The Legal Aid Society joined The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law this morning to announce the selection of Tami Steckler, Attorney-In-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society, and Staff Attorneys Nefertiti Ankra and Adan Soltren to participate in the 2017 Racial Justice Training Institute (RJTI). A national leadership training program, RJTI equips and coordinates anti-poverty advocates to address the role that racism plays in causing and perpetuating poverty.
“We are thrilled that The Legal Aid Society is participating in this groundbreaking, innovative program,” said Seymour W. James Jr. Attorney-In-Chief of The Legal Aid Society. “Our engagement with RJTI will be invaluable as we advance justice for our clients and communities moving forward.”
Steckler, Ankra and Soltren will join 43 other Fellows from 18 organizations. Working in teams, and with support from skilled faculty and coaches, RJTI participants will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to address the looming federal threats to racial justice in housing, education, employment, healthcare, and more. Following the 6-month long intensive training, the Fellows will join a growing national alumni network of advocates working to advance a coordinated racial justice agenda, led by the Shriver Center’s new Racial Justice Network Director, Kimberly Merchant.
“RJTI ensures that race is considered foremost in efforts to eradicate poverty,” said Ellen Hemley, Vice President of Training Programs at the Shriver Center. “Systemic racism, whether implicit or explicit, is at the heart of poverty in America. It is perhaps more important than ever to identify and challenge racial inequity.”
Entering its fourth year, RJTI has cultivated 117 advocates representing 62 organizations in 23 states. The RJTI alumni network continues to work in concert on several issues, including education equity and fair housing. RJTI Fellows have also provided innovative advocacy approaches and civil litigation strategies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This year’s cohort includes public interest lawyers, legal aid attorneys, communicators, and fundraisers. The 2017 Fellows have experience in a wide range of advocacy areas, including economic justice, criminal justice reform, employment and labor reform, immigrants’ rights, and consumer protection, among others. Overall, nearly two thirds of fellows are people of color and 68 percent are women.
The RJTI is made possible by the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Pritzker Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation.