We are pleased to introduce our Legal Fellows, as part of the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Legal Fellowship Program. Fellows receive extensive training, mentorship, resources, and support from our Center as they grow law practices focused on meeting the legal needs of local sustainable economies. As part of an ongoing commitment after the first year of the fellowship, Fellows agree to provide mentorship, training, and support to newer fellows who join the Center's community.
Fellows Since 2018
Supporting community-led affordable housing and social enterprise projects in the mountains of Western North Carolina
Justin Edge directs the Community Economic Development Program at Pisgah Legal Services in Asheville, North Carolina, providing transactional legal services and advocacy for projects designed to support sustainable economic opportunity in low-income communities. The program’s main objective is to create and preserve affordable housing and living wage jobs through providing technical assistance and education to nonprofits, cooperatives, and social enterprises working on community revitalization.
Justin is a graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (MPA) and Maurer School of Law. His previous experience before coming to Pisgah Legal Services includes local government and nonprofit sector law and policy, including economic development, housing, and development finance matters, having worked in Chicago, southern Indiana, and most recently Hickory, North Carolina. For seven years before coming to work in community development, he was a riverboat captain on the Mississippi River and a construction worker in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Supportingand promoting sustainable economic development,communities, protecting legal rights of private employers and employees, workers-owned enterprises for a Solidarity Economy.
Loira Acosta has a Bachelor’s Degree in Labor Relations from the University of Puerto Rico (Magna Cum Laude, 1999). During those years, she was appointed Vice-President of the University of Puerto Rico Athletes’ Association. She also has a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law (Cum Laude, 2003). As a labor and employment attorney, Loira has worked with labor organizations, universities, public agencies, employers and employees. As part of her working experience, Loira has been Director of Labor Relations and also a Hearing Officer for the Puerto Rico Treasury Department. She has been part of the legal team for the Puerto Rico Volleyball Federation and the Puerto Rico Track and Field Federation. Since 2008, Loira has been a solo attorney and also founded a Human Resources company. Loira further served in the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rico Institute for People with Disabilities.
Loira is passionate about community service and as such, she became member of the non-profit organization Voz Activa. Loira offers legal counseling to communities as member of Voz Activa. Ricardo Diaz and Loira will become partners in Grupo Legal Acosta & Diaz, L3C (GLAD PR LAW), the first sustainable economies law firm in Puerto Rico to continue offering services in economic development, nonprofit sector law, organization of small and medium businesses especially to Puerto Rico residents in their recovery from the Hurricanes Irma and Maria disasters.
Cultivating the social field in Puerto Rico, promoting community and workers owned enterprises for a Solidarity Economy.
With a B.S. in Political Sciences (Magna Cum Laude) and a law degree both from the University of Puerto Rico, he was involved in the university students’ movement, being President of the Student Council for the University of Puerto Rico’s School of Law. He worked as legislative assistant with Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) legislator, David Noriega, at Puerto Rico state legislature. Ricardo has developed a private law practice specializing in transactional law, corporate law and construction law. He is knowledgeable on participatory legal structures, offering advice to both for profit and non profit organizations. He has served as Special Counsel for three chancellors of the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao and has taught commercial law at university level. At his classes, and on presentations and seminars, he promotes Solidarity Economy and its values and principles.
During his 25-year career, he has served as board member and legal counsel for non profits and as member of the Dioceses of Caguas’ Catholic Church Social Justice Committee. He is a founding member of the nonprofits CREARTE (a 16 y/o nonprofit serving children and youngsters through art, sports and education) and the Society for the Solidarity Economy (which has hosted seminars and workshops in Puerto Rico with theorists of the Solidarity Economy as Pablo Guerra, Luis Razeto and José M. Saiz Alvarez). He attended the Foundational Program offered by the Presencing Institute to deepen his knowledge and practice of Theory U. In addition to being vice-president of the nonprofit Voz Activa, he is a member of the agroecological collective Güakiá, Colectivo Agroecológico (an L3C).
Fellows Since 2017
Elliot H. Bridgewater
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Elliot is proud to have founded Bridgewater Law in the Fall of 2017 to support the cooperative community, small business and social entrepreneurs in Calgary, Edmonton, and throughout Alberta. Bridgewater Law derives its mission from the belief that the global economy is fundamentally changing and that more democratic, and sustainable, economic solutions are possible and necessary.
Elliot is passionate about supporting sustainable local businesses and providing timely and expert legal advice to cooperatives, small businesses, non-profits, and charities throughout Alberta. Elliot is a supporter of the cooperative community and commits his time to educating, and developing cooperative businesses in western Canada. He is also active in the outdoors community and commits time each year to teaching youth how to be active and engaged citizens through outdoor pursuits and wilderness challenges.
Fellows Since 2016
Providing technical assistance, knowledge of laws, and tools for community empowerment
Josephine Foo is project director and board member, ex-officio of Indian Country Grassroots Support. She served as attorney in the Navajo Nation Supreme Court, Office of the Chief Justice from August 2006 - November 2014. Josey was responsible for setting up the Judicial Branch grants program and the websites of the court system. She is project attorney for the Small Trust Land User Research and Assistance Project. From 2000-2006, she was Staff Attorney with DNA People's Legal Services in their Tuba City, Shiprock and Farmington offices, ending as Managing Attorney in Farmington. From 1990-1994, she was an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York. An immigrant and at one time an undocumented alien, she is also a carpenter, artist and poet. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Brown University (MFA) and Vassar College.
Helping build community in Cincinnati through equitable commercial business structures.
Pat Feghali is an attorney living and working in beautiful Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a solo law practice that works mostly with small businesses on contracts and business formation, though she also takes cases in other types of law, including estate planning. Pat formerly worked at the Ohio Justice and Policy center, and holds a masters degree in urban planning. In an ideal world she would spend her days bringing more worker-owned and member-owned cooperatives to life in Cincinnati (which is why she is super excited to be a Fellow!) and riding bikes. In her spare time Pat likes to play in rock bands, tour buildings in various stages of disrepair/abandonment, plan community events, and watch Game of Thrones.
Kelsey Jae Nunez
Supporting sustainable economic development in Idaho with a compassionate focus on law and policy, community building, and education
Since college at the University of Idaho, Kelsey has been committed to social entrepreneurship, environmental stewardship, and civic engagement. She earned her JD cum laude and Master of Public Policy from Pepperdine University in 2007 and then moved to the beautiful Boise, Idaho. Her career has taken many interesting turns, starting with big law and moving towards event planning and nonprofit management. In January 2016, she launched her solo practice. Kelsey Jae Nunez LLC is a boutique practice supporting social enterprise, cooperative culture and the sharing economy. Living in an incredible community of people who share a vision for a loving and resilient economy, Kelsey feels a strong call to serve and use her legal skills to help people create meaningful livelihoods. Relationship building and making connections motivate Kelsey, and she's incredibly grateful to be a part of Sustainable Economies Law Center's professional network.
Fellows Since 2015
Promoting Cooperative Initiatives Through Community Transactional Lawyering and Community Planning in New Jersey and New York
Elizabeth is the Founding Executive Director of the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center (UCELC), a grassroots nonprofit with a mission to create and support cooperative enterprises within low and moderate income communities in order to promote local sustainability. She is also the Principal Attorney for The Law Office of Elizabeth L. Carter, a community development law firm representing investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, nonprofits, artists, and other creatives in business, real estate, and entertainment-related transactions. Prior, Elizabeth was the Assistant Legislative Director & Special Counsel for the City of Newark's Department of Economic and Housing Development where she assisted in policy development and strategy; reviewed, drafted and facilitated redevelopment contracts, leases, grant agreements and corresponding legislation in the areas of municipal land use, redevelopment, and planning and zoning. Most notably, she was instrumental in the drafting and passage of the city's amended tax abatement ordinance (Oct., 2017), a progressive policy designed to assist sustainable development through tax benefits, including cooperative development; and the creation and management of the city-sponsored housing cooperative for low and moderate income artists. Lastly, Elizabeth is a Legal Fellow of the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Fellowship Program where she receives support for her role as Founding Executive Director of UCELC.
Studying and tackling Subchapter T in order to provide legal services for community-based economies in Boston
Lydia Edwards is a city councilor in Boston Massachusetts. Prior to her political career, Lydia worked served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Housing Stability working to prevent displacement in Boston.
Lydia also worked as a legal services attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services representing domestic workers and labor trafficking.She is graduate of American University Washington College of law and has and ha a Taxation LLM from Boston University.
Providing full-service legal assistance to social enterprises and small businesses in NYC
Sam Gray is a transactional attorney based in New York City and an Associate at The Law Offices of Aaron H. Pierce. His practice focuses on providing full-service legal assistance to social enterprises, small businesses, and worker cooperatives, from their initial formation to the diverse contractual, employment, and tax matters that arise along the way. Sam is a pro-bono partner at the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project and a founding member of the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative, a democratically run organization dedicated to supporting community owned businesses in NYC’s challenging commercial market.
Sam received his law degree from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where he served as an Associate Editor on the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender. He is a member of the state bars of New York and New Jersey. Prior to entering private practice as a transactional attorney, Sam worked with outside counsel to the New York City Transit Authority and served in the General Counsel's office at the Urban Resource Institute, a not for profit providing legal advocacy, housing, and other support for NYC’s most vulnerable populations.
Structuring transactions that value people and the environment in Southern California
Chris Cohen practices law with the Sustainable Law Group, P.C., the first California law firm to become a Certified B Corp and 1% For the Planet business member. Chris lives and works in Ojai, California, where he provides counsel to small businesses, nonprofits, farms and filmmakers committed to positive social and environmental change. He also focuses on estate planning for cabins located in National Forests. Chris graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, San Diego and with High Honors from Ventura College of Law. Prior to practicing law, Chris was a government relations professional at Scripps Institution of Oceanography for nearly 10 years. Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Regenerative Agriculture in Ojai and the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama. He also volunteers on the Legal Advisory Committee for the Ojai Valley Defense Fund and the Ojai Valley Municipal Advisory Committee for the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. For more on Chris, visit www.sustainable-lawyer.com.
Ann Marie Rubin
Public interest attorney supporting social justice work
Ann Marie holds her J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School and her undergraduate degree in English and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Her work has included writing, teaching, art and media production, nonprofit leadership, as well as environmental litigation and advocacy. Ann Marie helped start Agrarian Trust, an award-winning, California-based nonprofit developing a community-owned farmland model to help keep land affordable, especially for minority and vulnerable populations. She also worked as deputy director for Greenhorns, an art-based activist group recruiting young farmers. As a law clerk, Ann Marie has worked with nonprofits in California, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., including the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, and Earthrise Law Center. Her work has helped shape policy and regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as thought leadership within nonprofit coalitions.
Ann Marie is also an artist and dancer. She is working on a comedy web-series and she dances at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn. Also passionate about garden and landscape design, and a former organic farm apprentice, Ann Marie has worked extensively with perennial and medical herbs, native plants and flowers, and permaculture practices. She is currently on a sabbatical and pursuing scholarship opportunities around law and social justice.
Legal services for working class cooperative economic development in Washington State
Peggy Wolf is founding Reparations Law (RL), a nonprofit legal services organization in Seattle, Washington. RL’s mission is to inspire and support people with detrimental economic barriers in our society to create their own stable, living wage jobs through worker-owned cooperative business development. The people RL is designed to serve include, but are not limited to, African-Americans, Native Americans, other people of color, women, youth, seniors, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, people who are or were formerly incarcerated, and immigrants.
Peggy received her JD from Seattle University School of Law in 2012 and was admitted to the Washington State bar in 2013. Her legal education included clinical and practicum experience serving clients threatened with foreclosure of their homes, clients with mental illness addressing their estate planning needs, and organizational clients starting nonprofit entities and applying for tax-exempt status.
