Where are they now? Elena DeSantis

Elena headshot1. What was your past role with PNLV and how long did you work for the organization?

I was a Community Fellow at PNLV from summer 2014–summer 2015. When I was at PNLV, we were in the beginning stages of our expansion into Bethlehem. We then organized over a dozen town hall meetings, where we presented our data to residents across Bethlehem.

My favorite part about the town halls was always the discussion that would happen after, where people who had never met before would bounce different ideas off each other, and help us identify what PNLV’s role would be. Ultimately, using resident input from the town halls, coupled with data from the environmental scan, we made a recommendation as to where BPN should be. It has been amazing seeing how far BPN has progressed since then!

2. You are currently attending Georgetown University Law Center and also had an internship over the summer. Tell us what you are studying and where you interned.

I am currently a second-year law student at Georgetown. During the first year of law school, we take only doctrinal classes, which provide us with a valuable and necessary foundation before we get to jump into the fun stuff. Over the summer, I interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office back in the Eastern District of New York. This year, I am taking courses in Human Rights Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Justice, among other more doctrinal courses. I am also in a Renewable Energy Practicum course, where I am working part-time with local agencies to develop consumer protection and empowerment policies within the solar energy industry.

3. How do you think your time working with PNLV and specifically BPN will impact your work in the future as well as your role in the community?

More than anything, working with PNLV has given me perspective. It’s really easy to get bogged down in the work and bustle that is law school, but working with PNLV has enabled me to place law school in the context of the communities around us. It serves not as an end, but rather a means of affecting whatever you are passionate about.

Working with BPN specifically highlighted the value of diversity of experience. Everyone I had the opportunity to speak with came from different backgrounds and had different experiences. Those experiences informed how each person participated throughout the early stages of BPN. Each data point I presented had its own unique story behind it, which I was only able to learn through these different perspectives. Having multiple sets of eyes on the same thing will highlight gaps, lead to deeper conversations, encourage listening, and, ultimately, produce better solutions. I have loved learning throughout my time at PNLV, and I know I will take these lessons with me into my future legal career.

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