Lucy Butterfield

Lucy was born and raised in Salida, CO. She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she majored in psychology and fine art. During her time at CU Boulder, Lucy discovered her zeal for service learning through becoming a member of the INVST Community Leadership Program and working at the CU Volunteer Resource Center. Lucy interned at an advocacy center for sexual abuse victims, created and implemented a mentoring program for homeless and runaway youth, and organized various large-scale service events for CU students and Boulder residents.

After graduating in 2008, Lucy began working at Families First, a residential treatment center for young foster children who have emotional and behavioral disorders. While working there, Lucy realized that she loved working with foster kids and learned a great deal about the foster care system. Lucy found herself wanting to be able to advocate for the foster children she worked with and decided to go back to school in order to achieve that goal.

Lucy graduated from the University of Denver with her Master’s in Social Work in the spring of 2014. Though Lucy’s original plan was to become a child protection caseworker, she became interested in the ways that the legal system and the Department of Human Services interact to create outcomes for children. As part of her MSW, Lucy interned at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, where she served as a clinical consultant for guardians ad litem representing children in domestic violence cases. This experience solidified Lucy’s interest in the legal field and led her to the Sturm College of Law. Lucy is honored to be a Chancellor’s Scholar. She is excited to combine her background in social work with her law degree to be a voice for children and to advocate for positive change in the foster care system.

David Coats

David graduated from DU in 2004 with a B.A. in English and History. While in college, he was involved with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) and DU’s quarterly public service events. After graduating, he joined Cru as an intern in Russia, using faith-based principles to help college students become civic entrepreneurs.

David returned to the US after two years to marry a joy-filled and fun-loving Texan named Jessica whom he met in Russia. After they married, they joined Cru full-time and moved to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Their job was to act as catalysts for civic engagement among college students in an effort to help rebuild the city. They took students with them to rebuild houses, serve in soup kitchens and become a vital part of the city. Though they fell in love with New Orleans they felt their time in Russia was not over. After two jambalaya-filled years they traded their Mardi Gras beads for parkas and moved back to Moscow.

In Moscow, David developed a program in connection with local charities, connecting the college students of Moscow with the city’s refugees, widows, and orphans. While working with the poor he noticed that they needed two primary things: someone to listen, and someone with legal acumen who could work to get them out of the pit they were in. Motivated by this, David set his sights on becoming a lawyer for the ones Jesus affectionately called “the least of these.”

David is thrilled to be back home at DU and spends his free time with his sweet bride and their two rambunctious little boys. If he ever gets a free minute to himself he can be found in his garage repairing vintage bicycles and listening to jazz music.

Haley DiRenzo

Haley DiRenzo graduated with distinction from the University of Colorado Boulder with Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy and English Literature. While at CU, she found her home in the service and social justice community which fueled her desire to pursue this line of work in the legal field.

Haley served two terms of service with AmeriCorps through University of Colorado’s Public Achievement program which supports K-12 students in developing self-identified community engagement projects. Haley served both as a coach, directly supporting the K-12 students, and as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the program, working alongside the directors to facilitate classes, events, and activities.

Haley was also involved with University of Colorado’s Alternative Breaks program where she served as a participant on a trip focused on education inequity in Atlanta, GA and co-led a trip to Tucson, AZ focused on border issues and migrant rights. Through her work with Alternative Breaks, Haley was named a Casey Feldman Scholar, which is a foundation that awards scholarships to students involved in public service. In addition, Haley was involved with CU’s chapter of Students For Education Reform which held education events and participated in political lobbying, and she served as a mentor through the I Have A Dream Foundation of Boulder County, which supports low income students on their journeys from primary education to college degrees.
Haley is excited for the many future opportunities to work in social justice and public interest fields in her legal career. Her past experiences illustrated not only the reward of doing the work itself, but the reward of building communities and relationships which are such a vital part of creating social change. Haley is excited to explore many fields where she can be an advocate, a teacher, and always, a learner.

Sarah Flinn

Sarah grew up in Medford, Oregon where she developed an interest in helping others at an early age. After studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder for two years, she transferred to Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. She graduated with degrees in International Studies and Spanish.

While at Pacific University she began volunteering with a number of organizations focused on teaching English to adult Spanish speakers in Washington County. She also began volunteering with the Sexual Assault Resource Center, a sexual assault crisis line that also responds in person for supportive advocacy. In addition to the crisis line, Sarah has also enjoyed fostering Greyhound rescues and volunteering at the public library.

