Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute Announces 43 New Fellows

Now in its ninth year, groundbreaking program equips anti-poverty advocates with tools to advance racial equity

The Shriver Center on Poverty Law today announced 43 Fellows have been selected to take part in its 2022 Racial Justice Institute (RJI), a leadership program that brings together anti-poverty advocates from around the country to develop new tools to advance racial equity. This year’s RJI Fellows include a diverse group of public interest lawyers, legal aid attorneys, social workers, executive leaders, communications and policy professionals, and paralegals. They come from 11 organizations advancing justice in eight states.

Advocacy for lasting systemic change has never been more critical. Laws, policies, and institutions at the local, state, and federal levels are rife with racial biases that obstruct people from opportunity. Legal aid and public interest advocates are key to achieving important systemic changes in their client communities; however, sustainable change must be grounded in an understanding of key race equity concepts and specialized tools.

The Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute grounds advocates in a commitment to race equity as an integral and essential part of anti-poverty advocacy and prepares them to tackle these issues on behalf of the communities they serve. Following seven months of intensive training, Racial Justice Institute Fellows join a growing national network of more than 375 alumni advancing race equity issues across the country.

“In the face of our divisive political climate, advocates must take an explicit approach to eliminating racial disparities, dismantling barriers to opportunity, and strengthening communities of color,” said Kimberly Merchant, Director of the Racial Justice Institute and Network. “RJI will offer these Fellows a framework to contextualize structural racism, systems thinking, social cognition and implicit bias that they can use to confront and impact racial disparities in the communities they serve.”

The 2022 Fellows come to the Racial Justice Institute with experience in a wide range of advocacy areas, including second chance opportunities, civil rights, consumer protection, economic advancement, LGBTQI rights, immigrants’ rights, affordable housing/homelessness, and anti-human trafficking. Under the intensive seven-month RJI program that begins in April, the 2022 Fellows will be exposed to a core set of racial equity concepts that they can apply to the advocacy in which they are currently engaging.

“The diversity of  expertise and lived-experiences that this year’s Fellows bring to the program will enrich our discussions and model what race conscious leadership can be,” said Janerick Holmes, Associate Director of the Racial Justice Institute and Network. “Together, we have the potential to develop racially equitable solutions that we could not begin to imagine on our own.”

Entering its ninth year, the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute has cultivated more than 375  advocates, representing 116 organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Fellows emerge from the program ready to help shape policies that support a more racially just society and continue to work in concert as part of the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute Network.

The full list of the 2022 Racial Justice Institute Fellows:

Majda Abbas, Greater Boston Legal Services
Hannah Adams, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Jeffrey Aler, Public Counsel
Talya Bergeron, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Nell Brimmer, Legal Services Alabama
Lakethia Bryant, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Adela Carlin, Illinois Partners for Human Service
Karla Chalif, Public Counsel
Rita Cheresnowsky, Greater Boston Legal Services
Kristy Cho, Cast (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking)
Zach Cottle, Utah Legal Services
De’Von Douglass, Greater Boston Legal Services
Carly Faison, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Erika Gonzalez, Cast (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking)
Lauren Honigman, Greater Boston Legal Services
Krista Howard, Indiana Legal Services
Debora Hyemin Han, Greater Boston Legal Services
Ashlyn Jack, Utah Legal Services
Sheyda Joolharzadeh, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Adoley Jordan, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Amythist Kearney, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Noorzahan Khan, South Jersey Legal Services
Chauntel Lopez, Utah Legal Services
Jiamia McCoy, Indiana Legal Services
Nicholas McKinney, Legal Services Alabama
Amy Morgan, Utah Legal Services
Peter Morgan, Indiana Legal Services
Michelle Nicolet, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Carson Osberg, Cast (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Human Trafficking)
Brandon Payette, Public Counsel
Felecia Pettway, Legal Services Alabama
Lane Pickett, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Steven Reed, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
Megan Stuart, Indiana Legal Services
Tyler Sutherland, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles
Troy Torres, South Jersey Legal Services
Carrie Vereide, Public Counsel
Judith Verduzco, Public Counsel
LaTanya Wilson, Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Siwatu Wilson, South Jersey Legal Services
Fana Wray-Hopkins, South Jersey Legal Services
Lauren Wright, Illinois Partners for Human Service
Pui-Yee Yu, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles

The Shriver Center on Poverty Law fights for economic and racial justice. Over our 50-year history, we have secured hundreds of victories with and for people living in poverty in Illinois and across the country. Today, we litigate, shape policy, and train and convene multi-state networks of lawyers, community leaders, and activists nationwide. Together, we are building a future where all people have equal dignity, respect, and power under the law. Join the fight at 


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