For 12 years, Butler Koshland Fellowships has identified and mentored the next generation of public service leaders in public health, environmental conservation, and in other fields through extraordinary partnerships with leading experts in the field.
This year, Butler Koshland Fellowships and Equal Justice Society have partnered—with the support of The San Francisco Foundation— to provide a year-long mentorship to a young legal leader. The fellowship was awarded to Christopher Bridges to work with the Oakland-Calif.-based Equal Justice Society and its president, Eva Paterson, a nationally acclaimed civil rights attorney and activist.
“We are beyond excited to have Eva Paterson serve as a mentor—she is truly a great American hero,” said Kate Brumage, Executive Director of Butler Koshland Fellowships. “What she and her colleagues at EJS are doing for civil rights in this country is so vital and timely. It’s inspiring to think about what Chris Bridges, as a young lawyer, will learn and carry forward from Eva and her powerful way of creating positive change. We are also deeply grateful to The San Francisco Foundation for making this fellowship possible—they have been an incredible partner.”
A tireless warrior for civil rights, Paterson possesses a brilliant legal mind and a heartfelt passion for justice that inspires everyone she meets. She has held many prestigious leadership positions in the legal field and is the recipient of more than fifty awards.
“EJS is thrilled to partner with Butler Koshland Fellowships on this mentorship,” said Paterson. “We are proud to be part of the legacy created by Lew Butler and Dan Koshland, who believed that mentorship was a gift to be shared between generations. I want to thank Kate Brumage and The San Francisco Foundation for giving EJS this opportunity.”
Paterson’s latest work includes working with artists and social scientists in an effort to create a cultural shift around the issue of race. Through this innovative collaboration, Eva and her colleagues are forging a new set of tools that will help society recognize and manage the role that unconscious bias plays in decision-making.
One application of these concepts is in the analysis and remediation of the disproportionate school suspension rates of African American and Latino students.
With the guidance of her colleagues at EJS, Paterson selected Bridges because of his true calling to social justice and, in his own words, “a longstanding commitment to, and passion for, legal advocacy, community empowerment, and organizing alongside communities of color seeking equitable living, education, and decreased representation in the criminal justice system.”
Most recently, Bridges worked in Oakland with the ACLU of Northern California and local school administrators to address the systemic disparities that have led to the current “School to Prison Pipeline” crisis.
“We are at a great moment in time to shape a new economic future for kids and families in the Bay Area,” said Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation. “The Bay Area is known for pushing forward. It is a region of bold leaders and solutions that create opportunities for families and kids in cities from Richmond to East Palo Alto, from San Rafael to Fremont. Solutions that become models for the nation. We are proud to partner with EJS and the Butler Koshland Fellowship on a legal fellowship that will surely spark more of those bold ideas and policy solutions to life.”
The mission of Butler Koshland Fellowships is to identify and mentor the next generation of public service leaders. Their model is simple and personal: they ask extraordinary leaders to mentor an emerging leader and then fund a fellowship position. Each mentor and fellow pair works closely together on a project for one year. By directly investing in the individuals who have the greatest potential to influence others, they are accelerating the pace of positive social change.
Hugo Morales, Founder and President, Radio Bilingüe; Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club of California; Esta Soler, Founder and President, Futures Without Violence; and Greg Moore, President and CEO, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy have all worked with Butler Koshland Fellows.
Bridges is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, where he sought to build bridges by participating in multiple affinity groups, including the Black Law Students Association, the Asian Pacific Law Students Association, and the Latin American Law Students Association. He also holds a M.S. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University and a B.S. in Political Science and B.A. in Criminal Justice, both from North Carolina Central University.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to hone my coalition-building skills under a collaborative leader like Eva,” said Bridges. “I am already fully engaged in a number of projects here at EJS that will move us closer to a dream I share with Eva – a future where every child has the opportunity to reach their potential, regardless of race.”
Paterson, Bridges, and Brumage will participate in an event benefiting Butler Koshland Fellowships on October 11, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at The Open Square at Futures Without Violence, 100 Montgomery Street, The Presidio, San Francisco. The fundraiser will feature a conversation with Anna Deavere Smith and her mentor Joy Carlin. For more information, visit http://bkfellowships.org.