As part of her final thesis at Pacific University, Sarah researched the challenges faced by Latina youth in commercial sexual exploitation in the Portland area. The combination of thesis research and experiences on the crisis line motivated Sarah to pursue a career in which she could offer real, concrete solutions to these youth. After three years of supportive advocacy, it became increasingly clear that she would be most effective by pursuing a law degree. Sarah hopes to use her University of Denver education to help individual survivors of sexual exploitation and to also effect real change in the political arena.

Manihi (Mia) Kontnik

Manihi (Mia) Kontnik, a Denver native, attended Northern Arizona University. She earned B.A.s in philosophy and psychology. Mia entered Claremont Graduate University (CGU) to pursue her love for positive psychology and specifically the creative process of flow. While she enjoyed her class and professors immensely, Mia realized a life of research would not be the most flow inducing career path for her. After leaving CGU, Mia worked as an environmental educator back in Denver. She enjoyed spending time along the South Platte River, teaching children about water conservation, Colorado history and environmental science.

Some of Mia’s passions include teaching, traveling, volunteering, hiking 14ers and playing ultimate Frisbee. Mia delved deeper into many of these passions before attending law school. Upon returning to Denver, Mia began volunteering with Volunteers Outdoors Colorado, Girls on the Run, Urban Peaks, and Fresh Water Project International. Mia had the amazing opportunity to travel throughout India and Nepal last fall. This life-changing trip revived her passion for social justice and human rights. When she returned to Denver, Mia began interning for the African Community Center where she had the opportunity to help refugees find employment in the United States. Mia was inspired by the amazing strength, forgiveness and gratitude she saw in the refugee population, and hopes to find a way to use her legal education to help people overcoming injustice.

Nick Lutz

A Colorado native, Nick graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 2007. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2011 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. At CU, Nick also pursued Peace and Conflict Studies and discovered a strong passion for constitutional and civil rights law. After graduating, Nick went to work for Rathod Mohamebhai LLC, a Denver law firm specializing in civil rights, employment discrimination, and criminal defense. At RM, he had the opportunity to work on numerous high-profile civil rights cases. Nick was further convinced of the transformative power of legal advocacy, and set his sights on law school.

Nick has also worked with multiple nonprofits and political organizations. At Colorado Legal Services, Nick trained and assisted new volunteers, performed client intakes, and helped launch a specialized intake program and self-help clinic for applicants with post-decree domestic issues. In his time with the House Majority Project, Nick worked to strengthen health care, education and economic opportunity for Coloradans, engaging in all aspects of state house campaigns. He has also worked closely with the Arapahoe County Democrats, implementing voter registration drives, monitoring voter turnout, and contributing to several individual state and local campaigns. He remains politically active today, and continues to pursue opportunities to further the public good.

Sarah Needham

Sarah “Big Red” Needham was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, amongst many stalks of corn. She graduated from THE Ohio State University in 2011 with Business, Econ, and German degrees. After college, Sarah moved to Chicago to work at the Chicago Board of Trade. Going from a life of commodity derivatives to a life of total cultural isolation, Sarah joined the Peace Corps and served for 27 months in the Republic of Georgia as an NGO volunteer. She is thrilled to be part of the DU Law community!

Elisa Marie Overall

After graduating from Stanford University in 2006, Elisa Marie moved to Telluride, Colorado. There she helped start One Telluride, a center for immigrant advocacy and adult English language education. She also founded Red is Rojo, a Spanish language school for K-3 Spanish language learners. During her time in Telluride she worked closely with immigrant rights advocates throughout Colorado and began dreaming of law school in hopes of someday more effectively advocating for the Hispanic community in Colorado.

Most recently she served as the director of a US Department of Health grant to promote preventative health policies for K-12 youth. During her tenure as grant director, Elisa Marie also became a strong advocate for local, municipal, and national health policy change.

Over the years her experiences abroad and in Telluride engendered in her a deep commitment social justice, wellness, diversity, and inclusiveness. She is honored to join Sturm College of Law and its Chancellor Scholars in their commitment to promoting public interest.

Elisa Marie’s passion for public interest is rivaled only by her love for the outdoors. She enjoys exploring the Arizona desert, hiking the high Rockies, and of course, downhill skiing.

Shirin Porbanderwala

Shirin was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She completed her B.A. in Anthropology and Religious Studies from Rice University in 2013. Her journey in serving others began in 8th grade when she taught religious hymns to 4th grade students twice a week in her religious community. From then on, voluntary service has always been a part of Shirin’s life, from teaching and organizing educational events and various summer camps to leading free legal clinics for those who lack access to such knowledge.

Before coming to DU, Shirin worked with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in Houston, Texas, reviewing grant agreements, enhancing transparency, and performing financial audits. From her experience helping manage a $2 billion giving profile, Shirin’s passion for understanding how the law governs how, what, and how much we give found root. She is an advocate for public-private partnerships and finds inspiration from one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations, the Aga Khan Development Network.

This past summer, Shirin served as an intake legal assistant at Colorado Legal Services in their family law unit. She continues to work with CLS as a special projects volunteer, helping the organization transition to a new centralized statewide intake system.

Issues that interest Shirin and impact her outlook include women’s empowerment, youth leadership, accessible and affordable healthy foods, anti-obesity education, and holistic healing of chronic pain.
In her free time, Shirin enjoys cooking, biking, reading non-fiction books, and going on long drives. She is an avid Formula 1 fan, and if it’s race weekend, you’ll certainly hear the sound of rubber speeding across gravel at upwards of 300 km/h from her apartment window.

Sujata Ramaiah

Sujata Ramaiah grew up in lovely upstate New York and attended Syracuse University where she studied Economics and International Relations with a focus on international human rights law. At SU, she co-founded a non-profit aimed at assisting the many refugee populations inhabiting the Syracuse area as well as educating the community about genocide and the related conflicts that displace people around the world. Upon realizing that there were many factors, such as poverty and unequal access to justice, that effectively displace Americans as well, she shifted her international focus to domestic affairs.

Since graduation, Sujata worked at the Boys and Girls Club of America with at-risk youth of all ages from low-income areas on remedial social and academic skills. In addition, she interned with the Public Defender’s Office of Steuben County, NY where she first experienced the sweet taste of legal work. After this, she worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer for Legal Services in Ithaca, NY. In this position, Sujata took on cases that primarily dealt with children, the disabled, and the elderly. Prior to beginning law school, Sujata worked with the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, CA doing guardianship work.

Sujata is interested in pursuing a career in Child Advocacy, primarily Juvenile Criminal Defense. Her goal is to work towards an effective remedy to the problems surrounding the imprisonment of youth.

Aurora Randolph
Aurora Randolph, a Colorado native, earned her associate degree from Front Range Community College and bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating summa cum laude. While getting her associate degree Aurora organized students around a new environmental fee and program, and worked with a group to put a ranked choice voting initiative on the Fort Collins, CO ballot. Her interest in law and politics was catalyzed in researching, writing, and defending her honors thesis about the relationship between individualizing neoliberal ideology and systemic social justice issues.

While in Boulder, Aurora worked for New Era Colorado, a non-partisan young voter engagement organization. In her fellowship capacity, Aurora organized young people around issues of voter protection, civil unions, and the energy municipalization campaign in Boulder, CO. She led groups of young leaders through the lobbying and advocacy processes while managing their online political news website.

Aurora then interned with Congressman Jared Polis and at the Office of the Governor in Denver. Working in these offices she was able to interact with activists and community members from a governmental perspective, and gained valuable experience in case management and advocacy within state institutions.

In organizing later with the Occupy movement and working on the campaign in Boulder against Xcel Energy, Aurora developed a deeper appreciation of the role of legal middlemen and women and their fight for fundamental protections of the right to mobilize. During the heyday of the Occupy movement, it became visceral to Aurora that justice only exists materially for those who have access to the courts, and quality representation and advocacy.

Aurora is looking to do work that is an extension of her deepest values – advocating for the underdog and working to dismantle the pernicious systematic disenfranchisement of marginalized communities. Specifically, she is interested in the legal and sociological aspects of privacy rights, free speech issues, animal rights, and economic inequality.

