Skip to main content
All Posts By

Kaitlyn Pieper

Donor Spotlight: Florence J. Gillmor Foundation

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) likes to dream big for Utah’s legal community and students, but would not be able to actually implement programming without the vision and time of amazing attorney volunteers and leaders, or without the generous donations of foundations. 

UCLI is grateful to receive – for the sixth consecutive year – a grant award from the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation. The Gillmor Foundation aims to support many worthy initiatives within Utah, including the promotion of education and the pursuit of justice. UCLI and the Gillmor Foundation share a common vision for a state where students are supported in their educational pursuits and able to follow their vocations of choice, and UCLI is honored to be one of the recipients of their grant awards in 2024. We are also delighted to announce that the funds received from the Gillmor Foundation included a 1:1 matching grant for both the Michael Foundation grant award and for the individual donations and silent auction contributions at the UCLI Fundraiser Luncheon: Mentorship Matters on March 21, 2024. 

Like the Gillmor Foundation, UCLI is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for Utahns of all backgrounds. Thanks to this generous grant, UCLI will be able to continue its PLEDGE Program (Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere). In 2024, these funds will allow us to work with students aspiring to be attorneys at every level – K-12, undergraduate, and those within law school – to provide crucial resources that will allow them to meet their goals. We are grateful to continue these vital efforts and are indebted to the donors who allow UCLI’s work to continue. Thank you, Gillmor Foundation, for the many ways you make Utah a more vibrant and inclusive community, and for your kind support of the UCLI mission.

Donor Spotlight: Herbert I. and Elsa B. Michael Foundation

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) has a lot of dreams and is committed to making them a reality, but would simply be unable to do it without the support of amazing volunteers, gifted professionals, and generous donors and foundations. 

UCLI is grateful to receive – for the third consecutive year – a grant award from the Herbert I. and Elsa B. Michael Foundation. The Michael Foundation aims to support the promotion of education, the advancement of health and scientific achievements, and the prevention of cruelty to children. They are especially interested in giving to programs that encourage secondary and higher education. UCLI and the Michael Foundation share a common vision for a state where students are supported in their educational pursuits and able to follow their vocations of choice, and UCLI was honored to be one of the recipients of their grant awards in the 2023 cycle. We are also delighted to announce that the funds received from the Michael Foundation are subject to a 1:1 matching grant, generously provided by the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation – so the impact of this gift will be doubled.

Like the Michael Foundation, UCLI is dedicated to facilitating educational advancement for Utahns of all backgrounds. Thanks to this grant, UCLI will be able to continue its PLEDGE Program (Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere). In 2024, these funds will allow us to work with K-12, undergraduate, and law students – providing mentoring opportunities and financial aid in the form of fellowships and scholarships to students at various stages of their journey to and through law school. We are happy to continue these important efforts and indebted to the donors who make it all possible. Thank you, Michael Foundation, for the contributions you make to Utah’s educational landscape and for your generous support of the UCLI mission.

2024 UCLI & Kirton McConkie Pre-Law Fellowship

By News

We are pleased to announce that the 2024 UCLI & Kirton McConkie Pre-Law Fellowship is launching this March. The first cohort will include ten students or recent graduates from Utah who are seriously interested in the study of law. The Fellowship includes an enrichment series of ten seminars on topics related to law school, the legal field, and law school application; access to a designated attorney mentor and law student mentor; a fully paid LSAT course; and reimbursement of any related expenses, such as law school applications, LSAT test fees, and travel to attend the seminars. The first seminar of the enrichment series will be held in March 2024; they will then be held on a monthly basis through December 2024. 

The ultimate intent of the Pre-Law Fellowship is to increase the number of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in Utah’s legal profession. The Fellowship is designed to provide a pathway for people to practice law in the state of Utah. It is aimed at facilitating opportunities for undergraduate students or recent college graduates who seriously plan to pursue legal education and who have a long-term goal of practicing law in the state of Utah. Pre-Law Fellows are expected to participate in the monthly seminars in-person or remotely, participate in the free LSAT preparation course offered through the Fellowship, apply to law school by the end of 2025, take the LSAT examination at least once by December 2024, and participate in intake and exit surveys. 

We warmly welcome the ten participants in the first ever cohort of this program! You may read more about each Fellow and their impressive accomplishments below.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors who are making this program possible:

Kirton McConkie, Champion Sponsor

LSAC DEI Pipeline

Utah Bar Foundation

University of Utah Office of General Counsel, Supporting Sponsor

Family Law Executive Committee Bar Section of the Utah State Bar

 

Camden Alexander

Camden Alexander will graduate from the University of Utah in the Class of 2024 with two Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Criminology. She has experience in environmental research, journalism and social activism, and hopes to utilize her skills as an effective lawyer. She plans to attend a law school in the Northeast, but will return to the roots she has established here in Salt Lake City. Upon graduating from law school, Camden intends to serve as a public defender before eventually becoming a prosecutor for the state of Utah.

Camden Alexander

 

Tala Alnasser

Tala is an Arab-Muslim student at BYU from Jordan and Palestine. She is a Public Relations and French double major and is minoring in sociology. Tala is deeply committed to bridge building and fostering belonging in her community. She has moved more than six different times, and speaks Arabic, English, and French fluently. In her free time, she reads, writes, hosts cook nights and plays chess. She has played for Jordan’s Olympic Chess Team and plays with chess hustlers every time she travels. Tala is a huge advocate for interfaith and cross cultural experiences and deeply believes in the power of proximity as a medium for social progress.

Tala Alnasser

 

Aranza Castillo

Aranza Castillo is a proud first generation immigrant from Mexico. She graduated from the University of Utah in Business Management in 2021. As she navigated the higher education system she started learning about the different systems of oppression and noticed how they manifested in our communities. Through her personal experiences of seeing how systematic barriers have impacted underrepresented communities, it helped develop her passion for social justice. Aranza has always looked for roles that allow her to empower, educate, and support her community. While in school she was involved in various programs aimed at supporting first generation students. Aranza is excited and grateful to be part of the fellowship, and to be able to get closer to her goal of becoming an attorney.

Aranza Castillo

 

Iradukunda Esperance

Iradukunda Esperance is a remarkable fourth-year student at the University of Utah, where she is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Gender Studies. Originally from Kigoma, Tanzania, Iradukunda migrated to the United States at a young age and has since been dedicated to her academic pursuits.

With a deep passion for the legal field, Iradukunda is committed to exploring the intersections of law, politics, and gender. Her diverse background and experiences have fueled her desire to advocate for justice and equality in society. She hopes to make a meaningful impact in the legal profession in the future.

Iradukunda Esperance

 

Sophie Gordon

Sophie Kay Gordon is a Utah native and recent graduate of Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature, and minors in Global Women’s Studies and Asian Studies. Passionate about LGBTQ+ visibility and progress, Sophie served as a Committee Chair with BYU USGA, planning activities and leading efforts to advocate for queer students. Since graduating, Sophie has worked as a legal assistant in the litigation section at Dentons Durham Jones Pinegar. In her free time, Sophie enjoys writing, collecting western-inspired trinkets, putting together a good outfit, and traveling with family and friends. Sophie looks forward to being involved with UCLI and applying to law school this fall.

Sophie Gordon

 

Fagasoaia-Iliganoa Leituala

Fagasoaia-Iliganoa Leituala, or Noa for short, is currently in his fourth year of pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Brigham Young University. Having lived everywhere from Tonga to Utah to Texas, he has had the opportunity to meet and work with people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Noa plans to be the first attorney in his family and one of the first Polynesian patent attorneys in the nation. Whenever he is not learning about mechatronics or calculus, he loves spending time with his family, finding a fun new restaurant with his wife, or volunteering at youth football camps.

Fagasoaia-Iliganoa Leituala

 

Audrey Pozernick

Audrey Pozernick is a Philosophy and Honors Political Science major at the University of Utah. Audrey is a One Refugee scholar alumni and cares about advancing racial justice and access. She aims to attend law school to explore her interests in healthcare policy, law, and ethics.

Audrey Pozernick

 

Victoria Roberts

Victoria is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Utah Valley University, she has also been trying to gain practical legal experience through working as a paralegal for the past two years. As a first generation college student, she has had to navigate completing her education while balancing real-world work. In addition to her studies and paralegal role, she volunteers time as a translator for immigration attorneys. Through this work, she has been able to support immigrants and develop language skills. She also works as a research assistant with the Center for Constitutional Studies at UVU. As a political science major, she is deeply interested in policy, law, and social change. She has high hopes to apply her education and experiences to a career in law after graduation. She is a proud first generation college student and looks forward to all the opportunities ahead as she completes her degree. She is extremely grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to taking full advantage of this fellowship.

Victoria Roberts

 

Ruby Vejar

As a first Generation student Senator at Weber State University, Ruby has reached many lives through art and service. Ruby is involved in almost any club you can think of because she likes to stay busy. She works at Center for Community Engaged Learning, serves as a college mentor, became a USHEAN board member specializing in accessibility and poverty issues, is an Newman Fellow for Utah and was asked to serve on the UServeUtah college Council. Additionally, she is a 7 for 17 award winner and has had the honor of being a panelist in many symposiums around Utah.

Ruby Vejar

 

Bubba Walker

Bubba Walker is studying Experience Design and Non-Profit Management at Brigham Young University. He is a member of the BYU Men’s Lacrosse team and enjoys volunteering with local, youth lacrosse programs. Bubba looks forward to attending law school in Fall 2025.

Bubba Walker

 

*This project received funding from the Law School Admission Council, Inc. (LSAC).  The opinions and conclusions contained in this document are the opinions and conclusions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of LSAC.

Donor Spotlight: Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) has many ambitious goals and important programs, but without community support from volunteers, legal professionals, and incredible donors and foundations we couldn’t make any of it a reality.

UCLI is proud to be a first-time award recipient of the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation. Founded in 2007, the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation aims to continue the philanthropic spirit exemplified by Larry and Gail Miller for future generations. The Miller Family Foundation supports programs that enrich lives and communities in the areas of health and medicine, shelter and food security, education and skill development, jobs and economic self-reliance, and cultural and spiritual enrichment. UCLI and the Miller Family Foundation share a common vision for a state where all individuals have access to educational opportunities, regardless of their background, and UCLI was honored to be one of the recipients of their grant awards in December 2023.

 Like the Miller Family Foundation, UCLI is dedicated to facilitating educational advancement for Utahns from all walks of life. Thanks to this grant, UCLI will be able to continue its PLEDGE Program (Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere). In 2024, these funds will allow us to work with K-12, undergraduate, and law students – mentoring, encouraging, and providing meaningful fellowships and scholarships. We are excited to continue this important work and are grateful for the donors who make it possible. Thank you, Miller Family Foundation, for the meaningful contributions you make in the community and for your generous support of UCLI’s mission.

Women Leaders – Promoting Equality in the Justice System

By News

On Friday, November 10 UCLI had the unique opportunity to host a workshop for a group of esteemed visitors. The workshop was titled “Women Leaders – Promoting Equality in the Justice System; A Regional Project for the Near East and North Africa.” The workshop participants were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The State Department invited UCLI to host a half-day workshop that focused on leadership development for women in the legal profession. Together with the Utah State Bar, who provided a venue and expertise, we welcomed four women from Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia and had a great day together learning from respected members of Utah’s legal community. 

First, workshop participants heard from Michelle Oldroyd, Director of Professional Education and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at the Utah State Bar, who provided an introductory overview of the topic. Her remarks were followed by Session 1: Equality in Utah’s Justice System. Jon Wayas, Associate Director of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, moderated a panel discussion with Melinda Bowen, Attorney at Snow Christensen & Martineau; Jennifer Yim, Administrative Director at the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole; and Martha Knudson, Executive Director of Utah State Bar’s Well-Being Committee for the Legal Profession. They discussed challenges and to equality in Utah and spoke about principles for achieving greater parity for women, no matter where in the world we are. Session 2 was on the topic of Equal Access to Education and we heard from Mr John Arthur, 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year at Meadowlark Elementary; Barbara Melendez, Director of Diversity Equity and Belonging at Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School; and Isabel Moreno, Director Of Admissions And Financial Aid at University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law. Each brought a great perspective about the importance of education as an equalizer and shared ideas of how to engage more girls and women at the K-12 and higher education levels. Finally, we were honored to hear from Justice Paige Petersen, Justice of the Utah Supreme Court for Session 3 on the topic of The Changing Face of Leadership. Justice Petersen spoke about changing laws for women throughout the history of the United States and discussed how the landscape in Utah has been changing in recent decades. A robust and interactive discussion and lunch were then enjoyed by all. 

UCLI expresses its gratitude to the Utah State Bar for allowing us to meet in the Law and Justice Center and for its excellent hospitality. We are also grateful to Utah Global Diplomacy for facilitating this exchange. Finally, thank you to the outstanding participants and presenters – we loved getting to know you and were honored to gather to discuss important topics and learn from one another. 

Donor Spotlight: Law School Admission Council (LSAC)

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) would not be able to successfully run its programming without the support of incredible donors and partners. One of our recent, first-time donors is the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). LSAC is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to advance law and justice by encouraging diverse, talented individuals to study law and by supporting their enrollment and learning journeys from pre-law through practice. 

UCLI and LSAC share a common vision for the future of the legal profession, and UCLI is honored to receive the LSAC DEI Pipeline Grant for programming during 2024. 

