The Lawyers’ Committee Welcomes Inaugural FirstGEN Fellows: A Fellowship Program Developed Specifically for First Generation College Students

Categories: Press Releases

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is excited to announce the selection of its inaugural class of First Generation Civil Rights Fellows, Ms. Tania Chairez and Ms. Najaah Daniels.  Both inaugural fellows were selected from a very competitive pool of applicants.  They have a demonstrated passion for equal justice and plan to dedicate their careers to the advancement of social justice for all.

The First Generation Civil Rights Fellowship (FirstGEN) is a summer program for undergraduate students who intend to pursue careers in the civil rights field and who are the first in their immediate families to attend a higher education institution.  The program is designed to help fellows gain experience working on federal policy matters as members of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Public Policy team, while at the same time participating in a parallel leadership and advocacy training program.  “We are very excited to launch the FirstGEN Fellowship program, which will pave the way for a new generation of social justice leaders,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine.  As part of the program, FirstGEN Fellows are also required to write a white paper on a racial justice issue related to Lawyers’ Committee work.  The program commences on June 3, 2013 and lasts for 10 weeks.  Each FirstGEN Fellow will receive a stipend totaling $1,500.

Ms. Tania Chairez attends the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, studying Marketing and Sociology (2014).  She serves as the vice chair of the Latino Coalition, which promotes and advances the agenda of Latino students at the University of Pennsylvania through collaboration with the University’s policy making bodies.  Ms. Chairez is also the co-founder of Penn for Immigrant Rights, a student group aiming to increase the dialogue regarding immigrant rights and immigration issues on campus.  In her local community she is also a core member of DreamActivist Pennsylvania.  Ms. Chairez considers Phoenix, Arizona home but is originally from Mexico.

Ms. Najaah Daniels attends St. John’s University in Queens, New York, as a Rhetoric and Public Address major in St. John’s six year B.A./J.D. dual degree program (2014/2017).  Ms. Daniels is currently serving as a New York Needs You Fellow, which helps first generation college students select, secure, and succeed in their careers.  She is a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.  Most recently she was elected the President of the St. John’s Chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and has served as the NAACP New York State Youth & College Division President (2009-2011).  During the 2013 spring semester she interned with the New York County District Attorney’s Office in downtown Manhattan.  Ms. Daniels is a native New Yorker.

As part of the FirstGEN programming, fellows will attend weekly sessions exploring topics such as: What Does it Mean to be First Generation?, The Law & Public Policy Roundtable: An Opportunity to Sit Down with Lobbyists and Public Interest Attorneys and Advocacy through Coalition Building, Organizing and Community lawyering.

Fellows will also engage in networking and peer-to-peer coaching exercises as well as meet with civil rights and social justice leaders based in the D.C. area.  The Lawyers’ Committee welcomes our inaugural FirstGEN Fellows.

About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information, visit

Media inquiries:  To coordinate interview opportunities with the Lawyers’ Committee, please contact Stacie Royster, 202-662-8317 or

Non-media inquiries: If you have questions regarding the FirstGEN Fellowship program or are interested in serving as a guest speaker please contact Alejandro T. Reyes at 202-662-8321 or