Welcome 2021 Summer Interns!

The Action Alliance has the help of several interns this summer. They will support survivors through the Project for Empowerment of Survivors, assist in updating resources for advocates and survivors, record our history through 40th Anniversary oral history project, research and analyze partner abuse intervention and community accountability programs, and support our policy work.

Join us in learning more about them. We’ve asked each of them to tell us what excites them about their internship and to share a work of art or a song that resonates with them. Here’s what they said…

Maggie Castelli, Development and Outreach

Smiling person brushing away  windswept hair.
Maggie Castelli

I am so excited about this role and the opportunity to learn more about the Action Alliance. I am passionate about storytelling through history and am so excited to assist the 40th Anniversary Project with this particular goal. I am also enthusiastic about learning so much about development and outreach from the incredible D&O team and can’t wait to gain new skills to assist this team however I can.

During the pandemic, getting motivated just to get out of bed and get on Zoom for class felt like a task almost every single day. My favorite artist right now, Dolly Parton, really kept me going on those days I wanted to turn over and snooze my alarm. “9 to 5” is my ultimate hype up song, and I love singing along and feeling my mood lifted by Dolly’s music.

Nicolette DeFrank, Project for the Empowerment of Survivors

Smiling person with brick building in background.
Nicolette DeFrank

I am so excited to be working as a legal intern with the Action Alliance on the Project for the Empowerment of Survivors! I love legal research and I am excited to use these skills to actually effectuate change in Virginia. I am personally so passionate about combatting domestic violence and sexual assault in Virginia, and I am enjoying the union between my personal passions and intellectual interests. I have learned so much about the legal climate in Virginia, and I am looking forward to learning more throughout the summer.

“I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers has resonated with me, especially throughout my first year of law school. I love the tonal changes throughout the song, the mundane Midwest imagery, and the apathetic outlook on the end of the world, all slowly building up to an apocalyptic conclusion. It felt especially relevant in my first year of law school in the midst of a pandemic, as mundane things like long drives and lightning storms became simple pleasures in what seemed like the end of the world. I often played it on repeat while driving through the mountains of Lexington, VA.

Yevgeniy (Yev) Klinovskiy, Project for the Empowerment of Survivors

Smiling person looking to the side with red and white stripes in background.
Yev Klinovskiy

I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be working so closely with a team that makes a significant impact for the better in vulnerable people’s lives. Ever since I started working, I’ve been drawn to jobs where I’ve been in a position to better the community that I reside. I started working as a Congressional intern working with constituents in Rhode Island, after which I worked in a military relocation company assisting service members in coordinating their cross-country moves. My work then brought me to Boston, where I worked as a hearings paralegal assisting people trying to get SSI/SSDI claims processed. Realizing how difficult it could be to navigate legal structures and how little I knew about the law drove me to decide to become a lawyer, which prompted me to move to Virginia to pursue my education. It was here that I was given the opportunity to work for the Action Alliance and make a positive impact on the lives of people, many of whom are facing one of the biggest challenges of their lives. It brings me satisfaction that the work that I’m able to do contributes to a vital service being provided to the survivor community of Virginia.

This is by no means niche art, but the musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda strikes a chord with me. I haven’t had the pleasure to see it live, but I watched it online through Disney’s streaming platform. The music is masterfully written and, on multiple occasions, has been stuck in my head for days on end. Lin-Manuel Miranda was able to take the story of an immigrant from the Caribbean and breathe life into it. The range of emotion that one experiences while watching Hamilton is vast, and I highly recommend it for anyone, especially those who have an interest in history. 

Syd Ovitt, Justice Projects

Smiling person holding cuddly dog wearing a green mortar board.
Syd Ovitt

I’m so excited to broaden my knowledge about sexual and domestic violence, and to use my knowledge about campus sexual violence to aid in advancing policy. I’m looking forward to diving in to the Virginia political climate and learning as much as I can.

“Everyone Blooms” by the Front Bottoms is one of my all time favorite songs. I heard it for the first time after losing a close friend of mine, and the lyric “everyone blooms in their own time” just really resonated with me. It also reminds me of a saying that my favorite social work professor used to tell us, “Grow where you’re planted.” I think there is both growth and blooming in my future, but all in due time.

Julie Russo, Partner Abuse Intervention and Prevention

Person looking directly at camera with building in background.
Julie Russo

As a public health professional, I’m so excited to be collaborating with the Action Alliance on the Partner Abuse Intervention and Prevention (PAIP) project. I’m already learning so much about integrating community accountability, restorative justice practices, and other factors to address sexual and domestic violence. I look forward to discussing with providers from around the state of Virginia to learn more about best practices. I believe all professions can benefit from solid trauma-informed practices and interdisciplinary collaboration to learn/hear from new perspectives.

“Sunshine Type” by Turnover resonates with me. The album in its entirety tells a story of optimism, nature, and an exploration of spirituality. This band (and music in general) has carried me through some very difficult times, particularly over the past year. This song reminds me of light, hope, and seeing live music with my friends. Sunlight is one of my greatest simple pleasures so this song is very fitting for me!

Miranda Shorts, Partner Abuse Intervention and Prevention

Smiling person with grass and brick staircase in background.
Miranda Shorts

I have lived in Virginia my entire life, so to be doing work that makes where I grew up a safer place for survivors is something I’m very grateful to be able to do. I am thrilled that this project allows for a larger focus on how we can create better programs and services that respond to and prevent intimate partner violence. I really believe in transformative justice and restorative practices and what excites me the most about this project is that its largely based around that; accountability is integral not only to addressing acts of sexual and intimate partner violence, but also ending it.

One of my favorite songs is “Freedom is Free” by Chicano Batman. The song is essentially about liberation of the people from oppressors, but it’s delivered in a really soulful and upbeat way. Freedom in this song is really redefined in a spiritual and universal way, and Chicano Batman is one of my favorite bands. Music can definitely be used as a means of liberation, and I think this song has a really powerful message but also its still one of those songs I feel really happy listening to; definitely a car windows down volume up type of song!

Haley Wolf, Project for the Empowerment of Survivors

Smiling person with string lights and red bows wrapped around lamp post in background.
Haley Wolf

I am truly excited to be working with the Action Alliance this summer with the legal team on the Project for the Empowerment of Survivors! I’m eager to apply the skills I’ve been developing throughout my first year of law school and finally get to use them to help clients with real issues they’re facing. I’m also excited to learn more about Virginia’s laws and legal process surrounding sexual and domestic violence issues in general, and to explore the other areas of advocacy the Action Alliance participates in.

The song “Free” by Louis the Child & Drew Love has resonated a lot with me, especially this past year when the pandemic has caused things to be so uncertain in nearly every aspect of our lives. This song starts off sounding like it’s going to be a sad breakup song, but quickly switches gears and has an uplifting message that even if something appears to be a negative in that moment, if you look at it in a different light it may be an opportunity for a positive new door to open instead. Personally, I am quite a planner and I can sometimes get overwhelmed when things seem like they aren’t going as I anticipated, so I find this song to be a good reminder to trust that things happen the way they do for a reason, even if I can’t see that reason right away.

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