Archive for October 25th, 2021

Welcome to our new staff!

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As we grow our work, we have also been growing our team! Welcome to our new staff members who have started work with us in the past three months – you can read more about them here: 

Kendra joined Legal Aid Justice Center in July 2021 from a Pooled Special Needs Trust where she worked in nonprofit trust administration. She earned her law degree from William & Mary Law School in 2020. During law school, Kendra served on staff for the Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice, served as Treasurer and Oliver Hill Committee Chair of the Black Law Students Association, and volunteered with Student Legal Services. She also participated in the PELE Special Education Advocacy Clinic, advocating for fair accommodations for students in the Williamsburg, VA area. She interned in legal services with the U.S Navy JAG Corps and the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps. Previously, Kendra worked as a Ski Instructor in Vail, Colorado and Lake Tahoe, California. She also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Occidental College.

Flor Lopez Trejo was born and raised in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated to the US after graduating college. She has worked for more than 10 years providing support to and advocating for immigrant communities. Flor haexperience with peer-to-peer trauma informed counseling services, advocacy work, and violence prevention and response. She is an experienced trainer and facilitatorFlor identifies as a pansexual woman. As an immigrant who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, her lived experiences have shaped her values and intersectional approach to social justice. Along her passion for immigrant rights work, she is also passionate about queer liberation, racial justice, transformative justice, and language justice. Flor is also a professional trained interpreter and translator with social justice lens. She was the recipient of the Diversity Richmond Hispanic Heritage Award: “Viva RVA!” for her outstanding contributions to the Latinx and LGBTQ+ communities. Flor came to LAJC after 4 years of doing volunteer work as an activist and grassroots community organizer in Richmond, VA focused to end collaborations of ICE and local authorities, and supporting communities impacted by, or at risk of deportation.

Anelva was born in Bolivia and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child with her mother. She have spent almost her whole life in the NOVA area in Virginia. She has always had a passion for helping her community because she firsthand experienced all the struggles the Latinx and immigrant community face. Since she was young, she helped her family navigate through the healthcare, education, immigration, and all the systems in this country. She pursed her higher education at George Mason University and studied International Relations, focusing on Immigration and Spanish Studies. She received her B.A in May of 2021 and became the first in my family to graduate college. While at George Mason, she was part of various organizations focused on helping the Latinx community and served in positions that allowed her to work with vulnerable students seeking higher education. She first joined LAJC as an intake intern in the summer of 2020 and later as a Rent Relief Assister.

Gustavo joined LAJC in Summer 2021 as a Rent Relief Assister/Community Educator. His parents are Venezuelan immigrants, and he has moved many times in his life. He is committed to justice on all fronts, with a focus on migrant advocacy and housing access. Prior to joining LAJC, he consulted for a research team based out of the University of Miami and the University of Texas at Austin on the growing Venezuelan community, and he wrote his honors thesis on these immigrants’ legal, economic, and housing needs. Gustavo received his bachelor’s degree in sociology and philosophy from William & Mary in May 2021. He also interned for Habitat for Humanity Asia-Pacific and co-founded a Habitat-affiliated student organization advocating for decent/affordable housing during his undergraduate career. Now, he is excited to be a part of the LAJC team and to help tenants secure the relief they need and deserve. 

Ray joined LAJC in 2021 as a Bilingual Rent Relief Assister and Eviction Prevention Attorney. Prior to LAJC, he worked for five years as a public defender in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. A graduate of UVA and UVA Law, Ray has lived in Charlottesville since 2000 and is proud of the work LAJC does to make Virginia a more welcoming place for everyone who lives here.

Cierra joined Legal Aid Justice Center as the Finance Manager in August 2021. Cierra brings over 8 years of Accounting/Finance experience from several industries, including telecommunications, healthcare, and manufacturing. Cierra completed her studies at Liberty University with a master’s degree in Management and Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, in 2017. Additionally, Cierra completed her associate’s degree in Business Management from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in 2007.

Anna Kurien worked for over a decade as a Public Defender at the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, Office of the Public Defender where she represented poor people charged with felonies in jury trials and appeals. While there, Anna used the participatory defense model to partner with her clients and their communities to shift the balance of power in the courtroom. A strong believer in the power of organizing and movement lawyering, Anna was a founding member of two grassroots organizations in Atlanta that advocated to reimagine public safety and build the power of communities impacted by our criminal punishment system. Anna is a proud graduate of and trainer with Gideon’s Promise and believes that we need to invest in strengthening public defense to combat the power of the police and prosecutors. Anna serves on the legal committee of the ACLU of Georgia and the Indigent Defense Committee of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Before attending law school at Emory University, Anna studied English and French at Wellesley College. Anna was born and brought up in India and is fluent in Malayalam and Hindi. Anna lives with her partner, her toddler, a small bad dog and in her free time tries to keep her indoor plants from perishing.

Moriah was a summer intern with the Legal Aid Justice Center during law school and joined the Legal Aid Justice Center full-time as a fellow in September of 2021. She focuses on housing and racial justice achieved through community lawyering in partnership with low-income and public housing coalitions. Before law school, she worked as a paralegal for the United States Department of Justice working on cases concerning corporate mortgage, securities, and financial fraud. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and a 2021 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where she was a Public Interest Law Scholar with concentrations in Poverty Law and Economic Justice as well as Law and Development.

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