Thanks to this generous grant, UCLI will be able to launch a new program: the 2024 UCLI and Kirton McConkie Pre-law Fellowship. This Fellowship aims to support up to 10 individuals interested in the study of law. The Fellowship includes an enrichment series of 10 seminars on topics related to law school, the legal field, and law school application; access to a designated attorney mentor and law student mentor; a fully paid LSAT course; and reimbursement of certain related expenses. Additional information about eligibility and programming is available here; interested individuals may apply here. We express deep gratitude to the additional donors who have made this program possible: Kirton McConkie, Utah Bar Foundation, and the University of Utah Office of General Counsel. 

We express our gratitude to LSAC and look forward to a collaborative relationship in the years to come!

*This project received funding from the Law School Admission Council, Inc. (LSAC).  The opinions and conclusions contained in this document are the opinions and conclusions of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of LSAC.

Staying in the Game CLE Event

By News

On October 5, 2023, the Utah Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, in partnership with the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, the Women Lawyers of Utah, and the Utah State Bar were proud to present Staying in the Game, a CLE event centered on the topic of Recruiting, Retaining, and Promoting the Advancement of Women and Diverse Talent in the Legal Profession. We gathered at noon and enjoyed a delicious catered lunch from Roula’s Cafe for two hours at the Orrin G. Hatch U.S. Courthouse’s Jury Assembly Room or via Zoom. The program was designed to encourage women and diverse talent to get in —and stay in—the game and to address how practitioners and organizations can act as champions in recruiting, retaining, and promoting the advancement of women and diverse talent in the legal profession.

The first hour was a Judicial Panel featuring the Honorable Carolyn B. McHugh, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the Honorable Daphne A. Oberg, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, the Honorable Cecilia M. Romero, Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, and the Honorable Peggy Hunt, Bankruptcy Judge, U. S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Utah. The panel was moderated by Artemis D. Vamianakis, Fabian VanCott. The judges discussed lots of important topics and issues, including how they “got in the game” and what factors allowed them to “stay in the game” and get to where they are today. They shared their motivations for sticking around, champions in their career who helped promote their advancement, and policies that allowed them to succeed. They also addressed the discouraging lack of professionalism and civility from opposing counsel that attorneys sometimes feel, and discussed ways that attorneys can rely on the rules of professionalism and civility to push back against these situations. They rounded it off with fantastic advice for law students and young attorneys in the crowd about how to find their place in the profession, use their voice, and have the courage to stick around despite difficulties. 

The second hour was a Practitioner Panel with attorneys offering practical strategies and best practices for firms and organizations at various levels. The presenters included Tracy S. Combs, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Christina M. Jepson, Parsons Behle & Latimer; Andrea T. Martinez, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah; Caroline A. Olsen, Zimmerman Booher; Artemis D. Vamianakis, Fabian VanCott; and was moderated by Jenifer Tomchak; Tomchak Skolout Law. The panel addressed a number of important issues, including discussions on how law firms can navigate the new climate in the wake of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision and ensure that their diversity programs and policies are still thriving despite the legal pushback. They also discussed various programs and policies that they have seen to be effective among legal employers.  

We were grateful that so many members of the judiciary and legal profession, as well as law students and students interested in attending law school, attended and benefited from the collective wisdom and advice of the panelists. There were over 200 people listening in the room or virtually. Thank you for your support of these important topics and for everything you do to make the legal profession a more inclusive place for people of all identities and backgrounds. 

Read More

UCLI Presents at the Governor’s Native American Summit

By News

UCLI was honored to present at the 17th annual Governor’s Native American Summit at the Sorensen Student Center at Utah Valley University on Friday, June 23, 2023. The event was hosted by the Utah Division of Indian Affairs and is the only event in the state where State and Tribal leaders, community stakeholders, educators, and community members converge to learn more about the issues and concerns impacting Utah’s American Indian population. This year’s theme was Connecting Our Communities: Reverence for Our Elders, Our Youth, Ourselves, and Each Other. 

Cliff Parkinson, Chair of Community Outreach, and Kaitlyn Pieper, Executive Director, presented the UCLI breakout session. Cliff led off with a discussion of recent national tribal cases and highlighted the importance of having legal advocates fighting for Native American rights at the state and federal level. Kaitlyn then introduced UCLI’s purpose and programs, highlighting initiatives at the K-12, Pre-Law, and Law School levels. The UCLI First Generation outreach video was then displayed, which many attendees found very relatable. The last twenty minutes of the session was devoted to listening to feedback and suggestions from attendees about what their communities could benefit from and how UCLI could improve its outreach. We were honored to have among the audience members multiple individuals who plan to attend law school, as well as Larry Echo Hawk, a member of the Pawnee nation and a celebrated attorney. 

