Rheem Brooks was born and raised in Manassas, Virginia. She graduated from Brown University in 2016 with an honors degree in Development Studies with a focus in Sociology and human geography.
During her time in college, Rheem worked with several organizations supporting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. She was a student researcher with the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, social work intern with Sisters Inside, media and community organizing intern with Critical Resistance, workshop facilitator for Space in Prisons for Arts and Creative Expression, and Sociology and English tutor with the 9 Yards reentry program.
After graduating, Rheem worked as a paralegal with the Federal Defenders of New York, Southern District (FDNY), where she was the first Black Chief Paralegal. In this role, she led initiatives to hire new staff from more diverse backgrounds. She worked on more than 200 federal criminal cases and assisted in five federal trials. During COVID-19, when attorneys were not permitted to visit their clients at the federal jails in NY, she developed a system to personally coordinate all legal phone and video calls for the entire New York defense bar whose clients were incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Rheem is eager to explore various career paths with her law degree, including litigation, criminal defense, and appellate advocacy. She is honored to be a Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Scholar and sends her endless thanks to BLSA, whose efforts brought this scholarship to fruition.