Internships & Fellowships


Each summer, we host three to six undergraduate, graduate, or law students to conduct research on policy matters or investigate potential impact litigation relating to issues affecting low-income residents of Hawai‘i. Students are typically given a single project to focus on during their 10 weeks at Hawai‘i Appleseed. By the end of the summer, students will have usually developed an extensive memo detailing their findings and making recommendations on potential reforms and how they might best be pursued. Students are given a high degree of responsibility and Appleseed staff rely heavily on the students’ work to develop new projects.

For example, in one summer, students at Hawai‘i Appleseed were responsible for researching: (1) solutions for Hawai‘i’s affordable housing crisis, (2) inequities in Hawai‘i’s tax system, (3) language accessibility of the Hawai‘i driver’s examination, and (4) issues in Hawai‘i’s foster care system. Each of these projects resulted in the following meaningful improvements to systems affecting people in poverty in Hawai‘i:

  • The student working on the affordable housing crisis research developed a policy brief describing how jurisdictions across the country were using Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) to create more affordable housing without the use of scarce government subsidies (ADUs are separate units built on a homeowner’s property that are often rented at rates below what is typically available on the rental market). The brief was shared with the Honolulu City Council and ultimately resulted in the passage of a bill allowing ADU development.
  • The students working on the tax system project developed a policy brief that identified ways that Hawai‘i can improve its regressive tax system, which taxes people in poverty at the second highest rate in the nation. Their work laid the foundation for passage of a state Earned Income Tax Credit that is providing $135 million in tax relief to low-income families over a period of five years.
  • The student conducting the driver’s examination work built a case that resulted in a settlement which required the state of Hawai‘i to reinstitute the use of translated driver’s exams so that limited English proficient speakers could obtain a license that would allow them to get to work and care for their families. The translated exams had previously been discontinued when a single question on the exam changed and the state refused to get the question translated.
  • The student examining the state’s foster care system uncovered a long-standing issue of the state failing to adjust for inflation the amount foster families were provided for the care of foster children. The student’s work resulted in a class action settlement that increased the resources provided for the care of foster children by $8 million per year.

To apply, please submit a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to Executive Director Gavin Thornton at We are no longer accepting applications for the summer of 2021.

From left to right:

Lilinoe Kauahikaua
Lilinoe Kauahikaua grew up spending summers in Hilo, Hawaiʻi and the rest of the year in Arizona and California. Since returning home to Hawaiʻi in 2011, she has pursued a deeper understanding and connection with her culture. She received her B.A. in Administration of Justice with a minor in Hawaiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Lilinoe then continued with a year-long Hawaiian culture exploration program at the Hawai‘i Community College. In 2019, Lilinoe finished her first year of the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a focus on culturally based social service interventions. In the same year, she was inducted into the Phi Alpha Honor Society for social work students and will serve as their event coordinator for the upcoming school year. Currently, she is volunteering as program coordinator for Hawaiʻi’s first collegiate recovery program, called Mālama Project. She is also the Vice President, Business Manager, and a cultural practitioner for a small nonprofit choral organization–Nā Wai Chamber Choir– dedicated to the preservation, propagation, and innovation of Hawaiian choral music, and grounded in Hawaiian culture.

Nicole Yamane
Nicki grew up on Oahu and is an Iolani School alumni. She attended the University of Washington (UW) where she double-majored in Political Science and Law, Societies & Justice and minored in Human Rights. At UW, Nicki taught a freshmen general studies course and served as a luau chair for UW’s Hawai‘i Club. She spent a summer studying abroad in Spain and doing a brief stint at the U.S. Department of Energy where she drafted consultation policies between the federal government and Native American tribes. After graduating from college, Nicki worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm in Seattle.

Currently, she is a rising second-year law student at Georgetown University Law Center. Nicki is specifically interested in human rights, civil rights, First Amendment law, and legal theory. She loves going to the beach, music, movies (especially the screenplays), musicals, and spending time with family and friends. 

