Welcome Our New Staff!
In the past few months we have been joined by a number of fantastic new staff members! Meet the staff who have started with us since December 2022:
Elsie Delva (she/her) joined the LAJC in January 2023 as the Office Manager and Paralegal for the Richmond and Petersburg offices. Elsie is Haitian-American and originally from Miami, Fl (“Little Haiti”/Liberty City area). She has lived in the Northern Neck of Virginia for 12 years. Elsie has earned a B.S. in Criminology from Florida State University, a B.S. in Psychology from Florida State University, and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Florida International University. She is working on her Ph.D. dissertation, which addresses some aspects of bail reform related to indigent groups. Elsie brings over 16 years of experience in several areas, including management, victim advocacy, diversity, equity, and belonging. Elsie is excited and passionate about the mission of the LAJC and embraces all “troublemakers” for positive change. Outside work, Elsie is the mother of a 20-year-old son, a 10-year-old son, twin 9-year-old daughters & 2-year Soleil (Pitbull mix whose name means sunshine/sun in Haitian Kreyol; however, her personality is far from sunny). Elsie enjoys all things Purple, Fall, Food & Festive!
Alina’s relationship with LAJC began as a volunteer in 2017 working on projects for the immigrant community in the Richmond area. From 2018 – 2022 Alina worked as a community immigration attorney in cooperation with the Sacred Heart Center of Richmond. Her community work included the representation of two Virginia women in sanctuary. In 2023 Alina joined the Immigrant Advocacy Program at LAJC as a Senior Supervising Attorney. Prior to her immigration advocacy, Alina spent nearly a decade as a public defender working on juvenile cases, high felonies, and appeals. Alina is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and holds a B.F.A. from Theatre VCU.
Alex comes to LAJC from Young People for Progress, an organizing group where as vice president he leads the Policy & Campaigns team, focusing on reducing the role of police in society. During his earlier work at The Bronx Defenders, Alex assisted hundreds of clients in securing benefits, shelter, and seized property; he also directed the police misconduct clinic and lobbied the state legislature for greater police accountability. Prior to that, he was part of Congresswoman Donna Edwards’ office, where he worked on proposals to abolish the federal death penalty and restrict access to firearms, among other issues. His volunteer work includes mediating small claims cases and previously teaching a political advocacy program for high schoolers. Alex earned his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Coexistence from Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
Laura joined LAJC in January 2023 as a Legal Assistant for the Charlottesville office. She is a new resident of the Charlottesville area and loves how engaged and passionate the local community is. She studied International Relations with a focus on Global Health and Environmental Sustainability and has worked in customer service areas of property and facilities management. Outside of work, she loves to dance, bake, explore the town with her husband, and play with their dog Coco. Laura is dedicated to supporting the mission and people of LAJC and the communities we serve.
Abbey Philips is a macro Social Worker by training and began her public policy career with the goal of centering equity and creating systemic change while eliminating racism, discrimination, and barriers to economic mobility. She has extensive experience working in the Virginia General Assembly, from running special projects in the Governor’s office as Assistant Secretary of the Commonwealth to serving as Chief of Staff for a state Delegate and Senator. Abbey also has experience working in the nonprofit sector. Abbey is committed to empowering and uplifting marginalized communities in the policy arena and is excited to bring her experience to LAJC. She has seen first hand how power, money, and stature can provide access and influence in the government and policy-making arena and how this influence and its corresponding outcomes can often be in direct contrast to what marginalized communities want and need. She is a co-founder and board member of a philanthropic giving circle, Collective 365, a Henrico County Court Appointed Special Advocate for 14 years, and serves on the Virginia Criminal Justice Service Board. Abbey loves to read, run, and be in nature. One of her favorite authors is Octavia Butler who wrote “all that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you.” Abbey lives in Richmond, Virginia with her child, spouse, cat and a handful of fish.
Akiva joined LAJC’s Civil Rights and Racial Justice program in 2023. Before that, he worked from 2018 to 2023 at the Georgia Resource Center in Atlanta, where he represented people who had been sentenced to death and whose trials had been infected by racism, ineffective assistance of legal counsel, and other constitutional violations. Akiva started his legal career as a Skadden Fellow at the Southern Center for Human Rights, where he worked to reverse how Georgia criminalizes poverty when courts jail people who cannot afford to pay money bail and sentence people to probation under the supervision of predatory for-profit companies. Akiva is a graduate of Hampshire College and Stanford Law School.
Philip is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. He has a Master, Bachelor, and Diploma in Accounting and Finance from the University of Sierra in 2016, 2007, and 2005, respectively. He has worked in telecommunication, banking industry, water utility, construction, waste industry, and now a Non-Profit and has over 10 years of experience in the accounting field. He is glad to be part of the Legal Aid Justice Center and will use his expertise to meet the organization’s aims and objectives.
Prior to joining the LAJC, Lauren worked as a Case Counseling Attorney at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless in Washington, D.C. In this role, she supervised pro bono attorneys taking on a wide variety of housing matters, while maintaining her own personal caseload. Prior to joining the Legal Clinic, Lauren served as the Housing Initiative Attorney at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, overseeing the Housing Right to Counsel Project and supervising the Landlord Tenant Resource Center. She also worked as an attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, where she specialized in housing law, specifically eviction defense and subsidy termination cases.
Lauren holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida, and a J.D. from The George Washington University School of Law. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis with her husband and snuggling her two cats.