Champions for Justice
A special evening that celebrates and supports the students, alumni, partners and friends whose exceptional devotion to social justice increases access to justice for all.
This Year's Event
Date: January 25, 2019
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Omni Hotel, One West Exchange Street, Providence, RI
*Business attire suggested
Champions for Justice Reception
Dinner, Awards, Auction & Dessert Reception
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Registration is Now Closed
Champions for Justice is quickly becoming a hallmark of the Rhode Island legal landscape, and we are proud to count so many as friends and supporters of the Law School. Proceeds from the evening benefit the many social justice programs within RWU Law:
Social Justice Program Highlights
This event would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors.
|Presenting Sponsor||Dinner Sponsor||Cocktail Reception Sponsor||Dessert Reception Sponsor|
Honoring the 2019 Champions
Robert J. McConnell, Esq.Click to Open
Robert J. McConnell (Bob) has practiced law in Rhode Island at the law firm of Motley Rice LLC for over 25 years. A graduate of Suffolk University School of Law and Brown University, Bob has devoted his legal career to protecting the lives and rights of those harmed by asbestos, lead paint and tobacco. He presently is involved in litigation throughout the country against the opioid industry. He has represented hundreds of asbestos victims who have been injured and died from asbestos exposure. He has represented numerous children injured by lead poisoning and secured the largest lead paint poisoning settlement in Rhode Island on behalf of a child.
In 2014 he was a member of his firm’s trial team that received Public Justice’s Trial Lawyers of the Year Award for obtaining a judgment against former manufacturers of lead pigment ordering the abatement of lead paint from homes in California. In addition, Bob serves on the boards of several organizations devoted to improving the lives of the disenfranchised. For the past seven years he has been board chair of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence that seeks to promote nonviolence among young people in Rhode Island’s inner cities, based on Dr. Martin Luther King’s principles and practices of nonviolence. He also has been a long time board member of the George Wiley Center that fights to reduce utility costs and the harmful effects of utility shutoffs by organizing and empowering those individuals most affected.
In 2015, Bob was appointed as Housing Court judge in Central Falls, overseeing the rehabilitation of a number of abandoned properties throughout the city. Bob has actively supported the Pro Bono Collaborative since its inception, taking on fraudulent foreclosure practices and assisting immigrant families, among other projects, and serving on the PBC’s Advisory Board.
Diana deGroof, Esq. L '03Click to Open
Diana deGroof has devoted her career to serving low-income clients at Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS). She came to law school determined to serve marginalized communities and has never wavered from that path. Throughout her fifteen years at RILS, Diana has worked in a wide range of practice areas including child welfare and family law, housing, disability, and public benefits. She has mentored dozens of RWU law students. Diana is active in the community and currently serves on the Board of Project Weber-Renew, an organization that provides peer-based harm reduction and recovery services including HIV prevention and testing, needle exchange, support groups, basic needs and case management for at-risk populations including sex workers, transgender sex-workers and high risk women and men.
She has previously served on the Child Custody and Visitation Solutions (CCVS) Project of the RI Coalition against Domestic Violence, the RI Works Community Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Board of the Feinstein Institute for Legal Service - now the Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education. Diana is a recipient of the RI Coalition for the Homeless Legal Clinic Award., and she is a long-time member of RWU Law’s Public Interest Loan Repayment Assistance Program Selection Committee.
While at RWU Law School, Diana was a leader in the public interest community. She worked at several public interest organizations including the RI Office of the Mental Health Advocate, the Immigration Law Education and Advocacy Project of Catholic Social Services in Fall River, and participated in the RWU Disability Law Clinic. She was also awarded a Massachusetts Bar Foundation Fellowship for her summer work at Legal Services for the Cape and Islands. She served as the co-chair of the Association for Public Interest Law and was a leader in the pro bono Women in Transition Project providing educational workshops for women at the ACI.
Rhode Island Public Defender - Community Partner ChampionClick to Open
The Rhode Island Public Defender was created in 1941 and is believed to be the first statewide full service public defender office established in the United States. The dedicated and committed lawyers in the office defend adults and juveniles accused of committing crimes and represent parents who are threatened with loss of custody of their children because of neglect or abuse allegations. Supported by professional social workers, investigators and interpreters, the office represents clients in state court proceedings from the first appearance before a judge through trial or hearing, as well as through appeal if necessary. The office mission statement sets out the goal of providing “client-centered advice, holistic representation and zealous advocacy with support from our team of advocates, social workers, investigators, interpreters and other staff,” with a commitment to treating its clients “with dignity, compassion and fairness.” The office lives up to that goal and commitment on a daily basis. Attorneys in the office have been mentoring RWU Law students – and hiring RWU Law graduates – since the law school opened its doors.
