WLALA President 2020-2021
ANNUAL GIVING CAMPAIGN FOR THE WLALA FOUNDATION THE HOLIDAYS ARE A TIME FOR JOY AND GIVING: SPOTLIGHT ON WLALA/ICLC FELLOWS ABBEY LENT AND ELIZABETH RUSSO
At the Holidays, our gift to you is to share some of the stories from our scholarship and fellowship recipients. Thanks to your generosity over the past eleven years, the Foundation has raised more than $180,000 to fund:
- 35 scholarships for law students committed to issues affecting women and/or children.
- 16 Fran Kandel Public Interest Fellowships for law student projects that make governmental and social institutions and agencies more accessible to the underserved.
- 3 WLALA/Inner City Law Center Fellowships for law students interested in working to address the needs of homeless women veterans.
- WLALA Foundation’s many other pro bono activities, including the Honorable Beverly Reid O’Connell Power Lunches and its support of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law and the Downtown Women’s Center.
We are proud to share the stories of the creation of our partnership with the Inner City Law Center (ICLC) to help the growing number of female veterans in need of legal advocates and two of our fellowship recipients, Abbey Lent, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, and Elizabeth Russo, a second-year student at Loyola Law School.
ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project is one of the few projects in the nation that offers free legal services to homeless veterans, and it serves both male and female veterans. In 2009, ICLC began to focus on female veterans who were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and becoming homeless, including women who were survivors of military sexual trauma. Since 2017, the WLALA Foundation has sponsored summer law clerks (or fellows) to work with ICLC’s Homeless Veterans Project and serve chronically homeless woman veterans.
Past ICLC/WLALA Fellows have navigated the bureaucratic intricacies of the Department of Veterans Affairs, learned how to best work with clients’ doctors and care providers in order to ensure the best outcomes for them, and committed themselves to serving the brave individuals who chose to serve their country. Fellows have also worked on VA disability benefits cases and discharge upgrades for women veteran clients, helped draft benefits applications, assisted with client intake, researched issues on new VA policies and procedures, and strengthened their passion for working with veterans.
Abbey Lent was the inaugural recipient of the WLALA/ICLC Fellowship, and Elizabeth Russo was one of this year’s two WLALA/ICLC Fellows, along with Laure Kohne.
After her fellowship, Abbey proudly exclaimed, “The opportunity to serve women veterans as a summer fellow was life-changing, and I was lucky enough to be able to return to Inner City Law Center as an Equal Justice Works Fellow after graduating to continue doing the work that WLALA inspired me to do. I will forever be grateful to WLALA for opening the door to my dream job for me.”
Elizabeth similarly reported, “The WLALA/ICLC Fellowship allowed me to make meaningful connections with female veterans in desperate need of a voice. Not only was I able to learn the substantive law, I was also able to assist these women gain access to benefits rightfully owed. I am so thankful WLALA’s fellowship award granted me an opportunity to give back to our female veterans. I will be forever changed by this experience.”
Kudos to Abbey and Elizabeth for their work with homeless women veterans. Our scholarship and fellowship recipients exemplify some of the best talent coming into the profession. We plan to share more stories with you about our scholarship and fellowship recipients before the Annual Giving Campaign closes at the end of January.
We hope Abbey and Elizabeth’s stories inspire you to contribute to the Annual Giving Campaign. Your contributions will be very well used and help law students make a difference in our community as they serve members of our community. Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent provided by law. To make your contribution, CLICK HERE. Many thanks to those who have already given.
With gratitude and our wishes for a warm and wonderful Holiday Season,
Jennifer Altfeld Landau and Susan Steinhauser
WLALA Foundation Annual Giving Committee Co-Chairs
Inner City Law Center Liaison
Joan Kessler and G. Lisa Wick
Inner City Law Center Liaisons