2007 PILA Grant Recipients
Maren Anderson (class of 2008)
Full Grant - Skagit County Public Defender
Prior to law school, Maren worked with at-risk youth living in her neighborhood in Spokane, WA. Though she has always enjoyed working with kids, this particular experience brought to light the challenge of maintaining a stable family amidst the complex circumstances that poverty generally entails. This has given her a passion for working with children and families in the abuse and neglect system. Last summer, she enjoyed experiences at Columbia Legal Services, where she researched issues related to foster care in Washington State, and at Society of Counsel, assisting in the representation of parents at risk of losing their parental rights. Maren also loves being outdoors, whether cycling, running or hiking, and spending time with her two-year-old nephew who lives in Portland, along with the rest of her family.
Maren will be working this summer in the dependency unit at the Skagit County Public Defender. The office is appointed to represent one of the parents in the majority of dependency cases in the county. As one of the few counties where CASA does not exist, competent, intentional representation for the parents is especially crucial. She is looking forward to the more rural environment, learning how to work with children and families in a smaller community. Additionally, Maren looks forward to working on recently established court improvement programs such as family treatment court and family group decision making.
Rachel Brehm (class of 2009)
Half Grant - Washington Protection and Advocacy Systems
A Washington native, Rachel Brehm graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2004. Prior to law school, she worked in the political field, including working as staff for the Sierra Club’s field team, Senator Patty Murray’s reelection campaign, and Congressman Brian Baird’s congressional staff. She returned law school to develop additional skills for political and social advocacy.
This summer, Rachel will be working as a legal intern at the Washington Protection and Advocacy System (WPAS), soon be to known as Disability Rights Washington. WPAS advocates for and protects the rights of
Faculty Grant - The Defender Association Racial Disparity Project (Seattle)
Lessening the stigma and criminalization of homelessness is the issue to which Ashley has dedicated most of her professional and law school life. Since entering law school, Ashley has served as the president of the UW chapter of Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington, which runs a legal drop-in clinic and juvenile criminal records sealing clinic for current and formerly homeless youth; coordinated a project with the Northwest Justice Project and Tenants Union combining community organizing and legal advocacy strategies to reform the Section 8 voucher termination process at the Seattle Housing Authority; and started the first legal clinic addressing the civil and constitutional rights of homeless New Yorkers with the organization Picture the Homeless.
This summer, Ashley will be developing and coordinating a project aimed at challenging a specific brand of local laws designed to regulate the way that individuals (particularly homeless people and youth of color) are able to move around the streets of Seattle and King County, by criminalizing their presence in certain places. The project will combine community organizing and legal strategies (including individual representation and impact litigation planning) to challenge and overturn these legally problematic laws, which have severe criminal and civil consequences for the people charged with them.
Rachael Gardiner (class of 2009)
Justice Bobbe Bridge Grant - National Center for Youth Law
Rachael has passionately mentored at-risk youth in low-income communities since 2000. During her summers away from Oberlin College she furthered her commitment volunteering in a government hospital in Ghana and working with HIV positive youth and cancer patients in Kingston,Jamaica. Rachael also pursued her outreach through taking at-risk youth river rafting on the American River. After graduating college, Rachael spent her weekends volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for two years where she represented foster youth in juvenile court. Due to these experiences, Rachael was confident that she wanted to to pursue a career in child advocacy. Currently, Rachael is a board member of SYLAW, the National Lawyers Guild and volunteers frequently at the Sealing Clinic.
Rachael Gardiner will be working this summer at the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) where she will be focusing on the mental health issues of foster youth and improving access to behavioral health care in the juvenile justice system. Rachael selected the project based on her continued experiences serving at-risk foster youth and her aspirations to connect diverse and disparate arenas. NCYL aims to improve the quality of life for foster youth and increase awareness of the unjust treatment of children in our country. Working at NYCL this summer will enable Rachael to make invaluable connections to legal advocates in the child advocacy field and prepare her for future clerk positions in similar organizations.
Jennifer Kaplan (class of 2008)
Full grant - The Humane Society of the United States (Washington, DC)
Jenn Kaplan has been involved in animal protection for a decade, since she adopted her first cat from a county shelter at age 17. She enrolled in law school because of the potential of the legal system to alleviate the suffering inherent in the industrialized exploitation of animals. She has completed externships in the legal department of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which advocates the health benefits of an animal-free diet and at the Northwest Animal Rights Network, and has performed pro bono work on behalf of animal protection organizations and grassroots activists. She currently heads up UW’s student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. She encourages everyone to make the world a more humane place by going vegan.
Jenn will be spending her summer as a legal extern in the Animal Protection Litigation Section of the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., where she will be working on lawsuits devised to systematically challenge the most egregious practices in animal agribusiness.
