Fundraising team for Student Organizations

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Our Team Story

Donate to help sponsor PILA's Summer 2021 Grants.

Thank you for joining us at our 28th Annual PILA Gala. Please consider participating in the online auction and supporting our fellows.

All funds will support our Fellows' summer public interest internships and launch their careers.


LIVE until Friday, April 30, 2021 at 11:59PM EST.

PILA Champions

Anonymous  |  Sue Bryant  |  Matthew J. Chachère, CUNY '86  |  Douglas Cox  |  Ali Najmi '09 | Joe Rosenberg

2021 PILA Honorees

Ali Najmi ’09 for helping to protect the right to vote and have our votes counted during a deadly pandemic.

Ali Najmi is a trial attorney specializing in election law, criminal defense and civil rights. In 2020, Mr. Najmi obtained a federal order against the New York State Board of Elections compelling them to count mail in ballots without a postmark, and obtained a national federal injunction against the United States Postal Service enjoining them from withholding overtime from employees before the election season and requiring them to achieve certain performance benchmarks in anticipation of the election. Mr. Najmi represents candidates for elected office assisting them with ballot access and compliance with the Election Law. He is a board member of the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens.

Parole Preparation Project for working to obtain the release of vulnerable incarcerated people serving life sentences in prisons made deadlier by the pandemic.

Since its founding, PPP has trained more than 350 volunteers to assist and collaborate with parole applicants in prison. Volunteers have worked with over 175 people to provide critical advocacy and direct support to currently and formerly incarcerated people serving life sentences. The deep connections that form between volunteers and people in prison are among the most meaningful aspects of PPP’s work, and with a release rate nearly double the state-wide average, it is clear that their efforts are working.
In addition to facilitating the release of over 120 incarcerated people, PPP has helped to lead the statewide movement for parole justice, successfully advocating for key reforms including revisions to parole policy, preventing the reappointment of unqualified Parole Commissioners, securing the appointments of new Commissioners who better reflect the identities and experiences of people in prison, and mobilizing the legal community to litigate on behalf of incarcerated people. 

Sanctuary for Families for adapting their Courtroom Advocacy Project, which trains law students to help survivors of domestic violence obtain restraining orders, into a virtual program.

Sanctuary for Families is New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. Every year, we empower thousands of adults and children to move from fear and abuse to safety and stability, transforming lives through a range of comprehensive services and advocacy.

The Courtroom Advocates Project (CAP) trains and mentors law students, summer associates, and associates not yet admitted to the bar to assist and advocate for pro se domestic violence victims seeking Orders of Protection in Family Court.

2021 PILA Program

2021 PILA Fellows

Lucia Cristina Caballero Guiu
Lucía is a Spanish-Venezuelan-Chilean immigrant who is passionate about criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration. She has spent time on policy advocacy centering issues of prisoners' rights, protecting immigrants, and combatting the over-policing of communities of color. She hopes to use her legal degree to continue advocating alongside those who the law has left behind.

Lisa Cho
Lisa is a recent graduate from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is currently a 1L interested in immigration and gender-based violence issues. Her passion for immigration issues comes from her own status as an undocumented immigrant, and her interest in gender-based violence stem from her work with her mentor, Dr. Jodie Roure. This summer, Lisa will be interning at the City Bar Justice Center with their Veterans Assistance Project.

Amanda Jimenez
Amanda is a second generation Filipino-American 2L, community organizer, and artist based in Queens, NY. She has two bachelor's in International Studies and Asian Studies, with minors in English, Women's Studies, and Legal Studies. She was a Skadden Honors Program Legal Scholar and a Davis-Putter Scholarship 2017-2018 Grantee. Amanda is the recipient of the Haywood Burns Public Interest Merit Scholarship. Currently, she is establishing a northeast network of legal professionals and organizations to provide legal assistance to migrant workers, especially trafficking victims.

Dawa Lhamo
Dawa is a first-generation immigrant and a current 1L at CUNY Law School. She has volunteered for Adhikaar, a New York-based nonprofit organizing the Nepali-speaking community to promote human rights and social justice for all. Prior to law school, she worked as a paralegal for Goldberger Law Firm, P.C., assisting attorneys in cases involving immigration law, matrimonial law, bankruptcy law and real estate law. Dawa received her B.A. in Humanities and Justice Studies from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Fatima Mohammed
Fatima is a first generation immigrant from Yemen. She is a proud daughter, a sister, a poet and a life long student striving to fight for a more just, equitable world through the active dismantling of systems designed to profit off of the exploitation of the most vulnerable.

Matt Propper
Matt is a first-year student at CUNY Law, where he is an active member of the Formerly Incarcerated Law Student Advocacy Association and a 2021 Mississippi Project delegate. Matt looks forward to planning and executing a memorable virtual gala and raising funds that will enable him to intern with the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project this summer, where he will contribute to the Project’s mission of ensuring that those facing a possible death sentence have zealous legal counsel.

Colby Williams
Colby plans to spend his 2L summer with Legal Aid's Homicide Defense Task Force. In previous internships, he worked with Phillips Black writing appeals for people on death row and with the Center for Appellate Litigation's SORA Team. Colby is a chairperson for the Formerly Incarcerated Law Students Advocacy Association, which tries to help open the legal field to those most impacted by the criminal justice system. He also works as a Staff Editor on CUNY Law Review, competed in CUNY's Summer Moot Court Competition, and volunteers both with the Parole Preparation Project and with Unlock the Bar.

2021 PILA Board

Rashika Rakibullah, President
Sonja Kent, Vice President
Dylan Baca
Isa Cajulis
Liora Cohen-Fraade
Caitriona Fox
Paulina Leyva Hernandez
Genevieve Marcy
Fatima Youssef

Mission: Public Interest Law Association (PILA) is a student-directed organization that helps CUNY Law students begin their careers in social justice & public interest legal work by raising funds to support students working unpaid summer internships. All proceeds from the 2021 Gala and Auction will go directly to our Fellows to help pay for their summer living expenses.

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