UCLI was grateful for the opportunity to attend such an incredible event and to learn from the many other presenters and sessions. Thank you to James Toledo and Dustin Jansen at the Utah Division of Indian Affairs for the chance to present. If anyone has additional suggestions for collaboration efforts between UCLI and Tribal communities, we welcome your feedback and introductions at .

 

  Read More

Welcoming the International Visitor Leadership Program

By News

This month the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion had the opportunity to host a group of ten international visitors from Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. These visitors were invited to the United States under the auspices of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program as a Regional Project for the Near East and North Africa. While in the United States the program participants explored the topics of the Rule of Law and the U.S. Judicial System. Their program was arranged by CRDF Global. Nicholas Merrill and his colleagues at the Utah Global Diplomacy generously invited UCLI to host the group for an afternoon. 

On June 26, 2023, Mary Anne Davies and her colleagues at the Disability Law Center welcomed us into their beautiful facility and provided a tour of the building and a brief presentation about the Disability Law Center’s mission. We then met back in the boardroom and Kaitlyn Pieper, UCLI Executive Director, provided a demographic overview of Utah and Utah’s legal profession. Following this, we heard from a panel of experts including Jon Wayas, Associate Director at the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion; Michelle Oldroyd, Director of Professional Education & Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Utah State Bar; and Jon Puente, Director of the Office of Fairness, Equity, and Accountability at the Administrative Office of the Courts. The panel was interactive and responded to many audience questions, including questions about bias and discrimination in the court systems and racial dynamics in the United States. 

UCLI was honored to host such a distinguished group of legal professionals who are doing such incredible work to move justice forward in their home countries (names and home countries of participants listed below). Thank you to Nicholas Merrill and his colleagues at Utah Global Diplomacy for making this connection and to Mary Anne Davies and the Disability Law Center for hosting us at their lovely venue.

Egypt, Mr. Mohanad Mohamed Rasheed Elkholy

Egypt, Ms. Fatma Serageldin Khalil Mohamed

Israel, Ms. Nareman Shehadeh Zoabi 

Lebanon, Mr. Youssef Diab

Lebanon, Mr. Roland El Chartouni

Palestinian Territories, Mr. Kanan Alsourani

Palestinian Territories, Mr. Majdi Rabei

Qatar, Mr. Ahmed Mohammed Al Sulaiti

Saudi Arabia, Mr. Abdulrahman Rafea Alamary 

Saudi Arabia, Mr. Abdullah Mohammed Algar

Read More

Women of the World Legal Workshop Series: Immigration

By News

UCLI is honored to partner with Women of the World this summer to host a six-part series of free legal workshops open to all members of the community. The workshop topics thus far have included navigating the law in daily life, divorce and custody, and immigration. We welcome anyone who has an interest in expanding their knowledge regarding the law, particularly those with a refugee or immigrant background, and invite participation for the remaining topics, which include: workplace discrimination, general housing issues, as well as housing and rent discrimination.

On 22 June 2023, the third legal workshop in the series was hosted at the Women of the World office and presented by one of the UCLI board members, Geidy Achecar. Geidy owns her own law practice which focuses on personal injury cases, immigration law, and divorce/family law matters. She was able to share her in-depth knowledge on immigration matters to a large audience in Spanish, thanks to her native fluency in the language. The workshop attendees were very engaged and asked many questions, which Geidy helped answer as well as providing them with resources that allowed them to answer their own questions. There were also two recent college graduates in the audience who plan to attend law school. Geidy was able to share information with them about the upcoming Pre-Law Symposium and Pre-Law Fellowship.  


Geidy describes her own experience presenting at the event as follows:

“The demands of practicing make it hard to find time to serve our communities, this event was such a good reminder that especially for those who don’t have access to attorneys and may not know how to navigate the law, just a small amount of our time and training can make a huge difference in people’s lives. I loved being in community with the women who attended and the organizers who do the work daily.”

We would like to thank Geidy Achecar for sharing her expertise. We would also like to extend a thank you to Ghinwa Hneide, WoW’s case manager, for facilitating the event. Thank you also to Wings on Wheels, a Spice Kitchen Entrepreneur, for the fantastic catering.

Please also help us spread the word to your friends and neighbors with refugee and immigrant backgrounds; see the flyer below.

Read More

Close Menu