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Stein Scholars Class of 1996

We spoke with five alumni from the second class of Stein Scholars, to find out what they have been up to since graduating from Fordham Law and to hear their recollections from the early years of the Stein Scholars Program.

Dora Galacatos '96: I am now serving as Executive Director of Fordham Law School's Feerick Center for Social Justice, where I work with law students, recent graduates, alumni, and others on a range of poverty-related initiatives. My recent work has focused on consumer debt and access to justice, although I have also had the opportunity to learn about and work on issues related to unaccompanied immigrant children, domestic violence, and sex trafficking. The trajectory of my career following law school took me first to a federal clerkship and then to a post-graduate fellowship at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC), a wonderful legal services organization. At NMIC I had an opportunity to represent tenants in housing court, work on a child care project, and litigate an environmental case that went to the New York State Court of Appeals (where our clients prevailed). Following NMIC, I served as Director of the New York City Family Homelessness Special Master Panel and completed a second federal clerkship. I began my work at the Feerick Center in 2006 and have been here since.

The Stein Scholars Program created an instant community of professors, friends, and fellow students who shared a passion for social justice and public interest law. I cherish the friendships I made—both with mentors and peers—which sustained me through law school and which remain very important in my life to this day.

Rita M. Glavin '96: I am co-head of the government enforcement and internal investigations practice at Seward & Kissel LLP. In that capacity, I represent individuals and companies that have or may have difficulties with government regulators. I also serve on the federal Criminal Justice Act panel for the Southern District of New York, where I represent indigent defendants in federal criminal proceedings on a pro bono basis. I recently represented two individuals who were innocent of the charges against them, and I was able to successfully get those charges dismissed. My work representing these indigent defendants helps me keep things in perspective.

Prior to entering private practice in 2010, I spent 12 years in the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor with DOJ’s public integrity section, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District, and as head of DOJ’s criminal division. After graduating from Fordham, I clerked for two years with the Honorable Judge John F. Keenan—another Fordham Law graduate—and have been a Director for Fordham Law School’s Alumni Association Board since 2008.

As a defense lawyer, I now have a much different perspective on criminal proceedings. I see the human side of things and how important it is to have a good advocate early in the process. The prosecutor on a case also matters, because some are more open-minded and reasonable than others. I didn’t appreciate that as much when I was a prosecutor. Having to point out mistakes isn’t easy, especially when you have to tell a prosecutor that they have charged an innocent person. On the investigative side, I now have a greater appreciation for the emotional and financial toll lengthy, complex government investigations have on people who are caught in the middle. 

As a member of the second class of Stein Scholars, Bruce Green and Russ Pearce loomed very large in helping me figure out the direction I wanted my legal career to take. I followed Bruce’s path when I became a prosecutor in the Southern District and we talked about that path a lot while I was a Stein Scholar. My best law school memories are the events organized with fellow Stein Scholars. And then there was the Book Club, where about five of us met regularly with Bruce in his office, discussed books on compelling legal topics, and even got credit for it!

Peggy Healy '96: I have been a human rights advocate for nearly 40 years. As Senior Vice President for Latin America for Covenant House International, I oversee four programs for homeless and trafficked youth in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Covenant House International provides crisis care and long-term support to more than 62,000 homeless, abandoned, abused, and trafficked youths annually in the United States, Canada, and Latin America, by providing street children and youth with a safe, dependable environment in which to grow and become self-sufficient. Our 40 years of experience has resulted in CHI becoming a recognized leader in the effort to combat the sexual and commercial exploitation of children and other issues affecting youth.

I began my career in the 1970s in Nicaragua and Central America, where I lived and worked as a Maryknoll Sister as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and human rights advocate for almost a decade. From 1979-1981, I worked as an associate with the Washington Office on Latin America, working to change U.S. policy toward Central America. After graduating from Fordham Law, I became the Program Director for the Crowley Program in International Human Rights and also enjoyed teaching as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School for over ten years in the J.D. and LL.M. programs. For the twelve years before taking my current position at Covenant House, I worked around the globe with multiple NGOs as a human rights advocate and a specialist in advocacy.

Being a part of the Stein Scholars Program with the class of 1996 was one of the most important parts of my legal education and opened so many doors for me including a clerkship in the SDNY and independent studies that allowed me to make legal contributions even as a student. I made a group of friends that remain friends and colleagues, and today my work with the Stein Program on their Board of Advisors has allowed me to continue to support a program I believe is vital to the Law School. I feel a great gratitude to Bruce Green, Russ Pearce, Tom Schoenherr, and all of the other collaborators who have grown this Program that now is recognized nationally and internationally. 

Robert (Trey) Sandusky '96: I am now in my seventeenth year in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office. Currently, I am in the Appeals Bureau, handling direct appeals, habeas corpus petitions, and other post-conviction challenges in state and federal courts, but I have also served in the Criminal Court, Grand Jury, Narcotics, and Trial Bureaus. In October 2010, I got to argue the case of People v. Benston, 15 N.Y.3d 610, in the New York Court of Appeals, winning a unanimous decision that expanded the scope of admissible evidence in state domestic violence prosecutions. I am also very active in my Office’s Community Affairs Unit, through which I coach a high school mock trial team, conduct tours of the courthouse for local schools, and represent the Office at career days and community meetings. I also play in the Office basketball league, and am player-manager of the Office softball team. Outside of work, I volunteer for several charitable organizations: I am one of the play-by-play announcers and color commentators for Gotham Girls Roller Derby, Hudson Valley Horrors Roller Derby, and the Ithaca League of Women Rollers, and I perform regularly with the New York Choral Society, Village Light Opera Group, and Amore Opera Company. I am also a frequent guest lecturer at Fordham Law School, Cardozo Law School, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

As a Stein Scholars alumnus, I am modestly proud of the work I do for my community, both through my legal work as a public servant, as well as through my non-legal involvement with local charities. When I am interviewing law students who are applying to work as prosecutors in my office, I especially look for Stein Scholars, or enrollment in equivalent programs at other schools, or activities and internships that demonstrate that the applicant is dedicated to improving his or her community, and to the ethical practice of law—a critical qualification for an effective prosecutor. Indeed, my experience as a Stein Scholar has been a major contributing factor in my continued work serving the public interest.

Jenny Shevik '96: I was an Assistant District Attorney in Queens County until I had my first child in 2000. My husband and I now have 4 boys, ages 13, 10, 8 and 5. Until two years ago, we lived in New York City where we spent time with Robyn Watts ’96 and her three boys. We now live in Bedford, New York, near Ron Rossi and his wife Dara Andreasen Rossi (also Fordham Law 1996). Our children have now become very friendly with the Rossi children, which has been great. I also got to see Julianne Cohen ’96 weekly last year as we sat on the sidelines while our children played baseball.   

Although I have not practiced law since leaving the District Attorney’s Office in 2000, I still have such wonderful memories of the Stein Scholars Program: Our Stein Scholar Seminar taught by Professor Green and a summer internship at The Juvenile Rights Division of The Legal Aid Society were highlights. My favorite memories, though, are long conversations about ethics and justice with Professor Green, Professor Pearce, Dora Galacatos ‘96, Peggy Healy ‘96, Robyn Watts ‘96, Rita Glavin ‘96, and other Stein Scholars in many different settings, including a restaurant across the street from Fordham when the O.J. Simpson decision was announced. I am truly so thankful for the tremendous opportunity provided by Louis Stein and his family. I learned so much.