Comes to NOLA after serving as National Pro Bono Promotion Counsel for Human Rights First and Legal Director of Journey’s End Refugee Services
The Pro Bono Project is pleased to announce that after a thorough local and national search, it has selected Jennifer Rizzo-Choi as its new executive director. Ms. Rizzo-Choi comes to The Project after having served for the past three years as the National Pro Bono Promotion Counsel for Washington D.C.- based Human Rights First. She holds a Juris Doctorate from SUNY Buffalo Law School and a Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) in Journalism from Ithaca College in New York. She takes the helm of The Project on May 2, 2016.
Jenny, who began her career as a broadcast journalist, has six years of leadership experience in legal and other service organizations, with the last three years specifically devoted to the pro bono legal community.
With a strong interest in public service law, and as the face of pro bono for Human Rights First, Jenny was charged with establishing pro bono offices for the organization in targeted urban markets.
As a part of that effort, she built coalitions to address gaps in legal representation and to increase awareness, change policies, and galvanize resources for legal representation of immigrants.
To that end, Jenny launched and developed the Louisiana Immigration Working Group in 2014. She collaborated with The Honorable Jay Zainey, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, who serves as the group’s chair, and others within the local legal and non-profit communities to take on the challenge of providing the immigrant population in Louisiana with pro bono legal services. At the same time, she worked to meet similar needs in Mississippi and Georgia, and she also directed the launch of a new Human Rights First office in Houston to focus on the legal representation gap in that market.
“We are so pleased to have Jenny Rizzo-Choi join The Project as executive director. Because of her previous work in this community, The Project’s search committee found Jenny to be extremely knowledgeable about the New Orleans legal services community and the issues facing the vulnerable populations we serve. In her work, she has met with numerous leaders in our “access to justice” community, and her New Orleans/Louisiana contacts include many lawyers, members of the judiciary, and others in the parishes we serve. Jenny also is articulate about best practices in operating a pro bono project from her previous national experience, and has already offered numerous practical and innovative ideas about operations, infrastructure, and funding to ensure The Project’s expansion and sustainability,” explained Norm Rubenstein, The Pro Bono Project 2016 Chair.
“Jenny is smart, energetic, enthusiastic, and strategic. Moreover, she is passionate about her work. Her demonstrated track record of developing important programs to serve communities in need in multiple states impressed us, as did her first-hand program-development and fundraising experience, an important consideration in our search for a new executive director,” said Carole Cukell Neff, Immediate Past Chair of The Project and Chair of the Search Committee.
Prior to her tenure with Human Rights First, Jenny served as the first legal director for Journey’s End Refugee Services. She established this legal program, which included a walk-in legal clinic and a collaborative effort among several legal service providers in Buffalo, New York to address the legal needs of the growing immigrant population. Over the course of three years, she brought in over $2 million in private and public funding, which allowed the program to triple its staffing and overall caseload capacity.
“The Pro Bono Project is well-respected within New Orleans and the six-parish area it serves, as well as across the nation. I am delighted to be joining an organization that has proven time and again that it has the flexibility and foresight to respond quickly to the needs of the various populations it serves. The Project has reinvented itself numerous times over the years to fulfill its mission and has emerged stronger every time. It has worked on precedent-setting cases and has been a mainstay of the New Orleans legal community and the broader ‘access to justice’ constituency for the past 30 years. I welcome the opportunity to work with the Board, staff, and the many volunteers that power the The Project to create a clear vision for future growth and sustainability,” said Ms. Rizzo-Choi.
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