For ten years, If/When/How’s Reproductive Justice Fellowship Program (RJFP) has fueled a growing and powerful group of new legal advocates who are part of a one-of-a-kind legal fellowship for law school graduates who want to change the face of RJ lawyering. To date, the RJFP has launched the careers of 74 lawyers who have a passion for reproductive rights and justice, placing them at both local and national nonprofits from coast to coast.
Today, If/When/How is proud to announce the RJFP’s tenth cohort, and to introduce the world to these powerful advocates who are lawyering for reproductive justice. If/When/How Fellows in the RJ Federal program spend a year with a window on Washington, D.C., and our RJ State and RJ-HIV program Fellows help build power for the movement at placement organizations in Tennessee, Georgia, and California that are working at the intersection of myriad issues to promote reproductive justice for all people.
In an era of political turmoil, when reproductive rights, health, and justice are under attack like never before, it’s more important than ever to ensure that those who are most affected by reproductive oppression are leading the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. But under-representation has long been a problem in the legal community, often by design. Among U.S. law students admitted in 2017, nearly 69 percent were white. Women make up just over half of that class. However, gender parity disappears and racial disparities increase when we look at who’s actually practicing law: 65 percent of lawyers are men, and 85 percent are white. Just 7.5 percent of lawyers employed by firms in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers are women of color, and 2.64 percent are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks.
In contrast: About 65 percent of If/When/How’s ten Fellow cohorts identify as people of color, and 40 percent identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer folks. That’s not an accident. The RJFP values lived experiences and actively selects for candidates who come from communities disproportionately impacted by reproductive oppression.
We know that reproductive justice doesn’t just happen; from courtrooms to the Capitol, Fellows are an integral part of If/When/How’s mission to change the face of RJ lawyering. From authoring an amicus brief in the landmark contraceptive access case Zubik v. Burwell, to presenting at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, to writing and passing a Brownsville, Texas city resolution denouncing the construction of a border wall, our fellows have done incredible work helping build a world in which reproductive freedom is closer to becoming a reality for all of us.
Please join us in congratulating the seven new RJ Fellows and returning second-year RJ-HIV Fellow, and the placement organizations selected to participate in the 2019-20 cohort.
Lucie Arvallo (St. Mary’s University School of Law ’19, she/her) – RJ Federal Fellow at National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Washington, D.C.
Israel Cook (American University Washington College of Law ‘19, she/her) – RJ State Fellow at SisterReach, Memphis, TN
De’Andrea Byrd (Southern University Law Center ‘19, she/her) – RJ State Fellow at Women Engaged, Atlanta, GA
Kelly Flannery (New York University School of Law ’17, she/her) – Second Year RJ-HIV Fellow at Positive Women’s Network – USA, Oakland, CA
Kimya Forouzan (Temple University Beasley School of Law ‘18, she/her) – RJ Federal Fellow at National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Washington, DC
Jacqueline Tosto (Boston University School of Law ‘19, she/her) – RJ-HIV Fellow at SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, GA
Jennifer Mahan (University of Baltimore ‘19, she/her) – RJ State Fellow at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!, Atlanta, GA
Nina Gurak (Drexel University Kline School of Law ‘19, she/her) – RJ State Fellow at Healthy and Free Tennessee, Nashville, TN
To help us lift up these Fellows, follow us on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram, and on our blog. If you can, donate a few bucks — honestly, $5 or $10 means a lot to us — and tell your friends and family why you think it’s so important to support the reproductive justice movement by demanding a more diverse, more representative legal field.
We could not do this work without the generous funding from our foundation partners, the continued collaboration with the Women and the Law Program at American University Washington College of Law, the unflagging support from our allies and community, and the energy and enthusiasm from our student and legal professional members. Thank you!