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2024 Alumni Impact Award

April 22, 2024

Susan Pearlstein L'98 and Rae Shih L'18 holding Alumni Impact Awards
Susan Pearlstein L’98 and Rae Shih L’18

Susan Pearlstein L’98 (left) has been awarded the Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) 2024 Alumni Impact Award while Rae Shih L’18 was a finalist. Jack Regenbogen L’15 (not pictured) was also a finalist.

The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) recently recognized the trailblazing career of Susan Pearlstein L’98, Senior Attorney, Violence Prevention and Policy Strategist in the Family Law Unit at Philadelphia Legal Assistance with the 2024 Alumni Impact Award. Pearlstein was honored for her sustained commitment, leadership, and advocacy for survivors of family and sexual violence over the past three decades.

Jack Regenbogen L’15 and Rae Shih L’18 were finalists for the award. All were honored at TPIC’s annual Pro Bono Recognition Dinner, at which students, supervising attorneys, and organizational partners are honored for their commitment to pro bono work. Regenbogen was unable to attend.

Susan Pearlstein L’98

Pearlstein started at PLA as a CASAC student intern during her first year at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and PLA’s first year of existence. Upon graduation, she received a Skadden Foundation Fellowship to represent young mothers escaping family Susan Pearlstein L'98 Susan Pearlstein L’98violence in protection from abuse, child custody, child support and divorce matters at PLA and has continued to represent survivors of family violence for over 25 years. She has specialized in the representation of immigrant victims of sexual assault and family violence and is currently overseeing several grants from the Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women and from the Office of Victims of Crime to serve these clients.

Pearlstein is dedicated to providing trauma-informed services to clients and enabling our legal community to be better informed of how trauma impacts clients, their families and ourselves. After supervising the Family Law Unit for over 12 years, she now concentrates on policy and advocacy work while she continues to litigate complex family law matters. Pearlstein is an active member of the Philadelphia Bar Association, serving as Chair of the Family Law Section in 2022 and serves on the Association’s Access to Justice Task Force as a Co-Chair of the Family Law Group. She was a member of the Board of Directors of Women In Transition from 2006 through 2012.

Pearlstein has presented extensively on family law and the intersection of inter-personal family violence and immigration at local and national conferences and continuing legal education sessions.

She received her bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 1990 and JD from Penn Carey Law in 1998.

Jack Regenbogen L’15

Jack Regenbogen L'15 Jack Regenbogen L’15Regenbogen is the Deputy Executive Director at Colorado Poverty Law Project. With expertise in evictions, landlord-tenant law, public benefits such as SNAP and helping people with criminal justice records, Jack is responsible for developing and supporting policies to improve the economic security of low-income Coloradans.

Regenbogen has more than a decade of experience with legislative and policy advocacy, and he has helped to develop, draft, and pass more than three dozen bills. His work has included expanding notice before an eviction, establishing a statewide Eviction Legal Defense Fund, limiting access to eviction court records, reforming Colorado’s Mobile Home Park Act, limiting consideration of criminal history on rental and employment applications, ensuring that tenants have a right to a copy of their lease and rent receipts, and obtaining crucial reforms in the eviction court process.

In 2017, he co-authored a report, “Facing Eviction Alone,” which has been cited in national studies and law journals as an authority on the barriers tenants face in evictions due to insufficient legal resources. Regenbogen received an award for his work on the Colorado Chance to Compete Act (also known as “Ban the Box”) and was recognized as a “Rising Star” by Denverite in food security advocacy.

He received his bachelor’s degree from Colorado College in 2012 and earned his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School in 2015, with an honor for his dedication to promoting legal services for people experiencing poverty.

Rae Shih L’18

Shih is Education Counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. She manages the Buffalo Hotline Suspension project, which includes running a seven- organization coalition and suspension representation Rae Shih L'18 Rae Shih L’18program for families in Western New York, as well as conducting impact litigation statewide. At the NYCLU she drafted state appellate briefs and prepared oral argument for a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the NYPD regarding the use of metal detectors.

Prior to joining the NYCLU in 2021, Shih was a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii representing indigent clients in state court trials and hearings, administrative hearings, and negotiations. She also served as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of foster youth before the court. At the ACLU of Hawaii, Shih helped end the overuse of juvenile solitary confinement in the state and the use of strip searches at the youth shelter. Over her career, she has drafted three bills that passed into law—two in Indiana and one in Hawaii—addressing teacher preparation program accountability and data transparency.

Shih is currently an adjunct law professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law, having previously been an adjunct at the New York Law School and University of Hawaii Law School. Rae’s publications include “Suspension in Buffalo Public Schools: History, Analysis and a Holistic, Positive Path Forward” (2022), which examined root causes of the overuse and disproportionate use of suspensions in Buffalo Public schools, and “Discriminatory Policing in Hawaii’s Schools: Reliance on Police in Hawaii’s Schools is Excessive, Discriminatory, and Violates National Juvenile Justice Policies” (2021), which analyzed previously unpublished data to show that Hawaii has the highest student arrest rate in the country, as well as disproportionate rates of arrest for Black and Native Hawaiian students.

Rae received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in 2010 and earned her JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School, both in 2018.

Learn more about Penn Carey Law’s unwavering commitment to public service.