Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellowship

With the generous support of Margaret Levy, the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy launched the Margaret Levy Public Interest Fellowship (Levy Fellowship) in Fall 2018. This initiative brings outstanding public interest leaders to UCLA School of Law each academic year for a multi-day visit. The Levy Fellowship complements the Epstein Program’s initiatives by deepening the opportunity for students to gain insight into cutting-edge areas of public interest law, to expand their networks in the public interest legal field, and to inspire a strong public service ethic in all members of the UCLA School of Law community. Past Fellows include Catherine E. Lhamon, Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Levy Fellows

  • 2023-24 Fellows

    April 2024 Fellow

    Shayla Myers was the Levy Fellow in April 2024. As an attorney for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), Shayla’s litigation has been at the center of the immense unhoused crisis in Los Angeles. Continuing the Epstein Program’s 2023-24 focus on housing inequity and access issues, Shayla’s lecture “House Keys Not Handcuffs: Fighting Against Criminalization to Achieve Housing Justice” examined the intersection of criminalizing poverty, racism in housing policies, and fighting for the rights of unhoused Angelenos. View Shayla Myers' Lecture.

    Shayla Myers is a senior attorney in the Unhoused People’s Justice Project at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA). There, she works alongside community organizations, unhoused residents, and tenants to end the criminalization of poverty. She litigates in state and federal court to secure the civil rights of unhoused residents and to prevent the expansion of laws that criminalize homelessness. Shayla also provides community education and technical assistance to groups and individuals fighting for housing justice. Currently, she is lead counsel on litigation challenging the constitutionality of public space regulations in the City of Los Angeles. Before joining LAFLA, she was a Skadden Fellow at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and then an associate at a Plaintiff’s side civil rights firm in Los Angeles. Shayla clerked for the Honorable Sandra Segal Ikuta on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and graduated from UCLA Law School, with concentrations in Public Interest Law and Policy and Critical Race Studies. Before attending law school, Shayla coordinated an advocacy program and hotline for sexual assault survivors in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she grew up. 

    October 2023 Fellow

    Rasheedah Phillips

    Rasheedah Phillips was a Levy Fellow during the week of October 23, 2023. Phillips is Director of Housing for PolicyLink, a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity. As part of the Epstein Program’s focus in 2023-24 on uplifting housing justice issues, Rasheedah's lecture on “Future Foundations: Building Racial Equity in Housing” addressed the intersection of housing and racial justice as our nation confronts a growing housing affordability and unhoused crisis. View Rasheedah Phillips' Lecture.

    Rasheedah Phillips leads PolicyLink’s national advocacy to support the growing tenants’ rights, housing, and land use movements in partnership with grassroots partners, movement leaders, industry, and government leaders. Previously serving as Managing Attorney of Housing Policy at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Rasheedah has led various housing policy campaigns that resulted in significant legislative changes, including a right to counsel for tenants in Philadelphia, and the Renter’s Access Act, one of the strongest laws in the nation to address blanket ban eviction polices having a disparate impact on renters of color.

    Rasheedah provides trainings on racial justice and housing law throughout the country, previously serving as a training attorney at Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and has received numerous awards including the National Housing Law Project’s Housing Justice Award. Rasheedah is also an interdisciplinary afrofuturist artist and cultural producer who has exhibited and performed work globally.

  • 2022-23 Fellows

    October 2022 Fellow

    Kendra Fox-Davis

    Kendra Fox-Davis was a Levy Fellow during the week of October 24, 2022. Fox-Davis, a racial and gender justice advocate who currently serves as Chief Program Officer of the Rosenberg Foundation, spoke on "We Won't Break Our Souls: Public Interest Lawyering for Healing and Liberation."

    Kendra Fox-Davis, UCLA Law '06 and a proud graduate of both the Epstein Program and CRS, is a long-time racial and gender justice advocate whose work spans pre-eminent civil rights advocacy groups and enforcement agencies. She has previously worked for the University of California Office of the President in protecting the rights of sexual violence survivors, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in enforcing federal laws against race and sex-based harassment and discrimination, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area in challenging discriminatory police practices.

    March 2023 Fellow

    Guillermo Mayer

    Guillermo Mayer was a Levy Fellow during the week of March 1, 2023. Mayer currently serves as President and CEO of Public Advocates Inc., a legal nonprofit that supports education, housing, transportation, and climate justice advocacy. As part of the Epstein Program’s focus on “the future of public interest lawyering” during the 2022-23 academic year, his lecture on “Movement Lawyering: An Evolution of Practice” addressed how lawyers can support systemic change by serving movement activists and advocates. View Guillermo Mayer's lecture.

    Guillermo Mayer is President & CEO of Public Advocates Inc., a nonprofit civil rights law firm and advocacy group in California that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and discrimination. Under his leadership, the organization has broadened its presence statewide and expanded into new issue areas, including higher education and federal housing policy.

    Guillermo (also known as “Memo”) first joined Public Advocates as a law fellow in 2004 and went on to work as a member of the legal team for more than 9 years advancing litigation and policy efforts to improve learning conditions in K-12 schools, expand public transportation services, and promote community engagement and equitable outcomes in policymaking. In 2009, he co-led a groundbreaking civil rights challenge against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for its failure study the impact of the Oakland Airport Connector on predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in East Oakland. The victory resulted in a $70 -million redistribution of federal funds by the Obama administration to protect transit service throughout the region and catalyzed national Title VI reform in the public transportation industry.

    Prior to joining Public Advocates, Guillermo worked in the California Senate as legislative director for former State Senator Tom Hayden and as a California Senate Fellow for former State Senator Hilda Solis. There, he worked on an array of legislative matters, including higher education, K-12, immigrant rights, health care and gang violence prevention. The grandson of a bracero who helped build U.S. railroads in the 1940s, Guillermo was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and later immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old. He lives with his wife and son in San Diego.

    Guillermo received his B.A in Political Science and minor in Chicano Studies from San Diego State University, where he served as student body president. He graduated from the UCLA School of Law with concentrations in Critical Race Theory and Public Interest Law and Policy. .

  • 2021-22 Fellows

    October 2021 Fellow

    Janai NelsonJanai Nelson was a Levy Fellow during the week of October 25, 2021. Nelson's public lecture on October 27 was Fighting Racial Injustice in a Vacuum of Truth.

    Janai Nelson is Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). As an organizational thought-leader at LDF, Ms. Nelson works with the President and Director-Counsel to determine and execute LDF’s strategic vision and oversee the operation of its programs. A member of LDF’s litigation and policy teams, Ms. Nelson’s extensive civil rights law experience includes expertise as a voting rights and election law scholar, serving as one of the lead counsel in Veasey v. Abbott (2018), a federal challenge to Texas’s voter ID law, hair discrimination advocacy, and testifying before Congress multiple times on issues ranging from voting rights and election law to discriminatory practices and procedures administered by TSA.

    Prior to joining LDF in June 2014, Ms. Nelson was Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law where she is also a full professor of law. Ms. Nelson received the 2013 Derrick A. Bell Award from the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on Minority Groups and was named one of Lawyers of Color’s 50 Under 50 minority professors making an impact in legal education. Prior to joining St. John's faculty, Ms. Nelson was a Fulbright Scholar at the Legal Resources Center in Accra, Ghana. She began practicing law as the 1998 recipient of the NAACP LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship, following federal district and appellate court clerkships. Ms. Nelson later became Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group, overseeing all voting related litigation and matters, litigating voting rights and redistricting cases, and working on criminal justice issues. Ms. Nelson has published scholarship in leading law reviews and writes for popular press. She has appeared in various media as an expert on race, civil rights, constitutional law and election law, and regularly speaks at conferences and symposia nationwide. She is a graduate of New York University and received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law.

    March 2022 Fellow

    Brendon WoodsBrendon Woods was a Levy Fellow during the week of March 14, 2022. Woods' public lecture on March 14 was Black Lives Matter on Juries.

    Brendon Woods, appointed in December 2012, is the first Black Chief Public Defender in Alameda County’s history. Woods has 20 years of experience in criminal defense litigation and leads 170 staff in providing superior legal defense in more than 3,000 new files monthly. Woods is committed to providing holistic representation to his clients and is a nationally recognized leader in public defense. He is a Board Member and former President of the California Public Defenders Association and was honored with the Harvard Law School Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship for outstanding public service. From a young age, Brendon Woods had formative experiences with law enforcement –steering his life and career toward public defense. He feels fortunate to fight for those battling systems of oppression and strives to reshape the discourse and nature of public defense and criminal justice as a whole.

  • 2020-21 Fellows

    March 2021 Fellow

    Marbre Stahly-Butts was a Levy Fellow during the week of March 8, 2021. Stahly-Butts' public lecture on March 8 was Lawyering for Liberation: Movement Lawyering and Black Lives Matter.

    Marbre Stahly-Butts is Executive Director of Law for Black Lives.  She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Movement For Black Lives Policy Table and helped develop the Vision for Black Lives Policy Platform.

    Since graduating from Yale Law School, Stahly-Butts has supported local and national organizations from across the country in their policy development and advocacy. She joined the Center for Popular Democracy as a Soros Justice Fellow in Fall 2013, focused on organizing and working with families affected by aggressive policing and criminal justice policies in New York City to develop meaningful bottom-up policy reforms. In law school, Stahly-Butts focused on the intersection of criminal justice and civil rights, working with the Bronx Defenders, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Prison Policy Initiative. Before law school, she received her Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and worked in Zimbabwe organizing communities impacted by violence and then in South Africa teaching at Nelson Mandela’s alma mater. Stahly-Butts graduated from Columbia University, with a BA in African-American History and Human Rights.

    April 2021 Fellow

    Jullian Harris-Calvin was a Levy Fellow during the week of April 5, 2021. Harris-Calvin's public lecture on April 5 was Putting It All Together: Supporting Movements Through Data, Storytelling, and Policy Expertise.

    Jullian Harris-Calvin is Director of the Greater Justice New York program (GJNY) at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she focuses on criminal justice reform across the Empire State. GJNY uses research, policy, and advocacy to expose injustice—from bail to sentencing, parole, fines and fees, and more—and to drive change by piloting innovative solutions, analyzing data, publishing evidence, partnering with movement leaders, and providing technical assistance.

    Prior to joining Vera, Harris-Calvin served as senior legal counsel at The Justice Collaborative, a non-profit that supplied legal, policy, communications, and networking support to criminal justice reform leaders and organizations. She began her career as director of administration for a Los Angeles councilman before becoming a public defender at the Federal Defenders of New York and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Harris-Calvin graduated from the University of Southern California and UCLA School of Law, with Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy specializations

  • 2019-20 Fellows

    Fall 2019 Fellow

    Dale Ho’s Levy Fellowship term was September 23-25, 2019. Ho’s public lecture on September 23 was New Threats to the Rights to Vote: Fighting Voter Suppression Over the Past Decade.

    Dale Ho is the Director of ACLU's Voting Rights Project, and supervises the ACLU's voting rights litigation and advocacy work nationwide.

    Ho has active cases in over a dozen states throughout the country. His cases have included: Department of Commerce v. New York (challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Census, which he argued in the U.S. Supreme Court); Fish v. Kobach (challenging documentation requirements for voter registration in Kansas); and League of Women Voters of NC v. North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration in North Carolina).

    Ho has testified on election law issues before the United States Congress, and in various state legislatures around the country. He is also an adjunct clinical professor of law at NYU School of Law. Ho is a frequent commentator on voting rights issues, appearing on television programs including The Rachel Maddow Show; Hardball with Chris Matthews; and All-In with Chris Hayes; has written opinion pieces for The New York Times; and is widely published on redistricting and voting rights in law reviews including the Yale Law Journal Forum and the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

    In 2017, Ho was named one of the best Asian American Lawyers under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

    Prior to joining the ACLU, Ho was Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP; and a judicial law clerk, first to Judge Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and then to Judge Robert S. Smith, New York Court of Appeals.

