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Meet the Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellows


2016: Mara Easterbrook

JD University of Chicago Law Schoolmara_easterbrook_resized
BA College of the University of Chicago

Mara is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, with brief detours in Virginia and in Belgium. She has called Chicago home since moving here for college. She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review, and served on the board of Spring Break of Service, an organization that sends law students to work at public defender offices across the U.S. during their spring break. Through Spring Break of Service, she worked at the Orleans Public Defender and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. During law school, she also worked at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Jenner & Block LLP. She graduated with general honors from the College of the University of Chicago in 2013, with a B.A. in Law, Letters, and Society, and a Thesis on the intentional infliction of statelessness in the Dominican Republic.

Mara is currently in the first year of her Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship

2015: Emily Powersimg_0583

JD Northwestern University School of Law
BA University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Emily Powers graduated cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law. During law school, she worked with the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the DCFS Inspector General’s Office, Equip for Equality, and BPI. Emily traveled to South Africa to conduct legal research on the right to housing, and to Turkey to study Syrian refugee children’s access to education. Prior to law school, Emily worked in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “War Room” press office and spent three years as an early intervention coordinator for D.C. Public Schools. Emily graduated summa cum laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2009 with a B.A. in English, a B.A. in Political Science, and a Thesis in Playwriting. She was named Nevada Regents’ Scholar and was also named one of 60 Truman Scholars in the U.S.

Emily is currently in the second year of her BPI Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship.

2015: S. Mayumi Grigsby

JD Northeastern School of Law
BA Georgetown University

S. Mayumi Grigsby has a B.A. from Georgetown University and graduated from the Northeastern University School of Law in May of 2015 with a concentration in Human Rights and International Law. After graduating from Georgetown University, Mayumi worked in her native Liberia with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Liberia, the United Nations Development Program in Liberia and with the Programme des Nations Unies pour le Developpement (PNUD) in Côte d’Ivoire on women’s empowerment issues. Mayumi also worked within the Office of Communications and Public Affairs writing speeches on the Lift Liberia Poverty Reduction Strategy for Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. While in law school, Mayumi was an Ella Baker Fellow and a Helena Rubenstein Fellow for Women’s Justice at the Center for Constitutional Rights. There, she worked on issues of international human rights and gender-based violence. Mayumi also worked with the Massachusetts Governor’s Office of Cabinet Affairs as a Rappaport Law and Public Policy Fellow. Though Mayumi grew up mostly in the United States, she speaks French and conversational Wolof.

2014: Emily Brown

JD University of Michigan Law School
MA Oxford Universtiy
BA University of Chicago

Emily Brown received a JD cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was Note Editor for the Michigan Journal of Law Reform and Co-Chair of the Poverty Law Society. During law school she worked with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia, and The AIRE (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) Centre in London. Emily has a master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Oxford University, where she wrote her dissertation on community policing in Chicago. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago (BA with honors in political science), where she completed a fellowship with the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Emily is currently clerking for the Federal District Court in Chicago.

2013: Justin Tresnowski

JD Harvard Law
MA London School of Economics
BA Notre Dame

Justin Tresnowski graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law & Policy Review. His law school internships and clinical experiences include working for the ACLU of Indiana, representing evicted tenants through Harvard’s Legal Services Center, and assisting in the representation of individual employees and labor unions at Altshuler Berzon LLP (San Francisco) and Segal Roitman LLP (Boston). Prior to law school, Justin worked for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He graduated from  the University of Notre Dame cum laude with a BA in Political Science, and received an MA with distinction in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics.

Justin is currently clerking for the Federal District Court in Chicago. 

2012: Karen Bemis

JD University of Georgia Law School
BA Yale University

Karen received her JD from the University of Georgia School of Law where she was recipient of the Ellen Jordan Public Interest Award, director of the Working in the Public Interest Conference, and president of the school’s American Constitution Society chapter. While in law school, Karen interned with the Carter Center for Human Rights Program, HUD, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee in Budapest. Karen completed a year of AmeriCorps service with New Sector Alliance in Boston where she worked on foreclosure prevention and community health projects. Afterwards, she worked as development coordinator for a neighborhood health center. Karen holds a BA from Yale University, where she researched education and child welfare in New Delhi, India and assisted the Connecticut Coalition for Justice on school funding.

Karen is a program manager at Points of Light in Atlanta.

