All HLS students are permitted to meet one-on-one with Wasserstein Fellows. 1Ls are permitted to meet with Wasserstein Fellows even before the October 15th career advising start date.
If you miss your Wasserstein Fellow appointment without notifying OPIA at least 24 hours in advance to cancel or reschedule your appointment, you will be barred from signing up for future Wasserstein Fellow appointments.
All students are encouraged to take advantage of the unique opportunity presented by visiting Wasserstein Fellows to talk to an outstanding practicing public interest lawyer one-on-one.
Wasserstein Fellows are also available to serve as networking resources. If you’d like to contact a Fellow, email OPIA at email@example.com.
María Cecilia (“Cecilia”) Ercole – Fellow-in-Residence – Human Rights Officer, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
María Cecilia (“Cecilia”) Ercole – Fellow-in-residence
Human Rights Officer, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dates: As the Wasserstein Fellow in Residence, Cecilia will be on campus all fall term, splitting her time between OPIA and the Human Rights Program.
Stay tuned for her community presentation!
María Cecilia (“Cecilia”) Ercole (She/Her/Hers) is an international human rights lawyer. Over the past 8 years, she has been a Human Rights Officer and an Analyst at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Beirut and La Paz. María Cecilia supported the work of the OHCHR Humanitarian Funds for Victims of Torture and Modern Slavery, the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture, the Individual Communications Procedures of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, and the OHCHR Technical Mission in Bolivia, including human rights monitoring and reporting during presidential elections. Additionally, as Analyst of the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, María Cecilia conducted investigations and analysis of human rights and IHL violations and abuses occurring in the context of the armed conflict in Yemen. She currently supports the OHCHR Sri Lanka Accountability Project as Analyst with a focus on transitional justice efforts.
Before joining the UN, María Cecilia worked in the private sector in Buenos Aires on investment and commercial arbitration cases. She also worked for national Argentinian NGOs advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities, LGBTI and asylum-seekers. She also worked for the CCPR Centre and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Geneva, and for the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in Washington, D.C., representing victims before the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights. She earned her law degree from the Buenos Aires University and her LL.M diploma from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.
Ask Me About: career pathways to the United Nations, transitioning between private and public sector, non-profit work, general career planning, networking, skill building, say NO to ‘self-rejection,’ human rights project management, human rights and international humanitarian law fact-finding/investigative work, advocacy.
Gerry Hebert – President/Founding Partner, J. Gerald Hebert, PC
President/Founding Partner, J. Gerald Hebert, PC
On Campus: September 19-21, 2022
RSVP to his community discussion: Where We Go From Here: Voting Rights in the Current Political Moment
Gerry Hebert (He/Him/His) is currently a solo practitioner in Alexandria, Virginia who specializes in voting rights, election law, civil rights, and redistricting. From 2004 to 2022, he served in various roles at the Campaign Legal Center, including Executive Director and Director of Litigation (2005-2018), and Senior Director of the Voting Rights and Redistricting programs (2018-2022). Campaign Legal Center works to advance accountable and inclusive democracy through tactics such as litigation, policy advocacy, communications, and partnerships to win victories that ensure every American’s right to participate in the democratic process. From 1973 to 1994, he served in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. During his first five years at DOJ, Gerry prosecuted school desegregation cases in the Education Section; the next fifteen years were in the Voting Rights Section dedicated to the prosecution of numerous cases under the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws relating to voting and elections. In addition to his private practice, Gerry has taught voting rights, election law, and campaign finance courses at Georgetown University Law Center, American University’s Washington College of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law, and New York Law School.
Ask Me About: public interest careers, including in the Department of Justice and the nonprofit world, civil rights and voting rights work, private practice and academia, and how to be in the right place at the right time.
