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Social Justice Mission Scholars

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Social Justice Mission Scholars are dedicated to advocating for equal opportunity and civic engagement at the intersection of public service and social change.

Mission Scholarships support students who come to Vermont Law School with a cause, and who want to use the power of the law to make a difference in their communities and the world. Social Justice Mission Scholars are selected based on their previous experiences in social justice and an interest in public l service and social justice projects in the future. They are an active force on the VLS campus, partnering with student groups such as BLSA, ALS and SPEAK to host events and contribute to local community projects.

Current Social Justice Mission Scholars

Nico LustigNico Lustig JD/MFALP'19
Before starting at Vermont Law School in August 2016, Nico worked as the Food Business Development Specialist at the Franklin County Community Development Corporation, FCCDC, in Western Massachusetts. In this role, she helped many New England farmers and start-up entrepreneurs develop and grow sustainable food businesses. She participated as a working group leader for the State of Massachusetts’ Local Food Action Plan; Co-chaired the Franklin County Food Council; and coordinated the New England Food Processors Community of Practice through the Farm to Institution New England (FINE) network. For 12 years before working for the FCCDC, Nico managed two regional Natural Foods Cooperative Markets—The Blue Hill Food Co-op in Maine and The Franklin Community Co-operative in Western Massachusetts.

Rasheta ButlerRasheta Butler JD'19
Rasheta grew up in Chicago, IL. and attended Northern Illinois University. Rasheta received two Bachelor's degrees, one in Political Science with and emphasis in public law and the other in Sociology. Rasheta went on to obtain her M.S.W. at Aurora University. While obtaining her Master in Social Work Rasheta worked full-time as a Teen Parent Specialist for the Department of Child and Family Services of Illinois. Then after, relocated to North Caroline to work in Wilderness Therapy at T.R.A.I.L.S Carolina working with adolescents. Rasheta came to law school with the desire to gain a deeper understanding of the law. Rasheta want to better advocate for her clients, specifically concerning juvenile justice and child custody issues. Rasheta will be spending the summer working at the Defender General Central office in Montpelier, VT.

Ashleigh AngelAshleigh Angel JD/MFALP'20
Before coming to VLS, Ashleigh served as an AmeriCorps member by working with adjudicated youth. She focused on teaching them sustainable gardening and horticultural practices and workplace skills. This experience drove Ashleigh to pursue a JD and a Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy to help combat hunger and instill a sense of attachment to the planet through the law. She hopes to gain the skills she needs to help improve the health of lower income individuals and instill a connection between those individuals and their environment. Ashleigh hopes to one day write policy for the Department of Education for the development of food and environmental curriculum in public schools.

Carly OrozcoCarly Orozco JD/MFALP'20
Carly Orozco is a California native. Carly received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Portland State University. While in school, she volunteered for local organizations that focused on food justice and community health. She also worked for Sauvie Island Center, a non-profit that teaches kids about food, farming, and the land through hands-on field trips on a working organic farm. Carly hopes to use her education in the law to better support the communities she has worked with, and advocate for more equitable policy to create lasting change on a larger scale.

Edmond LeSesneEdmond LeSesne JD/MARJ'20
Owen LeSesne went to undergrad at Oregon State University. Owen studied Political Science and Sociology with a focus on Law, Policy, and Society. During this time, Owen served as a Community Relations Facilitator for University Housing. Owen collaborated with multiple cultural resource centers to lead workshops on social issues and sat on our Campus' Diversity Budgeting Board, distributing $1.5 million for 14 cultural resource centers. After College Owen worked two years as a Clerk for Snohomish County District Court in Lynnwood, Washington. While there, Owen worked the front counter with intake and fines as well as the civil window with protection orders and civil actions. Now Owen is working on fulling the joint degree and hoping to get a certificate in International Law as well. After this, Owen wishes to work in Navy JAG and someday work for the State Department as an Ambassador.

Denise HollandDenise Holland JD'19
Denise Holland is a resident Vermonter, Denise comes to Vermont Law School as a non-traditional student following a fulfilling secondary teaching career in history, literature, and psychology. Prior to attending VLS, Denise completed her undergraduate studies at William Smith College and graduate work at Brown University. A substantial career in education made Denise aware of the impact that poverty, domestic violence, mental health issues, and substance abuse could have on American youths and their families, in addition to the need for increased social services and legal supports. Motivated by a desire to move beyond her role as a classroom teacher and provide legal services to under-represented groups, Denise plans to focus on social justice issues related to family law, immigration, restorative justice, juvenile needs in the legal system, and to promote access to vital educational and social welfare services in Vermont.

