I couldn’t ignore it any more.” Currently, Houston and San Francisco are hosts for City Hall Fellows. The Echoing Green Fellowship will support City Hall Fellows’ growth as it expands to more sites across the country.
Stofsky’s New Media Advocacy Project, nicknamed “N-Map,” will provide better tools for defenders of human rights and social justice by integrating video and internet social networking into their advocacy strategies. He envisions a greater use of video in courtrooms, legislatures and communities, and also sees social networking playing a role in improving advocates’ connections to their client communities, as well as helping with tasks such as locating the best witnesses and gathering evidence.
In the summer of 2002, Stofsky [Photo right] worked for the Social and Economic Rights Action Center in Lagos, Nigeria, where he helped represent communities in Lagos that had been forcibly evicted or were in danger of forced eviction. While there, he shot a documentary about the demolition of the town of Maroko. The demolition resulted in one of Africa’s largest and most notorious forced evictions. During an interview with a community leader whose town had been demolished by the government, he realized the limitations of the conventional legal approach to human rights issues.
“My clients’ impassioned words in front of a camera were incredibly persuasive and powerful,” he said about of the beginnings of his project, on the Echoing Green website. The documentary he produced, with the advice of local lawyers, allowed the evictees to tell their own stories and advanced the case, which had been stalled in court for fourteen years.
Previously, Stofsky was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City. Prior to that, he was a 2005 Skadden Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law in Washington, D.C., on their Employment Discrimination Project. He has also worked at the Center for Constitutional Rights and at the Open Society, both in New York City.
Since Echoing Green was established in 1987, it has helped support many organizations through their early stages, including Teach For America, Working Today, Genocide Intervention Network, Citizen Schools, JumpStart for Children, College Summit, the Global Fund for Children, and City Year.
Other members of the HLS community who have won Echoing Green Fellowships are Lecturer on Law and Clinical Director of the Human Rights Program Tyler Giannini, a 1995 fellow, whose project was Earth Rights International, and Jessica Budnitz ’01, Lecturer on Law and Managing Director of the Child Advocacy Program, a 2002 fellow, for her work with Juvenile Justice Partners, now absorbed into the HLS Child Advocacy Program.
– Lia Oppedisano