Mercedes Montagnes ’09 – Executive Director, Promise of Justice Initiative
Mercedes Montagnes ’09
Executive Director, Promise of Justice Initiative
On Campus: September 27-29, 2022
RSVP to her community discussion: In the Belly of the Beast: Criminal Justice Impact Litigation in the Deep South
Mercedes Montagnes (She/Her/Hers) is the Executive Director of The Promise of Justice Initiative. Her first impact litigation case challenged the alarming heat conditions on Death Row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, otherwise known as Angola. Today, her litigation team is tackling a myriad of issues ranging from medical care to over detention. In addition to leading the litigation team, Mercedes oversees the projects at PJI. In the last year, this has included designing and building a project looking at forced labor in Louisiana called the End Plantation Prisons Project, building Louisiana Survivors for Reform- a groups of justice minded survivors, and coordinating litigation and policy responses to Hurricane Ida for those in prisons and jails throughout the state. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and clerked for Judge Carl Barbier in the Eastern District of Louisiana and Chief Judge Roger Gregory on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ask Me About: prison conditions litigation, decarceration, state legislative work, organizing and litigation integration, non-profit management, and managing student loan debt.
Michelle Morales – Deputy Director, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Policy and Legislation
Deputy Director, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Policy and Legislation
On Campus: October 4-6, 2022
RSVP to her community discussion:
Thinking Beyond the State Department: International Work in the Federal Sector
Michelle Morales (She/Her/Hers) has served the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a variety of roles, developing a special expertise in addressing systemic shortcomings in the criminal justice system, both global and domestic. As Deputy Director of the Criminal Division’s Office of Policy and Legislation, she helps lead a multi-disciplinary team that develops and evaluates policies impacting federal crime, law enforcement, sentencing, and corrections. She also provides expertise on global anti-corruption issues, serving as Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO). She recently represented DOJ at the UN’s Council for Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva and previously served as Ex-Officio Commissioner of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Michelle joined DOJ as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. She has also worked in a detail capacity as Senior Counsel to the Director of the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), as Regional Director for Western Hemisphere Programs of DOJ’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training, and as Counsel for the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Michelle is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University School of Law.
Ask Me About: the inner workings of the Department of Justice, and how to increase your chances of getting hired by the agency, reforming the criminal justice system from within the federal government, federal government careers in international law, separate from State Department, being a Latinx woman and a mother in federal service.
Dorianne Mason – Director of Health Equity, National Women’s Law Center
Director of Health Equity, National Women’s Law Center
On Campus: October 11-13, 2022
RSVP to her community discussion: Bringing the Fight Home: How to Create a Just and Equitable Workplace
Dorianne Mason (She/Her/Hers) has worked for over a decade on issues related to women’s health across the lifespan, and currently leads the National Women’s Law Center legal, research, policy, and public education efforts on health equity. Throughout her career, she’s partnered with state and federal lawmakers, regulators, and officials; community members; health care providers; consumer advocates; researchers; and other health experts to effect change. Dorianne is an expert in coverage and access to health care, having worked in depth on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New Mexico, and issues related to culturally responsive outreach and care for Black, Latinx, Indigenous and Asian-American communities across the country. Dorianne has experience examining and evaluating services important to women with multiple marginalized identities and identifying violations of law and other barriers to coverage. She has worked with state and federal advocates and regulators and provided direct representation to address systemic barriers to equitable care. As part of her work at the National Women’s Law Center, Dorianne identifies and prioritizes the needs and voices of underserved populations, in particular women who are low-income, women of color, and those facing multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination.
Ask Me About: racial and gender justice, hybrid litigation and policy careers, how justice shows up not only in the work you choose to do, but also how you do the work, and how you treat yourself and others while you do the work, health law, criminal legal system reform, how it feels to work in smaller and larger markets, clerkships, burnout.
Lucy Pittman – Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
On Campus: October 17-19, 2022
RSVP to her community discussion: Finding the Right Fit in State and Local Government: Agency Counsel vs. Litigation Counsel
Lucy Pittman (She/Her/Hers) represents the District of Columbia, its agencies, and officials in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She is also responsible for coordinating the Office of the Solicitor General’s intern and fellowship programs as well as supervising and mentoring law students and new attorneys. Prior to joining the Office of the Solicitor General, Lucy was the Deputy General Counsel for the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency. At the agency, she advised agency officials on child welfare policies, regulations, and statutes. Earlier in her career, Lucy served as a trial attorney for the District of Columbia and as an adviser in the Executive Office of the Mayor. In both roles she worked on several long-standing institutional reform cases pertaining to the city’s child welfare, juvenile justice, and mental health services.
Lucy also volunteers her time to the District of Columbia attorney disciplinary system. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board on Professional Responsibility. Lucy earned her law degree from the Washington College of Law, American University, and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Iowa.