Charles Kargman
Charles Kargman’s Hawai‘i Appleseed internship comes between his first and second year as a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) student at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. There he studies state/local policy and nonprofit management, particularly as they apply to economic and community development. Prior to Ford, Charles served as Program Associate and Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Programs at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a human rights nonprofit. He managed the VP’s budget, speechwriting, and grassroots grantmaking in the developing world, as well as supported the Global Justice Fellowship, AJWS’s social justice program for rabbis. Before AJWS, Charles was a New York Urban Fellow, assigned to the NYPD Office of Collaborative Policing, and he also did a summer stint as a White House Associate in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. Born in Manhattan, Charles grew up 20 miles north in Irvington, NY, but NYC (especially Queens) remains his spiritual home. His B.A. is in Political Science from the University of Chicago (2014), with a minor in Environmental Studies. He is also a casual runner, Michigan basketball fan, and huge pop culture nut, so in his free time you can find him watching movies, reading up on (and, of course, listening to) the newest album releases, and getting into bar trivia.

He loves doing impressions, particularly of actors and politicians. Some of his go-to’s are Bernie Sanders, Nicolas Cage, Bill Clinton, and Filomena Barna, his grandma.

Nisha Riley
Nisha Riley is originally from the south side of Chicago and earned her BA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Economics, International Economics, and French. Nisha is thoroughly Midwestern, but currently lives in Seattle, Washington, where she is studying to earn her master’s in public administration from the Evans School of Public Policy at the University of Washington. She is delighted to be working in beautiful Honolulu for the summer of 2019.

In 2016, Nisha interned with Wisconsin State Senator LaTonya Johnson in Madison, WI, assisting the senator in her work representing and addressing low income residents in the highly segregated District 6 of Milwaukee, WI. While in undergrad, Nisha spent two years in Madison WI working at a local business, The Soap Opera, helping to promote shopping local while making lots of natural soaps. Nisha is passionate about pursuing local policy reform and supporting local communities.

In addition to her policy studies, Nisha is a saxophonist at UW Seattle, a casual pianist, and aspiring ukulele player. She enjoys spending her free time baking bread, hiking, crafting, and doing yoga with her cat.

Jeffrey Simon
Jeff grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. He received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in chemistry from Stanford University. After deciding that the lab was not the place for him, he taught chemistry at Passaic High School in Passaic, New Jersey through Teach For America. He later served as a program manager with iMentor, a nonprofit mentoring organization, where he guided a cohort of high school students and their volunteer mentors in the Bronx through postsecondary preparation from 10th grade through graduation.
He is currently enrolled in a concurrent MPA/JD program through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. His career interests center around a passion for expanding opportunities for young people in low-income and immigrant communities in the United States. He wants to work as an immigration attorney defending unaccompanied children in deportation proceedings, and he hopes to provide college and career advising services for these young people as well.

Jeff loves superheroes, bad puns, reggaeton and Afrobeat music, running, Krav Maga, and he recently took up jiu jitsu.

Jeff is jokingly known as a “bag lady” by his friends. Be ready to see him carrying lots of bags around, all the time.

Jacob Ly
Jacob was born and raised in Honolulu, and is a proud graduate of Kalani High School. In 2019, he earned his BA in history from Yale, focusing particularly on Asian American and 20th century US history. Throughout college, Jacob developed interests in US-China relations and public policy, writing and editing for the publication China Hands and conducting research for Yale’s Roosevelt Institute. He also continued a longtime passion for dance, performing with Yaledancers and the Yale Ballet Company. Professionally, Jacob’s interests in policy and issues local to Hawai’i led him to an internship in Senator Brian Schatz’s office in Washington, DC in the summer of 2017. In 2018, he served as a summer analyst for a tech consultancy, helping identify private sector approaches to public issues such as climate change. He is excited to continue policy and advocacy work in Hawai’i this summer at Appleseed.

Over the next year, Jacob will be studying Chinese at Tsinghua University in Beijing as a Richard U. Light Fellow and Greenberg Scholar. Following his time in China, he will be joining Bain & Company’s Boston office as an associate consultant.

Fun fact: Jacob almost dropped out of high school in hopes of training to become a professional ballet dancer.

From left to right:

Yang Wang
J.D. Candidate, Northwestern University Law School, Class of 2020
He went to college in China and got his master’s degree from the University of Virginia. He likes movies and music, and always wanted to become a movie director. He worked on the unfunded liabilities of Hawai‘i this summer, which includes unfunded pension liabilities and other post-employment benefits liabilities.

Robert Hansen
J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School, Class of 2020
Robert grew up in Atchison, KS, which he is required to mention is the “birthplace of Amelia Earhart.” He split his undergrad between the University of Puget Sound, where he was part of a circus, and GW in DC, where it is always a circus. In his free time, he loves to animate, play video games, and read sci-fi/fantasy.
This summer, Robert dove into the world of REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) to continue an investigation into how Hawai‘i can tax their income fairly and justly. The goal: ensure that REIT income earned in Hawai‘i supports Hawai‘i.

Leyla Mocan
Masters of Public Affairs, Princeton University, Class of 2019
Leyla was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and spent her high school years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Most recently, she served as the special adviser for the Office of Economic Policy at the U.S. Treasury Department until January 2017. While there, Leyla helped the office manage a policy portfolio covering all domestic U.S. economic issues. She worked on a variety of topics, including housing, infrastructure, economic security, student loans and generally monitoring the macroeconomy. Prior to joining the Obama Administration at the Treasury Department, Leyla worked at the Federal Reserve Board in the Global Financial Institutions section of the International Finance Division. She earned her B.S. in economics with a concentration in statistics and minor in mathematics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. This summer at Hawai’i Appleseed she worked on affordable housing issues and policy around chronic homelessness.

Eric Quang
J.D. Candidate, Columbia Law School, Class of 2020
Originally from southeast Michigan, Eric likes hiking, surfing, and playing basketball or tennis. This summer, he is looking forward to exploring the mountains, rainforests, and other natural beauties that Hawai’i has to offer. At Appleseed, Eric conducted policy research to improve equity in the tax system.

Grace Smith
J.D. Candidate, University of Michigan Law School, Class of 2019
She loves doing anything outdoors, especially water sports. She has been doing yoga for 3 years, but wouldn’t call herself a “yogi” just yet. Her favorite movie is the Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring- it’s her favorite for many reasons but a primary one is its amazing soundtrack. At Hawai’i Appleseed Grace researched access to youth mental health services in Hawai‘i. She also worked an enforcement strategy to shut down illegal vacation rentals that are drying up the availability of long-term housing for the local population. Lastly, Grace worked on the release of a report that analyzes the status of eviction proceedings in Hawai‘i.

From left to right:

Nina Lea Oishi
International Affairs Major & Political Economy Minor, Lewis & Clark College, Class of 2018
Nina is Punahou School alumni, a social justice advocate, a French and Chinese speaker, a photographer, and avid hiker. Nina is working on a variety of projects for Appleseed, including research on homelessness, a report on raising the minimum wage, and graphic design and photography for minimum wage and school breakfast campaigns.

Jacqueline Raha
J.D. Candidate & M.S. in Foreign Service, Georgetown University, Class of 2020
Jacqueline is passionate about food security and how that interacts with health, education, social justice, and climate change. She loves to spend her free time farming or caring for animals, and can likely be found accordingly at Ho’oulu ‘?ina, hanging out with Dadda Wadda Cow. As a part of Appleseed’s efforts to end hunger in Hawai‘i, Jacqueline is drafting a report that will highlight the state’s strengths while also suggesting ways to increase participation in the School Breakfast Program.

Aubrey Jones
J.D. Candidate, Yale Law School, Class of 2018
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Aubrey loves spending time outdoors. This summer, she is enjoying all of the hiking, biking, and water sports that Hawai‘i has to offer. At Appleseed, Aubrey is working on legislative advocacy for an increase in Hawai‘i’s minimum wage.

Emily Orman
J.D. Candidate, Yale Law School, Class of 2019
Emily grew up in rural Black Earth, Wisconsin before moving to the East Coast for undergraduate and law school. She grew up visiting Hawai‘i regularly with her family and had a wonderful time exploring the islands this summer. Her career aspirations include public policy and public interest law. Emily has been working on a children’s mental health services project this summer. This work includes conducting interviews with people who have faced barriers to access services, working with advocates and partner organizations, conducting research, identifying problem areas and brainstorming remedies.

Tyler Saito
J.D. Candidate, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i at M?noa, Class of 2019
Tyler grew up in Waimea on Hawai‘i Island where he competed in the Hawai‘i High School Rodeo Association. This summer, Tyler is working on issues relating to affordable housing, identifying how we can better develop and preserve critically needed housing for our residents.

