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2020 winner BIOGRAPHIES

Mckenna Kohlenberg
Virginia A. Pomeroy Scholarship

Mckenna is a J.D./M.S.-Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis candidate at UW-Madison. She is committed to innovative, problem-oriented advocacy, policy/legislative work, and impact litigation that reforms and advances civil rights in the public education and criminal legal systems. As administrator for the SPD’s Student Expulsion Prevention Project (StEPP) and an extern for the SPD's Juvenile Unit, she has advocated for fairer school disciplinary practices, championed more equitable, effective instruction for all children, and defended children in delinquency cases. She has also represented indigent people in prison seeking post-conviction relief as a clinical student with the Frank J. Remington Center.

Mckenna split summer 2020 between Business & Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) and Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, collaborating with community organizations to increase police accountability and remove police from schools. Her article Booked but Can’t Read: “Functional Literacy,” National Citizenship, and the New Face of Dred Scott in the Age of Mass Incarceration was published in NYU’s Review of Law & Social Change in May 2020. Following graduation in May 2021, Mckenna will pursue a career in civil rights law, specifically in special education, disability rights, juvenile justice, and criminal legal reform.

Hannah is a third-year dual degree-seeking student pursuing a PhD in Environment and Resources, with a minor in Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, and a JD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison/Law School. In her graduate program, she studies the social and environmental implications of correctional institution siting, and devotes a significant amount of time to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students. While in law school, she has served as the president of the Animal Legal Defense Fund-University of Wisconsin Law School student chapter since reviving it in 2017 and held multiple board positions with the Environmental Law Society.

She has also dedicated hundreds of pro bono hours to the Center for Patient Partnerships legal-medical clinic, among other programs, and clerked and interned for numerous non-profit animal and environmental law organizations including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Legal and Historical Center, Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims, Clean Wisconsin, and Midwest Environmental Advocates. Hannah’s long-term goal is to serve as an educator, in one capacity or another. She hopes to secure a position that affords her the opportunity to advocate for, and facilitate knowledge of, human and non-human animal justice in a variety of ways—academically and legally.

Hannah Richerson
AWL Foundation Scholarship

Kelly Ryan
Virginia A. Pomeroy Scholarship

Kelly, a third year law student at Marquette and member of AWL, recognizes the importance of public service to effectuate positive change. This past summer, Kelly clerked for the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. She also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Copyright Office of Policy and International Affairs. Previously, Kelly served as a judicial intern for Judge Nancy Joseph of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, and as a legal extern for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, in Madison. Kelly also serves as a leader in law school. She is Vice President of the Intellectual Property Law Society and Lead Articles Editor of the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review.

Demonstrating her commitment to service, Kelly has volunteered in two of Marquette’s pro bono clinics. Kelly is passionate about trial advocacy and was selected for Marquette’s mock trial team. Beginning this fall, Kelly will intern for the Milwaukee County District Attorney, further developing her litigation skills under the Wisconsin student practice rule as part of the Marquette Prosecutor Clinic. Upon graduation, Kelly plans to combine her legal education and experience to continue to serve others and contribute to her community as an effective advocate.

Originally a Wisconsin native, Liz moved back to the Milwaukee area to attend Marquette University Law School, where she is a 2L. At Marquette, she is an active member of the AWL Student group, Intellectual Property Law Society, and Environmental Law Society. She also volunteers at the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic. Liz says that, "The MVLC operates with a great group of volunteer attorneys and is an incredibly rewarding hands-on opportunity to learn."

Last summer, she worked as a judicial intern at the Court of Appeals in Milwaukee. Previously, she spent five years working in the agriculture industry, where she gained valuable experience in technical sales and product marketing. Liz says, "During my career, I have connected with dozens of amazing men and women that have supported me professionally. AWL has helped me to continue to network in the legal field with an amazing group of women." In her free time, she enjoys coaching a high school equestrian team and gardening. 

Liz Simonis
AWL Foundation Scholarship

Seynabou Youm
Shirley S. Abrahamson

Seynabou is a rising 3L at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is from Senegal and considers Texas and Nebraska her homes. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelors in Global Studies and Political Science. As an undergrad she was active in multicultural student organizations and worked with high school students applying for college. After graduating, Seynabou worked for the Nebraska Department of Labor in the Unemployment Insurance program. She started off as an unemployment claims specialist, then moved on to a bilingual adjudicator position assisting people in her state in French and Spanish.

In the fall of 2018, Seynabou started her legal studies in Wisconsin. Her first year of law school she served as a 1L Representative for the UW Law School Black Law Students Association (BLSA). The following year, she served as BLSA’s Secretary. She is currently serving as the Secretary of the Midwestern Region for the National Black Law Students Association (MWBLSA). Seynabou has clerked at the Dane County Corporation Counsel, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and worked as a research assistant. She hopes to pursue a legal career centered on service and promoting equal access to legal services.

PAST Scholarship winners


*Mckenna Rae Kohlenberg
Hannah Richerson
Kelly Ryan

*Liz Simonis
^Seynabou Youm


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*Virginia A. Pomeroy Scholarship

^Shirley S. Abrahamson Scholarship

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