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

John Chu
Co-Founding and Managing Partner
Chu, Ring & Hazel LLP

Jeremy Eisemann
AVP & Legislative Counsel
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Richard Henken
President
Schochet Companies

Yalonda Howze
Partner
Mintz Levin

Peter Levine
Associate Dean for Research
Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Tufts University

Joshua S. Levy
Vice Chair
Partner
Ropes & Gray

Cynthia Malm
Vice Chair

Community Volunteer

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

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.

Eliza Fabillar
Chief Program Officer

Eliza Fabillar joined Discovering Justice in August 2019. Previously, she was Senior Project Director at Education Development Center and Co-Director of Education at the American Social History Project of the City University of New York. Eliza brings 25 years of experience in leading school reform, instructional and curriculum design, and teacher and leadership development. She has expertise in strategic planning, program management, organizational improvement, facilitation and coaching, and research and development. Her work has focused on helping education partners bridge research, policy, and practice as they prepare all students for success in college, careers, and civic life. Eliza is committed to equity and justice, and creating empowering learning experiences for K-16 students and adults. She serves as a thought partner for foundations, school districts, and community organizations. Eliza holds an M.A. in cultural anthropology and education from Columbia University, and a B.A. from the City University of New York.

Julie McNulty
Development Director

Julie McNulty joined Discovering Justice as the Development Director in 2017. A believer in the transformative power of education, Julie has spent much of her career working for organizations at the intersection of education access and criminal justice reform, both as a fundraiser and as a human services practitioner. Julie spent eight years in the Bay Area, and most recently served as as the Director of Development & Communications at Prison University Project before relocating to Boston, where she grew up. Julie received her B.A. in English and Political Science from Providence College. Julie is currently on the Board of Directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Boston, and is a volunteer literacy tutor at the Boston Pre-Release Center with the Petey Greene Program.

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.

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