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Loan Repayment Assistance Program

Current Recipients

Zachariah Baker, Oregon House of Representatives

LRAP Program 2015

Zach Baker attended law school to become a better advocate for public health and the environment. Now, in his roles working in state and local government, he is getting the chance to be that advocate. 

Zach is currently the Legislative Director for Oregon State Representative, Dan Rayfield. Zach supports the Representative’s work as Co-Chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources. In addition, Zach serves as a City Councilor in Corvallis, Oregon. As a City Councilor, Zach has helped secure a commitment from the city to take action on climate change.

Zach’s commitment to public service runs deep. While in law school, he was a Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics Fellow, a Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) Co-director, and an Environmental and Natural Resources Bowerman Fellow. Zach also served on the board of the Willamette Valley Sustainable Foods Alliance.  Prior to law school, Zach spent four years in Washington, D.C. working on agricultural and environmental policy.

LRAP is helping Zach to continue his public service work: “It’s not been easy jumping back into a public service career post-law school saddled with over $100,000 in debt, but the issues of our time are too important not to try to step up to the plate.  LRAP is making it a little easier for me to do just that.” 

 

Elizabeth Brown, Our Children’s Trust

LRAP Program 2014, 2015

Elizabeth Brown is the Legal Coordinator for Our Children’s Trust in Eugene, Oregon. She assists attorneys and scientists with international, federal, and state climate change petitions for rulemaking and litigation on behalf of youth. In her role as a legal coordinator, she performs legal research; drafts and reviews legal filings; prepares attorneys for oral arguments; drafts and submits administrative comments on proposed rules and projects; and hires and supervises law clerks.

In addition to her J.D. from University of Oregon, Elizabeth has a Masters of Arts in Public Policy from Central European University. Prior to law school, Elizabeth also worked for Public Citizen and Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED). She worked for both of these non-profit organizations as an advocate for sustainable energy policy in Texas. 

Elizabeth continued her advocacy for the environment in law school as the treasurer for the student group, Land Air Water, and as an organizer for the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference. Elizabeth was also a fellow with the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program.

 

Nick Cady, Cascadia Wildlands

LRAP Program 2015

Nick Cady is the legal director for Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene. He identifies and prosecutes strategic lawsuits, manages legal dockets, develops and pursues conservations campaigns, and oversees legal staff and interns. Nick is directly involved in developing and implementing Cascadia Wildlands’ conservation campaigns, which include Protecting Forests and Wild Places, Cascadia’s Carnivores, Save our Wild Salmon, and Restoring Wolves Campaigns.

Even prior to law school, Nick demonstrated a longstanding commitment to public interest. As an undergraduate, he organized two campus-wide environmental law conferences, volunteered at the campus garden and recycling center, and spent his summers working for a wilderness trip travel group in Minnesota.

During law school, Nick served as the Co-Director of Land Air Water. As a student, he also worked in various public interest capacities involving work with public defenders, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, Cascadia Wildlands, and the Law Offices of Charlie Tebbutt.

 

Sheris Davis-Larry, Legal Aid Services of Oregon

LRAP Program 2015

Sherisa Davis-Larry is a staff attorney with Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) in Portland. At LASO, Sherisa provides free legal help to low-income individuals, enabling them to access quality representation and to seek justice. In addition to offering these critical services—which run the gamut from family law to domestic violence, employment, public benefits, and housing discrimination—Sherisa also performs community outreach on behalf of LASO, widening Legal Aid’s umbrella and engaging with all facets of people in Multnomah County and surrounding areas.

A 2013 graduate with degrees in both law and conflict resolution, Sherisa has always been committed to making a positive impact on her community. During her time at the University of Oregon, for example, Sherisa volunteered for numerous non-profits in Eugene, including Food for Lane County, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a law student, she clerked for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, where she helped manage the misdemeanor docket and represented the state in community court. Through that experience, Sherisa enhanced her appreciation of restorative justice by negotiating deferred sentences and community service for defendants.

As Sherisa embarks on her public service career, the LRAP Program has allowed her to do important, impactful work.  She also has the opportunity to give back to her hometown, Portland. 

 

Amanda Esperanza, Immigrant Rights Project

LRAP Program 2015

Amanda Esperanza is a Staff Attorney at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles, California. She represents unaccompanied children and detained adults in removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Many of the clients Amanda serves are minors fleeing gang and gender based violence in Central America. In her role with Esperanza, Amanda also participates in the Legal Orientation Program, providing legal education classes to those navigating the complex Immigration Court system without representation.

Amanda’s history of public service in immigration law began in law school. Her work included service with Esperanza, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, and Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services of Portland.

During her law school career, Amanda also participated in the University of Oregon’s Defense Clinic at the Lane County Public Defender’s Office, worked in the UO Domestic Violence Clinic, and interned with the Civil Liberties Defense Center. She also served on the boards of the Oregon Law Student Public Interest Fund and Downtown Languages, a local Eugene nonprofit that provides community education services. Amanda was also a recipient of the University of Oregon School of Law Post-Graduate Fellowship.

