Anderson Fellowship Recipients

2022 – Nicole Smith

Nicole Smith has a longstanding commitment to serving those who typically lack access to the justice system. Nicole graduated from Washington University School of Law in 2019, but her commitment to public interest law began while she was still in law school. She interned at the Missouri Public Defender’s Office, the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender, and the ACLU of Illinois. She also volunteered as a hotline operator for the ACLU’s Judicial Bypass Project and as a domestic violence court monitor in St. Louis County.  

Nicole is passionate, dedicated, and a strong advocate. Justice Mary Mikva, in recalling Nicole’s time as a clerk in her chambers, stated that there were times when Nicole was able to convince her and even other justices to reconsider their positions on certain cases by showing how certain evidence could be interpreted in a different light.

As a staff attorney at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), Nicole works on a project funded by the state’s Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program for the Safe and Thriving Communities Initiative, hosted by the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. This program focuses on providing services to youth to prevent gun and domestic violence. A large part of her work is providing direct legal services and education for young adults in the southern suburbs of Cook County. One example of the many exemplary things Nicole has been able to do while at CLGA is successfully petition judges to seal and expunge the criminal and juvenile records of multiple clients in contested proceedings. Her current supervisor praised Nicole’s empathy for her clients and the communities that CGLA seeks to serve. 

Nicole truly embodies the character and commitment to public interest that the Anderson Fellowship seeks to reward. As this year’s recipient of the Anderson Fellowship, Nicole will be able to continue her excellent work at CGLA, serving communities in Chicago that are often overlooked by the legal system.

2021 – Alyssa Phillips

Alyssa K. Phillips, a 2017 graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, is already making a remarkable impact in her legal career as an Education Staff Attorney at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. She advocates and provides legal assistance for the educational rights of homeless students in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs through outreach, community education, and direct representation.  

Alyssa’s passion for equitable education stems from her friendship with a peer experiencing homelessness who was on the same honors track as her during junior high. The friend’s mother struggled with substance abuse, and she and her four younger siblings were bounced to many different houses. As school progressed, Alyssa continued to do well in her classes while her friend began failing. With unreliable transportation, her friend missed school frequently, and her often unhealthy living conditions left her ill. She was the sole provider for her siblings and unable to obtain a driver’s license because she did not have a stable address. By the end of high school, Alyssa graduated and was off to college while her friend had failed too many classes to graduate.  

Alyssa’s passion was fueled further by the negative impact the COVID-19 Pandemic had on many students experiencing homelessness. During the pandemic, Alyssa had to think creatively on how to reach the most vulnerable students. As a result, she facilitated eight Facebook Live sessions around the rights of homeless families to education, and public benefits. Alyssa also assisted homeless shelters with gaining access to Wi-Fi, school fee waivers, and other educational rights information. While this year was incredibly challenging, Alyssa says she has never been more confident of her decision to work public interest law.

2020 – Martin Cozzola

Martin can trace the origins of his strong commitment to public service back to his childhood. The son of a psychologist and a long-time legal aid attorney, Martin’s parents instilled in him the belief that we are all responsible to improve society.  His career in public service is a natural extension of this belief. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Martin committed much of his college years to volunteerism. After college, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Habitat for Humanity in rural New Jersey. This experience had a profound impact on him as he witnessed both what it is was like to live in poverty and the impact a safe and stable home can have on those living in poverty. It was these experiences that influenced his decision to attend Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.

While at Maurer, Martin sought out every available public interest opportunity, and he received two public service awards upon graduation. However, it was his summer internship at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) that cemented his passion for helping Chicago’s most vulnerable populations. Martin’s passion and commitment did not go unnoticed, CVLS hired him as a staff attorney in 2015 to assist people facing foreclosure, including complicated cases in Probate Court that involved deceased homeowners. 

