Public Interest Leadership Board

The Public Interest Leadership Board (PILB) provides an opportunity for dedicated students to play a key role in fostering the public interest mission at the School of Law. It is a student-run leadership board comprised of a dynamic group of Miami Law students dedicated to public service, including, but not limited to, HOPE Summer Fellows, project leaders and Miami Scholars. Applications for new members are accepted each Spring.

PILB members design and implement a wide variety of public interest programs and serve in an advisory role for HOPE. Committees include Advocacy, Mentoring/Alumni Development, and Fundraising.

PILB's Public Interest Network (PIN) pairs 1Ls interested in exploring public service, pro bono, or a career in public interest with a 2L or 3L who has already forged a public interest path. This program enables 1Ls to have a peer mentor who will assist them in navigating their way through law school from early in the first semester. It also helps to build a public interest community among all participants.

 

2021-2022 PILB Members

Kate Ruston-Co-Chair (Class of 2023) graduated with honors from Claremont McKenna College in California in May 2016 with a B.A. in Middle East Studies. She received the Kravis Leadership Institute and Community Service Internship Awards and founded Project Nur, a social justice initiative advocating acceptance and mutual respect between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. She spent her junior year studying abroad in Amman, Jordan, where she worked with the Danish Refugee Council and the Collateral Repair Project. During the summer of 2014, Kate served as an intern with Development Transformations in Washington, DC, supporting USAID programs in Yemen and Afghanistan. The next summer, she returned to Washington as a Food Security Policy & Global Health Policy Intern with Save the Children. Following graduation, she moved to Cairo, Egypt, first working as a development officer for aid programs in Zambia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Mozambique, and then teaching at the British International Modern School there. From 2017-2019, Kate served as Head of Global Perspectives for the Egypt British International School. She most recently served as a Volunteer Legal Advisor for St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo, assisting clients throughout the resettlement process. She has engaged in many community service efforts, including with Mercy Corps in Jordan, Share a Smile in Egypt, and the Interfaith Hospitality Network which services the homeless in Athens, Georgia. During her 1L summer at Miami Law, Kate served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Lisette M. Reid in the Southern District of Florida and the Honorable Adalberto Jordan in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. As a 2L, she is serving as president of the Human Rights Society and co-chair of the Public Interest Leadership Board, and is volunteering with the Guardian ad Litem program. Kate is a Miami Public Interest Scholar. 

Abigail Young-Co-Chair (Class of 2023) graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017 with a B.A. in International Studies, Political Science, and Latin American & Iberian Studies and a certificate in African Studies. She worked as a Communication and Translation Intern for the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, served as a State Senate Intern for Wisconsin Senator Mark Miller, worked as a research assistant for UW-Madison’s Department of Political Science, and studied abroad in Toledo and Barcelona, Spain. While in Toledo, Abigail worked at the provincial courts of Castilla La Mancha. During her semester in Barcelona, she worked in the International Department at the Barcelona Bar Association and was selected to participate in a European Union Activism Seminar in Brussels, Belgium. Abigail worked as a Congressional Intern for Rep, Keith Ellison in the US House of Representatives, where she produced memos detailing briefings, press statements, and testimony resources. She also served as a Public Partnership Intern for UNICEF, where she reported on events, news and hearings relevant to UNICEF’s mission, and assisted in research and programming. During the two years prior to law school, Abigail worked for Family Health International (FHI 360) as a Business Development Officer, where she managed the proposal development process for globally-implemented projects, leading partnering efforts with technical experts to deliver successful bids to clients. During her 1L summer at Miami Law, Abigail worked as Summer Counsel in the housing practice of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and continued her position as a research assistant to Professor Alfieri. As a 2L, she is participating in the Innocence Clinic and serving as co-chair of the Public Interest Leadership Board, vice president for ACLU-UM, and secretary of the Criminal Law Society. Abigail is a Miami Public Interest Scholar. 