Sarah PuzzoSarah Puzzo JD'20, LLM Food and Agriculture Law '21
Prior to starting at Vermont Law School, Sarah worked with a number of NGO's in rural Western Pennsylvania and her home state of Connecticut. Sarah's interest is in food systems and food insecurity. In 2013 she began working with the Meadville Medical Center and the United Way of Western Crawford County to tackle health issues, such as type-2 diabetes, which often affect populations experiencing food insecurity or generational poverty. After returning to Connecticut, Sarah worked with No Kid Hungry's Cooking Matters program, recruiting volunteers and teaching classes on nutrition in hospitals and urban centers. Sarah Came to Vermont Law School to pursue a JD and an LLM in Food and Agriculture, and intends to tackle systemic food insecurity through law and policy. She has a special interest in putting three free and nutritious meals a day into public schools.

Lauren King Social Justice Mission ScholarsLauren King JD/MARJ '21
Lauren is a Texas native. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Texas. She studied English with a minor in Sociology. She began volunteering at Truth-Be-Told, a non-profit organization teaching a weekly writing class inside a women’s prison facility. This experience exposed her to the incredible amount of trauma experienced by the women who are in the criminal system. For the majority of the women the trauma began when they were small children. Children need attentive advocates, so she began volunteering as a court appointed special advocate for children who have been abused and neglected. This experience led her to law school so that she could work towards a more equal system for women and children. In her law career, Lauren intends to focus on the rights of people who have been diagnosed with psychosis, ending mass incarceration, and creating no-trauma legal experiences for women and children.

Hannah Andrew Social Justice Mission ScholarsHannah Andrew JD'21
Hannah grew up in Massachusetts. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from Northeastern University. After college, she worked for the North Carolina Outward Bound School serving at-risk, adjudicated, and veteran populations through wilderness expeditions in the Everglades and the Blue Ridge Mountains. This experience drove Hannah to pursue a dual JD at Vermont Law School and a Masters of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry. She hopes to be an advocate for expanded and equitable access to the environment for marginalized populations.

Mariana Muñoz Social Justice Mission ScholarsMariana Muñoz JD'21
Mariana was born and Raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, until immigrating to a small suburban town outside of Boston. Prior to Vermont Law School, Mariana attended The University of Vermont. Mariana Received a bachelor’s degree in political science from UVM in 2014; as well as a M.S.W, Suma Cum Laude in 2018. While working to obtain her M.S.W., Mariana was awarded a VT LEND fellowship. As part of this fellowship, Mariana worked in partnership with the UVM College of Medicine and The University of Vermont Medical Center, where she took part of an interdisciplinary team. The team focused on improving the health status of infants, children, and adolescents with or at risk for, neurodevelopmental and related disabilities, and their families through the development of culturally competent, family-centered, community-based care. Mariana came to Vermont Law in order to focus on promoting services to the underrepresent communities in the legal system.

Kayley Olson Social Justice Mission ScholarsKayley Olson JD'21
Kayley Olson is originally from Colorado. She spent her undergrad in Chicago where she got her B.A. in Public Policy. While in Chicago she did restorative justice work, working in a maximum security prison working with inmates on policy reform for mass incarceration. She also worked at the Cook County State's Attorney's office in the bail/bond unit, facilitating the new policy implementation of lowering bond for non-violent drug offenses based on the individual's socioeconomic status and ability to pay. Kayley came to Vermont Law School to pursue her passion for restorative justice in relation to mass incarceration. She hopes one day to pursue a career in prosecution all while implementing restorative justice techniques to the criminal justice system.

Theophilus Agbi Social Justice Mission ScholarsTheophilus Agbi JD'21
Theo attended Amherst College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in American Jurisprudence and French. There, he worked for Amherst’s Center for Community Engagement as a community organizer. An ardent activist, Theo has worked at not-for-profit organizations dedicated to protecting women’s rights and civil rights. Before VLS, he worked as a paralegal in a small Florida law firm dedicated to consumer protection. There, he helped resolve consumer contract disputes. Warm and friendly, Theo loves to work closely with others to ensure that their stories are told from the strongest position possible. As a former college athlete, Theo remains passionate about wellness and nutrition. Finally, Theo is fluent in French. Currently, he is pursuing the JD/M2 international joint degree created between VLS and Cergy-Pontoise. After graduating, Theo plans to sit for both the U.S. and French bar exams.

Nicole Caudell Social Justice Mission ScholarsNicole Caudell JD'22
Nicole is a descendant of indigenous and enslaved peoples of the Americas, so she was always taught to question the status quo. Nicole was A Better Chance Scholar and attended the George School, a Quaker Boarding school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She was also a Golden Key Scholar and graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Arts in Film. Nicole worked as a Criminal Clerk for Worcester County Circuit Court for nearly 14 years. In 2018, she was the Democratic Candidate for Register of Wills in Worcester County, Maryland. Her interest in social justice is twined with environmental justice because she seeks to empower and serve disenfranchised communities that are often collateral damage in globalization.

