Jenny Pelaez Selected as the First Paul M. Dodyk Fellow for Economic Justice
The Paul M. Dodyk Fellowship for Economic Justice was created by generous donors to honor longtime NCLEJ Board Chair Paul Dodyk for his lifetime commitment to using the law to promote fair and dignified treatment for everyone in our society, regardless of their means.
Jenny Pelaez, selected as the first Dodyk Fellow, graduated magna cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2011, where she was a Public Service Scholar, Dean's Distinguished Scholar, and an Associate Editor of the Cardozo Law Review. Upon graduating, Jenny was awarded the E. Nathaniel Gates Award for outstanding public advocacy contributing to the achievement of equal justice under the law. Prior to law school, Jenny received her B.A., with distinction, in Communication and Public Service from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. She currently serves as a law clerk for the Honorable Frank Maas in the Southern District of New York.
While in law school, Jenny participated in the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, through which she successfully defended a detained legal permanent resident from deportation; organized a community law clinic to assist Haitian immigrants to apply for status; and worked on national law reform campaigns. In her third year, as a Debevoise& Plimpton fellow at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Jenny assisted in efforts to address barriers faced by low-income communities to quality health care and to promote equal access to services for people with disabilities. Jenny spent her summers interning at a human rights organization in Gujarat, India, and at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Democracy, where she worked on several cases addressing national security, First Amendment, and human rights issues.
Throughout her time at Cardozo, Jenny was actively involved in a number of student organizations; for instance, she founded Cardozo’s chapter of Mediators Beyond Borders while serving as the president of the Cardozo Dispute Resolution Society. Jenny also participated in a seminar abroad examining the post-genocide reconciliation process in Rwanda.
Jenny’s commitment to social justice stems in large part from experiences growing up in a primarily immigrant and working-class community. After immigrating from the Philippines in 1994, Jenny’s family depended on several public assistance programs to begin their lives in the United States. She remains keenly aware that the assistance her family received from these programs freed her to pursue goals and aspire to possibilities that otherwise may have been unattainable. She says she is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with NCLEJ to meaningfully improve the lives of disadvantaged members of society and looks forward to an exciting and productive two years as a Dodyk Fellow.
Jennifer Selendy, Chair of the NCLEJ Board of Directors, commented, "On behalf of the entire board, I would like to express how honored we are to have such a accomplished woman, and such a promising young lawyer as Jenny become our first Dodyk Fellow. It is precisely the tribute to Paul we hoped for. I also want to express our gratitude to the donors who have made this Fellowship possible."