Bailey Beauchamp (Class of 2023) graduated from Florida State University in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. At FSU, she was active in Chi Omega Sorority and Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity. She volunteered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Tallahassee-area food insecurity organizations. She also interned with Florida Representative Neal Dunn and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. At Miami Law, Bailey is the co-chair of PILB’s Public Interest Network (PIN), vice president of Miami Law Women, and a member of the Society of Bar and Gavel and the Human Rights Society. As a 1L, Bailey participated in an Alternative Winter Break project with Southern Legal Counsel, conducting research to support passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. During her 1L summer, she interned with Dabdoub Law Firm, a firm specializing in long-term disability insurance claims and appeals.

Jenna Jurado (Class of 2022) graduated from Baylor University in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology. While completing her undergraduate degree, she served as a certified Crisis Intervention Advocate at the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children. Her research in child psychiatry, trauma, and evidence-based therapy informed her thesis entitled Overmedication of America’s Youth: The Longterm Neurological Effects Psychotropic Drugs on Children. She also engaged in a weekly mentorship program that provided support to at-risk children and youth, and participated in humanitarian and anti-human trafficking efforts in Mongolia, Panama, and Haiti. Prior to law school, she worked in the aerospace engineering field, performing system software design changes for commercial engine variants, and raised funds for First Care Women’s Clinic through the Johanna Jurado Memorial Fund. At Miami Law, she serves on the executive board of Alliance Against Human Trafficking and Christian Legal Society, holds a leadership position in Book and Buddies and Miami Law UNetworking, and serves on the Public Interest Leadership Board. She was the recipient of the HOPE Outstanding 1L Award for her community service efforts and participated in pro bono work with the EEOC and Lawyers for Children America. As a 2L, she is taking part in the Children and Youth Law Clinic. During the summer of 2020, Jenna served as a HOPE Fellow at the National Association of Counsel for Children.

Joubin Khazaie (Class of 2022) earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine in 2017. Before law school, he spent two years working in campaign finance and digital fundraising at ActBlue based in Boston. At Miami Law, Joubin serves as vice president of the National Lawyers Guild–Miami Law Chapter, president of the South/West & North African Law Students Association and is participating in the Children and Youth Law Clinic. Joubin has interned with the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender, the Miami-Dade County Public Defender, and spent his 2L summer in New York City as an Ella Baker Intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Hannah Lamberg (Class of 2023) graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in English, and a B.S. in Psychology, both with cum laude distinction. While at the University of Florida, she was a U Matter We Care Ambassador in the Dean of Students’ Office, conducting crisis intervention presentations and promoting mental health and diversity inclusion. She also presented scholarship in two Undergraduate English Conferences, and served on the executive board of the English Society. She was also involved in Relay for Life. Prior to law school, she worked as a Student Brand Ambassador for Macmillan Learning, a Customer Service Ambassador for Aramark, and a Temporary Copywriter Associate for Spencer’s and Spirit Halloween. At Miami Law, she received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in International Law. She is also a Junior Editor and Member Candidate for the University of Miami Race and Social Justice Law Review. During the summer of 2021, she worked as a legal intern with LegalARTLink/Locust Projects and Disability Independence Group, Inc. She is currently a Law Student Ambassador, Historian for the Disabled Law Students Association, Head Barbri Law Student Representative, and the Co-Student Liaison Chair for the Public Interest Leadership Board.

Stevi Jo Leavitt (Class of 2023) graduated cum laude from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, in 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science with a concentration in Criminal Law. She graduated with Portfolio Honors and Distinction, Psychology Honors, and received the Prize for the Best Student Concentrating in Criminal Law. Following graduation, Stevi started a business providing behavioral services to special needs children in San Jose, CA. As a 1L at Miami Law, Stevi volunteered with the Fines & Fees Justice Center, working to eliminate fines and fees in the criminal justice system that distort justice; the Miami Alliance Against Human Trafficking Student Organization, working to identify and secure pro bono partnerships and provide legal services to human trafficking survivors; and the Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, & Health Laboratory, analyzing environmental justice bills to establish state-level environmental justice legislation. Stevi is vice president of the Miami Alliance Against Human Trafficking, treasurer of the Insightful Mind Initiative, and a member of the Public Interest Leadership Board and the Society of Bar & Gavel. During the summer of 2021, Stevi served as a HOPE Fellow with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Intergovernmental Affairs Policy Team in Washington DC, where she reviewed, implemented, and responded to inquiries relating to HHS initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act, COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, and Unaccompanied Minors at the US/Mexico Border.

Megan Norris (Class of 2023) graduated from Emory University in 2018 with a B.A. in Political Science and Psychology. She served as an intern with the American Red Cross, Gunster & Yoakley, LLP, and the Law Office of Judy Kim. Following graduation, she worked as a paralegal at Fragomen Worldwide, a national corporate immigration firm. During her two years at Fragomen, Megan assisted attorneys with drafting and submitting non-immigrant and permanent visa applications for foreign nationals. At Miami Law, Megan is vice president of the Human Rights Society, on the executive board of the Public Interest Leadership Board, vice-chair of UNetworking, and a member of Miami Law Women, the Technology Law Society, and Entertainment and Sports Law Society. As a 2L, she is participating in the Human Rights Clinic. During the summer of 2021, Megan served as a HOPE Summer Public Interest Fellow with Catholic Legal Services, a non-profit agency providing immigration-related legal services to low-income clients.

Lauren O’Neil (Class of 2023) graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia Honors Program in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance & International Business. She was selected to participate in several fellows and scholars programs based on her leadership and academic skills. She received a research assistantship for her work with the UGA Department of Finance pertaining to antitrust law. During her final year in college, Lauren worked with the Business Law Clinic at the University of Georgia School of Law, assisting a group of 3Ls with drafting memos and performing research for local entrepreneurs. She founded the student organization Women in Law, was the President of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, studied abroad in Spain, and served as a volunteer tutor for Spanish-speaking high school students. During the summer of 2018, Lauren was an undergraduate intern with the US Attorney’s Office in Savannah. She performed legal research, prepared motion responses, and organized discovery for 64 ongoing cases. She also took part in the introduction of the DOJ Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative. During the summer of 2019, she completed an undergraduate judicial internship. As a 1L at Miami Law, Lauren served as a Guardian ad Litem volunteer and a member of the Public Interest Leadership Board (PILB). During her 1L summer, she worked as an intern at the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. As a 2L, Lauren is participating in the Innocence Clinic, continuing with PILB, and serving on the executive boards for the Society of Bar & Gavel and Miami Law Women. Lauren is a Miami Public Interest Scholar. 

Jessica Palma (Class of 2023) graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 2020 with a B.A. in Criminology and Philosophy. As an undergrad, Jessica worked as a restaurant manager, mentor and tutor, and a research assistant on several projects regarding crime and criminal justice. She was also on the executive board of UM’s Criminology Club and a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, Criminal Justice Honor Society. As a 1L at Miami Law, Jessica joined the Public Interest Leadership Board and was elected social advocacy co-chair of Miami Law’s Cannabis Law League. She also interned with a private criminal defense firm, focusing on pretrial motions and general trial advocacy respectively. During the summer of 2021, Jessica served as a HOPE Summer Public Interest Fellow with the Office of the Miami-Dade Public Defender.

David Petrantoni (Class of 2022) graduated from Florida State University in May 2013 with a B.S. in Political Science & Greco-Roman Classics, followed by an M.S. in Applied American Politics & Public Policy in May 2015. He worked as a legal intern with the Innocence Project, where he managed case reviews and forensic evidence in order to exonerate the wrongly accused. After completing his graduate degree, David served as a Military Veteran Service Specialist for AmeriCorps VISTA, working to improve services to veterans in Miami-Dade. He also crafted a development plan for the creation of Veteran Outreach Centers on each of Miami-Dade College’s eight campuses. David has worked as a community organizer and regional director for a variety of initiatives including ending cash bail, immigrant and refugee advocacy and the protection of minority voting rights. As a 1L at Miami Law, David participated in the Wage Theft Advocacy Project and took part in the Florida Bar Foundation Law School Pro Bono Challenge. During his 1L summer, he interned with the ACLU and participated in the Systemic Lawyering Corps COVID-19 Rapid Response Program. As a 2L, David volunteered with the Promise of Justice Initiative and the Dade Correctional Institution legal writing program, worked as a research assistant, and interned with the ACLU. He also took part in the Innocence Clinic, served as a Liaison Co-Chair for the Public Interest Leadership Board and was elected as the Submissions Editor for the Race and Social Justice Law Review. During his 2L summer, David interned with the Federal Public Defender’s Capital Habeas Unit in Tampa. David is a Miami Public Interest Scholar. 

