2023 BPDA Summer Fellowship Class

About the BPDA Summer Fellowship Program

One of the central goals of BPDA’s Law School Engagement Committee is to provide resources that ensure that Black law students are able to access and succeed in public defense as a profession that empowers marginalized communities. Each year, the Committee selects a number of promising Black law students to serve as BPDA Summer Fellows. Each Fellow receives mentorship, intensive skills training, and financial support that enables them to successfully complete an unpaid summer internship at a public defender office and be well positioned for post-graduate employment.

Our fellowship program is made possible by the financial contributions of our members and supporters!

Meet the 2023 Summer Fellows

Anault Allihien is a first-year law student at George Washington University Law School whose diverse range of interests spans from criminal defense to international human rights law. Originally from Ghana, He came to the United States to pursue a master’s degree before embarking on a legal career. As a first-generation law student, he brings a unique perspective and a drive to make a difference in the lives of those who are underserved and facing legal challenges. 

Growing up, Anault’s family couldn’t afford legal representation, which sparked a deep appreciation for the importance of access to justice. This personal experience, coupled with his volunteer work in a refugee camp in Ghana, solidified the decision to pursue a legal education and fight for the rights of marginalized communities. 

Anault is excited about the opportunity to participate in the Black Public Defender Association’s Summer Fellowship Program. He looks forward to gaining invaluable insights, building meaningful connections, and further developing his skills as a future advocate for justice. This summer, he is working at the Missouri State Public Defender Office.

Destany Brown is a native Louisianian born and raised in Jennings, Louisiana. She attended Northwestern State University of Louisiana where she majored in Psychology and minored in Paralegal Studies Pre-Law with plans to utilize her psychology background within the criminal legal system.

Destany now attends Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law with career plans to become a public defender and rectify change within meager communities. She is interested in criminal law, as well as civil rights and advocacy. In addition to her studies, she is a part of several organizations: the National Black Lawyers Association, Women in Law, and the Civil Rights Association. This summer, Destany is working at the Louisiana Center of Children Rights.

Destany believes to have a heart for change, you have to be prepared for trials!

Born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama, Mariah Ellis is a rising third-year student at the University of Alabama School of Law. Mariah graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama in 2021 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a depth study of Public Policy Studies of Underrepresented Groups. She was involved in Blackburn Institute and had the opportunity to be a Vice President of Beat Auburn Beat Hunger, the University’s food insecurity drive.

Her commitment to public service stems from her passion, and her work experience. Mariah currently serves as a legal clerk for the Domestic Violence Clinic. She also previously interned at Fifteenth Judicial Circuit for Judge Lloria James and at the Tuscaloosa County Public Defenders’ Office. This summer, Mariah is working at Nashville Defenders. 

Mariah currently serves as Orientation Co-Chair welcoming in the Class of 2026. She served the student body as a 1L Senator and Executive Secretary of the Student Bar Association. Outside of school, Mariah enjoys reading, baking, and volunteering!


Trevor Holsey was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She studied English at Spelman College, where she graduated magna cum laude.

Trevor is a rising third-year law student at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law, where she is a member of the Trial Advocacy Board, a member of the Dean’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Advisory Board, and the Treasurer of the Criminal Law Society.

She has experience interning with Ben Crump Law, PLLC, and externing with the Institute for Compassion in Justice, a nonprofit organization with a focus on justice for young adults and youth in Kentucky. In her free time, I enjoy golfing and cheering on the Nashville Soccer Club.

This summer, Trevor is working at Nashville Defenders.


Coleman Powell is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. In 2020, he graduated from Swarthmore College with Highest Honors and a special major in Comparative Racial & Transnational Politics as well as a minor in Arabic studies. 

After graduation, Coleman worked for two years as an investigator at Civil Rights Corps (CRC) supporting litigation challenging the criminalization of poverty and advocating for decarceration. He supported pre-trial detention litigation, COVID-19 jail litigation, private probation litigation, prosecutorial diversion program litigation, and the Police Accountability Collaborative project. He has also spent significant time developing workshops that frame a collective understanding of safety as a defining component of abolitionist theory and practice,  co-teaching a course entitled “Designing for Communal Safety” at Stanford’s Design School. 

Coleman is currently a second-year student and recipient of the Filomen D’Agostino scholarship in Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and/or Criminal Justice within the Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholarship program at New York University (NYU) Law School. At NYU, Coleman is the Reentry Coordinator for the Parole Advocacy Project of NYU’s Ending the Prison Industrial Complex student organization and the Racial Justice co-chair for NYU’s Defender Collective. This student group supports aspiring Public Defenders. Coleman is interested in supporting those ensnared in the prison industrial complex and exploring the ways that direct representation can be a means of advancing grassroots movements for dismantling oppressive systems.

This summer, Coleman is working at the Neighborhood Defender Service in Harlem.

Aishah Stovall is a native of New Haven, CT; a rising 2L at the University of Connecticut School of Law; and a wife and mom of two. She received her bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD and her master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT—both in English.

Aishah went on to teach as an adjunct professor at both Tunxis Community College in Farmington, CT, and at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). She is currently an advisor to an interdisciplinary project through CCSU’s Racial Justice Certificate Program and a student fellow for the Center on Community Safety, Policing, and Inequality at UConn Law School.

Aishah’s decision to work within a public defender’s office is an amalgamation of her and her family’s experiences with carceral systems and her passion to increase representation for Black women in the legal field. Her hope is that her presence in the court room and on the other side of the table will provide comfort to her clients while simultaneously forcing those who struggle to do so, to check any implicit biases they may have that alter their treatment and perception of Black people, Black women, and
other marginalized groups of people.

Ultimately, her decision to work at a public defender’s office is a result of her desire to improve the world, even just a little, so that her children are more able to enjoy it freely. This summer, Aishah is working at CT Division of Public Defender Services, thanks to the generous commitment and donation from the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin.

Maci Thomas, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, is a rising 2L at Georgetown University Law Center.

She graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a B.A. in Criminology. As an undergraduate student, she interned at a local law firm in Baltimore City representing low-income clients charged with criminal offenses. She also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union on sex work decriminalization efforts and LGBTQ+ rights-protective policy. These experiences reflect her broader commitment to those forcibly exposed to the violence of the state on the basis of racial, gendered, and classed identity.

She continues in the radical optimism of her ancestors, with the hopes that her legal education may enable her to serve as a tool in the continued struggle against carceral systems and their perpetual degradation and exploitation of poor and racialized peoples. Central to this goal is her desire to defend children and young adults forced to navigate the criminal legal system. This summer, she is working at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in the Baltimore Juvenile Litigation Division, thanks to the generous commitment and donation from the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin.