19th Annual Diversity Symposium Dinner
Being Authentic; Diversity in Policy & Legislative Work.
An opportunity for Rhode Island High School, College, and Law School students to interact and engage with members in the Legal Profession that include lawyers, judges, and members of the Legislature. Please join us for an evening of discussion around issues of diversity and the law.
Meet the Moderator
The Hon. Braxton Howard Cloutier, L'19 (he/him/his) is a trial attorney and immigration law practitioner from Chapel Hill, NC. An avid runner, he has always been invested in advocacy and community building, whether through fitness, arts, or the pursuit of justice. After earning his bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages (Spanish) at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC, he completed two years of AmeriCorps service. During his time at RWU Law, Braxton was President of the Student Bar Association, a CALI Award winner in Trial Advocacy, a member of the Trial Team, and the 2019 Public Interest Award recipient. Additionally, he was a student attorney at the Roger Williams University School of Law Criminal Defense Clinic and interned at several Public Defender offices.
Before joining Bremer Law & Associates, LLC, Attorney Cloutier honed his legal skills as a Public Defender in Colorado and as a staff attorney for the Immigrant Coalition of Rhode Island. Braxton focuses his practice on supporting asylum seekers, folks facing deportation, and other recent arrivals to the United States by providing legal representation. He also represents folks on their journey to become lawful permanent residents or citizens of the US.
When Braxton is not in court, he volunteers with several organizations committed to uplifting and supporting the Black and Latino community, including New Bridges for Haitian Success and YouthBuild Providence. Most recently, Braxton’s neighbors elected him to one of two open seats on the Barrington Town Council. He is the first Black elected official in Barrington, RI.
Meet the Panel
Kimberly Ahern, Esq. L'09 is the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Rhode Island Office of Governor Daniel J. McKee. She was previously the Director of Policy and Senior Counsel. She previously served as Deputy Counsel and Criminal Justice Policy Advisor to Governor Gina M. Raimondo.
Prior to joining the Governor’s office, Kim served for nine years as a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Attorney General, and served under three Attorneys General. She specialized in special victim-based crimes, including human trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, and animal abuse. While at the Attorney General’s office, she was appointed to the Rhode Island Commission on Prejudice and Bias and led numerous police academy trainings on the topics of hate crimes, bias, and prejudice.
Prior to the Attorney General’s Office, Kim was a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Maureen McKenna Goldberg of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. A proud graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law and Providence College, Kim enjoys community involvement and has served on the boards of the Women’s Fund of RI, the YMCA of Greater Providence, and the RWU Law Alumni Association. She was previously awarded the YWCA’s Woman of Achievement Award and was a Providence Business News “40 under 40” award recipient. While in law school, she was the President of the Alliance for LGBTQ+ students and the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. She is also a past chair of the LGBTQ Committee for the Rhode Island Bar Association.
She lives in Providence with her wife, two young daughters, and a Miniature Australian Shepherd.
RWU Law Professor Jorge Elorza was raised by Guatemalan immigrant parents in inner-city Providence, Professor Jorge Elorza returned to his old neighborhood after his graduation from Harvard Law School to give back to his community as an attorney for Rhode Island Legal Services. He litigated housing-related cases for two years before joining the Roger Williams University School of Law faculty. After 10 years of teaching, Professor Elorza was elected Mayor of the City of Providence and served two successful terms, until he was term-limited. He returned to the RWU Law faculty and continues to stay active on issues that he is passionate about, such as housing policy, charter schools, and mayoral leadership supports.
While at RWU, Professor Elorza has served as a Housing Court Judge and co-founded the Latino Policy Institute. He teaches Property, Constitutional Law, Housing Law & Policy, and Municipal Law. He has published law review articles on the Economics of Housing Policy and on the intersection of Law, Science and Religion; and he has also published several opinion pieces on a variety of topics.
He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island (summa cum laude) and Harvard Law School.
Carlos Lopez Estrada, Esq. L'01 emigrated from El Salvador in the late 1970’s fleeing the civil war that would tear the country apart for many years. Arriving in Providence and reuniting with his family, he attended Providence Public Schools and eventually graduated from Classical High School in 1989. Following graduation, Carlos attended the University of Rhode Island via the Talent Development program. He graduated with his B.A. with a focus on History and Political Science as part of the class of 1993.
Right after graduating, Carlos began his career in public service as a Mayoral Aide / Community Liaison under Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. the 32nd & 34th Mayor of Providence. He spent 5 ½ years learning the ins and outs of municipal government before leaving to attend Law School at Roger Williams University where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 2001.
Carlos’s career has spanned close to 25 years in public service in various capacities and most notably as the first Latino Chief of Staff in Cranston to Mayor Allan Fung for 10 years and Deputy Director of Administration to Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien for almost 3 years.
In 2021, Carlos had the opportunity of a lifetime to return to his Alma Mater, the University of Rhode Island where he is currently the Director of Legislative and Government Relations. In this role, he reports directly to URI President Parlange and advises on all matter at the State, Municipal and Local level.
Carlos has had a long and distinguished career in the political and governmental arena where he has worked all three sides of the aisle, Republican, Democrat and Independent. He has worked with many of Rhode Island’s top elected officials as a political consultant, campaign manager and senior advisor.
Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, L'07 is the Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to improving the economic well-being of low- and modest-income Rhode Islanders. She was previously the managing attorney of Community Legal Aid’s (CLA) Worcester County offices, where she supervised several special projects including the Asian Outreach Project, the Medical-Legal Partnership pro bono project, the CORI/Reentry Project, and the Veterans Legal Assistance Project. She started her legal aid career over 14 years ago as a Bart Gordon Fellow at South Coastal Counties Legal Services focusing on the cumulative effects of structural racism on communities of color and specialized in general poverty law, medical-legal partnerships, public benefits, and housing law.
Weayonnoh has served as a small group faculty and capstone project mentor of the Patient Care in Complex Systems Gateway Program at Brown University Medical School and taught a civic engagement law-based course as an adjunct professor at the Community College of Rhode Island. She was named one of GoLocal Prov 22 to Watch in Rhode Island in 2022. She has also received several recognitions for her social justice advocacy work including the 2020 Roger Williams University School of Law Alumni Public Interest Champion of Justice Award and the 2017 Massachusetts Bar Association Access to Justice Rising Star Award. She is currently a cohort member of the Institute of Nonprofit Practice’s inaugural Black Leadership Institute. She is a proud alumna of the Rhode Island Foundation’s Equity Leadership Initiative, the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute, Leadership Worcester, and City Year Rhode Island. She received her Juris Doctorate from Roger Williams University School of Law and undergraduate degree from Rhode Island College.
This event is made possible by the generosity of sponsor Nixon Peabody.
Persons who, because of a special need or condition, would like to request an accommodation for an event should contact the RWU Law Events, as soon as possible, but no later than 72 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements can be made. email@example.com