P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune, 2009

JD, Harvard University

Ayirini Fonseca-Sabune is the child of immigrants from Uganda and Guyana

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a JD in Law at Harvard University

Ayirini ("Rini") Fonseca-Sabune is the chief democracy officer of New York City. Previously, she worked as a Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney at the Community Development Project (CDP) at the Urban Justice Center, where she represented low-income tenants in affirmative litigation against their landlords for harassment. Before joining CDP, Rini was a Karpatkin Fellow at the ACLU Racial Justice Program, and a law clerk to the Honorable Harold Baer, Jr., in the Southern District of New York, and the Honorable Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr. on the Third Circuit. Rini is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was awarded the William J. Stuntz Memorial Award for Justice, Human Dignity and Compassion.

Prior to law school, Rini taught social studies at the Bushwick School for Social Justice as a New York City Teaching Fellow, while earning her Masters in Teaching at Fordham Graduate School of Education. She also worked as an investigator of police misconduct for the Civilian Complaint Review Board and a volunteer teacher to incarcerated women on Rikers Island. Rini worked as a secondary school teacher in Kampala and Kisoro, Uganda, as a Rockefeller Fellow, and with Partners in Health in Rwanda, with support from the Ella Lyman Cabot Trust. Rini is a cum laude graduate of Harvard College, where she served as President of the Phillips Brooks House Association.  

Rini was born in New York, and grew up in Jersey City and Newark, New Jersey. She is the daughter of naturalized American citizens who emigrated from Uganda and Guyana. Her parents now live in Mount Vernon, NY. 


Education
  • JD Law | Harvard University 2012
  • MS Education | Fordham University 2008
  • BA Social Studies | Harvard University 2004
Work History
  • New York City, Chief Democracy Officer | October 2018
  • Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, Skadden Fellow and Staff Attorney
  • ACLU Racial Justice Program, Karpatkin Fellow | August 2012 - August 2019
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Law Clerk to the Honorable Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr. | September 2014 - August 2015
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Law Clerk to the Honorable Harold Baer, Jr. | August 2013 - October 2014
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