Two NDLS Grads Named First Bank of America Foundation Community Sustainability Fellows

Author: Lauren Love

Notre Dame Law School, in conjunction with the Bank of America Foundation, has named two 2015 NDLS graduates as the inaugural recipients of a newly announced public service fellowship. The Bank of America Foundation Community Sustainability Fellowship, which began this fall, places NDLS graduates in city agencies or private nonprofits for a two-year term.

“I am grateful to the Bank of America Foundation for making this fellowship possible and I am very proud of Jason and Rachel as well,” Dean Nell Jessup Newton said. “Being named a Bank of America Foundation Fellow is a significant achievement, and I look forward to great things from both of our inaugural fellows.”

The first fellow, Jason Sethen, ’15 J.D., is working at the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund. The Trust Fund directly assists individuals and families to achieve safe and secure housing through rent subsidies, and multi-year affordability through an up-front investment program that allows landlords to reduce their rental charges.

“The fellowship will present me with a rare opportunity for legal experience beyond the constraints of a traditional first-year associate position,” Sethen said. “My responsibilities will mirror those of a general counsel, but I will also have exceptional mentors in the pro-bono attorneys that assist the Trust Fund.”

The Trust Fund has previously relied on off-site, pro-bono legal services. Having an attorney placed in the organization’s offices through the Foundation’s Fellowship will allow legal issues to be addressed with greater efficiency and efficacy, said Sethen.

Rachel Winkler, ’15 J.D., is the second fellow. Rachel will work at the International Institute of the Bay Area in San Francisco and will assist non-citizens seeking a legal pathway to citizenship and Violence Against Women Act self-petitions for undocumented survivors of domestic violence and other violent crimes.

“This fellowship’s focus on community sustainability aligns well with my desire to represent vulnerable immigrant populations,” Winkler said.
Each fellow designs and implements solutions to community sustainability problems and, where possible, makes current programs more effective.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to promote sustainable community change through my work with the International Institute of the Bay Area. I believe true sustainable change requires positively affecting the lives of those most vulnerable in a community,” Winker said. “Providing deserving noncitizens with legal status allows them to exercise autonomy regarding the path they wish their own lives to take and to independently prosper.”

As part of the program, the fellows will return to Notre Dame each spring for a presentation or conference relating to their work for current students.

“The fellowship presents an excellent stepping stone into the world of public service,” Sethen said. “As a job-seeker in that area, I would point out that it can be difficult to find a position which not only allows one to have a significant impact within one’s community, but