By Michael K. Browne, Assistant Director — Complaint Investigations Unit
The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights hosts an intern program comprised of law students, undergraduate students, and high school students. The purpose of the program is to build partnerships in the legal community by providing a platform for those students who are interested in pursuing a career in civil rights work. The intern program allows law students to work alongside attorney investigators, to learn about the local and state civil/human rights laws and to build understanding of the discrimination complaint investigation process.
Jonathan Felt, MJF Law Clerk:
Jonathan is a full-time law student at Hamline University School of Law currently focusing on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil Rights, and International Law. Prior to studying law, Jonathan taught 6th-12th Grade Choir and Math for four years in Florence, Oregon; worked as a Corrections Officer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons; and served 6 years in the United States Air Force in Oregon and Montana.
Jonathan earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Brigham Young University in 1999 with emphasis in organ performance and elementary music education. He earned a Master of Science in Education and Learning Development from Montana State University Northern in 2004 and Master of Arts in Teaching from Western Oregon University in 2006. Jonathan’s professional honors include the 341st Operations Group Personnel Manager of the Year Award in 2004 and the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award in 2010. This summer, Jon is screening new discrimination claims and making recommendations as to whether to proceed with investigating the complaint further or to dismiss a claim when the claim has insufficient support.
Ayah is a law student at William Mitchell College of Law, entering her third and final year. She earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science, with a focus on Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian politics, from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Ayah has experience working in governmental and nonprofit entities and is a certified YWCA Racial Justice Facilitator. Ayah’s professional honors include receipt of the Dorsey and Whitney Foundation Scholarship, and completion the American Bar Association Clerkship Program.
This summer at the MDCR, Ayah has been helping develop and implement the Complaints Investigation Unit outreach plan. She has been conducting meetings with advocacy organizations and reaching out to the community to help make the MDCR’s presence known and its process accessible to underrepresented communities. She has also been helping investigators research and write case determinations; and she has been conducting intake and writing case charges both in the office and during off-site community charge filing days. Ayah is passionate about civil rights and social justice and hopes to continue working toward a more just and equal society.
Jessica Enwesi, STEP-UP Intern
Jessica is a rising junior at Southwest High School, where she will be taking IB and AP program courses. Her interests include learning Spanish, shopping, and having fun with her friends. Jessica likes to enjoy herself and have fun like all teenagers, but she knows her future rests on making good decisions now and developing herself academically. Jessica would like to attend the University of Minnesota or DePaul University, where she plans to major in English and Pre-Law and minor in Spanish studies and International Affairs.
Vincent K. Mpezeni, STEP-UP Intern
Vincent is a rising senior at Patrick Henry High School. He plans on becoming an attorney and believes that his positive outlook and strong work ethic will help him get there. Vincent would like to attend St. Cloud University for his undergraduate degree and William Mitchell College of Law for law school. He is interested in working for the City of Minneapolis after graduation. In his spare time, Vincent likes to play soccer.
An internship is a building block of the educational process. It develops skills, makes interns more well-rounded applicants, and can lead to career opportunities:
“During my final semester of law school, I volunteered to work with the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights where I drafted determinations and researched emerging issues of the law. This experience provided me an opportunity to increase my knowledge of substantive areas of civil rights law and to hone my legal writing skills, which positioned me well for a future career with the Department. ”
— Seema Desai, Complaints Investigations Unit Investigator and former MDCR law clerk