About Us

Kid Judge

Our Mission

Discovering Justice’s mission is to prepare young people to value the justice system, realize the power of their own voices, and embrace civic responsibility by connecting classrooms and courtrooms.

WHAT WE DO

Founded in 1998 and incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2001, Discovering Justice is a Boston-based civic and justice education nonprofit organization. We offer innovative in-school, after-school, and courthouse field trip programs that teach elementary and

middle school students about the justice system, the role of law in a democratic society, and the fundamental importance of good citizenship.

By placing a special emphasis on underserved communities, Discovering Justice’s programs are changing students’ lives and school climates. We teach children to use their voices to advocate for themselves and others through learning about democratic values, history, justice, and civic responsibility.

Students who participate in Discovering Justice develop a sense of personal responsibility and respect for others, learn that they can make a difference in their lives and their communities, and become cognizant of the value of their participation in society. Our programs teach students that they play a critical role in the decisions that shape our history. We believe that in order for democracy to survive and flourish, children need to develop this knowledge from an early age.

Today, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of supporters and volunteers — judges, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, vendors, students, and parents — more than 140,000 children and adults have taken part in Discovering Justice’s interactive civic education programs. We are proud and privileged to work with these individuals to help strengthen democracy by educating and inspiring the next generation.

Why Civic Education

Youth ages 18-25 who said they regularly followed public affairs
High school seniors demonstrated a “basic” or “below basic” understanding of the American government
Students who take civics classes more likely to believe they are responsible for improving society
Students who take civics classes are more likely to vote

Civic education has languished in recent years in the face of high-stakes testing and increasingly demanding educational requirements. With it, young people’s interest in and understanding of our democracy and justice system has diminished. In 2000, only 5% of young people between the ages of 18-25 said that they regularly followed public affairs. In a recent civics assessment, 75% of high school seniors demonstrated a “basic” or “below basic” understanding of how American government works.

There is also a vast educational achievement gap in our country, which often prevents underserved children from reaching higher education and succeeding (using the most expansive definition of success) in life. Civic education is a frequently overlooked way to address these challenges. Through civic education, students develop the skills and attitudes needed to effectively voice an opinion and act on their beliefs. Students develop a sense of personal responsibility, learn that they can make a difference in their lives and their communities, and become cognizant of the value of their participation.

Civic education must begin early. Research shows that by the end of elementary school, the average student’s sense of civic or political identity has, in large part, been formed. Discovering Justice recognizes this opportunity, providing robust civic education programs for children as young as six.

Effective civic education also has long-term benefits. Research shows that students who take civics classes are 23% more likely to believe they are responsible for improving society and 14% more likely to vote than those who did not. Civic education can be a powerful motivator to students and an antidote to apathy and disengagement.

School-based civic education, however, is in decline:

-Today only one civics/government class is required in high school in all 50 states, as compared to an average of three civics classes required in the 1960s.

-Elementary and middle school civics classes are not required in any state in the country.

Discovering Justice addresses this challenge by providing engaging civic education programs that work in concert with state requirements and lessons that teachers are already using. Our programs complement classroom-based learning and help students to understand the relationship between what they learn in school and how they relate to their peers and to society.

James St.Clair Time Magazine

Our History

Discovering Justice was founded in 1998 with the support of the federal judiciary at Boston’s John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse and the Boston Bar Foundation. The founding goal of the organization was to educate the public about the role of the justice system in American democracy, and specifically to turn the Moakley U.S. Courthouse into a center of community and civic activity.

In 2001, the Project was named in honor of Boston litigator James D. St.Clair and incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with its main headquarters in the John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse.

“[James D. St.Clair] was courtly and courteous, but a vigorous advocate. You don’t see that style anymore.”
  — Jerome P. Facher, Partner, WilmerHale (former law partner of St.Clair)

Read the Tribute to James D. St.Clair, by William Lee, Co-Managing Partner of WilmerHale published in the Wellesley Townsman, March 15, 2001.