Keisha Knight (class of 2009)UW Center for Human Rights and Justice Grant - The Children’s Foundation (Kenya)
Dedicated to children’s education since the age of 15, Keisha graduated from Barnard College with a degree in comparative religion. Keisha went on to pursue a career as an independent filmmaker before moving to Asia in 2004. After two years of teaching children in China and Thailand Keisha arrived at law school interested in International Public Interest Law with a specific focus on children’s rights.
Keisha will spend the summer at The Children’s Foundation (CRADLE) in Nairobi, Kenya. Keisha will team up with CRADLE’s Policy, Advocacy, and Research Department. She will conduct research on legal issues surrounding sexual abuse and child trafficking in Kenya. Keisha’s findings will be published by CRADLE for distribution to an international audience as well as local NGO’s and community organizations. Keisha will also provide content and community organizing/distribution support for the "Letter Link," a unique publication designed for the child reader. The “Letter Link” directly educates children about their legal rights and the legal resources available to them.
Matthew McGowan (class of 2008)The Defender Association (Seattle)
A Washington native and University of Washington graduate, Matthew McGowan worked for three years as office staff at Seattle's The Defender Association before entering law school. Last summer he worked on post-conviction appellate relief projects as a summer associate at the firm of Ellis, Holmes & Witchley. Matthew was recently accepted as member of the 2007-2008 Innocence Project Northwest.
This summer, Matthew will return to The Defender Association as a Rule 9 intern, focusing on analyzing the results and implications of King County's "three strikes" defense funding. He will also provide criminal defense representation to indigent clients in the agency's Misdemeanor division.
Anna "Mickey" Moritz (class of 2009)Give Back half grant (funded by past PILA grantees) - Center for Biological Diversity
Mickey decided to attend law school because she is committed to helping protect our environment. She is particularly interested in global warming. Mickey has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and worked for over three years as a postdoctoral fellow before deciding to change careers. Over the last year, Mickey has been involved in the GreenLaw Advocacy project, and looks forward to maintaining her involvement in environmental projects both on and off campus in the coming years.
This summer, Mickey will be working for the Center for Biological Diversity. The Center is a non-profit organization that does outreach and litigation to address harmful impacts on wild animals and their habitats. During her externship, Mickey will be working with the Climate Program and Oceans Program at the Center. She will write a petition under the Clean Water Act to list coastal waters in Washington and Oregon as impaired due to increased carbon dioxide. Increased carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification, which kills small calcifying zooplankton. The loss of zooplankton is felt throughout the food chain. Furthermore, decreased oceanic pH impairs the immune, metabolic, and reproductive systems of larger marine species like salmon and orcas. Besides writing this petition, Mickey will also assist with briefs that the Center is preparing.
Cooper Offenbecher (class of 2008)
Full Grant - The Defender Association
Cooper came to law school to pursue a career as a public defender because he is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of accused persons. He has previously worked as an Intern Investigator at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Most recently, he has spent the past year representing indigent accused members of the Tulalip Tribe as a student in the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic.
This summer, Cooper will be working as a Rule 9 intern at The Defender Association. He will be handling his own caseload and will be representing persons charged with misdemeanors who cannot afford to hire attorneys. Cooper is excited to continue his pursuit of justice this summer by providing vigorous and excellent legal representation to disadvantaged members of our community.
Student Health Law Organization Grant (SHLO) - Washington Protection and Advocacy System
Dylan came to law school with the general goal of advocating for self-determination, equal treatment, and civil rights protections for minority and otherwise “othered” populations. Dylan first gained experience in the field of disability in high school as a personal care attendant for a woman with multiple sclerosis. He continued to pursue this interest in college, as an intern for the Environmental Health Coalition, where he provided education and outreach for those afflicted with the illness known as multiple chemical sensitivity. His professional background includes serving as a child protective social worker for the state of Massachusetts, where he addressed abuse and neglect by providing and accessing services for youth and adults, many of whom had mental, developmental, and physical disabilities. Dylan is one of the founding members of the UW Disability Law Alliance.
This summer, as an intern with Washington Protection and Advocacy System, Dylan will research Washington State laws, policies, and practices related to the reporting and investigation of suspicious deaths of people with disabilities in Washington State facilities in an attempt to identify and correct deficiencies in the system.
Karin Rogers (class of 2009)Ada Shen-Jaffe Grant - Columbia Legal Services (Seattle)
Karin came to law school to increase her ability to be an effective advocate for vulnerable populations. Karin began her public service career working with runaway youth and then, as an AmeriCorps volunteer, doing youth suicide prevention education through the Crisis Clinic’s Teen Link program. Karin earned a Master in Social Work from the University of Washington in 2003, and then spent three and a half years working as a crisis clinician at Seattle Mental Health. While working with at-risk youth and adults with mental illness, Karin repeatedly saw her clients intersecting with various aspects of the legal system – a system they often neither understood nor trusted. She came to law school hoping to work toward ensuring that the legal system works well for everyone, not only those that can afford it.
This summer, Karin will be working with Columbia Legal Services in the areas of youth and prison law. Her youth law work will center on reforming Washington’s foster care system. In addition to research and legal advocacy, she will assist foster youth, foster families and child advocates with locating and accessing the resources available to them. In the area of prison law, Karin will work with Columbia Legal Service’s Institutions Project on ending Washington’s practice of trying juvenile offenders as adults. Additionally, Karin will research the legal issues at the heart of the increasing problem of mental illness in Washington’s jails and prisons. Karin will work with the Institutions Project to ensure that inmates suffering from mental illness receive treatment and support while incarcerated so they can successfully transition back into their communities.
Chelsea Spector (class of 2009)Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (Tukwila, WA)
After studying psychology as an undergraduate, Chelsea decided to come to law school to become a child advocacy attorney. She began volunteering with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for children) in Providence, R.I. Working with CASA opened her eyes to the widespread issues of child abuse and neglect. There were not nearly enough CASA attorneys to put the amount of time into each case that the involved children deserved. After only a few months of being a CASA volunteer, she decided to apply to law school.
This summer, she will be interning at the Office of the Family and Children’s Ombudsman in Tukwila, WA. Her primary summer project goal will be to analyze the current state of juvenile group homes in Washington. The information she gathers will help to determine whether the youth in group home placements feel safe, believe their rights are respected, and know where to go for help if they have a problem or concern regarding their treatment or placement. Her project responsibilities will involve traveling with one of the Ombudsmen to a cross-section of youth group homes all over the state. These site visits will provide the opportunity to talk to youth and gather information and opinions regarding how much group home residents know about their unique legal rights. They will assess whether they have adequate support systems in place, and whether they feel safe and free of racial discrimination in the homes in which they reside. After the site visits have been completed, she will compile the information into a report that will be sent to the Governor, members of the WA Legislature, superior court judges, and government agency officials. This project has the potential to influence future public policy decisions regarding foster youth in group home placements.
Paul Weideman (class of 2009)Dean's Grant - Attorney General of Washington (Seattle)
Paul has worked as a court interpreter, translator and educator in the immigrant communities of Skagit and Whatcom Counties. His interest in protecting the rights and dignity of immigrants encouraged him to attend law school. At the University of Washington, he has been an active member of the Immigrant Families Advocacy Project.
This summer Paul will work on consumer protection issues, an area of growing concern to Washington’s immigrants. As consumer scams become more sophisticated and target non-English speakers, Paul will work with the Attorney General of Washington on outreach and education efforts within the state’s immigrant community. He will work to protect all Washington residents from Internet and telemarketing fraud, deceptive mortgages, foreclosure rescue scams, and deceptive advertising.
Siiri Wilson (class of 2009)Buck & Grodon Grant - Kowanyama Aboriginal Land and Natural Resources Management Office (Australia)
Siiri's decision to come to law school grew out of her commitment to working for indigenous land rights and management of natural resources on traditional lands. Siiri graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor's in Biology and received her M.S. in Biological Anthropology (Evolutionary Genetics) from the University of Utah. Prior to law school, Siiri taught courses in Anthropology and Evolution at the University of Utah while also working in the biotech industry researching genetic predispositions to familial cancer.
As a graduate student, Siiri was involved with the Martu Ecological Project which led to her spending three months working for an Aboriginal community in the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia. Using ecological survey and ethnographic data, the project helped demonstrate that traditional Aboriginal burning practices are a successful land management tool. This summer, Siiri will continue her commitment to public interest work and indigenous rights by providing legal aid to the Kowanyama Aboriginal Land and Natural Resources Management Office (KALNRMO). Run by the local Aboriginal Council, KALNRMO promotes indigenous management of the natural resources of the Kowanyama community. While in Kowanyama, Siiri will work on multiple projects related to wetlands protection, mining rights, Native Title land claims and traditional ecological knowledge as intellectual property.
Christina Wong (class of 2009)Full grant - Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (Seattle)
After graduating from the University of Chicago with a Masters Degree in Social Service Administration/Social Policy in 2000, Christina worked as Criminal Justice System Advocate with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. She then spent four years as a Legal Advocate with the Disability Law Center, Utah's Protection and Advocacy system. Her primary responsibilities were to investigate abuse and neglect of people with disabilities in residential and correctional settings and to advocate for systemic changes through policy negotiation and legislative advocacy. Since coming to UWLS, Christina has been honored to be a PILA Board Member.
This summer, Christina will be working at the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, a regional, private, nonprofit organization that provides policy research, education, and training for grassroots organizations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. She will be researching and developing Legislative Report Cards on Racial Equity, a report on how each state's legislature did in passing bills that either helped or hurt these organizations' efforts to eliminate racial disparity. The report cards will help legislators understand how the bills they sponsor or support may have detrimental effects on their ethnic minority constituents. The report cards will also be an important tool to help grassroots activists (including Latino immigrants and urban Native Americans) have honest and rational discussions about racism with their local representatives. In other words, these report cards will help traditionally disenfranchised communities who choose to access justice through legislative advocacy.