Director of Equity & Institutional Transformation; Supervising Professor, The Bronx Defenders Holistic Defense Externship at Columbia Law School; Staff Attorney contact
Shannon serves on the Executive Management Team as the Director of Equity & Institutional Transformation (EIT), developing and executing DEI strategic planning and overseeing office-wide Race, Class, Power & Privilege (RCPP) initiatives. Shannon’s work includes but is not limited to developing and overseeing the implementation of equitable policies and practices designed to promote diversity and inclusion through recruiting, hiring, mentorship, advancement, and retention, as well as developing RCPP training curricula. She facilitates a series of workshops for office leadership, staff, interns and community members year round.
Shannon continues to oversee all hiring policies and processes for staff, interns and students at The Bronx Defenders in addition to supervising The Bronx Defenders Holistic Externship at Columbia Law. As Director of Hiring, Diversity & Community Engagement, Shannon revamped and instituted new recruiting and hiring infrastructures designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and continues to oversee the operation of our comprehensive Summer Internship Program; this includes the Intern of Color Mentoring Program, which Shannon created to offer discussion-based RCPP sessions and one-on-one mentorship to interns from marginalized and underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. Shannon also supervised the founding and operation of the Robert. P. Patterson Jr. Holistic Youth Mentoring Program and supervised the Community Organizing Practice.
As an attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice, Shannon worked on an interdisciplinary team of attorneys and advocates to represent clients in misdemeanor and felony cases, and collaborated in the supervision of The Bronx Defenders’ Desk Appearance Ticket Project, through which she trained and supervised law firm associates in arraigning clients in criminal court while collecting data on the enmeshed consequences of each arrest.
Shannon received her J.D. from New York University School of Law where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar for Public Service. While at NYU Law, Shannon worked on the School to Prison Pipeline through the ACLU Racial Justice Clinic and participated in the Juvenile Defender Clinic, representing youth in delinquency proceedings at the Legal Aid Society. Shannon interned at the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia, The Office of Child Advocate Attorneys in Atlanta, GA, was an extern at The Public Defender’s Office—Atlanta Judicial Circuit, and at the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office. Shannon received her B.A. in English from Spelman College, where she served on the Board of Trustees and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.
Thanisha Pariage (She, Her,Hers) is the David Bohnett Fellow at NYU Wagner School of Public Service where she is earning her Masters in Public Administration specializing in Policy Analysis. She is also the Founder and CEO of KinNect, a startup project dedicated to building a platform for formerly incarcerated individuals to find sustainable employment. Through this role, she partners with NYU’s Prison Education Program to get students to work ready through resume building workshops and interview skills training. She also partners with employers to build sustainable relationships for the KinNect platform. While at NYU, Thanisha was a student worker at the Wasserman Center for Career Development where she coordinated daily interviews for on-campus recruitment as well as assist employers with job posting and hiring needs. In addition, she interned at the ACLU in the National Political Advocacy Department and at the Minority/Women Business Enterprise. She was also a research assistant to the Assistant Professor of Sociology and Public Service where she conducted research on housing discrimination.
Prior to NYU, Thanisha was a Staff Attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice at Bronx Defenders, where she serves as a public defender advocating on behalf of marginalized individuals in the Bronx community through holistic advocacy. There, she collaborated with an interdisciplinary team to engage in a client-centered approach to defense litigation. Thanisha received her J.D. from UConn Law in 2016, where she was a Certified Legal Intern with the Criminal Defense Law Clinic and Research Assistant to the Professor of Criminal Law.
Upon graduation, she was awarded the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award by the
Connecticut Women’s Center. She was also a Diversity Scholar, Priscilla Green Scholar, and Thomas Meskill Fellow. Thanisha received her B.A. in Public Relations with a minor in Music from Hofstra University in 2011 while working full time as a Foot Locker Manager. Upon graduation, she earned a role as the Corporate Human Resources coordinator. In this role, she recruited for over 100 stores in the California division and managed the corporate internship Program.
DEI Associate, Diversity, Equity & Inclusioncontact
Violeta, a Brooklyn native, earned her B.A. in Criminology from SUNY Cortland and her Master of Social Work from Columbia University. During her time at Columbia, Violeta interned at Make the Road NY, where she worked on a program to improve safety in Bedford-Stuyvesant and help prevent evictions. Through her efforts, she was able to help stop numerous evictions and arrange repairs for several buildings. Violeta also interned at Human Rights First, where she engaged directly with clients by co-ordinating biweekly sessions for men and women. More recently, Violeta returned from a tour of Jordan, where she examined social work practices and investigated legal issues regarding refugees and displaced individuals.
Lecelott (She, her, hers), graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and minor in Italian from Lehman College. She has more than 5 years of experience in human resources performing the duties of human resources assistant, human resource coordinator, and benefits assistant. She is fluent in Spanish.
Spanish Speaking Investigator and Recruiting and Hiring Associate
Spanish Speaking Investigator and Recruiting and Hiring Associate contact
Michelle Soto, (she/her/hers) is a recent graduate of Yale University with a degree in Psychology. After graduation, she spent a year working abroad at Yale-NUS College, Singapore’s first liberal arts institution. Most recently, prior to joining the Bronx Defenders, she worked as an Intensive Reading Teacher at a Title I school in Miami. Michelle is originally from New York City and is fluent in Spanish.