Ask Me About: working for a state/local government, trial and appellate litigation, in-house counsel roles, fellowships and internships, the importance of volunteer work, and working in a collaborative environment.
Bart Sheard- Legislative Representative, AFL-CIO
Legislative Representative, AFL-CIO
On Campus: October 19-21, 2022
RSVP to his community discussion: Protecting the Right to Organize: Applying a Legal Skillset to Empower Workers
Bart Sheard (He/Him/His) is a legislative representative for the AFL-CIO where he advocates for workers on Capitol Hill. Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Bart worked at the union-side law firm Sherman Dunn in Washington, D.C. representing unions and workers before the National Labor Relations Board and federal courts. Bart also served as Labor Counsel to U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. He is a 2015 graduate of the George Washington University Law School.
Ask Me About: labor/civil rights work, job seeking during law school, pro bono work, standing out in crowded career fields, switching legal careers, legislative work, imposter syndrome, being both a lawyer and happy, going against the tide to stay true to your own goals, the time I walked around the law school for an entire day and nobody told me about the tear in the seat of my pants.
Chiquisha (“Keisha”) Robinson
Deputy Chief of Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Chiquisha (“Keisha”) Robinson
Deputy Chief of Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
On Campus: October 30-November 2, 2022
Sign-up for one-on-one advising with Keisha Robinson
RSVP to her community presentation: Discovering What Fuels Your Fire & Chasing After It
Chiquisha (“Keisha”) Robinson (She/Her/Hers) is career public defender, with over 17 years of experience as a top attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS). As the Deputy Chief for the Prisoner & Reentry Legal Services program in the Community Defender Division, Keisha manages a team of attorneys in supporting and advancing the rights of incarcerated adults and those living with a criminal record. In her role, Keisha authored The D.C. Reentry Navigator: Empowering You to Succeed with a D.C. Criminal Record, a 900-page, first-of-its-kind guide for people affected by the D.C. criminal legal system. Prior to her current leadership role, Keisha was a senior attorney in PDS’s Trial Division in the Felony One practice and served on the nationally recognized Forensic Practice Group.
A trailblazer in holistic defense and vocal spokesperson on issues of racial justice and criminal legal system reform, Keisha serves as the Co-chair of the D.C. Reentry Action Network, a coalition of reentry direct service providers, and the ABA’s Committee on Reentry and Collateral Consequences. She is also the Director of Social Policy & Advocacy for the Black Public Defender Association and recently joined the Council on Criminal Justice and Leadership Greater Washington. She currently teaches Criminal Law at George Washington University.
Keisha received her J.D. from Boston College Law School, where she was recently recognized with the Hon. David S. Nelson Public Interest Law Award, and earned her B.A. from Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts.
Ask Me About: maintaining a positive outlook, being intentional about making room for joy, general career planning, public defense, being a Black woman lawyer and leader, authoring a book, movement and community lawyering, finding opportunities to lead in any role, being the CEO of You, Inc, burnout, imposter syndrome, and growing and maturing throughout your career.
Taylor James – Senior Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
Senior Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society
On Campus: November 2-4, 2022
RSVP to their community presentation: Transactional Public Interest Law: Not an Oxymoron!
Taylor James (She/They) is an avid advocate for equitable development and community sustainability with over a decade of experience challenging inequality and social injustices as a public interest attorney at The Legal Aid Society in New York City. Taylor partners with nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and community-based organizations to create better opportunities for low-income communities. First and foremost, they are committed to leveraging a community lawyering model and their signature multi-disciplinary approach to client representation and advocacy at all levels. They also particularly enjoy strategizing with social entrepreneurs on how to expand individual access to business development resources and economic stability.
Taylor’s prioritization of centering community input and feedback also extends to their extensive legislative advocacy work at the city and state level. Taylor has been an advocate for commercial rent stabilization, the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), and housing rights, specifically expanding tenant protections. In 2017, Taylor testified in favor of the historic Universal Access bill, which successfully passed, codifying a right to counsel in New York City Housing Court eviction defense proceedings and representing a historic expansion of legal representation for tenants in New York City Housing Court. In her MRTA advocacy, they lobbied for the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York State as a legal services leader within the Start Smart Coalition.
