Inside NACDL: Advancing Criminal Justice Practice and Policy: NACDL Interns and Law Fellows

NACDL has been fortunate to have students from across the country serve as interns. They enjoy a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge issues facing the criminal justice system.

Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.

This month I am pleased that Ezra Dunkle-Polier is the guest author of Inside NACDL. Ezra assumed the position of Public Affairs and Communications Assistant in June. Prior to joining the NACDL team, he spent two years as a Legal Assistant at a boutique law firm in Washington, D.C. In his free time, he tutors students in the Washington metro area and enjoys distance running. Ezra graduated from Tufts University in 2013 with degrees in Political Science and Japanese. — Norman L. Reimer 

Summer is a definite time of change around the country, as many people travel to new places and embrace new experiences, and NACDL is no different. For a number of years, NACDL has been fortunate to have intelligent and engaging students from across the country serve as interns. The interns who serve at NACDL enjoy a unique opportunity to learn about cutting-edge issues facing America’s criminal justice system and the Association’s wide-ranging efforts in pursuit of

criminal justice reform. NACDL’s interns attend events in and around Washington, D.C., and partake in multiple educational opportunities at NACDL. This year, under the leadership of State Legislative Affairs and Special Projects Director Angelyn Frazer, NACDL is fortunate to host two talented undergraduate interns.

Now in its sixth year, NACDL also proudly sponsors a Summer Minority Law Fellowships Program. The purpose of the fellowship is to advance diversity in the criminal defense community by giving underrepresented populations an opportunity to gain significant and meaningful experience in a criminal defense law practice. The program offers law students aspiring to a career in criminal defense the distinct opportunity to spend several weeks working directly with practicing criminal defense attorneys on the front lines. NACDL funded three Fellows this year — two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

The program operates under the auspices of NACDL’s Diversity Task Force, chaired by NACDL member Geneva Vanderhorst of Washington, D.C.

NACDL Interns

Photo Credit: Jason Rogers

Grace Fording is a senior at American University majoring in Justice and Law with a minor in French. After previously interning at the Department of Juvenile Services in Largo, Md., she currently serves as NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Intern, where she primarily assists Angelyn Frazer in organizing the State Criminal Justice Network Conference. Grace, who is in the process of applying to law school, has a passion for policy reform, particularly in the areas of juvenile sentencing, civil asset forfeiture, and the intersection of mental health and criminal justice. In addition to handling numerous office tasks at NACDL, she has also had the opportunity to attend several events around Washington, D.C., where she has learned about how the theories of criminal justice may be put into practice. Grace spends most of her breaks back home in Belgium, and she is on track to graduate from college one semester early.

Photo Credit: Jason Rogers

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Danielle Stanciel is a senior at Howard University with a major in Legal Communications and a minor in Administration of Justice. As a State Legislative Affairs Intern at NACDL, she manages panelists and other logistical needs for the State Criminal Justice Network Conference, and also provides data organization support for Clemency Project 2014. Danielle gained her interest in criminal justice after attending a law program offered by the Just The Beginning Foundation as a high school student back in her native Chicago, Ill. In fact, she later returned to the program as a counselor to help mentor other students learning about the American justice system and the legal profession. One of the most memorable moments from her summer was attending an event on Capitol Hill concerning girls in juvenile justice. Danielle’s professional goals include attending law school and potentially becoming a public defender.

Diversity Task Force 2015 Summer Law Fellows

Camille Hill is a third-year student at Elon School of Law and is scheduled to graduate in the fall of 2015. She currently works as an NACDL Summer Minority Law Fellow in Washington, D.C., at the law firms of Harden & Pinckney PLLC, and Hunter & Johnson PLLC, where she is responsible for drafting, researching, and filing motions in various courts on behalf of the firms’ clients. While working directly with clients, she has come to understand the importance of making sure their stories are heard. She has had a strong interest in criminal justice for a number of years, and gained a wealth of experience while working at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. In her time there, she learned the importance of understanding the big-picture concepts of every case in which she was involved. A native of Marietta, Ga., Camille completed her undergraduate work at Elon University with a major in Strategic Communications and a minor in French.


Janissia Orgill is a third-year law student at American University’s Washington College of Law, and is an NACDL Summer Minority Law Fellow at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in New York City. As part of her fellowship, she has done considerable work on behalf of clients seeking diversion programs or other alternatives to prison, which often requires corresponding with social workers, drafting motions, and conducting research. While most of her day-to-day workload consists of spending time in courtrooms and interfacing with clients, she also shadows the executive director of the service, NACDL First Vice President Rick Jones, and observes efforts to reform criminal justice policy, particularly in the context of indigent defense. Janissia came to NACDL because she sought a community committed to advocating for individual defendants and larger criminal justice policy initiatives, and her prior experience in multiple public defenders’ offices as well as on her mock trial team has given her a heightened passion for defending the seemingly defenseless. As a result, she hopes to become a public defender following law school. Janissia originally hails from Brooklyn, N.Y., and she graduated from Northwestern University, majoring in African American Studies and History.

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Whitney Williams is a third-year law student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. She also serves as a NACDL Summer Minority Law Fellow at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in New York City. In addition to shadowing one of the service’s litigation attorneys, she has spoken on the record during arraignments, composed letters to district attorneys regarding sentencing policy, and has had significant interaction with clients. Whitney has a strong passion for community leadership and giving a voice to the voiceless. While she has had a wealth of experience in her law school’s criminal defense clinic, a private criminal defense and civil rights firm, and the Columbia, Mo., housing authority, Whitney came to NACDL to simultaneously observe the daily routine of public defenders in court while learning about advocacy strategies for criminal justice policy reform. Originally from St. Louis, Whitney received her undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri with a major in Political Science and Sociology, and a minor in Social Justice. She hopes that her broad range of interests and skill sets will allow her to work as a public defender in the future.

About the Author

Ezra Dunkle-Polier is NACDL’s Public Affairs and Communications Assistant.

Ezra Dunkle-Polier
1660 L Street, NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Fax 202-872-8690