Our Team

Pilar Margarita Hernández Escontrías, Ph.D
Research Social Scientist and Project Manager, American Bar Foundation

Pilar HeadshotPilar is a Research Social Scientist at the American Bar Foundation and serves as the Project Manager for the ABF’s Research initiative “The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility.” As Project Manager, she assists project directors in planning and executing the regional roundtables and summits, authors press releases and project publications, and manages the research team.

Pilar received her A.B. from Princeton University in Art and Archaeology and Spanish (2008), where she was a member of Chicano Caucus, Acción Latina, the Princeton University Glee Club, the Princeton University Chapel Choir, and Katzenjammers A Cappella. While pursuing her M.Phil in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge (2010), she sang with the St. Catherine’s College Choir and was on the editorial committee for the Archaeological Review from Cambridge. She wrote her Master’s thesis on gender and environmental politics in precolonial Perú and graduated with distinction. Pilar received both her MA (2012) and Ph.D in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 2016. During her studies at Northwestern, she served as a Graduate Student Representative for the Department of Anthropology, was the President and Treasurer of the Northwestern University Ethnic Studies Graduate Student Colloquium, and was a section leader and soloist for the First United Methodist Church Choir in Evanston, Illinois.

Pilar’s dissertation is entitled Excavating Undocumented Lives on the Borderland: raced citizenship, colonial marketscapes, and the materiality of private property in 17th century Moquegua, Perú and draws from legal history, critical race studies, and archaeology to provide a material analysis of raced citizenship in the early colonial Américas broadly and Perú specifically. She demonstrates how an archaeological approach rooted in materiality and space can inform the ways in which legal scholars understand the process of becoming Indio (Indian) during the early years of Spanish colonial control, as seen through a comparative study of market integration and private property across two archaeological sites. Her first publication will be included in the edited volume Gendered Labor in Specialized Economies (University of Colorado Press, forthcoming, fall 2016).

Pilar is applying to law school in the fall of 2016 to further pursue her commitment to social justice and advocacy.

Elisa Zizza
Grants Officer, American Bar Foundation

2015December_063Elisa serves as a Grants Officer for the American Bar Foundation (ABF), an empirical interdisciplinary research institute on the study of law and its impact on society. At the ABF, Elisa is responsible for identifying, writing, and submitting grant applications in support of the ABF’s research, programmatic, and general operating needs and for administering and reporting on all grant-funded projects.

Prior to joining the ABF’s team, Elisa worked as a Project Manager for the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Development Office in a temporary capacity. There, she monitored and executed strategic interactions with donors and prospective donors to enable the Individual Giving team to meet its annual fundraising goal.

Previously, Elisa worked for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. She served the organization in several roles, with increasing responsibility, during her five and half years there. As a Planner/Senior Planner, Elisa secured over $2.7 million in grant funding from foundations, corporations, and government entities; led teams of middle and upper management, program staff, and community partners to provide strategic guidance on program development, evaluation, and fund development; and coached program directors on how to develop effective policies and procedures to implement contracts more effectively. As Advocacy Coordinator for CACLV’s program, the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania, Elisa established the first Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters™ nutrition education program in Pennsylvania, managed Second Harvest’s largest independent research study which was used for education and advocacy purposes; and enhanced Second Harvest’s marketing and communication efforts by participating in the ad-hoc website development committee, co-authoring and maintaining the website, and co-managing the organization’s social media platforms.

Elisa has a BA in Philosophy/Political Thought from Muhlenberg College and a MA in Political Science from Lehigh University, where she was the Community Fellow for the Muhlenberg Institute of Public Opinion.

Cheyenne Blount
Communications Associate, American Bar Foundation

blountphotoCheyenne is a Communications Associate at the American Bar Foundation (ABF), an independent national research institute committed to empirical research on law, legal institutions, and legal processes. At the ABF, Cheyenne is responsible for elevating the organization’s visibility to its stakeholders and to the general public through media relations, public relations, marketing, and special events. She assists in the creation and dissemination of content and research to news media, funders, the legal academy, and other stakeholders.

Prior to working with the ABF, Cheyenne attended Northwestern University, and interned with Picture Show Films, Homicide Watch Chicago, and the Foundation for Sustainable Development in Jinja, Uganda. She was also involved in the Medill Justice Project, an award-winning national investigative journalism center that examines potentially wrongful convictions. During her time at Northwestern, she spent a semester abroad in Paris, where she studied critical theory, literature, and media at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po).

Cheyenne received her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University in 2015.