Stephanie Roberts

Stephanie was raised in South Dakota and Arizona. After graduating high school, she became a bit of a wanderer, living in several different states before meeting her husband and falling in love with Denver. In satisfying an itch to volunteer abroad, she and her husband initiated the first mobile pharmacy to treat thrush, tapeworm, and other common conditions afflicting children in the community of La Carpio, Costa Rica. She also continues to commit significant time and resources to an orphanage in Ghana that is run by Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa – an organization that is very near and dear to her heart.

Stephanie always had a sneaking suspicion that a career in law would be an excellent fit so, after graduating with a B.A. in Psychology in 2011, Stephanie accepted a paralegal position with Lindquist & Vennum in downtown Denver. Much to her satisfaction, the time spent at L&V not only cultivated a stronger interest in law but also opened her eyes to the endless public-interest opportunities available to those who work in the legal profession.

She currently spends as much time as her schedule allows on pro bono work. In addition to assisting attorneys with various pro bono bankruptcy cases, she enjoys working with the Rocky Mountain Immigration Advocacy Network to help an especially vulnerable population of undocumented immigrants gain lawful status through the U-Visa application process. She also cares deeply for Denver’s homeless population and offers help whenever it is within her ability to do so.

Though Stephanie does not know exactly what area of law she will work in after graduating law school, she does know that her passion and commitment to helping the vulnerable, impoverished, and disenfranchised
will only grow stronger as she develops the skills and resources to make a positive impact in the Denver community.

Ali Sheets

Ali was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but headed to California for college, where she attended California Lutheran University and embraced the school’s vision of service and volunteering. She spent her junior year abroad in Austria, where she studied psychology and German. In addition to studying, she participated in an internship program and taught English to two 4th grade classes, where she encouraged her students and helped them in the transition from elementary to high school.

Ali returned to California to finish her senior year and graduated with a B.S. in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ali returned to Austria to teach English with the Austrian American Educational Commission, a Fulbright-affiliated program. Ali spent two years teaching English to high school students and enjoyed tutoring and helping students excel in the classroom, whether it was in English, German, or another subject.

While living in Austria, Ali developed a passion for human rights and in 2012 she moved to Vietnam to learn more about the problems of human trafficking in Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, Ali continued to teach English and also volunteered at the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an organization that combats human trafficking and works with children in troubled situations. Her involvement with Blue Dragon furthered her passion to advocate for human rights and victims of trafficking.

Ali is pursuing a dual degree at DU and will begin a Masters in Human Rights at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies next year. She plans to use her law degree to combat human trafficking and forced migration and hopes to work for the UN or another international organization, and eventually, the Foreign Service. She is excited for the opportunities DU has to offer and looks forward to continuing to develop her passions here in Denver.

Katie Steefel

Katie was born and raised in Colorado. Her interest in public policy took her to D.C. for college where she studied International Politics at Georgetown University. At Georgetown, she focused on U.S. international policy and Latin America. While studying abroad at a Chilean university, Katie became intrigued by a social movement for reform of the public education system within Chile. This sparked Katie’s interest in public education policy and social movements in general. After college, Katie moved back to Santiago to learn more about the education movement in Chile. She taught English and volunteered at a newspaper reporting about the education movement in Chile in hopes of spreading awareness of the movement throughout the world.

Katie’s time abroad studying the legal systems of other countries increased her desire to work to improve the legal system within the U.S. She is particularly interested in education and immigration policy. Katie hopes to use her legal degree to help advance the policy goals of different social groups throughout Colorado.

Elizabeth Weil

Elizabeth grew up in the Bay Area, CA and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA in 2011. Elizabeth earned her B.A. in Foreign Languages and International Affairs, emphasizing in Spanish and Business. Elizabeth’s interest in public service began in college when she volunteered at the Pierce County Juvenile Court writing diversion agreements for youth and at the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center supporting survivors of domestic violence in protection order court.

After graduation, Elizabeth began working in Denver Public Schools as a bilingual elementary school teacher through Teach For America. While teaching early childhood education, she obtained her Master’s in Urban Education at the University of Colorado, Denver. She coached high school volleyball, taught guitar, served on committees aimed at parent engagement and empowerment, and cultivated strong relationships with community members. Because of her experience teaching, Elizabeth developed a passion for education policy and advocating on behalf of underrepresented populations.

Elizabeth is driven to work in public service throughout her legal career. She is inspired by the possibility a law degree provides to make a positive impact for those she hopes to serve.