Ready to lend a hand in setting up democratic enterprises in the Granite State and beyond
John C. Carroll is a graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law and admitted to the bar in New Hampshire. He is currently employed in Montreal, Canada at BCF LLP in its Business Immigration practice, but he also carries a strong passion for cooperatives as engines of economic growth and social development.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor's Degree in History and a Minor in German, John moved to Bremen, Germany on a Fulbright Grant, residing and working there for four years. In 2009 he moved to the town of Higashikushira in Kagoshima, Japan, where he taught in the public schools there for two years.
John took up the study of law after his return to the U.S. specifically with the aim of getting involved in community development, which is reflected in his published note, Economic Democracy, Made in Germany: The Mietshäuser Syndikat Model as a Framework for Developing Democratic Enterprises, 42 Syracuse J. Int'l L. & Com. 193 (2014). Fluent in German and conversant in both Japanese and Spanish, John hopes to not only help foster new cooperative enterprises, but to contribute to the creation of cooperative networks within the U.S. and internationally.
Fellows Since 2014
Social engineering legal services for the commons in the Bay Area
Hasmik Geghamyan is a community lawyer committed to social and economic justice. Hasmik believes that a cross-functional model of activism, policy, organizing, and law can be effectively used to bring about transformative post-capitalist social and economic change. Hasmik balances her civil rights practice with transactional law focused on democratically-led social enterprises that include worker-owned cooperatives, small businesses, and nonprofits. Her law office's active vision is to be part of a long-term, thriving community rooted in resilience and empowerment. Hasmik Geghamyan is a community lawyer committed to social and economic justice. Hasmik
Hasmik is an Immigrant Armenian and lives in a cooperative house in Oakland. Hasmik has been organizing with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) since law school and is the current Far West Co-Vice President, a national officer of The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the NLG and a volunteer attorney for Resilient Communities Legal Cafe with the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Hasmik is also the Law Center's representative with Pathways2Resilience in Oakland, a multi-faceted re-entry program for the formerly incarcerated that incorporates permaculture, case management and restorative justice principles to reduce recidivism. Hasmik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attorney and community developer supporting nonprofits and social enterprise in northern Michigan
Kate Redman provides practical, transparent, and human legal services to nonprofits and small business in northern Michigan through Commonplace Law. She also founded Commonplace, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit coworking space whose mission is to enliven healthy, collaborative, and creative organizations. Her areas of legal speciality include legal and tax structure, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, financing & crowdfunding, hybrid nonprofit/for profit entities, governance, contracts, collaboration, and mergers/sales. She is involved in efforts to promote and grow local investment and investment crowdfunding in Michigan.
Kate received a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. Before founding Commonplace, Kate clerked for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh of the Michigan Supreme Court and was a partner at Olson, Bzdok & Howard, PC, specializing in nonprofit, business, and local government law. She spends her free time geeking out on local investment and organizational development; and enjoying the many joys of northern Michigan -- no matter whether running, kayaking, biking, skiing, camping, eating, or just meandering along a beachy forest trail somewhere.
Affordable legal assistance for sustainable and just communities
Sara Stephens provides affordable legal services for tenants, cooperatives, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs. Sara Stephens is also a Housing and Cooperatives Attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California. She co-directs the Center’s Housing Program, coordinating policy advocacy, education, and client support for more just and affordable cooperative housing models. In the Cooperatives Program, Sara leads the Center’s effort to create and implement a model city ordinance to incentivize worker cooperatives as an economic development strategy. She also coordinates Co-opLaw.org, a legal resource library for cooperatives, as well as Think Outside the Boss, a legal workshop for worker cooperative start-ups. Sara graduated from Berkeley Law and is admitted to practice law in California.For more on Sara, visit Law Office of Sara Stephens.
Supporting cooperatives and creative entrepreneurs in Sacramento, California
Cameron Rhudy is a Sacramento-based attorney serving small creative businesses, cooperatives, and social enterprises in California. She is passionate about strengthening her community through providing affordable legal services to artists and cooperative and community-based small businesses. Cameron is also a staff attorney at the Sustainable Economies Law Center in Oakland, California.
