After working many years in the restaurant industry, Jessica Chiavara, then 23, decided to get her undergraduate degree. While studying at the University of California, Berkeley, she managed to take on two internships despite also working 25-30 hours a week to put herself through college.
The slog was well worth it to Chiavara. "All these doors opened at once," she says. Her internships at UC Berkeley's Student Advocate's Office and Emerge California, an organization that aims to address the underrepresentation of women in elected office by training Democratic women to run for office, ultimately sparked her interest in advocacy law and Hofstra. "The results of my work were immediate," she says. "I got hooked on being close to the lives I was affecting."
Now a 3L, Chiavara has continued her passion for advocacy law through an externship with the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF). Her work at NYLCVEF has allowed her to elevate statewide environmental legal issues, as well as to connect Long Island advocacy groups and Hofstra Law faculty and students on important issues. For example, she established a partnership between NYLCVEF and Hofstra Law's Environmental Law Society to promote wind energy development and draft legislation to be recommended to state legislators.
A David L. Weissman Public Justice Fellow, Chiavara continued her work at NYLCVEF this past summer, advocating for transportation funding, including a more integrated street design that accommodates all pedestrians, particularly the elderly, the disabled and parents with children.
Chiavara continues to make a difference through the law this fall as she participates in Hofstra Law's Community and Economic Development Clinic.