From left to right:

Darien Pun grew up in Toronto, Canada, and is currently studying at the University of Chicago Law School. Using his background in real estate, Darien’s work this summer was focused on the design of policies to increase the availability of affordable housing across Hawai?i. In his free time, he loves cooking and trying new restaurants.

Phillip Pullig is a native of Waco, Texas who just finished his first year at Georgetown University Law Center. He assisted Appleseed with research on the minimum wage. He enjoys going on hikes, taking in the island’s amazing scenery, and surfing.

Jasmine Pontillas Davé is from Makakilo, Hawai?i. She is a law student at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa and is focusing her legal studies on special education advocacy in Hawai?i. Her work at Appleseed involved analyzing the equitability of how local school funding is distributed with respect to low-income students. A major motivation for her is one of her former students, who hopes to become a police officer and work with Jasmine once she becomes a lawyer.

From left to right:

Gabriel Beugelmans, UC Hastings College of the Law
Joshua Cooper-Williams, UCLA School of Law
Katrina Myers, Boston University School of Law
Mari Takemoto-Chock, Stanford Law School
Mykie Ozoa, William S. Richardson School of Law

Johnny Castellanos, 3L Northwestern University School of Law
Christopher Dunomes, 2L Harvard Law School
Caitlin Eberhardt, 3L University of Virginia School of Law
Veronica Montalvo, 2L Columbia Law School
Angela Roh, 2L Georgetown University Law Center


  • Adequacy of services provided to children in Hawaii’s juvenile correctional facility
  • Alternative Dwelling Units (ADUs) as a vehicle to provide affordable housing
  • Successful models and materials for expanding SNAP (Food Stamps) outreach in Hawaii
  • Inappropriate termination of eligible Medicaid recipients during the current DHS reenrollment process
  • Development and implementation of successful anti-hunger strategies in Hawaii
  • Research on policies that would restore equity in our tax system

Top row: Victor Geminiani, Joo Young Seo, Elena Pacheco
Bottom row: Matt Justice, Christiaan Mitchell, Rebekah Chong, Kelly Maeshiro, Nick Pietropaolo


Rebekah Leiolakaikemekana’auwauho’opunimekealoha Chong, Manhattanville College, 2012 Alumni
Matt Justice, 2L University of Michigan Law School
Kelly Maeshiro, Senior, Harvard College
Christiaan Mitchell, 3L UH Richardson School of Law
Elena Pacheco, 2L UC Berkeley School of Law
Nick Pietropaolo, 2L Michigan Law School
Joo Young Seo, 2L Columbia Law School


Social Media: Create infographics on the important issues addressed by Hawai‘i Appleseed and research other potential social media platforms.
Foster Care: Investigate problems within the Hawai’i foster care system, paying particular attention to the provision of mental health services, and developing strategies for improving conditions within that system.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Research improving the provision mental health and substance abuse services for youths in juvenile detention. Support current litigation.
School Environment and Discipline: Work collaboratively with the Hawaii Department of Education to provide research, findings, and possible recommendations for its practices regarding school environment and school discipline.
Tax Policies: Advocate for tax reform proposals to lessen the burdens on low-income wage-earners and families living in poverty.
Affordable Housing: Identify successful affordable housing models around the country and determine how those models might be most effectively adopted in Hawai‘i.
Tax Policies: Advocate for tax reform proposals to lessen the burdens on low-income wage-earners and families living in poverty.
Poverty Among Seniors: Research information about the state of poverty in Hawai‘i’s elderly population and develop a draft report.
Driver’s Licenses: Research the need for translation of the written driver’s license exam into languages with significant populations with limited English proficiency living in Hawai‘i.

top row: Victor Geminiani, Morwenna Steinerson, Zach DiIonno, John Schemitsch
bottom row: Daylin-Rose Gibson, Taryn Kaili, Paoakalani Montgomery, Johanna Sanchez, Weiqi Tang, Yonatan Herzbrun


Zach DiIonno, 3L UH Richardson School of Law
Daylin-Rose Gibson, 2L UH Richardson School of Law
Yonatan Herzbrun, 2L Brooklyn Law School
Taryn Kaili, 4th year, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Paoakalani Montgomery, 2nd year Harvard College
Johanna Sanchez,3L Cornell Law
John Schemitsch, 2L Fordham University School of Law
Morwenna Steinerson, 2L City University of New York School of Law
Weiqi Tang, 2L Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law


Aging Out Foster Children: Identify the rights and resources available to youth aging out of foster care and research the use of technology and social media to improve communication.
School Discipline: Analyze the disciplinary practices in Hawaii’s public schools to determine the causal link between high rate of suspensions and expulsions in schools with high Native Hawaiian, low-income and immigrant student populations.
School Breakfast: Evaluate a model of providing school breakfast in the classroom to all students, particularly those who are not able to have a meal before school starts.
Immigrant Rights Manual: Develop a training module for immigrants and caseworkers on various legal rights of immigrants.
HPHA Resident Councils: Compile relevant policy information for tenant education on proper, effective Resident Council formation and operation.
HPHA Conditions and ADA compliance: Identify public housing projects in deterioration and failing to comply with tenant requests for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Native Hawaiian Issues: Survey Native Hawaiian community to determine systemic barriers to self achievement.
Tax Policies: Research options for on tax policies that are supportive of the needs of the the low income populations.
Appleseed Network Activities: Compile information of the activities of the 17 Appleseed centers to determine potential for replication in Hawaii.
Playgrounds and Community Gardens: Gain information, develop partnerships and identify funding for the creation of community gardens in Kuhio Park Terrace and Kuhio Homes public housing projects.
English Language Learners: Evaluating the adequacy of the Department of Education’s administration of English Language Learner (ELL) programs at the local school level by examining teacher qualification data, teacher turnover rates, and relevancy of ELL curriculum.
Streamlining Government Services for Low-Income populations: : Investigate the progress and applicability of experimental innovations in mainland states’ efforts to streamline government services to improve access by low-income working families.
Homeless Outreach: Conduct extensive outreach to the homeless community to determine their needs and interests.
Alternative Housing Options: Survey barriers to and solutions for long-term affordable housing options for the homeless community.
Tenancy Readiness Modules: Research models for tenant readiness training in anticipation of permanent shelter.
Disparate Impact of the Hawaii criminal Justice System on Native Hawaiians: Research practical solutions to the disparate impact on Native Hawaiians in the criminal justice system.
State and Federal Protections for Fishing Boat Crews: Research legal protections for fisherman and identify problems experienced by fishing crews in Hawaii that are registered by foreign entities.


  • Chelsea Du, New York University School of Law
  • Anita Hofschneider, Harvard College
  • Fawn Jade Koopman, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i at M?noa
  • Kelsy Sargent, University of Colorado Law School
  • Jamie Young, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i at M?noa

Each summer clerk worked on several projects. Some of the topics were:

  • the design, delivery and performance of the Department of Education’s English Language Learner curriculum
  • systemic barriers and discrimination confronted by Micronesians living in Hawai`i
  • systemic failures in Hawai`i to provide timely and adequate mental health services to foster children who have suffered trauma
  • the development of a manual to educate immigrants about their legal rights
  • the failures of the O`ahu Youth Detention Home to meet its legal and moral responsibilities
  • options to provide safe, secure and affordable housing opportunities for the homeless
  • options available to expand the federal school meals program in Hawai`i
  • language rights of immigrants guaranteed by federal and state law as well as available enforcement mechanisms
  • the impact of the recession on low income individuals and families and the human services programs that serve them
  • the Hawai`i Public Housing Authority projects that repeatedly fail HUD’s annual audits and the extent of their failures


Hawai‘i Appleseed will host law students in their second or third year of law school, graduate students, and undergraduate students as an extern/intern earning academic credit. Under the direct supervision of one of our attorneys, students will conduct research on issues affecting the low-income population of Hawai‘i, help prepare potential litigation as well as participate in pending cases. Assignments may include drafting policy briefs, legal manuals, litigation memos and pleadings. Students may also be assigned projects that involve discovery and trial preparation.

Interested law students, graduate students, and undergraduate students should contact us to express interest in working with us for a time frame adequate for projects to be developed and required paperwork from academic institutions completed.

Candidates should send an email to expressing your interest in a volunteer position. Please include in your email a current resume and letter of interest.

Fellowship Opportunities

Hawai‘i Appleseed will consider hosting post-graduate legal fellowships. Please contact for more information.

Current Openings

Internships & Fellowships