2019 Champions for Justice Host CommitteeClick to Open
- Kimberly R. Ahern, Esq. L'09
- Jamie J. Bachant, Esq. L'12
- Alyssa V. Boss, Esq. L'97
- Natalya A. Buckler, Esq. L'10
- Ms. Lauren E. Campbell L'15
- Robert J. Cavanagh Jr., Esq. L'11
- Judge Edward C. Clifton
- Angelyne Cooper-Bailey, Esq. L'08
- Michael J. Daly, Esq. L'02
- John A. Dorsey, Esq. L'10
- Danielle Dufault, Esq. L'15
- Joseph A. Farside, Esq. L'06
- Christopher J. Fragomeni, Esq. L'15
- The Honorable Robert G. Flanders
- Linn Foster Freedman, Esq.
- Ms. Jamie M. Gau L'16
- Deborah S. Gonzalez, Esq. '04 L'07
- Nicholas J. Hemond, Esq. L'12
- Gregory N. Hoffman, Esq. L'13
- Meghan L. Kruger Hopkins, Esq. L'15
- Kara A. Humm, Esq. L'08
- Jillian Jagling, Esq. L'09
- Patrick T. Jones
- Dadriana A. Lepore, Esq. L'10
- David H. Leveillee, Esq. L'11
- Luis Mancheno '13
- Zachary M. Mandell, Esq. L'11
- Mr. Matthew G. Martinez L'17
- Kelly Rafferty Meara, Esq. L'11
- Leah L. Miraldi, Esq. L'13
- Michael J. Moloney, Esq. L'09
- Ms. Valerie Morozov L'14
- Olayiwola O. Oduyingbo, Esq. L'14
- Emma L. Peterson, Esq. L'11
- Stephen M. Prignano, Esq.
- Matthew R. Plain, Esq. L'05
- Adam Ramos, Esq. L'06
- Andrew C. Rodgers, Esq. L'14
- The Honorable Judith Savage
- Arlene Violet, Esq.
- Michael A Voccola, Esq. L'97
- Kristen M. Whittle, Esq.
- Joshua Xavier, Esq. L'14
This year’s Public Interest Auction will feature opportunities to connect with the RWU Law community of champions. Most of the auction items are “experience packages” featuring individuals who share our mission of public service, access to justice and the value of experiential education.
|Package||Package Title||Description||Starting Bid|
|1||Four EMC Club tickets to Red Sox vs. Yankees||Four EMC Club tickets to Red Sox vs Rays game, one parking pass and lunch for four at the EMC Club on on Saturday, April 27, 2019||$500|
|2||Collin Bailey L'08 CVS Tour & Lunch||Join RWU Alum Collin Bailey L'08 for lunch and a tour of CVS Health||$30|
|3||Four Red Sox Tickets with Joe Farside, Jr. L'06||Four Red Sox tickets with seating in the Locke Lord Luxury box with Joe Farside, Jr. L'06||$400|
|4||Lunch with Rhode Island Attorney General's Office||TBD||$50|
|5||Dean's Night Out||The first rule of the Drinking Club is that you do not talk about Drinking Club. Therefore, we cannot say much. You and nine clubbers can join the exclusive “Drinking Club” of Dean Yelnosky, Dean Goldstein, Professor Gutoff & Professor Hassel as they munch on apps and hydrate at Congress Tavern.||$300|
|6||Karaoke Night||You and five friends are invited to Professor Hashway's home to belt out show tunes along with Professor Gott, and Professor Barylick. Don't let their theatre background intimidate you. This priceless karaoke night can be scheduled for any mutually available evening after May 1st.||$20|
|7||An Evening in Logan's Home||High bidder gets to pick the flick and bring up to 5 lucky guests to watch at Logan's Chill Cave. Plenty of pizza and libations.||$100|
|8||Frose Pops and Fudge with Librarians||You and 3 friends can sit by a toasty fire at Newport Vineyards while sipping frose and noshing on fudge with 3 of your favorite law school staff! Alisha, Britt & Nicole are offering 2 drinks and one piece of fudge per guest on Thursday, February 21st OR Friday, February 22, 2019.||$50|
|9||One Barbri Course||Be one of the lucky five to walk away with a bar exam course simply by bidding $1695 (Market Value $3,695)||$1,695|
|10||One Barbri Course||Be one of the lucky five to walk away with a bar exam course simply by bidding $1695 (Market Value $3,695)||$1,695|
|11||One Barbri Course||Be one of the lucky five to walk away with a bar exam course simply by bidding $1695 (Market Value $3,695)||$1,695|
|12||One Barbri Course||$1,695|
|13||One Barbri Course||$1,695|
|14||Drinks at Fortnight with Dean Yelnosky & Laurie Barron|
You and three friends can enjoy drinks with Laurie Barron and Michael Yelnosky at Fortnight wine bar in Providence. RWU Law Alum Mike da Cruz L'14 is a founder of Fortnight!
|15||Park like the Dean||For the month of February, enjoy parking in Dean Yelnosky's parking space||$100|
|16||Dinner for four with Professor Deborah Gonzalez L'04||Authentic homemade dinner for four by Professor Gonzalez L'04. Enjoy authentic Puerto Rican or Brazilian cuisine at the Gonzalez’s while taking in a great water view.||$80|
|17||One Night Stay at Omni Hotel||Enjoy a one night stay at Providence's luxurious Omni Hotel||$75|
|18||Lunch for two with Professor Andrew Spacone||Lunch for two at Café Nuovo with the Man All About Business||$80|
|19||Let's Run Out for a Beer!||Enjoy a nice long (but not too long!) run to a pub with Dean Yelnosky, Dean Lalli L'01, Professor Colleen Brown, and Ed Fitzpatrick and a $100 gift card to Rhode Runners||$100|
|20||Breakfast for three at the Beehive Cafe with the Feinstein Ladies||You and two friends can enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Beehive Cafe with Laurie Barron, Eliza Vorenberg, Suzanne Harrington-Steppen and Lisa Quinn.||$50|
|21||Year of Passports for RI Food Fights Events||Rhode Island Food Fights is the best value in food and fun. These light-hearted, friendly culinary competitions give you a fast and lively opportunity to discover the best local pizza, wings, burgers, cupcakes, ice cream, tacos, and lots of other favorites in Rhode Island. This package includes a complete set of passports for the 2019 season. *Students Only||$25|
|22||Year of Passports for RI Food Fights Events||Rhode Island Food Fights is the best value in food and fun. These light-hearted, friendly culinary competitions give you a fast and lively opportunity to discover the best local pizza, wings, burgers, cupcakes, ice cream, tacos, and lots of other favorites in Rhode Island. This package includes a complete set of passports for the 2019 season.||$50|
|23||Trivia and Tots with Professor Kishbaugh and Dean Lalli L'01||You and 3 friends can join Professor Kishbaugh and Dean Lalli L'01 at Ogie's Trailer Park in Providence for drinks, snacks, and trivia.||$50|
|24||Wine tasting with Professor Raposa at Newport Vineyards||You and two friends can join Professor Raposa for a wine tasting at Newport Vineyards.||$50|
|25||Night out with Office of Career Development||You and five friends can enjoy a night of bowling with Career Development.||$75|
|26||Evening in Boston with Michael Donnelly-Boylen and Deborah Johnson||You and 5 friends are invited to join Boston locals, Michael Donnelly-Boylen and Deborah Johnson, for an evening in the city. Your visit to Boston will include dinner at Carrie Nation on Beacon Hill (or similar restaurant) and a walking tour of some of the city’s historic sights. Bring your walking shoes and an appetite!||$100|
|27||Hope & Main Food Basket and 2 RI Red Food Tours||Gift Certificate for two to RI Red Food Tours including food and three alcohol tastings, and a basket from Hope and Main.||$75|
|28||Taste of Rhode Island||Experience a sampling of one of the best delicacies RI has to offer: bring along some wine to pair with a cheese board or pick some gourmet cheeses for later at Edgewood Cheese Shop, enjoy RI's famous coffee syrup - *Students Only||$25|
|29||Celtics Tickets||Two Luxury Box tickets to a Boston Celtics vs. Oklahoma Thunder game on February 3, 2019, at 2pm. Luxury Box tickets include food and beverage service.||TBD|
|30||Red Sox Tickets||Four Tickets to Red Sox game/section TBD||TBD|
Each year, dozens of RWU Law students accept unpaid public interest summer internships at amazing organizations in RI and around the country. Last summer, 28 students received public interest summer stipends and provided over 8800 hours of legal service in organizations such as The Rhode Island Public Defender, Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc., RI Center for Justice, Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, The Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office, The Bronx Defenders, and MidPenn Legal Services. Please support the stipend program by pledging today. Make a pledge by sending a new text message to 41444, and text VERDICT <space> pledge amount (do not use $ or .oo in the pledge) <space> your name. Click the link in the reply message to fulfill your pledge.
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Your donation counts as your annual gift to RWU Law and is tax-deductible.