Goodbye and Thank You, Yoana Tchoukleva, Amalee Beattie, and Josh Cottle!

The Equal Justice Society says farewell and thank you to departing staff members, Yoana Tchoukleva, (Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellow, 2018-2020), Amalee Beattie (Summer Law Clerk), and Josh Cottle (Summer Law Clerk).

Yoana Tchoukleva joined EJS in late 2018 after EJS revived the Motley Fellowship, thanks to a generous endowment by Elizabeth J. Cabraser. EJS established the fellowship in 2006 in honor of Judge Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman to serve on the federal bench, to nurture the talents of a new generation of progressive lawyers to transform anti-discrimination law and policy.

Yoana brought her talents and experience as an attorney, activist, and restorative justice organizer, playing an integral role in many of EJS’s significant accomplishments since 2019.

Through our case and community work in Bakersfield, California, to address disproportionate suspensions of Black and Latinx students in the Kern High School District, Yoana focused on the important issue of promoting teacher diversity, a proven factor in reducing discipline outcomes.

Yoana conducted community education presentations, guided and supported community members in writing opinion pieces, and drafted a demand letter to KHSD. She also contributed in many other critical ways in our efforts to enforce the settlement agreement reached in the litigation.

She led EJS’s work on first-in-the-nation legislation introduced by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlanger to mandate implicit bias training for healthcare professionals (AB 241, effective January 1, 2022) and for judges, attorneys, and court personnel (AB 242, effective January 1, 2021) for healthcare professionals.

Yoana helped EJS focus its role in the Progressive Pipeline Project coalition, working to create a diverse federal and state bench reflective of the country’s and California’s populations. The project seeks to include more judges who have worked as public defenders, and civil rights, social justice, and legal aid lawyers. It also aims to promote and include more diverse judicial law clerks as part of the pipeline. Yoana was the key organizer on behalf of EJS for the August 2019 panel on “Creating a Progressive Pipeline to the Federal Judiciary” and the August 4, 2020, webinar on “Courts, Law Clerks, and the Pursuit of Equal Justice.”

Yoana authored an April 2020 opinion piece pushing California Governor Gavin Newsom and state legislators to release incarcerated people from state prisons suffering from overcrowded, unhygienic and inhumane conditions exacerbated due to COVID-19 (“Releasing More People from Prison Will Make All of Us Safer, Not Less So”).

After the horrific murder of George Floyd, Yoana led the development of EJS’s analysis and position statement on transforming public safety, which supports significantly reallocating law enforcement funds to non-police responses to public safety needs and community services, resources and supports.

Summer Law Clerk Amalee Beattie, a rising 2L at Berkeley Law, moderated a June webinar on Racial Justice During a Crisis sponsored by Berkeley Law, Legal Aid at Work, which was part of the Elizabeth Cabraser 2020 Summer Speaker series. She helped research our analysis and position statement on transforming public safety and was part of the staff presentation to our board. Amalee also completed important research on California’s Government Code 11135, a critical tool in the fight for equity in state-funded and state-supported institutions and agencies.

Summer Law Clerk Josh Cottle, a rising 3L at the University of Minnesota Law School, moderated and presented on two webinar panels in July on “Spotting Race: Intro to Race-Based Claims,” a Western Center on Law & Poverty summer series. He also helped research our analysis and position statement on transforming public safety and was part of the staff presentation to our board. Josh also conducted research and other work related to efforts to enforce the settlement agreement in Sanders v. KHSD.

EJS is so fortunate to attract talented staff and Yoana, Amalee, and Josh were no exception. We’re always sad to see members of our work family leave, but deeply appreciate their contributions to our ongoing advocacy. We wish them much success in their future endeavors and will always have our door open to them.

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