 

Allison Folks, Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services

LRAP Program 2013, 2014, 2015

Travel and study in impoverished countries instilled a public service ethic in Allison Folks at a young age. Before attending law school, Allison advocated for immigrants and refugees as a volunteer and intern with the African Women’s Coalition, which cemented a passion for working with immigrants and refugees.

During law school, Allison worked two summers with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (CCILS) and received an offer after graduation to join the organization. In her work, Allison works with low-income, highly vulnerable immigrants, including victims of crimes, abuse and human trafficking. She aids victims in obtaining legal status and works to build community support for immigrants by educating law enforcement about the particular vulnerabilities of this population.

She said of her work, “I know that I will be able to have a long and exciting career with CCILS because I am passionate about the work that they do. I will continue to serve underrepresented populations throughout my legal career. I know that I have a meaningful role to play in fighting for justice for immigrants.”

The LRAP Program gives Allison the ability to do meaningful work and make ends meet. In Allison’s words, “I went to law school with the intention of doing public service work upon graduation.” The LRAP Program helps make Allison’s goals a reality.

 

Lauren Freeman, Youth, Rights, and Justice

LRAP Program 2014, 2015

Lauren Freeman is a staff attorney for Youth, Rights, and Justice, a non-profit law firm in Portland, Oregon. In that capacity, Lauren advocates for children and families in juvenile delinquency and dependency matters. Lauren represents children and parents in dependency cases involving the Department of Human Services, youth facing misdemeanor and felony delinquency charges, and parents with juvenile dependency appeals at the Oregon Court of Appeals.

During law school, Lauren worked for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office’s animal crimes unit, clerked at the Oregon Department of Justice’s Child Advocacy Section working on juvenile dependency cases, and served as an extern with the Lane County District Attorney’s Office focusing on misdemeanor prosecution. Her work at the Oregon Department of Justice, in particular, inspired her to pursue juvenile law as a career.

As a 2010 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, Lauren relies on the LRAP program to alleviate her law school debt.  The program also enables her to pursue her career goal of practicing juvenile law in Portland, Oregon.

 

Jamie Graves-Kautz, Northwest Justice Project

LRAP Program 2014, 2015

Jamie Graves-Kautz helps those struggling with the aftermath of the housing market crash. In her work with Northwest Justice Project’s Foreclosure Prevention Unit, she assists low to moderate income homeowners in Washington remain in their homes. The services provided by the Northwest Justice Project include loan modification negotiation, mediation under the Foreclosure Fairness Act, and litigation to protect and enforce homeownership rights under state and federal law. Some of the counties in Washington State have the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

Jamie’s commitment to serving marginalized populations in the past included investigating allegations of abuse, providing support for mental health patients, and representing minors in high-conflict custody cases. During her time at UO Law, Jamie worked as a full-time extern in the Vancouver field office of Northwest Justice Project. After graduating, Jamie continued to volunteer with the Northwest Justice Project, providing legal assistance on a variety of cases until she was hired as a foreclosure prevention attorney.

The LRAP program has enabled Jamie to “continue working on important systemic issues that affect low-income populations,” the reason that Jamie decided to go to law school in the first place. Jamie is very thankful that the LRAP Program supports individuals like her who have a passion for doing public-interest work.

 

Laura Horton, State of New Mexico Office of the District Attorney

LRAP Program 2015

Laura Horton is an Assistant District Attorney in Gallup, New Mexico, a rural northwestern part of the state. Laura handles a high caseload in a small office and prosecutes felonies including child abuse, homicide, sexual assault, and felony driving while intoxicated.

Laura entered law school with a desire to work in public service. Law school externships solidified Laura's interest in criminal law. She worked with the District Attorney's Office in Anchorage, Alaska; the Lane County Circuit Court; and the Oregon Federal District Court in Portland.

Laura loves her work as a public servant because it is both challenging and fun. She finds it rewarding to help victims feel that their voices are heard and to bring justice to those without a voice.  She said, "It is very interesting work and I love my job. In the short time I have been a prosecutor, I have found great reward in the work and feel that I am helping people and the community."

Laura is excited about gaining criminal prosecution experience and continuing to develop her skills. "The significant burden of law school and undergraduate student loans make the LRAP program a great stress reliever." She is grateful for those that fund the LRAP program, which allows her and others to pursue public service careers.

 

Allison Knight, Staff Attorney, Umpqua Valley Public Defender

LRAP Program 2015

Allison Knight serves as a public defender with the Umpqua Valley Public Defender’s office in Roseburg, Oregon. While her caseload primarily involves misdemeanor and felony cases, she also works in the new Douglas County Mental Health Court program.

The Mental Health Court is an alternative sentencing program that provides services for people whose serious mental health issues have contributed to their criminal behavior. The focus for these clients is to avoid recidivism by helping them overcome the challenges they face. Clients attend therapy and meet with court staff who assist in talking to the client’s doctors about medication and solving problems with housing. While most would find this work daunting, Allison has said, “I feel fortunate to be the first attorney in this new program.” 