Previously, she practiced health law as a legislative attorney for the Office of Legislative Counsel, during which she drafted legislation and navigated federal and state laws relating to, among other things, California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal), health and community care facilities, and various public social services programs. Cameron graduated cum laude from California Western School of Law in 2009.
Providing employment law and business advice to social enterprises and small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area
Elizabeth Burnett is an employment law attorney in the Bay Area serving cooperatives, non-profits, social enterprises and community-based businesses. Her practice includes advising human resource professionals on California employment laws, drafting employment policies, preventing, investigating, mediating, arbitrating and litigating employee claims and other disputes, and developing training programs to prevent harassment and discrimination. Elizabeth is also Development Director of Sustainable Economies Law Center, focused on developing and diversifying the Center’s funding sources to further support community resilience and grow local sustainable economies. Elizabeth developed her commitment to building community resilience and local economies working in an urban food desert in Philadelphia transforming abandoned vacant lots into organic community food gardens. Upon returning to the East Bay in 2013, she became a volunteer attorney at the Center's Legal Cafes and opened a law practice offering affordable employment law advice and assistance to social enterprises who are operating in and growing the local, sustainable economy. A graduate of UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, Elizabeth has been practicing employment law in various settings for more than twenty years. She has worked at law firms, both large and small, as in-house counsel for a commercial start-up, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. She loves to bike and hike, grow food and support community gardens, local farmers and cooperatives.
Fellows Since 2013
Sarah serves cooperatives and other small businesses that are starting up or raising capital, in Illinois and California.
Sarah Kaplan focuses on cooperatives and capital fund-raising. Her goal is to help local independent businesses, including worker co-ops, grow and thrive. She believes that the change we need can come from more businesses being worker-owned, and from communities shaping their own development through investing.
Sarah's clients include several Illinois food co-ops, as well as worker co-ops and other businesses. Before starting her own practice in 2012, Sarah was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General. Sarah graduated with high honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2010. Before law school, Sarah was a bike mechanic, bicycle delivery person, and year-round utility cyclist. After 12 years in Chicago and almost 3 years in the Bay Area, Sarah now lives in St. Louis, MO. For more information about Sarah visit http://www.sarahkaplanlaw.com.
Legal services for socially and environmentally friendly businesses, organizations, and individuals
Jill Jacobs practices real estate and business law for sharing real property, community businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives, and nonprofits.
Previously, Jill was a staff attorney at Senior Citizens Legal Services, a legal aid organization, and practiced Social Security law and workers’ compensation law. She has a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a JD with a Certificate of Environmental Law from Pace School of Law in New York, where she interned at the Land Use Law Center, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, and the Environmental Litigation Clinic. She has also worked as a domestic violence victims’ rights advocate, a substitute teacher for grades K-12, and a marketer for organic farms. Her past volunteering includes California Rural Legal Assistance, California FarmLink, and Save Our Shores.
Jill is grateful for her fellowship at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, where she volunteers, receives continuing legal education, and is part of a network of attorneys practicing law to advance the reality of beautiful dreams of how the world may be. For more information about Jill visit the Law Office of Jill Jacobs.
Protecting environments and building sustainable communities
Providing legal services for community-based rural economic development in Redding
Building just and sustainable food systems
Aside from his role as staff attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center, Neil maintains a small legal practice dedicated to serving clients who are focused on cultivating justice, in all its variant forms, within our food system. He offers advice, research, and consulting services for organizations and enterprises that seek to create a more just food system. In 2013, Neil researched and authored several case studies on social justice in agriculture for inclusion in the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems’ farm apprenticeship curriculum. He also holds a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture for completing the same apprenticeship in 2012. Neil earned a B.A. in Economics and International Area Studies from UCLA, and a J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law
- In memoriam, Liz Dahl-MacGregor, Practicing law to support the social economy and build the community in Ypsilanti, Michigan
- Rachel DiNardo, Attorney in Alaska and the Bay Area
- Sarah Seufer, Supporting sustainable economic growth in Western North Carolina