Katie Clukey Social Justice Mission ScholarsKatie Clukey JD'23
Katie grew up in Plattsburgh, NY and attended Clinton Community College and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Katie received two degrees, a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2019 and an Associates of Applied Science in Human Services with an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate in 2016. Katie was an intern at the Clinton County Mental Health and Addiction Services Clinic and at the Clinton County District Attorney’s Child Advocacy Center in New York where she gained knowledge and understanding involving social justice concerns. Katie’s history of public service includes areas in social work, substance abuse counseling, peer advocacy, and community self-help groups. These areas of service and experience have empowered Katie’s cause to go to law school and assist in reforms that push equality and lessen discrimination and stigma in our justice system.

Monica Cooper Social Justice Mission ScholarsMonica Cooper JD'22
Monica grew up in Peterborough, NH. Her passion as an advocate for disability rights stems from her personal and family background. She graduated UNH in 2018 where she studied Philosophy and Political Science. After graduating college, she moved to Southern Ecuador and co-found the non-profit association El Arte de Reciprocidad. She worked at the New Hampshire State Senate as staffer to the Senate Health and Human Service Committee and aide to Senator Jon Morgan and Tom Sherman before enrolling into Vermont Law School. She currently lives in Sunapee, NH with her partner and two pets. Monica is committed to developing her skills as a legal advocate to challenge the field of ableism that intersects with environmental justice.

Ricardo “Rico” J.J. Edwards Social Justice Mission ScholarsRicardo “Rico” J.J. Edwards MARJ’19 JD’22
Rico is from Brooklyn, NY. He received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Political Science from Tuskegee University. After college, he worked for the United Sates Environmental Protection Agency as a data analysist. Then he received his Master’s in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership focusing on financial aid increases and “green” campus communities. These experience drove Rico to pursue a dual JD and Masters in Restorative Justice at VLS. He hopes to be an advocate for extended and evenhanded access to public/federal lands across America.

Caitlin Kennedy Social Justice Mission ScholarsCaitlin Kennedy MARJ’19 JD’22
Caitlin Kennedy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Hamilton College. Prior to attending Vermont Law School, Caitlin worked for the Center for Employment Opportunities, a national non-profit organization that offers formerly incarcerated individuals ongoing support to build career capital and gain financial stability through employment. Caitlin was the recipient of the Superstar Foundation’s 2018 National Veronica Award for her outstanding performance as a case manager and “job coach.” Working one-on-one with so many members of New York City’s justice-involved community inspired her to apply to Vermont Law School, where she is focusing on criminal law and restorative justice. In addition to being a Social Justice Mission Scholar, Caitlin is also a Schweitzer Fellow for her project “Aiding Returning Citizens’ Storytelling,” where she and another student work directly with incarcerated Vermonters to connect them with housing, employment and mental health services, and encourage successful reentry post-release. Caitlin intends to continue advocating for and supporting the justice-involved community in her legal career, with the ultimate goal of eliminating our national dependence on prison and instilling the principles of restorative and transformative justice in the American criminal justice system.

Liz Mackey Social Justice Mission ScholarsLiz Mackey MARJ’19 JD’232
Name (if different from what shows up on email)
Legal Name: Kaelin Mackey
Preferred Name: Liz Mackey (she/her/hers)

Liz grew up in southern Vermont, dodging sticks and corn ears thrown by her older brothers. From early on, Liz's parents instilled in her a small-town Vermont, service-oriented mindsight. Whether through trail maintenance (bushwhacking), or volunteer coaching, Liz developed a passion for supporting her community.

Surprisingly, Liz followed in her mischievous brothers' footsteps, attending Middlebury College for her undergraduate degree. In 2010, she earned a B.A. in History and obtained a VT teaching license in 7-12 Social Studies. In 2013, while serving as an AmeriCorps member in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Liz earned her M.Ed. from Northeastern University.

Since then, Liz has taught, coached, and dorm parented students in middle and high schools. As of 2018, Liz transitioned to higher education, working administratively and teaching at Dartmouth College. Liz plans to use her JD to serve families in Vermont (her first true love) in a more direct and impactful way. She continues to volunteer as a Middlebury College Alumni Interviewer, farmhand, ice hockey coach, and Alumni Association Board member for Burr and Burton Academy. In her free time, Liz ski tours with her husband, runs with her dogs, and plays ninjas with her four-year-old.