Taylor received her AB in Government at Dartmouth College and her JD from the University of Maryland School of Law.
Ask Me About: general career planning, transitioning from litigation to transactional law, legal case strategy, entrepreneurship and small business development, cannabis equity, policy advocacy, thought leadership, and how to stay creative.
Alessandro Terenzoni – Deputy Director in the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs
Deputy Director in the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs
On Campus: November 7-9, 2022
RSVP to his community discussion: Do Grades Matter? What Really Counts in Public Interest Hiring
Alessandro Terenzoni (He/Him/His) has been the Deputy Director of the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs since 2016. Before joining the DOJ, he was a supervisory attorney with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. Formerly, he created and managed one of the first self-help centers in the nation for unrepresented litigants at the administrative level for the DC Office of Administrative Hearings.
Alessandro has significant ties to the DC legal services community, having worked at the Legal Aid Society of DC, the DC Bar Pro Bono Program, and Bread for the City. Alessandro was a member of the adjunct faculty at GW Law for a decade, teaching in the Legal Research and Writing Program since 2008 and also teaching Public Interest Lawyering. Prior to law school, he was a middle school science and language arts teacher in Newark, NJ as part of Teach for America. He is a graduate of GW Law and Tufts University and also holds a certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University.
Ask Me About: civil rights (especially in criminal justice or education), federal government work, civil legal services, being a first-gen and/or LGBTQ+ lawyer, legal writing, teaching law part-time, changing public interest careers, becoming a supervisor/manager, job applications (resumes, cover letters, etc.), practicing law in Washington, DC.
Lindsay Nako – Director of Litigation and Training, Impact Fund
Director of Litigation and Training, Impact Fund
On Campus: January 30-February 1, 2023
Stay tuned for information on her community discussion!
Lindsay Nako (She/Her/Hers) is the Director of Litigation & Training for the Impact Fund, an innovative legal nonprofit that provides grants to support impact litigation, represents individuals and classes in strategic civil rights litigation, and trains public interest attorneys in litigation and class action topics. Since joining the Impact Fund in 2015, Lindsay has represented classes of employees experiencing workplace discrimination, individuals unlawfully denied public benefits, and transgender employees experiencing harassment and discrimination at work. She has authored dozens of amicus briefs on LGBTQ rights, access to justice issues, and a variety of class action topics. Lindsay also leads the Impact Fund’s training program, including the annual Class Action Conference, multi-day intensive Class Action Training Institute, and a variety of practical litigation skills trainings. Before her work with the Impact Fund, Lindsay spent a decade as an associate and then shareholder at a private plaintiff-side employment law firm and taught as an adjunct professor at Berkeley Law. She is currently a court-appointed mediator for the Northern District of California.
Ask Me About: doing work that aligns with your values, class actions and other forms of impact litigation, navigating private plaintiff-side law firms, getting excellent training as a plaintiff-side attorney, impact litigation in legal nonprofits, mediation, running a great conference/zoom call.
Maryum Jordan ’14 – Climate Justice Attorney, EarthRights International
Maryum Jordan ’14
Climate Justice Attorney, EarthRights International
On Campus: February 6 – 8, 2022
Stay tuned for information on her community discussion!
Maryum Jordan (She/Her/Hers) first worked at EarthRights from 2014-2018 where she worked in both the Amazon and U.S. offices. During this time, she developed international legal and advocacy strategies with Indigenous community leaders and grassroots organizations in Peru and Ecuador, and represented clients in human rights litigation against multinational corporations. Before her return to EarthRights in 2022, Maryum served as counsel for the Special Litigation and Advocacy Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. There, she supported legal and advocacy strategies in relation to cross-cutting racial justice issues including environmental racism and anti-Blackness in the U.S. immigration system. She also coordinated pro bono assistance to monitor law enforcement activity at demonstrations and to provide support to arrested protestors.
Maryum received her J.D. in 2014 from Harvard Law School where she was actively involved in the International Human Rights Clinic and the Law and International Development Society. She earned her B.A. from Harvard College.
Ask Me About: environmental justice, climate change advocacy, movement lawyering, business and human rights, human rights and the environment, civil rights and the environment, human rights in Latin America, working for domestic and international nonprofits, identifying a fellowship sponsor for post-graduate fellowships, and diversity in the legal profession.