    He is a graduate of Yale Law School and Princeton University.

    Spring 2020 Fellow

    Kate Kendell's Levy Fellowship term was February 24-26, 2020.

    Kate Kendell is the Co-Interim Director Legal Director of Southern Poverty Law Center and Campaign Manager for Take Back the Court.

    For 22 years, Kendell led the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Kendell stepped down from this role at the end on 2018 and since February 2019 has served as Campaign Manager for Take Back the Court, an organization committed to structural reform of the U.S. Supreme Court. She accepted the role of Co-Interim Legal Director at the Southern Poverty Law Center in August 2019.

    Growing up Mormon in Utah, Kendell learned about the complexities of religion and politics from an early age. After receiving her J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law in 1988 and a few years practicing corporate law, she pursued her real love—civil rights advocacy—and became the first staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. There, she directly litigated many high-profile cases focusing on all aspects of civil liberties, including reproductive rights, prisoners' rights, free speech, the rights of LGBT people, and the intersection of church and state. In 1994 she joined NCLR as legal director, and was named executive director two years later.

    Under her leadership, NCLR's programs, budget, and impact grew exponentially, and the issues facing the LGBT community—from homophobia in sports to immigration policy—have taken center stage in our nation's discussion of civil rights and justice. Kendell is a nationally recognized spokesperson for LGBT rights and has an active voice in major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, NPR, CNN, and many others. Despite the national success of NCLR under her tenure, her most rewarding responsibilities still include fostering alliances on the community and organizational levels, and advocating from a grass-roots perspective on issues concerning social justice.

  • 2018-19 Fellows

    Fall 2018 Fellow

    Lhamon’s Levy Fellowship was November 6-7, 2018. Lhamon’s public lecture: The Future of Civil Rights Enforcements..

    Catherine E. Lhamon is the Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. President Obama appointed Lhamon to a six-year term on the Commission on December 15, 2016, and the Commission unanimously confirmed the President’s designation of Lhamon to chair the Commission on December 28, 2016. Lhamon also litigates civil rights cases at the National Center for Youth Law, where she has been Of Counsel since October 2017.

    Before coming to the Commission, Lhamon served as the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education until January 2017. President Obama nominated her to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights position on June 10, 2013, and she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2013. Immediately prior to joining the Department of Education, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at Public Counsel, the nation’s largest pro bono law firm. Before that, she practiced for a decade at the ACLU of Southern California, ultimately as assistant legal director.

    Earlier in her career, Lhamon was a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Appellate Litigation Program at Georgetown University Law Center, after clerking for The Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2016, Politico Magazine named Lhamon one of Politico 50 Thinkers Transforming Politics and the National Action Network honored Lhamon with their Action & Authority Award. In 2015, Yale Law School named Lhamon their Gruber Distinguished Lecturer and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities awarded Lhamon their Special Recognition Award. Chronicle of Higher Education named Lhamon to their 2014 Influence List as the Enforcer. The Daily Journal listed her as one of California’s Top Women Litigators in 2010 and 2007, and as one of the Top 20 California Lawyers Under 40 in 2007. In 2004, California Lawyer magazine named Lhamon Attorney of the Year for Civil Rights.

    Lhamon received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was the Outstanding Woman Law Graduate, and she graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College.

    Spring 2019 Fellow

    Gupta’s Levy Fellowship was February 26-27, 2019. Gupta’s public lecture: The Momentum of Hope: Civil Rights in the 21st Century.

    Vanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. Before joining The Leadership Conference in June 2017, Gupta served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division. Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise.

    Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she launched the Smart Justice Campaign to end mass incarceration. She joined the ACLU in 2006 as a staff attorney. Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she litigated a series of landmark wrongful drug conviction cases in Tulia, Texas. Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years.

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