Research Assistants

Our project fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion by building a pipeline of leadership for the next generation of community organizers, scholars, and legal minds who can provide services to the Latino community in a sustained, culturally competent way. As part of our commitment, we have worked with the below emerging leaders to cultivate the next generation of leadership.



Tanairi Alcaraz, UC Davis School of Law, Class of 2019
Winter 2016/2017 (Project: Network for Justice)




Daysi Alonzo, UCLA School of Law, Class of 2018
Fall 2016-Spring 2018 (Project: Network for Justice)

Daysi Alonzo is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and was raised in South Gate, CA.  She is currently a 2L at UCLA School of Law and is pursuing specializations in Critical Race Studies and Public Interest Law and Policy. After graduation, she will be serving a two-year federal district court clerkship. She is a first-generation college graduate with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Chicana/o Studies from UCLA. Before law school, Daysi was a researcher for the judicial nominations team at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy. During her 1L summer, she served as a judicial extern for the Honorable André Birotte Jr., District Court Judge for the Central District of California. She is an active member of the UCLA School of Law community as a Staff Editor for the UCLA Law Review, Co-Chair of the Womyn of Color Collective, and Student Mentor for the UCLA Law Fellows Program. After law school, Daysi plans to continue her career in public service through advocacy on behalf of low-wage workers in Los Angeles.

Samantha Bahena, Northwestern University, Class of 2016
Winter 2016 (Project: Midwest Roundtable)


Carlos Castellanos, Jr., UCLA School of Law, Class of 2016
Summer 2018 (Project: Network for Justice)

Born in Glendora, CA, Carlos is now a rising 3L with a specialization in Public Interest and Critical Race Theory. Prior to UCLA Law, Carlos graduated from Norte Vista High School in Riverside, CA with a full-ride scholarship to UCLA as a Gates Millennium Scholar. He then went on to receive his undergraduate degree in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy from UCLA. Afterwards, he returned to Riverside, CA for three years to study for the LSAT and worked in immigration/civil law firms. He is deeply passionate about unlearning the toxic masculinity he grew up in, dismantling white supremacy and oppressive systems, serving communities of Color (but particularly those in the Inland Empire), and advocating for increased mental health resources/awareness




Omar de la Cruz, UC Davis School of Law, Class of 2019
Winter 2016/2017 (Project: Network for Justice)




Francesca Hidalgo-Wohlleben, 

Claremont McKenna College, Class of 2017
Summer 2016 (Project: Midwest Roundtable)

Francesca Hidalgo, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is a rising senior at Claremont McKenna College majoring in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE). Francesca is a research assistant at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government and has volunteered at the State Public Defender’s office in Cedar Rapids. Francesca was a Montgomery Summer Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. In the future, she plans to apply for law school and pursue a career in criminal justice.

Samantha fentonSamantha Fenton,
Northwestern University School of Law, Class of 2019

Spring 2016 (Project: Midwest Roundtable)

Samantha Fenton is from Cleveland, Ohio, and she will attend Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law beginning in Fall 2016. She received a B.A. in Political Science and Legal Studies from Northwestern University. She has interned with CARPLS, a legal aid firm in Chicago, and clerked for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Contact Samantha at: s-fenton2019 (at) nlaw (dot) northwestern (dot) edu

Christine Kwon, Yale School of Law, Class of 2019
Fall 2016/ Winter 2017 (Project: Northeast Roundtable)

Leilanie headshotLeilanie Martinez, UC Berkeley, Class of 2019
Summer 2018 (Project: Future of Latinos)

Leilanie joins the ABF as a summer Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellow 2018. She is from a city in the greater Los Angeles area called South Gate, California. She will be graduating with a double major in legal studies and Chicanx studies. She is a self-described feminista who helps to empower women of color through her work as a senior resident assistant, Girl Scout co-troop leader, and researcher. Martinez is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and studies rights mobilization, issues of inequality, and access to justice. Her completed honors thesis explores how women of color facing evictions mobilize their housing rights using legal aid resources. She is an advocate for increased legal aid and volunteers at a community non-profit called Bay Area Legal Aid, where she works on furthering housing justice and reentry services. Martinez hopes to pursue a joint J.D. and Ph.D. in sociology of law to study issues of inequality and access to justice in the Latinx Community.

pic of simoneSimone Rivera, Northwestern University, Class of 2017
Summer 2015-Spring 2016

(Projects: Midwest Roundtable, Annotated Bibliography)

Simone Rivera was born and raised in New York City. She is a member of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences class of 2017 at Northwestern University, double majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies. Simone has been working on the Futures of Latinos project since June 2015, following her Sophomore year. Since working on the project, Simone has continued to engage with social scientific research along these ends. She is currently working as a research assistant on the Chicago Democracy Project, engaging in preliminary comparative analysis on social and political data in changing neighborhoods across Chicago and New York City. Following graduation, Simone intends on applying to law school and returning to the East Coast where she eventually hopes to enter into public service.

Victoria Roeck, Yale School of Law, Class of 2018
Fall 2016 (Project: Northeast Roundtable)

Estephanie Villalpando, UCLA School of Law, Class of 2018
Fall 2016 (Project: Network for Justice)

Estephanie Villalpando is currently in her second year of law school at UCLA Law where she is pursuing a specialization in the David J. Epstein Public Interest Law and Policy Program. This summer Estephanie was a Judicial Extern for the Honorable Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Before attending law school Estephanie worked at Inner City Law Center as a paralegal in the Housing Litigation Unit, working on litigation on behalf of hundreds of low income tenants living in slum conditions and participating in legal clinics to provide assistance with tenants’ rights matters. Estephanie holds a Bachelors Degree in Political Science with a minor in Education from UCLA. Estephanie is native to South East Los Angeles and hopes to pursue a legal career that will allow her to give back to her community.