2011: Emily Blumberg

JD Harvard Law School
BA Harvard College

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Emily clerked for Justice Denise Johnson of the Vermont Supreme Court before coming to BPI. As a law student, Emily was an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights – Civil Liberties Law Review, a research and teaching assistant for Professor Lani Guinier, and a mediator with the Harvard Mediation Program.  Her internships during law school included work with The Legal Aid Society (NYC), Centro Legal de la Raza (Oakland), Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (Boston), and Advancement Project (Washington, D.C.). Prior to law school, Emily was a Teaching Fellow at Citizen Schools in Boston, a publication assistant for Harvard’s Global Equity Initiative, and a research assistant with the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research.  As a Rockefeller Fellow, she worked on community development projects with rural farming communities in Mexico.  Emily received her BA magna cum laude in History and Literature from Harvard College in 2004.

Emily is an affordable housing attorney with Klein Hornig LLP.

2010: Taylor Healy

JD Villanova University
BA Boston College

Taylor Healy received a JD magna cum laude from Villanova University School of Law where she was a Public Interest Scholar. While in law school, Taylor worked with the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES), the National Advisory Committee of Equal Justice Works, Community Legal Services (Housing Unit) in Philadelphia, and the Guardian Ad Litem Program of the Children’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to law school, Taylor was a Fulbright Scholar in Europe. She also worked as a program analyst with the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) of Washington, D.C.  Taylor holds a BA from Boston College.

Taylor is senior staff attorney with Bread for the City in Washington, DC.  The National Law Journal named Taylor a “D.C. Rising Star” in 2015 for her work there.

2010: Aya Barnea

JD DePaul University College of Law
MA Teaching Johns Hopkins University
BA University of Chicago

Aya Barnea joined BPI’s staff as a Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow in August 2010. Aya received her JD magna cum laude from the DePaul University College of Law, where she was a member of the DePaul Law Review and served on the Public Interest Law Committee. Before entering law school, she taught first grade for two years through Teach for America in Baltimore and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University. As a law student, Aya served as a law clerk with the Cook County Public Guardian and the Family Defense Center and held internships at BPI and the Citizen Advocacy Center. Aya was awarded a BA in Public Policy Studies with Honors from the University of Chicago.

After her fellowship, Aya continued with BPI as a staff attorney. Aya is currently clerking for the Illinois Appellate Court.

2009: Anoa Changa

JD West Virginia University College of Law
MA City and Regional Planning Ohio State University
BA Ohio State University

BPI’s eleventh Polikoff-Gautreaux fellow, Anoa received her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law, where she was awarded the WEB Dubois Fellowship. Her law school experience included internships with the Office of Chief Counsel of the Federal Highway Administration and WVU Student Legal Services, research assistant positions, and a clerkship with Spilman, Thomas & Battle, in Charleston, WV.  At WVU, she chaired the Coalition to End Race and Gender Violence and the Mentor Program Committee and served as Associate Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board. Prior to law school, Anoa received a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University, where she served a two-year internship with the City of Columbus Department of Development, working on a range of neighborhood development and community issues. Anoa was awarded a BA cum laude in Sociology from Ohio State.

After her fellowship, Anoa worked for the Social Security Administration.

2008: Kate Pomper Costello

JD/MPP University of Michigan
BA University of Virginia

Kate received dual degrees from the University of Michigan’s Law School and the Ford School of Public Policy.  While in law school she was Article Editor for the Journal of Law Reform, a Dean’s Public Service Fellow, and co-chaired Michigan’s ACLU chapter.  She served as a member of the Board of the Ford School’s Women and Gender in Public Policy.  In her graduate school summers, Kate interned in Chicago with the Mayor’s Office, the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.  She also spent three years working in Washington, DC for the Urban Institute’s Income and Policy Benefits Center and the National Women’s Law Center.  Kate graduated from the University of Virginia, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in Economics with High Distinction.

After her fellowship, Kate worked as an attorney in the Public Interest Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office. She currently works for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2007: Katie Hill

JD University of Chicago Law School
BA Stanford University

Katie graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she worked for the Mandel Legal Aid Criminal Clinic and the Juvenile Justice Project and was a member of the boards of the Chicago Law Foundation and the Public Interest Law Society.  In addition to a summer internship at BPI, she clerked for the law firm Goldberg Kohn and interned at Children’s Rights (NY).  Prior to law school Katie taught in a public elementary school in San Jose, CA, through Teach for America, and was a teaching fellow at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA.  She graduated from Stanford University, Phi Beta Kappa, with a BA in Public Policy.

Katie is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Chicago Mayor’s Office.

2006: Nadia Wishne Underhill

MPA Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
MSc London School of Economics
BA Carleton College

Nadia joined BPI in September 2006 and worked on public and affordable housing.  She received her MA in Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.  She also has an MSc in Cities, Space and Society from the London School of Economics. Prior to her graduate education, Nadia was a Housing Development Coordinator for the City of Oakland, developing policy and managing financing for affordable housing development.  She worked on issues relating to immigrant women and trained volunteer tutors in Brooklyn public schools. Nadia graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College with a BA in English Literature.

Nadia is Director of Real Estate Development at Heartland Housing in Chicago.

2005: Rosanne Aviles

JD Columbia University School of Law
BA University of Virginia

Rosanne received her JD from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow working for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs and a Joseph L. Brechner Fellow with the Anti-Defamation League in New York. She also interned for a human rights organization in Sao Paolo, Brazil and volunteered at the Goddard Riverside Tenant Assistance Project and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. She received her BA in Latin American Studies with a Distinguished Major from the University of Virginia.

Rosanne is a Trial Attorney at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

2004: Kelli Harsch

JD Yale Law School
BA University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Throughout her fellowship, Kelli worked on public housing, affordable housing, and public education issues. She represented members of the Gautreaux plaintiff class on working groups created to aid in the development of the Chicago Housing Authority’s new mixed-income developments. She assisted in developing an inclusionary zoning ordinance and providing legal research assistance to the city of Evanston. In an effort to preserve affordable housing, she provided support to other city organizations and tenant groups in interpreting and enforcing their rights under the Federally Assisted Housing Preservation Act. In addition to housing policy work, she monitored the implementation of the Chicago Public School’s Renaissance 2010 program to build 100 new schools.  As staff counsel, Kelli continued her work with BPI’s public housing and affordable housing programs for a year following her fellowship.

Kelli practices affordable housing law with Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen in Chicago.

2003: Jessica L. Webster

JD William Mitchell College of Law
MPP Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota
BA Purdue University

As a fellow, Jessica worked on BPI’s public education and affordable housing programs. She drafted a school information guide for public housing residents and participated in BPI’s state legislative efforts to address exclusionary zoning laws. Throughout her fellowship, Jessica met with municipal officials, state legislators, developers, residents and advocates to promote the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families. She authored the report “Success in Affordable Housing: The Metro Denver Experience.” After her fellowship, Jessica continued with BPI as a Senior Policy Analyst, working on the Regional Affordable Housing Initiative.

After her fellowship, Jessica remained on staff with BPI as a senior policy analyst.  She left BPI to attend law school, and is currently an attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid.

2002: Henry J. Ford, Jr.

JD/MA Syracuse University
BA Hampton University

Henry worked on a diverse range of issues in BPI’s public housing program. He conducted research in an effort to explore litigation to reform the Housing Choice Voucher program. Henry also organized both public housing residents and local organizations on the Near West Side of Chicago to address quality of life issues in their community.

Henry is an Assistant City Attorney with the City of Evanston.

2001: Beth Valukas

JD Northwestern University
BA Colorado College

Beth worked on a diverse range of public policy issues while focusing primarily on the development of strong, sustainable small schools in Chicago, which culminated in the publication of “Small Schools, Next Steps: Voices from the Field.” In conducting this research, she visited dozens of Chicago public schools and interviewed teachers, principals and other school personnel.

Beth is Executive Director of Search, Inc., a Chicago-based nonprofit that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

2000: Nicholas J. Brunick

JD/MA University of Texas
BA North Central College

Nick continued at BPI following his fellowship for three additional years, during which time he directed BPI’s Regional Affordable Housing Initiative. He led BPI’s efforts to help secure passage of the Illinois Affordable Housing Planning and Appeal Act and to provide technical assistance and legal support to municipalities seeking to enact inclusionary housing policies. While a fellow, Nick organized residents of the Henry Horner Homes and the surrounding West Haven neighborhood to form block clubs and neighborhood groups.

After his fellowship, Nick remained on staff at BPI for five years.  Today, Nick is a partner at Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen in Chicago, where he practices affordable housing law.  Nick also serves as President of BPI’s Board of Directors.

1999: Jennifer Salvatore

JD University of Michigan
BA Miami of Ohio

BPI’s first Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow, Jenny worked on BPI’s public education program, where she provided legal counsel to the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago (YWLCS), helped design and launch the Chicago Public Schools Design Competition, and conducted litigation-related research on inclusionary housing.

Jenny is a partner in the law firm of Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard & Walker, P.C. in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she focuses on gender discrimination and sexual harassment litigation.

Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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