You may have noticed some new names and faces these last couple of months! Take a moment to get to know our new staff members, and help us welcome them to the team.
Wendy Heipt is a legal advocate with a background in international human rights law. A first-generation college attendee, she attended Hampshire College and then co-ran a home for disabled adults while getting a degree in social therapy. Wendy got her J.D. at Harvard University, and then did two clerkships before formally embarking on her legal career. Wendy has worked with both domestic and international organizations on a wide variety of gender equity issues, often in partnership with her work on indigenous land law and the human right to food. She has written a number of articles in these areas for both legal and non-legal publications. Wendy is also a certified Emergency Medical Technician, an interviewer for two colleges, and a humanitarian refugee sponsor.
Hometown: Queens, NYC
Favorite dessert: Plain Cheesecake
Favorite thing about the northwest: Geographic Beauty
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: The Northwest Abortion Access Fund. This is a volunteer staffed organization that serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska through a toll-free phone line. The fund pays for abortions and assists with travel and accommodations. (Disclaimer: I co-founded this organization twenty-four years ago!)
Alizeh Bhojani is a policy attorney with a background in international human rights law. She is an immigrant and her passion for human and civil rights stems from direct experiences with the unjust and labyrinthine U.S. immigration system. Alizeh began her career as an attorney in the reproductive rights movement, advocating for access to assisted reproduction and infertility care at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Prior to joining Legal Voice, Alizeh was the Immigration Policy Counsel at OneAmerica where she fought for and won an immigrant relief fund of $340 million dispensing cash assistance to undocumented immigrants in Washington who were excluded from all COVID relief. Alizeh received her J.D. and LL.M in Sustainable International Development from the University of Washington School of Law.
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
Favorite dessert: chocolate in all its forms
Favorite thing about the northwest: the summers and access to delicious fresh fish
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: La Resistencia does great work that is grassroots led on ending immigration detention. They are small and scrappy and we can always count on them to bring both fiery passion and deep knowledge of changes that their community is demanding. Another organization I would highlight is Global Rights Advocacy - this was started by a former professor of mine and they focus on using international human rights law on US domestic cases, including through reporting violations and representing clients.
Favorite court decision to nerd out about: Henderson v. Thompson, 200 Wn.2d 417 (Oct. 2022) - our state Supreme Court is releasing innovative and amazing decisions around structural racism and how different legal systems can both perpetuate it and need to remedy the situation.
Bill Mitchell joins Legal Voice as Idaho policy counsel and lobbyist. Bill grew up in western Washington. His dad was a coal miner, amateur race car driver, and public transportation manager, and mom was a Peace Corps volunteer and career number cruncher for a family business appraising real estate. Brother is a career pilot, with stints in the U.S. Navy, Army, and Coast Guard, and now flying the friendly skies for commercial travelers. Bill began his professional life as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and then attended law school at Gonzaga University in Spokane. Although law school was interrupted by post-9/11 military commitments, he established himself as a passionate attorney fighting for immigrant justice and for people with disabilities. He is devoted to the idea that rights must be protected with vigilance, or else they will erode.
Hometown: Bellingham, Washington
Favorite dessert: Crème brûlée with blackberries
Favorite thing about the northwest: Friday Harbor in thick fog, an even thicker hoodie, with a cup of Ivar’s clam chowder and a pint of Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen.
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: 2SLGBTQIA groups on the Ft Hall Reservation (Shoshone-Bannock people) where young Native people in that particular tribal group elevate awareness of the historical culture and of modern expressions of gender- and sexual-diversity.
Favorite court decision to nerd out about: Loving v. Virginia; followed closely by Trump v. Hawaii, specifically, its smashing repudiation of Korematsu.
Julia Marks is a public interest attorney who is dedicated to using litigation, policy, and community partnerships to advance civil rights. She began her career at Disability Rights Advocates, bringing class actions and other high-impact cases to expand access to public and private services. Prior to joining Legal Voice, Julia led the voting rights program at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, where she worked to advance language access in voting, to ensure fair redistricting, and to protect voting rights at the polls. Julia served as a law clerk to the Honorable Keith P. Ellison of the Southern District of Texas and is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and Dartmouth College. Having grown up in Seattle, Julia is happy to be home again in the Pacific Northwest, and enjoys long walks exploring neighborhoods with her partner, short walks with her elderly rescue chihuahua, browsing bookstores, and the region’s natural beauty.
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Favorite dessert: Ice cream
Favorite thing about the northwest: being surrounded by water and mountains, how green it is
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: WAISN, Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network.
Favorite court decision to nerd out about: Department of Commerce v. New York, 139 S. Ct. 2551 (2019)
Kelly O'Neill is an experienced courtroom litigator with a passion for civil rights and equality. As a law student, Kelly interned with various organizations working with low-income and marginalized communities. Prior to joining Legal Voice, Kelly worked as a public defender in Idaho, where she handled nearly every type of criminal case, from simple infractions to first-degree murder. During her eight years as a public defender, Kelly zealously advocated for hundreds of clients with compassion and respect, to ensure they felt heard every step of the way. Kelly received her J.D. from the University of Idaho College of Law and her B.S. in Political Science from the University of Utah.
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Favorite dessert: Matilda Chocolate Cake
Favorite thing about the northwest: the coastlines, vineyards, and ski slopes
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: CATCH. Founded in 2006, CATCH is a leader and innovator in housing the most vulnerable neighbors in Idaho’s Treasure Valley by collaborating with community partners.
Favorite court decision to nerd out about: Miranda v. Arizona
Yvette Maganya is a government relations professional with a background in social justice advocacy. As the new Lobbyist and Community Relations Liaison at Legal Voice, she will work to support policy counsel and advance the organization's gender equity priorities through legislative and policy advocacy, while prioritizing racial justice. Yvette brings a wealth of experience to this role, having previously worked with various organizations on issues such as reproductive justice, economic justice, and immigrant rights. In addition to her work at Legal Voice, Yvette serves on the Pro-Choice Washington Board of Directors and is the Vice Chair of Outreach at King County Democrats.
Yvette is deeply committed to reproductive health and has successfully passed critical sexual and reproductive health legislation, including the Affirm Washington Abortion Access Act which codified that advanced practice clinicians can provide abortion care and strengthened additional areas in our reproductive parity statutes and regulations.
Hometown: Kinshasa - Democratic Republic of Congo
Favorite dessert: Affogato
Favorite thing about the northwest: The region's rich history and cultural heritage, including the influence of Native American cultures.
What's an organization doing great work in the Northwest that not enough people know about?: If/When/ How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice