MEET THE TEAM


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Jill Habig / Founder and President

Jill Habig is an attorney and political strategist with experience in political campaigns, policy advocacy, affirmative litigation, and public law.

Before founding PRP, Jill was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Policy Director for Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate, and served as policy director for her transition team. Prior to joining the campaign, she served as Special Counsel to then-Attorney General Harris, advising the Attorney General on key legal issues and policy initiatives. Her work emphasized consumer fraud, health, education, human trafficking, and civil rights, including issues related to gender and LGBT rights. In 2015, she led the creation and launch of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Children’s Justice and managed its work, including civil rights investigations of school districts, child welfare departments, and juvenile justice systems.

Jill was previously a Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and served on the Affirmative Litigation Task Force at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where she worked on the landmark trial challenging Proposition 8. She was a law clerk for Judge Dorothy Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Jill earned her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Georgetown University.

 
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Joanna Pearl / Legal Director

Joanna Pearl is Public Rights Project’s Legal Director. Joanna is an experienced attorney with a background in policy, enforcement, and litigation in both government and the private sector.

Joanna was a founding member of the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Enforcement, having served on the team tasked with creating the new federal agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She went on to be Chief of Staff for the Enforcement Office at the CFPB for six years under three Enforcement Directors. Joanna also served as Acting Principal Deputy Enforcement Director in 2016.

In these roles, she managed the development and execution of the CFPB’s enforcement strategy, investigations, and litigation. She advised on matters related to payday and short-term lending, mortgages, credit cards, credit reporting and furnishing, debt collection and debt relief, student lending, auto lending, deposit products, and payments processing and systems. During Joanna’s tenure, the CFPB obtained nearly 12 billion dollars in relief for more than 25 million consumers who were victims of illegal, predatory practices. Joanna also oversaw all operational aspects of the CFPB’s Enforcement Office, including recruitment, workforce planning, and budget creation and administration.

Before joining the CFPB, Joanna was an Associate at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP in Washington, DC, where she focused on commercial litigation and employment counseling and defense. Joanna began her career in state government, serving as Legislative Assistant and Chief of Staff to Representative Jay R. Kaufman in the Massachusetts State House of Representatives. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.

 
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Jenny Montoya Tansey / Policy Director

Jenny Montoya Tansey is an attorney, researcher, and civic technologist who has worked to develop and implement policy from positions in government and the nonprofit sector.

Previously, Jenny was the Director of Safety and Justice at Code for America, where she was responsible for launching and leading the organization’s work in criminal justice. She and her team built and scaled technology tools that help make it much easier for people reclassify or dismiss old criminal convictions and to stay in compliance with their conditions of release from jail.

Prior to this position, Jenny was the Research Director at Californians for Safety and Justice, where she conducted policy and public opinion research about crime victims, health coverage for justice populations, and pretrial reform. At CSJ, she also successfully developed and advocated for two new pieces of state legislation that improved access to health care for Californians cycling in and out of jail.

 
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LiJia Gong / Staff Attorney

LiJia Gong is an attorney with a background in litigation, public policy and political strategy. 

LiJia developed her litigation experience as an associate at Frankfurt Kurnit, Klein & Selz and Davis Polk & Wardwell. She has represented clients in nearly all phases of litigation in cases before state and federal courts. In her broad practice, she has worked on matters that range from antitrust and white collar criminal defense to intellectual property and complex commercial litigation. 

Prior to joining PRP, LiJia worked on the 2018 campaign to re-elect Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. LiJia served as a law clerk for Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and as a law fellow for Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. 

LiJia has an expertise and interest in leveraging data and statistics to further litigation and policy goals, which she first developed as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.  In that role, LiJia worked on economic models that forecasted spending in residential and nonresidential sectors of the U.S. economy. 

LiJia earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University. 

 
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Ben Chida / Co-Founder

Ben Chida is an attorney, policy advisor, and former teacher.  He is currently an associate at Boies Schiller and Flexner.  Before joining the firm, Ben served as a legal and policy advisor in the Office of the California Attorney General, Kamala D. Harris, where he spearheaded multiple initiatives related to children’s policy, technology, data, and privacy. He also clerked for Hon. Robert L. Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Hon. David O. Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Ben holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and served as a Teach for America fellow in New York.

 
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Nicolette Del Palacio / Community Organizer

Nicolette Del Palacio is a passionate community grassroots organizer with experience in millennial voter outreach and engagement in the state of Arizona. Prior to Public Rights Project, Nicolette was a Regional Organizing Director for NextGen America, leading a team of organizers to educate, register and mobilize thousands of young eligible voters in Maricopa County during the 2018 Midterm Elections. In a similar capacity, she managed a voter registration program for Mi Familia Vota to ensure that Latino voters are included in the political process and have a voice in all aspects of government and policymaking. Nicolette is a graduate of Arizona State University with degrees in Political Science and Psychology.

 
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Kennedy Reese / Program Associate

Kennedy is an M.P.P and Policy, Planning and Development B.S. candidate from the University of Southern California with experience in program administration, community organizing and government service.

Prior to her time at Public Rights Project, Kennedy interned for the Office of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer and worked on various campaigns, including the 2018 gubernatorial campaign of then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, the 2016 U.S. Senate campaign of then-Attorney General Kamala Harris and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of LA County PAC to elect progressive candidates.  In 2017, Kennedy was selected as a Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellow and served in the Office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, analyzing bills in the Public Safety Committee.

A passionate political and community organizer, Kennedy worked for the University of Southern California’s Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs to facilitate connections between the university and organizations from across different sectors to create public service opportunities for students.


MEET OUR LEGAL INTERNS

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Tayryn Edwards / Stanford Law ‘21

Tayryn Edwards is a second-year law student at Stanford Law School. At Stanford, Tayryn volunteers with the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Project, serves as the Co-President of the Women of Stanford Law, and as Vice-President of the Black Law Students Association.

Tayryn is passionate about ensuring access to justice for women and minorities, developing restorative adjudication models, and re-envisioning how local government and enforcement agencies protect and interact with the communities they serve. Prior to law school, Tayryn interned with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, worked at a literacy non-profit in Sacramento, and completed a Fellowship with the Judicial Council of California in their Office of Governmental Affairs. While with the Council, Tayryn advanced judicial branch-sponsored legislation and provided technical assistance to legislators, committees and community advocates on numerous bills that reformed California’s criminal and civil justice system. She also produced policy reports on the legal and technological future of Pretrial Detention Reform and the Shriver Civil Counsel Act. Tayryn is a 2016 graduate of the University of Chicago with a BA in English Language and Literature.

 
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Zora Franicevic / Cornell Law ‘21

Zora Franicevic is a second-year law student at Cornell Law School. At Cornell, Zora is actively involved in the National Lawyers Guild, a student organization dedicated to safeguarding the civil rights of marginalized communities. Previously, Zora was a Policy Intern on Gavin Newsom's 2018 gubernatorial campaign. During her semester abroad in New Zealand, Zora interned for Greenpeace New Zealand, where she helped draft New Zealand agriculture reports and organize campaign action events. In the past, she has also interned for Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Pretrial Services Division of the Alameda County Superior Court. Zora is interested in working on environmental justice issues, such as hazardous waste dumping and air pollution in low-income, underserved communities. Zora graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Society & Environment and Slavic Languages & Literature.

 
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Elana Orbuch / Georgetown Law ‘21

Elana Orbuch is a second-year at Georgetown University Law Center. At Georgetown, Elana is involved with the Gender+ Justice Initiative and is a Georgetown Law Public Interest Fellow. She is currently serving as the President of Georgetown Law’s Students for Democratic Reform, a student-run organization dedicated to promoting equitable access to the electoral process. Prior to attending Georgetown Law, Elana was a community organizer, working with faith leaders on environmental justice issues and electoral operations in the state of Ohio. A passionate advocate for electoral reform, she worked with a vast network of organizations across the country to pass legislation and increase democratic participation. Elana graduated with her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


MEET OUR UNDERGRADUATE INTERNS

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Franklin Arevalo / San Francisco State University ‘21

Franklin Arevalo is an incoming junior at San Francisco State University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science with a focus in web and app development.

Formerly, Franklin was a web developer at Metro Academies, a two-year training program for underrepresented students at SFSU. As a first-generation student himself, Franklin hopes to use his education and background to promote civic tech to create equitable solutions to the most vexing problems facing low-income communities . With his knowledge in web development, this summer he hopes to create a functional database for all the court filings and a ticketing system that would allow individuals to submit feedback to their local attorneys to help improve relations between residents and public law offices.

 
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Leya Elias / Stanford University ‘21

Leya Elias is a sophomore at Stanford University, studying Psychology and Political Science. Through her majors, she focuses on the intersection of criminal justice reform and human rights as it relates to decreasing socio-economic disparities. At Stanford, Leya is involved in policy-making through the Associated Students of Stanford University and in activism through the Institute for Diversity in the Arts. She is actively involved with the Black Pre-Law Society, Ethiopian & Eritrean Students' Association, Black Student Union, the Handa Center for Human Rights and the Haas Center for Public Service.

Previously, Leya worked with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development conducting human rights, economic, and legal research. At the Ghana Center, Leya worked to understand the macroeconomic impact of small businesses and how the government could better support entrepreneurship. In the same role, Leya also assessed the compliance of Ghana's narcotic laws with international human rights law, while also assessing the state of corruption within the country. Through her time at PRP, Leya hopes to gain more insight into how a non-governmental organization empowers its' local communities and government.

 
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Kate Kushner / Yale University ‘21

Kate Kushner is a rising junior at Yale University, where she studies Political Science and Math. She is particularly interested in the interactions between systems of inequality and American government—both how government can entrench these systems and pull them apart. In addition to her involvement with several dance teams, Kate has worked as a tax preparer for Yale's chapter of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and is an Associate Editor at The Politic, Yale's undergraduate political publication. She has studied in South Korea over two separate summers and interned in the office of Congressman David Price (D-NC) on Capitol Hill. This summer, Kate is excited to learn about public interest law and how the law can be used to challenge discrimination and other forms of exploitation.

 
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Ellena Parry / Barnard College ‘21

Ellena Parry is an incoming junior at Barnard College, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies with a Minor in Economics. Her concentration on race and ethnicity has allowed her to focus on U.S. inequality as well as the history of resistance to social disparities. A passionate public safety and student housing reform advocate, Ellena sits on Barnard’s Campus Affairs Committee. In the fall of 2018, she volunteered with Catholic Charities to provide asylum seekers and immigrants in upstate New York with quality legal services. This summer, Ellena hopes to learn more about public interest law and ways to advocate for her community.


ADVISORY BOARD


Heather Gerken: Dean, Yale Law School

Brian Nelson: General Counsel, LA2028 Olympic Committee; former General Counsel, California Department of Justice (DOJ); former U.S. DOJ attorney

Danielle Gray: Partner, O’Melveny & Myers; former Assistant to President Obama & Cabinet Secretary

Kelly Dermody:  Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP

Lenore Anderson:  Founder & President, Alliance for Safety & Justice; former prosecutor

Jenny Montoya Tansey: Former Director of Safety & Justice, Code for America

Bram Elias: Clinical Professor & director of immigration practice,  University of Iowa College of Law

Dennis Herrera: City Attorney, San Francisco

Karen Dunn: Partner, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP; former Associate Counsel to President Obama & federal prosecutor

David Vladeck: Professor, Georgetown Law; former Director, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection

Travis LeBlanc: Partner, Boies Schiller Flexner LLP; former Enforcement Chief, Federal Communications Commission

Eli Savit:  Senior Advisor and Counsel to the Mayor, City of Detroit

Kathleen Morris:  Professor of local government law, Golden Gate University Law School; co-founder, Yale Law School/San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project

Peter Harvey: Partner, Patterson Belknap Webb & Taylor LLP; former Attorney General, New Jersey; former federal prosecutor

Swati Mylavarapu: Founder, Incite.org; Co-Founder, The Arena

Melissa Murray: Professor & former Interim Dean, Berkeley Law School; Visiting Professor, New York University School of Law

Christy Lopez: Professor, Georgetown Law; former Deputy Chief, U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division

Julian Mortenson:  Professor of constitutional law, University of Michigan Law School

Erin Bernstein:  Senior Deputy City Attorney, City of Oakland

Stella Burch Elias:  Professor of immigration law, University of Iowa College of Law


PARTNER SUPPORT


Program + Development Consultants

The Ambassadors Circle is a collective on a mission to inspire and equip our tribes to #DoMoreGood.

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LT Hilton, Ambassador

Latanya (LT) Hilton has been a champion for social good and underserved communities for more than 15 years. Through her roles in fund development and executive leadership, she has raised over $20 million to support education and nonprofit organizations. She is a Founding Ambassador with The Ambassadors Circle, a collective on a mission to inspire and equip their tribes to #DoMoreGood, and the former Vice President of Development and Strategic Partnerships for the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Santa Clara University.

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J. Hilton, Ambassador

J. Hilton loves to build, whether as a social entrepreneur, community organizer or corporate citizen. Throughout his career, Hilton has led diverse teams for globally recognized brands such as Pandora and Yahoo. He currently works as a Founding Ambassador of The Ambassadors Circle and a Principal of Seven International.  Hilton graduated from Santa Clara University where as a student he founded a community oriented media network that produced a culturally forward magazine and hosted innovative live experiences throughout the region.