Our Board

Anthony Jordan

Board Chair

Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Thaddeus Beal
Painter;
Former Prosecutor

Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office;
Former Partner
Nixon Peabody

Deborah Birnbach
Partner

Goodwin

Jeremy Eisemann
AVP & Senior Public Affairs Officer and Senior Counsel
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Richard Henken
President
Schochet Companies

Yalonda Howze
Partner
Mintz Levin

Peter Levine
Academic Dean and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public AffairsTufts University

Joshua S. Levy
Vice Chair
Partner
Ropes & Gray

Cynthia Malm
Vice Chair

Historic Preservation Advocate

Joe Mueller
Partner

WilmerHale

Carmen Ortiz
Counsel
Anderson & Kreiger LLP;
Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts

Michael J. Parini
Executive Vice President &
Chief Legal and Administrative Officer
Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Jonathan Spack
Former CEO
TSNE MissionWorks

Gary A. Spiess
Former Executive Vice President
and General Counsel
FleetBoston Financial Company

Abim Thomas
Clerk
Head of Litigation
Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Setti Warren
Executive Director, Shorenstein Center on
Media, Politics
and Public Policy,
Harvard Kennedy School

Henry Schunk
Office Administrator

Henry Schunk joined Discovering Justice in October 2019. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he earned his B.A. in Political Science and History.
Prior to relocating to Boston from Atlanta, Henry worked resettling refugees from conflict and crisis areas around the world, providing robust social services and trauma-informed care to his clients and administering financial aid grants at the State and Federal level. With his passion for history, Henry has taken over our Courthouse Tours program, and is happy to have you along for a walk through the Moakley Courthouse.

OUR STAFF

Ann Gogol
Chief Operating Officer

Ann Gogol joined Discovering Justice in 2013. Prior to relocating from Oregon to the Boston area, Ann taught math, Spanish, and French to both elementary and middle school students. She also taught Legal Research and Writing to law students, and a variety of political science courses to community college students in Salem, Oregon. Outside of her experience as an educator, Ann worked as an Associate Attorney in the Business and Corporate practice area at Schwabe, Williams and Wyatt in Portland, Oregon and spent two years as a law clerk at the Oregon Court of Appeals. She earned a B.S in Business from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as well as a J.D., cum laude, and an M.A. in Teaching from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Henry Schunk
Office Administrator

Henry Schunk joined Discovering Justice in October 2019. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he earned his B.A. in Political Science and History.
Prior to relocating to Boston from Atlanta, Henry worked resettling refugees from conflict and crisis areas around the world, providing robust social services and trauma-informed care to his clients and administering financial aid grants at the State and Federal level. With his passion for history, Henry has taken over our Courthouse Tours program, and is happy to have you along for a walk through the Moakley Courthouse.

Luke Matys
Senior Education Associate

Luke Matys joined Discovering Justice in October 2019. He is a graduate of St. Lawrence University, where he received a B.A. in History and Philosophy, and went on to receive his Ed.M. from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Prior to working at Discovering Justice, Luke spent three years teaching 8th grade English and Math and 7th grade World Geography at Nativity Preparatory School of New Bedford. While there, he revitalized the school’s community service program to make after school programming more rewarding for both students and community partners. Luke has collaborated with the National Action Civics Collaborative, and is currently a content developer for Youth in Front.

Laura Brenner
Education Director

Laura Brenner joined Discovering Justice in August 2019. She is a graduate of Simmons University, where she earned her B.S. in Psychology and her M.A. in Teaching, and most recently had a successful career as an elementary school teacher in Boston. Laura is an experienced educator and instructional leader who is skilled in trauma-informed teaching, social emotional learning, and culturally relevant engaging curriculum design and teaching practices. She is passionate about helping students and teachers build their metacognition, critical thinking, leadership, self-reflection, and global awareness through rigorous and engaging educational opportunities, and sees issues around justice and civics as ideal vehicles for developing these vital skills.

Ashleandra Opoku
Education Associate

Ashleandra Opoku joined Discovering Justice in 2018. She is a graduate of Colgate University, where she received a B.A. in Peace and Conflict. Ashleandra’s passion for history and education inspired her to intern at a constitutional literacy non-profit while abroad in South Africa, where she helped the organization develop a gender-based violence lesson, as well as a newsletter for their constitutional camp. Prior to working at Discovering Justice, Ashleandra taught high school history at Roxbury Preparatory School.

Gaby Watson
Development & Communications Associate

Gaby Watson joined Discovering Justice in the summer of 2018. She is a recent graduate of Villanova University, where she earned her B.B.A. in Marketing with a second major in English. Gaby first developed an interest in fundraising and the nonprofit sector while interning at WaterFire Providence, and had the opportunity to experience firsthand the importance and impact of community-driven programming. Prior to working at Discovering Justice, Gaby was a member of Nasdaq’s corporate solutions marketing team.

CONTACT US

Send us an email and we'll get back to you.

Sending

©2020Discovering Justice. All rights reserved.

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?

Create Account