Alexis Schad (Class of 2022) graduated from the University of North Florida in December 2017 with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Spanish and Economics. There, she helped start an offshoot of One Love, a domestic violence education organization, educating over 300 university students on the signs of relationship violence. After graduation, from 2017-2018, Alexis worked for the appellate firm Creed & Gowdy, assisting with criminal and civil appeals. As a 1L, she served as a summer clinician for the Human Rights Clinic, where she researched South Florida’s domestic violence response during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Clinic’s C.O.U.R.A.G.E program. During her 2L year, Alexis interned with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Southern District of Florida, assisting in appellate matters.

Laura B. Silva (Class of 2022) graduated from Florida International University in 2019 with a B.B.A in International Business and a Certificate in Public Policy Studies. During her 1L summer at Miami Law, Laura served as a HOPE Fellow with Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, based in Washington, DC, where she drafted motions for detained, unaccompanied children affected by the Migrant Protection Protocols. Her work centered on asylum and special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) claims for juveniles escaping Northern Triangle gang persecution. As a 2L, she interned with the Florida Justice Institute, challenging excessive solitary confinement and denial of medical treatment in the Florida Prison system. She also worked with the Center for Constitutional Rights, researching and drafting sections of an immigration report highlighting the pervasive nature of confinement to better inform policymakers, advocates, and judges on the excessive use of immigration detention. As a National Policy Research Assistant to the ABA's Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice (COREJ), Laura conducted legislative research, identifying, and analyzing bills introduced nationwide that would affect the school to prison pipeline. As a Death Penalty Practicum Intern, she researched the status of death penalty cases in the State of Florida available for resentencing post-Hurst. As a 3L, she is participating in the Human Rights Clinic. During the summer of 2021, Laura served as a Squire Patton Boggs Foundation Fellow with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's Criminal Justice Project. Her work focused on the criminalization of poverty that results in a cycle of incarceration, disproportionally affecting persons of color, and police use of force.

Chase Tavernier

Ashley Vazquez (Class of 2022) graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California in May 2018 with a B.A. in Print and Digital Journalism and a minor in International Relations. She worked as a freelance journalist, writing about immigration, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ issues, homelessness, and religion. She interned for Rep. James Himes of Connecticut and Rep. Karen Bass of California and worked with the School of Public Policy to document California’s pollution cleanup efforts. Ashley also worked with the Inner City Law Center’s HIV/AIDS and Homeless Veterans Projects in Los Angeles. She then served as an executive assistant for a STEM Preparatory School. Following graduation, Ashley worked with the Sea Change Leadership PAC. As a 1L at Miami Law, Ashley volunteered with the ACLU, where she processed intake, including letters from prisoners seeking legal assistance. During her 1L summer, she served as an intern with the Everglades Law Center in Miami. As a 2L, she interned in the Environmental Justice Clinic and founded a new student organization called the Environmental Justice Network, expanding opportunities for law students to work hand-in-hand with students in other disciplines to address the critical needs of communities subject to environmental racism. She also served as a mentor for the PIN Pal Program and the First Generation Law Students Association and volunteered with Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Fines and Fees Project. During her 2L summer, she served as a HOPE Fellow/Honors Intern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel in the Civil Rights and Finance Law Office. During her 3L year, she is serving as president of the Environmental Justice Network, social media chair for the South/West Asian and North African Law Students Association, a member of the Public Interest Leadership Board, and a fellow in the Environmental Justice Clinic. Ashley is a Miami Public Interest Scholar.