Melissa Gallo ’12 has been chosen as Cornell Law School’s first Frank H. T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellow. Gallo will commence her two-year fellowship in the fall of 2012 with the Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, through which she will provide supportive transactional services to nonprofits working to improve access to affordable housing for underserved Latinos in the Gulf Coast region.
“After working directly with the homeless prior to law school, I became exposed to the lack of safe, affordable and supportive housing opportunities,” says Gallo. “There are three million homeless people nationally, with a third made up by children. Of that group, Latinos face additional barriers... With this fellowship, I hope to start working toward changing that. I feel truly honored and blessed to go to a law school where an opportunity like this is possible, and I am excited to get to work!”
The Rhodes fellowship selection committee was chaired by Andrea Mooney, Clinical Professor of Law, and included Anne Lukingbeal, Dean of Students; Joel Atlas, Director of the Lawyering Program and Clinical Professor of Law; Karen Comstock, Assistant Dean for Public Service; and Elizabeth Peck, Director of Public Service.
“At a time when nonprofit organizations have been forced to cut legal services to the most vulnerable, we are thrilled to award our first Frank H.T. Rhodes Public Interest Law Fellowship,” says Comstock. “It was a difficult, but exciting, selection process. The five candidates presented excellent projects, all of which proposed creative strategies to address pressing legal needs. The fellowship committee selected Melissa because her proposal, host organization, and connection to the community she will serve seemed to be the best overall fit for this inaugural fellowship.”
Funded by the Atlantic Philanthropies and shared by the Law School and Cornell’s Population Program, the Frank H. T. Rhodes fellowships are named for Cornell University’s president from 1977 to 1995, also a former Atlantic board member and chair. The fellowships further scholarship and research in poverty alleviation, public health, human rights, and support for the elderly and disadvantaged children.