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Lelabari Giwa-Ojuri L’20

Lelabari Giwa-Ojuri comes to Penn Law to explore legal responses to the school-to-prison pipeline. Lelabari is originally from Los Angeles, CA and earned a B.A. in Comparative Politics and a certificate in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2014. In addition, she studied Arabic and Bosno-Serbo-Croatian. Before attending Princeton University, Lelabari participated in the Princeton Bridge Year Program in Serbia. Her independent work focused on non-violent and civil society peacebuilding and youth activism in post-conflict societies in the Middle East and the Balkans. At Princeton, she co-founded the Princeton Equality Project, an LGBTQ activism student organization focused on creating avenues for intersectional LGBTQ activism.

Prior to Penn Law, Lelabari was a post-placement middle school counselor for Prep for Prep, a youth development and education non-profit dedicated to providing support for students of color enrolled in private schools. In this capacity, she provided mentoring, social-emotional support, and academic advising to 7th-9th grade students in independent schools in New York and New Jersey. Before working at Prep for Prep, Lelabari worked as a Bronx court representative for the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, a youth alternative-to-incarceration program. As a court representative, she advocated for court-involved youth aged 16-24 who potentially faced incarceration due to adult felony charges. Lelabari worked closely with case managers, social workers and defense attorneys to provide holistic care and keep judges apprised of participants’ progress.

Lelabari is a Case Chair for the Youth Advocacy Project, a pro-bono project that partners with the Youth Sentencing & Re-Entry Project. In this role, she supports an interdisciplinary team of law and social work students who support young people being prosecuted as adults in Philadelphia. During her 1L year, Lelabari worked in the Youth Justice Unit at Community Legal Services. That summer she was a part of the Penn Law delegation to the Global Forum on Youth Justice Systems, where she presented on the school-to-prison pipeline, exclusionary policies that disparately impact Black girls and alternative education settings. She now externs at the Education Law Center.

In her free time, Lelabari enjoys being a member of the Anna Crusis Feminist Community Choir, playing board games, reading Afrofuturistic fiction/fantasy, and baking.