Team

 

Leadership

Jennifer Bennett, Esq.

Jennifer Bennett, Esq.

Board of Directors

Public Justice

Jennifer Bennett is a Staff Attorney at Public Justice, a national public interest law firm dedicated to combatting social and economic injustice through high-impact litigation.  Jennifer litigates precedent-setting appeals challenging predatory corporate conduct and government abuses.  Her practice involves a wide range of issues, including civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer protection, court secrecy, and forced arbitration.  Jennifer has briefed and argued cases in state and federal appellate courts across the country.  Her recent work includes a First Circuit victory on behalf of truck drivers fighting forced arbitration, a Fifth Circuit victory on behalf of a father killed by Texas jailers, and a Ninth Circuit victory challenging corporations’ ability to seal court records that might reveal misconduct or even dangerous product defects that could threaten public safety.  Jennifer earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. summa cum laude from Yale University.  She clerked for the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and the Honorable Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Benjamin Elga, Esq.

Benjamin Elga, Esq.

Executive Director

 

Benjamin Elga is the founding Executive Director of the Justice Catalyst, where he works on a wide array of projects, with a focus on impact litigation and innovation in legal practice. Previously, Ben worked to bring antitrust and consumer class actions at Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, including litigation that resulted in the recall of thousands of defective cars and the return unfairly depressed wages to nurses. Before attending Harvard Law, he was an agriculture volunteer with the Peace Corps in Senegal and worked on several state-wide political races. He is admitted to practice law in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.

Jacob Lipton, Esq.

Jacob Lipton, Esq.

Board of Directors

Systemic Justice Project at Harvard Law

Jacob Lipton is the Program Director of the Systemic Justice Project, a policy innovation collaboration at Harvard Law School devoted to working with students to identify injustice, design solutions, promote awareness, and advocate reforms to policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public.Jacob has presented on legal education and systemic justice at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Institute, the National Workshop for Bankruptcy Judges, the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching Annual Conference, and the Law and Boundaries Annual International Conference. Jacob graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was co-Editor in Chief of Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left and Vice President of Harvard Law School Students for Sustainable Investment, and the captain of the Harvard Law School soccer team. Before law school he read Classics at King’s College London and spent two years in Freetown as the Special Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Government of Sierra Leone. He is currently working with Jon Hanson on a research project that attempts to reimagine law, the legal profession, and legal education in ways that would help them better achieve systemic justice.

Sarah O'Brien, Esq.

Sarah O'Brien, Esq.

Board of Directors

Orleans Public Defenders

Sarah O’Brien is a Staff Attorney at Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to representing poor people accused of crimes at the trial court level, Sarah works in the Special Litigation Division developing strategies and litigation to fight mass incarceration and protect the rights of the criminally accused by effecting changes in Louisiana’s criminal justice system and criminal law jurisprudence. Sarah has worked on projects aimed at securing constitutional protections for mentally ill and intellectually disabled people accused of crimes, bringing constitutional challenges to Louisiana’s racially motivated law permitting non-unanimous jury verdicts, increasing state public defense funding through litigation and legislative advocacy, developing educational resources to assist public defenders in maintaining up-to-date knowledge of changes in state and federal criminal case law, and addressing systemic prosecutorial misconduct. Sarah earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her B.A. in philosophy from Yale University.

Fellows

Patrick Baker

Patrick Baker

2018 - 2019 Fellow

ICE Accountability Litigation
Immigrant Defense Project

Patrick Baker will join the Immigrant Defense Project, where his fellowship work will focus on identifying and challenging abusive immigration enforcement practices in New York State. As a member of Yale Law School’s Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic and New Haven Legal Assistance, Patrick represented clients seeking asylum, relief from deportation, and compensation for unlawful detention. He was also a legal intern for the New York Legal Assistance Group and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. A native of Florida, Patrick graduated from Duke University and Yale Law School, where he served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal.

Winston Berkman

Winston Berkman

2018 - 2019 Fellow

Affirmative Litigation Against Predatory Consumer Practices
New York Legal Assistance Group

Winston is excited to be joining the New York Legal Assistance Group as a 2018 Catalyst Fellow. At NYLAG, he will be focusing on building a practice of affirmative litigation within the organization’s consumer protection and foreclosure units. By fostering affirmative claims within the community of direct legal service providers, Winston hopes to address discriminatory lending practices, improve outcomes for consumers, and increase the cost of doing business for predatory actors. Winston is a 2017 graduate of NYU School of Law, where he earned a J.D., and of NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, where he earned a Master of Public Administration. He spent a year as a post-graduate public interest fellow at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center. During law school, Winston was the Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Journal of Legislation & Public Policy. He was a research assistant at the Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy at NYU, interned at the New York Legal Assistance Group, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Brooklyn Legal Services, and was a teaching assistant in a Constitutional Law course for NYU undergraduates. Winston received his B.A. from Tufts University.

Lydia X. Z. Brown

Lydia X. Z. Brown

2018 - 2019 Fellow

Empowering Students with Disabilities at Multiple Margins in Advocacy Against Harmful Discipline
Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. At present, Lydia serves as founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Services, stakeholder representative to the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council overseeing health care for Medicaid/Medicare dually-eligible individuals, and board member of the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Lydia recently completed a term as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, serving in that role from 2015 to 2017 as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color, published by the Autism Women’s Network in June 2017. Lydia designed and taught a course on critical disability theory, public policy, and intersectional social movements for two years as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University’s Experimental College. Lydia has been honored by the White House, Washington Peace Center, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts, National Association for Law Placement/Public Service Jobs Directory, Society for Disability Studies, and American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2015, Pacific Standard named Lydia a Top 30 Thinker under 30, and Mic named Lydia to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. Their work has been featured in numerous scholarly and community publications.

Christopher Desir

Christopher Desir

2018 - 2019 Fellow

Queer and Trans* Youth Legal Advocacy Project
FreeState Justice

Chrys is a recent Yale Law School graduate from the New Haven, Connecticut area. Their interest in indigent legal services comes from their experience both organizing for police accountability in New Haven and working in the city’s schools. In their fellowship and day to day life, they’re focused on building up leadership of queer and trans youth of color.

David Nahmias

David Nahmias

2018 - 2019 Fellow

Empowering Low-Wage LGBTQ Workers in California
Impact Fund

David Nahmias is the Litigation Fellow at the Impact Fund in Berkeley, California, where he is launching a project advocating for low-wage LGBTQ workers in the Central Valley and the Bay Area through impact litigation, trainings, direct services, and policy advocacy. A 2018 graduate of the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, David served as a Supervising Editor of the California Law Review and the Editor-in-Chief of the Berkeley Journal of International Law. He also worked with the International Human Rights Law Clinic, California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., Legal Aid at Work, the East Bay Community Law Center, and as a judicial extern in the chambers of the Hon. Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California. He is the author of The Changemaker Lawyer: Innovating the Legal Profession for Social Change, 106 Calif. L. Rev. 101 (2018). Before law school, David worked for five years at Ashoka, a global non-profit organization supporting social entrepreneurship in Washington D.C. and Mexico City as a Fulbright Scholar. He graduated in 2010 from Claremont McKenna College magna cum laude with a degree in International Relations and Spanish.

Emma Scott

Emma Scott

2018 - 2019 Fellow

California H-2A Project
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

Emma’s Justice Catalyst Fellowship is based in her hometown of Sacramento. Emma grew up in California’s Central Valley and attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in the Central Coast. After studying international development in college and abroad, Emma decided to pursue a career in the law. She has interned with the ACLU of Maryland, the Lawyers Collective in New Delhi, India, the San Francisco Public Defenders Office, and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, where her fellowship project will be based. At Harvard Law School, Emma acted as a student attorney in the Eviction Defense Clinic, the Crimmigration Clinic, and the Criminal Justice Institute, in addition to participating in several journals. Emma will be joining CRLAF after two years of clerking for the District Court of the Eastern District of California.

Ramya Sekaran

Ramya Sekaran

2018 - 2019 Fellow

#MeTooWhatNext: Strengthening Workplace Sexual Harassment Protections and Accountability
National Women’s Law Center

Ramya Sekaran is a 2018 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar. At Georgetown, Ramya served as a student attorney in the Civil Rights Clinic. She litigated a Title IX case on behalf of a student survivor and helped file a complaint on behalf of an anti-racist protester from Charlottesville, Virginia, among other matters. Additionally, Ramya participated in the Center for Applied Legal Studies clinic, through which she represented a detained asylum-seeker in removal proceedings. Prior to law school Ramya worked as a Legal Assistant at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project and as an American India Foundation Fellow at the human rights NGO People’s Watch in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Callie Wilson

Callie Wilson

2018 - 2019 Fellow

Gender Equity at the Oakland City Attorney’s Office
Oakland City Attorney’s Office

As a Catalyst Fellow in the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, Callie Wilson will work to promote gender equity. During law school, she collaborated with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office to litigate issues ranging from housing rights to gender equity and climate change. A graduate of Yale Law School and Barnard College, she was a co-Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

Liza Weisberg

Liza Weisberg

2017 - 2018 Fellow

As a Catalyst Fellow at the ACLU of New JerseyLiza Weisberg will focus on challenging abuses of civil asset forfeiture laws through direct representation, impact litigation, and policy advocacy. Liza graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in May 2017. During law school, she was the Executive Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau,a student-run legal services organization that represents low-income clients in housing, family, wage and hour, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and government benefits cases. She also represented low-income defendants in criminal show-cause hearings as a student attorney with Harvard Defenders and served as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. During her law school summers, Liza worked at the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and at the civil rights law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady.

Marissa Roy

Marissa Roy

2017 - 2018 Fellow

Marissa Roy grew up in Los Angeles. In college at USC, she spent over 200 hours volunteering in the LA community, making an impact at a local level. She carried these experiences with her to Yale Law School, where she worked with the City of San Francisco to use local government litigation to protect at-risk residents. After graduating from YLS, Marissa will join the LA City Attorney as a Catalyst Fellow to continue fighting on behalf of LA community members. For her fellowship project, she will create an impact litigation partnership between the LA City Attorney’s Office and UCLA to bring fresh ideas for impact litigation to the office.

Peter Steffensen

Peter Steffensen

2017 - 2018 Fellow

As a 2017 Catalyst Fellow, Peter is excited to return to his adoptive home state of Texas, where he will be joining the Texas Civil Rights Project. At TCRP, Peter is examining the use of algorithmic risk assessment tools within the state’s criminal justice system.  His inquiry focuses on the extent to which these tools implicate due process, institutional bias, and government transparency. During law school, Peter was a member of the Technology Law & Policy Clinic, a legal intern with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, and an editor of the NYU Review of Law & Social Change. He received his B.A. from Rice University and his J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Tavi Unger

2017 - 2018 Fellow

Tavi Unger spends her fellowship year in the Labor Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Her project focuses on surveying and identifying instances of employee misclassification across New York State. She further assists the Bureau in other general activities, such as research and litigation. A graduate of Yale Law School and Swarthmore College, she has also worked extensively on voting rights and election law.

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