My final days at the Alliance for Justice

I cannot believe my summer in Washington, D.C. at the Alliance for Justice is over. It went by so unbelievably quickly! I could not have asked for a more incredible experience. I learned so much, primarily due to the accepting atmosphere and the constant encouragement of my mentors. My co-interns were equally wonderful–passionate, driven and intelligent. I was also able to make a number of connections outside of my organization through networking events and in dealing with them on behalf of AFJ.

I spent my last several days at the Alliance for Justice assisting with a transition in staff. This work included compiling instructions for everyday tasks and ensuring everything that needed to be completed was, in fact, completed.

I also had the opportunity to compile strategies for reaching an expanded number of target audiences for our upcoming campaign. I focused on organization outreach and social media. I discussed how to focus the issues in a way that personalizes the campaign for a number of diverse audiences, the potential obstacles in reaching these audiences and how to overcome these obstacles. The campaign will focus on Harris v. Quinn and the upcoming Friedrichs case as an angle to discuss workers’ rights, and the importance of allowing unions to organize. I am excited to see their short film when it is finally released, and hope to continue my involvement with the Alliance for Justice. It is a truly amazing organization that does vastly important work. If you are not familiar with the Alliance for Justice, I urge you to visit their website to learn more.

If you want to get a glimpse at what the AFJ stands for, take this quiz: “Who Said It: Justice Scalia or a right-wing extremist?” Feel free to share it on social media! This is one of AFJ’s posts that has gained a lot of traction in the last several weeks.

My final week at AFJ was not without some fun and getting my last hoorah in D.C. I had the opportunity to attend the Beach Exhibition at the National Buildings Museum. The ball pit was difficult to maneuver through, but fun nonetheless!

Beach Exhibition Marissa Ditkowsky
National Buildings Museum Beach Exhibition

I was also able to attend a SlutWalk. These walks focus on the idea that it is never the fault of a sexual assault survivor, nor does clothing choice does not indicate consent. It was an incredibly empowering experience, and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of strong individuals–men and women alike–who are survivors or stand with survivors of sexual assault.

Marissa Ditkowsky
SlutWalk D.C. Marissa Ditkowsky

 

This summer definitely helped me to solidify my passions and understand what I want to do and where I want to be in the future. I wish everyone that I worked with at the Alliance for Justice the best of luck in their future endeavors, and thank them again for their patience and encouragement. I hope to see AFJ continue to do what it does best in the future.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16

Half way there: Midpoint at the Alliance for Justice

Everything began to pick up at work as the summer progressed. For those who are familiar with the Supreme Court, you may know that many major decisions come down over the summer–specifically in mid to late June. June 29 was the last day the Supreme Court delivered decisions for this term. At Alliance for Justice, we focus on the Supreme Court and emphasize its importance and potential impact on our daily lives. Thus, we followed a few specific cases, including King v. Burwell (which determined the fate of the Affordable Care Act), Obergefell v. Hodges (which focused on same-sex marriage) and Glossip v. Gross (which was to determine whether or not a particular substance could be used in lethal injections used for the death penalty), just to name a few. We focused social media campaigns and press releases on the potential impact of these court cases, and the results once the decisions were released.

Friday, June 26 was one of the more exciting experiences in our work following the Court. On this day, Obergefell v. Hodges was released, and it was decided that same-sex marriage should, in fact, be legal in all 50 states. Not only was Alliance for Justice hoping that this would be the result, but we also took action and went down to the Court to wait for the decision to be released. This is an image of my view from that day:

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I was standing by the Court steps–along with activists from across the country–when the decision was released. This is just an image to try to convey how many people were at the Court awaiting the decision:

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It is so thrilling to see when our work pays off, and for so many to understand what we do here at Alliance for Justice. This decision has a profound impact on people’s lives, and AFJ wants to make sure people recognize that. We want people to understand that the #CourtsMatter, and that who is sitting on the bench can determine whether or not your rights are protected. That is why we launch campaigns regarding judicial appointees and upcoming cases.

In addition to our other campaigns, AFJ always launches a year-long campaign. We are in the process working on a new campaign, for which a video will be released. The current campaign, which started last year, focuses on forced arbitration. The campaign, called “Lost in the Fine print,” discusses how companies take advantage of consumers and employees by inserting forced arbitration clauses that are convoluted, hidden and not always understood.

Here is a pamphlet from the last campaign:

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I am excited to begin working on this new campaign.

– Marissa Ditkowsky ’16

 

In with a bang: My first week at Alliance for Justice

I began my internship at Alliance for Justice in Washington, D.C. this Monday. The office is located in the beautiful Dupont Circle. For those who are unfamiliar with DC, Dupont Circle is in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. It’s a location with a number of businesses, tourists, offices and not to mention culture and architecture. Here are some pictures of Dupont Circle, just so you can see my view every day:

Dupont Circle 1

Dupont Circle 2

My office shares a building with a number of other organizations, such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Public Leadership Education Network and the Equal Rights Center, to name a few. We share a floor and office space with organizations such as the Center for Popular Democracy. This is our office:

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My second day on the job, we hosted a talk with John Paul Stevens–yes, that is the retired Supreme Court Justice. Journalists Dahlia Lithwick and Jonathan Capehart kept the conversation going with questions for Justice Stevens. Although I spent a majority of the time working the event–setting up, greeting guests and passing out programs–I did get to watch a bulk of the event. It was an incredible opportunity to hear him speak about his experience as a Supreme Court justice.

My third day on the job I attended a gala an the Newseum. The gala was held by the Center for Popular Democracy, an organization that shares space with Alliance for Justice in its Dupont Circle location in D.C. Congressman Keith Ellison, President of the National Education Association Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Program Officer of the Panta Rhea Foundation Janet Shenk and Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz were among the honorees. The gala was definitely a new experience for me. It was an opportunity to network that I had not really been exposed to before. 

As someone interested in education, disabilities and civil rights law, it was really amazing to hear these individuals speak so passionately about a vision for a better America. They spoke about voting rights, fair wages, ensuring everyone gets an education. I also had the opportunity to meet Lily Eskelsen Garcia.

Not to mention, the view from the Newseum balcony was amazing:

Newseum View

 

In the office, we have been working to plan a summer intern luncheon, to which we invite all of the D.C. interns. We are hoping to bring in a special guest speaker. A lot of the work over the past few days, however, has been related to the Justice Stevens event.

I am so grateful to be back in D.C., one of my favorite cities. Of course I am enjoying my internship, but no internship here would be complete without the full D.C. experience. I am living in an apartment, enjoying the history, taking walks and enjoying all of the activities here. Of course I have visited the White House, among other notable locatins. I also attended a Nationals baseball game against the Phillies on Friday night. I am so looking forward to the rest of my summer, and all of the opportunities and adventures that await.

– Marissa Ditkowsky