Allison’s interest in this work began as an undergraduate studying psychology. Her intent had been to attend graduate school and provide mental health services for indigent communities, given what she refers to as “the silent crisis of insufficient mental health care in the United States.” Then she read a shocking statistic: the biggest providers of mental health services are jails and prisons. Allison decided to become a lawyer to combat this problem and help break the cycle of mental illness leading to incarceration. 

 

Joshua Medina, Center for Non-Profit Legal Services, Inc.

LRAP Program 2013, 2014, 2015

For the past three years, Joshua Medina has been realizing his long-term goal of helping members of the immigrant community by working as an immigration attorney with the Immigration Law Project. His client base includes victims of abuse under the Violence Against Women Act, young individuals who are pursuing their educations under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, parents working to build a foundation for their documented children under Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, and applicants for naturalization.

Joshua’s work also includes community education, through which he has connected with and earned the trust of his community. His outreach allows community members to separate fact from fiction in the ever-changing landscape of immigration law, become leaders in community advocacy, and steer others towards trusted resources.

Although Joshua dedicates his career to public service, he admits that this decision means his student loan debt will continue to be a concern. He often worries he would unable to pay his bills, especially in the case of an emergency, given the modest salaries for public service work. LRAP assistance gives Joshua the ability to continue to serve his community with less financial worry.

 

Dominique Rossi, Oregon State Senate

LRAP Program 2015

Dominique Rossi is the Chief of Staff for Oregon State Senator

Mark Haas.  Her work focuses on tax policy and higher education affordability and accessibility. In her role as Chief of Staff, she performs legal research, drafts bills, advises on policy, writes press releases, organizes events, meets with lobbyists, and addresses public concerns.

Prior to law school, Dominique taught free sustainable gardening workshops, served as editor of a student newspaper, and volunteered as a community-outreach organizer for Sexual Assault Support Services. After college, she worked at the Alaska Sealife Center, a non-profit organization, where she conducted research and created exhibits related to climate change. Additionally as a freelance journalist, she wrote articles on a variety of environmental issues.  She also worked as a Domestic Violence Advocate at Womenspace.

Dominique furthered her public interest work in law school by continuing to work at Womenspace, representing survivors in the University’s Domestic Violence Clinic, joining the Board of Directors for Sexual Assault Services, serving as the Director of the Women’s Law Forum, and analyzing ocean acidification policy as a fellow for the Environmental and Natural Resources Center. She also clerked at the Civil Liberties Defense Center, where she provided legal services to mentally ill clients and participated in tribal negotiations.

 

Katie Staton, Oregon Youth Authority

LRAP Program 2015

Katherine (Katie) Staton works as the Tribal Liaison/Native American Coordinator for the Oregon Youth Authority [OYA]. In this role, Katie has the opportunity to provide culturally relevant services and support for Native American youth in OYA custody.  The work also serves her long-term professional goals of working for Native peoples and for the best interest of Native youth. 

Katie brings a rich background of public service to her current position.  As a teen and undergraduate she served her community in many ways through volunteer work in sports programs, schools and social service agencies.  In law school, she volunteered as a small claims mediator with the Lane County Circuit Court and a restorative justice and community mediator with the Center for Dialog and Resolution.  She also participated in the Criminal Defense Clinic and served as UO Native American Law Student Association President. 

With the support of LRAP, Katie hopes to continue and strengthen her work with OYA.  She currently serves on OYA’s Positive Human Development Committee that provides a vehicle for transforming OYA’s culture from a less punitive to a more restorative model.  Through work like this, Staton hopes to strengthen the relationship between OYA and our Native Tribes.

 

Sommer Templet, Citizens Utility Board

LRAP Program 2014, 2015

Sommer Templet works for the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon. As a staff attorney, Sommer serves as an advocate for Oregon’s residential utility customers, including low-income customers, before administrative and judicial bodies.  She helps ensure that Oregonians have affordable utility service, while also promoting environmental stewardship and renewable energy issues. 

Sommer had a strong commitment to public service as a student. As an undergraduate, Sommer interned with a non-profit consumer advocacy organization, Public Citizen, which focused on energy and environmental issues. In law school, Sommer worked for the Eviction Defense Collaborative, logging over 450 hours assisting low-income tenants in San Francisco with eviction proceedings. Sommer also participated in the Environmental Law Clinic, working for the Western Environmental Law Center. By the end of law school, Sommer logged the second highest number of pro bono hours in her graduating class. She earned a Pro Bono Certificate and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Oregon State Bar.

After law school, Sommer continued her public interest legal work. Sommer had a legal fellowship with the Community Development Law Center, which represents Oregon non-profit organizations serving low-income communities and families.   Sommer is also a long-standing volunteer with Legal Aid Services of Oregon’s Domestic Violence Project, through which she represents low-income victims of domestic violence in contested restraining order hearings.

 

Past Recipients


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