In 2017, Martin was named project leader for CVLS’ new Veterans Pro Bono Program, part of the statewide Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). In this role, Martin works with an intake team to conduct interviews with veterans from all over Chicago and the world. Thus far, Martin has handled over 280 referrals from the IL-AFLAN hotline. Many of his veteran clients are elderly, disabled and suffer from trauma. Together with an army of CVLS volunteer attorneys, Martin ensures that these veterans get the legal representation they deserve. With his passion, integrity and skill, Martin is the epitome of the kind of attorney Kimball and Karen had in mind when they created this fellowship.

2019 – Sue Pak

Sue Pak’s commitment to public service and serving vulnerable communities began well before she attended law school. With a Master of Divinity from Trinity International University, Sue worked for almost 13 years in various ministry settings that served low-income, disenfranchised communities. In these roles, she witnessed firsthand the need for these communities to have access to legal services for them to flourish. She knew a law degree could further her calling of serving these communities, and in 2013, she made the decision to attend DePaul University College of Law.

While at DePaul, Sue worked at the Center of Public Interest Law, and also volunteered at a variety of legal aid organizations to gain a deeper understanding of the issues low-income clients face. However, it was her internships that allowed her to work in the area of criminal records that made the largest impact on Sue and her career, ultimately leading her to apply for and receive a Skadden Fellowship working at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA).

As a Fellow, Sue focused on providing re-entry services to emerging adults who had some interaction with the juvenile or criminal justice systems and lived in the neighborhoods most affected by gun violence. She provided services to expunge and seal records, represented clients in family law court proceedings, and presented Know Your Rights programs to educate emerging adults on their rights. As her fellowship ended, CGLA created the Emerging Adults program, a practice group that focuses on meeting the legal needs of youth and emerging adults and hired Sue as the Supervising Attorney.

Today, Sue continues to tirelessly fight for the rights of her clients in and outside of the courtroom. She gives presentations in the communities that need them the most and provides individual consultations to help clients and their mentors understand the expungement and sealing process. Through the Anderson fellowship, Sue will be able to lessen the burden of her student loans and continue working for the rights of young people in need.

2018 – Lydia J. Sharp

Lydia J. Sharp, a 2016 cum laude graduate of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, already is making a remarkable impact in her legal career as an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Equip for Equality. She provides outreach and legal advocacy to people with disabilities who have been sexually abused or trafficked in Illinois and conducts trainings on the intersection of disability and trafficking.

Lydia’s passion for fighting sexual exploitation of vulnerable populations stems from her personal experiences. Lydia is a survivor of sexual assault and knows firsthand the challenges survivors face in standing up to those in power. During a college trip to the Dominican Republic, Lydia also witnessed the sale of a child into sex trafficking. She returned home to co-author a book about poverty and sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic. But Lydia wanted to do more and decided to go to law school so she could fight the injustice facing victims of sexual exploitation. As she began law school, Lydia was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgeries and treatment throughout the first two years of school. She did not let this challenge stop her from pursuing her dream of fighting against sexual exploitation of vulnerable populations.

At Equip for Equality, Lydia has already worked on life-changing cases against abusive guardians, and universities that refused to cancel debt after the students dropped out of school as a result of sexual assault. She serves as a Steering Committee Member for the National Human Trafficking and Disabilities Working Group, which she helped create, and has trained nearly every Adult Protective Service agency across the state of Illinois. Now that these agencies are better equipped to identify human trafficking, people with disabilities who have been trafficked will have more resources available. Receiving the Anderson Fellowship will provide Lydia with the critical support she needs to maintain her strong commitment to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities who are victims of sex abuse and trafficking.


Sarah Hess


Amanda Walsh


Candace Moore


Catherine Longkumer


Daniel M. Hochbaum


Susan LePeau DeCostanza


Todd L. Belcore


Elizabeth A. Cunningham, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless



Teri L. Ross, Illinois Legal Aid Online


Dennericka Brooks, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago


Miguel Keberlein Gutierrez, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago


Sarah E. Biehl, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago


Michael G. Bergmann, Public Interest Law Initiative


Sherizaan Minwalla, National Immigrant Justice Center


Elizabeth Berrones-Rotchford, Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic