Bios 12-13 Fellows

Deodonne Bhattarai

Déodonné Bhattarai was the RJ Fellow at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF). Déodonné received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and her M.P.H. from Tufts University School of Medicine in February 2012. Prior to graduate school, Déodonné spent years as a clinical assistant, providing healthcare to and advocating on behalf of low-income women and families. While in law school, she founded and served as co-chair of the Northeastern chapter of LSRJ, successfully advocating for a reproductive justice course offering.  Déodonné also helped to establish a vibrant Health Law Society and became the first law student coordinator of a graduate student medical-legal partnership program. While at Tufts, Déodonné designed and conducted a study for the National Women’s Law Center exploring the correlation between Catholic healthcare providers and the procurement of tubal ligation services. Déodonné is a two-time recipient of Northeastern’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy Human Rights Fellowship.  Her first placement was at the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty where she explored the potential domestic applications of international human rights law within federal housing policy. Her work culminated in the publication of an article in a recent issue of the Clearinghouse Review.  During her second placement, in the Reproductive Rights Unit of the Human Rights Law Network in New Delhi, India, Déodonné conducted on-site factual investigations and drafted public interest litigation petitions on behalf of tribal populations suffering from forced sterilizations and egregious health disparities. Déodonné served as a legal intern at Prisoners’ Legal Services in Boston, MA, and at the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.  She holds a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic and served on the board of the Concord Feminist Health Center in Concord, NH. Dedonne is currently serving as a Second Year RJ Fellow at APIAHF in 2014-15.


Elizabeth Chen

Elizabeth (Liz) Chen was the RJ Fellow at the Women’s Health & Rights Program at the Center for American Progress (CAP). Liz earned her A.B. in Public Policy Studies and English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago in 2009, and received her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in May 2012. In law school, Liz co-taught an undergraduate course on Women and the Law and co-coordinated a film series entitled Narratives of Law and Life: Using Film to Explore the State’s Role in Constructing Identity. In addition, Liz served on the law school’s Public Service Advisory Board on the Pro-Bono Projects Committee and as its secretary, was co-president of the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association, and was a member of LSRJ. Her student Note, “Equal Protection: Why the HPV Vaccine Should be Mandated for Both Boys and Girls,” was selected as LSRJ’s Second Place winner of the Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights, and was recently published in the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, where Liz served as an Executive Articles Editor. She also has an article forthcoming in the Texas Journal of Women and the Law entitled “Caught in a Bad Bromance,” about social boundaries on male intimacy and implications on the law. Liz is clerking for the Honorable Judge William Joseph Haynes, Jr., U. S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee.


Candace Gibson

Candace Gibson was the RJ fellow at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).  Candace received her J.D. from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law in May 2012.   As a law student, Candace received the Frankel Public Interest Fellowship to assist Jane’s Due Process with their judicial bypass and community outreach work in Texas and received the Spurgeon Public Interest Fellowship to finance her summer internship at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  She has completed clinics with the Immigration Department at Holy Cross Ministries, working on U-Visa and VAWA applications, the Civil Clinic at the Salt Lake City Immigration Court, and the Legislative Clinic with Utah State Senator Ross Romero.  Candace founded and is currently serving as the Utah LSRJ Chapter President and has served as President of the Women’s Law Caucus. She is a project manager for the law school’s Global Justice Think Tank and participated in Jessup Moot Court.  She is also the recipient of the Utah Minority Bar Association’s Ray Quinney and Nebeker Social Awareness Scholarship and the Judge Gilbert Martinez “Semper Fi” Community Service Scholarship.  Candace graduated from Smith College in 2007 with a B.A. in Government and in Spanish. Prior to law school, she worked at Comunidades Unidas, a nonprofit organization in Utah committed to eliminating health disparities in ethnic and refugee communities, facilitating the work of the Multicultural Health Network and the Democracy Schools Program.  Candace is the first in her family to graduate from college and is proud of her bi-ethnic, bi-cultural, Salvadoran background. Candace is currently serving as a Second Year RJ Fellow at NLIRH in 2014-15.


Jeryl Hayes

Jeryl Hayes was the RJ Fellow at the Black Women’s Health Imperative. Jeryl earned her J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law in May 2011.  In 2012, Jeryl completed an LL.M. in Law in Government, with a concentration in Civil and Constitutional Rights and a specialization in Gender and the Law, at American University Washington College of Law.  While at American University, Jeryl was a member of WCL’s chapter of LSRJ, Women’s Law Association, Black Law Students Association, Dean’s Fellow for the Women and the Law Program, and staff member for the Health Law and Policy Brief.  In law school, Jeryl served as the President of Washington University’s LSRJ Chapter and served on the Regional Conference Planning Committee her 3L year.  She also interned for LSRJ’s National Office, where she was awarded the 2010 Sheila Kuehl Award for Outstanding Summer Intern, and contributed to the Reaching and Recruiting Law Students of Color Initiative.  Jeryl served as the student body President, was on the Executive Board of the Student Bar Association as President and Social Chair, the Executive Board of the Women’s Law Caucus as Auction Co-Chair, Black Law Students Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, co-taught the undergraduate Women and the Law course, and represented low-income clients in child welfare and juvenile justice cases as a student attorney in the Civil Justice Clinic.  In 2011, she was recognized by Missouri Lawyers Weekly, receiving their Women’s Justice Awards: Leader of Tomorrow Award, and as the Washington University in St. Louis Outstanding Graduate in the School of Law.  Prior to law school, Jeryl worked with the national educational non-profit organization Citizen Schools that provides after-school programming for low-income, urban middle-school students, based in Boston, MA.  Jeryl received her B.A. in Communication from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Jeryl is now a Domestic Policy Analyst at Advocates for Youth.


Melissa Torres-Montoya

Melissa Torres-Montoya was the RJ Fellow at the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN). Melissa received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2011 and her M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University in May 2012.   In law school, Melissa served on the boards of LSRJ chapter and La Raza Student Association.  She also served as the outreach coordinator for Boalt Hall Women’s Association where she coordinated a women’s health fair for law students and faculty.  The Boalt Hall Women’s Association also awarded her a Herma Hill Kaye Summer Fellowship for her summer internship dedicated to improving the health of women through the law. While at Hopkins, Melissa interned with Planned Parenthood and gained exposure and broader understanding of global reproductive health issues. Melissa received her B.A. in history and political science from the University of California, Davis. Melissa is now the Health Policy Manager at the National Minority AIDS Council.


Laura Nixon

Laura Nixon was the RJ Fellow at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Laura graduated from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law in May 2010, where she was editor-in-chief of the CUNY Law Review.  During law school, Laura interned at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, where she provided support in advancing the rights and well-being of pregnant women facing criminal charges based on allegations of substance abuse, and at the Brooklyn Family Defense Project, where she assisted in defending young parents charged with child abuse or neglect.  Through CUNY Law’s Economic Justice Project, Laura represented CUNY undergraduates faced with termination/reduction of their public assistance or food stamps.  Laura also volunteered with the Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective to jumpstart their Legal Advocacy Project.  In addition, she provided research assistance to University Distinguished Professor Ruthann Robson on a range of articles focused on gender and sexuality.  Before law school, Laura worked and volunteered on women’s health and abortion access issues in Washington D.C.  She lived on-site as a caregiver at a residence for women who were homeless and living with AIDS, coordinated a research study for women living with HIV or AIDS at the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and led case management on the National Abortion Federation Hotline.  At the Hotline, Laura coordinated funding for women across the country who could not afford the full cost of abortion care, and handled the more difficult counseling calls that came through the Hotline.  At the same time, Laura was one of several activists who led the revival of the D.C. Abortion Fund from dormancy and served on the steering committee of the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force.  Laura grew up in rural Indiana and is a 2003 graduate of Kalamazoo College with an interdisciplinary major in Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology and a concentration in Women’s Studies.  Following graduation from law school, she served as a Fellow in the Office of the General Counsel at CUNY, and as a temporary Legislative Fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Laura was named a CoreAlign Generative Fellow in 2014.


Christine Poquiz

Christine Poquiz was the RJ Fellow at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).  Christine received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and her J.D. from the University of California Davis School of Law in May 2012.  At UC Davis, Christine served as the chair for the LSRJ chapter and the Health Law Association (HLA).  Under HLA, Christine co-founded a Medical-Legal partnership between the UC Davis Law School, UC Davis Medical School, and Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC), where law students provide legal referrals at the student run medical clinics for underserved communities. During law school, Christine interned at the LSRJ National Office, where she was awarded the 2011 Sheila Kuehl Award for Outstanding Summer Intern.  She also spent a semester at the Center for Reproductive Rights’ government relations office in Washington D.C.  Christine is a member of the UC Davis team competing in the 2012 Beazley Institute National Health Law Transaction Competition.  Christine is also an active member of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and the Filipino Law Students Association (FLSA). Prior to law school, Christine interned in rural Uganda with the Uganda Village Project, a public health non-profit organization where she focused on HIV/Aids, comprehensive sex education, and reproductive health.  Christine later served as a board member for the Uganda Village Project  in 2009-2010. Christine is currently serving as a Second Year RJ Fellow at NAPAWF in 2014-15.