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Our Staff

Arlene Finkelstein

Arlene Rivera Finkelstein is Assistant Dean and Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center (TPIC) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She directs the Law School’s wide array of public interest programming, which includes one of the first mandatory pro bono programs in the country. TPIC supervises 26 student pro bono groups, advises students on how best to prepare themselves for public interest careers, and oversees the school’s public interest scholarship program. Finkelstein also teaches Legal Interviewing and Client Counseling at the Law School.

Before coming to Penn Law, she was the inaugural director of the Public Interest Resource Center at Widener Law School. Finkelstein began working at Widener as a professor of legal research and writing, where she also taught interviewing and counseling, and public interest law. Finkelstein serves on a number of legal services boards including Community Legal Services and Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Friends of Farmworkers, and the Defender Association of Philadelphia. She received her JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law, and her BS from Cornell University. She began her legal career as an Assistant Defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she focused primarily on the defense of juveniles.




Pallavi Podapati is Program Coordinator of the Toll Public Interest Center. In addition to keeping the TPIC office running, Pallavi offers administrative support to all TPIC staff members and works closely with the Pro Bono program where she tracks pro bono compliance. Pallavi also plays a large role in all of TPIC’s event planning.

Pallavi is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her BA with honors in Health and Societies and was a member of Penn’s Civic Scholars program. As an undergraduate she was very involved at Civic House and the Women’s Center, and at graduation she was the recipient of the David R. Goddard Award in recognition of leadership and service to the University. She has extensive experience working with community organizations and non-profits, including Appalachian Voices in Boone, NC and Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia. In addition to her work at Penn Law, Pallavi is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Policy at Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice.




Emily Sutcliffe is Assistant Director of the Toll Public Interest Center. She oversees Penn Law’s Pro Bono Program by helping students foster meaningful service experiences while ensuring compliance with the Law School’s pro bono requirement. Emily also works to enable dual degree and LLM students to leverage their unique programs to achieve impactful pro bono and public service. Additionally, she focuses on nurturing existing intra-University partnerships and fostering new ones.

Prior to joining TPIC, Emily worked in refugee resettlement at Nationalities Service Center and served as a nonprofit consultant for the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. Emily has traveled and lived abroad extensively- most recently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where she taught English to members of the Saudi royal family. In addition to her work at Penn Law, Emily is a doctoral student at Penn’s Graduate School of Education and a consultant for the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in Zambia. Emily has an MS in Nonprofit & NGO Leadership from Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) and was recipient of the school’s Emerging Leader Award.  Emily is co-chair of Penn’s Nonprofit Leadership Alumni Association, a member of SP2’s  Alumni Council, and on the editorial board of Perspectives on Urban Education, Penn’s education journal. 


Joanna Visser

Joanna Visser Adjoian  L’10 is the Toll Public Interest Center’s Associate Director and Staff Attorney. She oversees TPIC’s 26 student pro bono projects, offers guidance to our more than 100 student leaders and, as TPIC’s staff attorney, directly supervises students in new and existing pro bono initiatives when needed.

A 2010 graduate of Penn Law, Joanna joined TPIC full-time after having completed a Penn Law Postgraduate Fellowship that had her working at both TPIC and Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. As a fellow, Joanna supported efforts to end the practice of sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole, and mentored Penn Law students on local pro bono and public interest opportunities. Before beginning her Fellowship, she served as law clerk to the Honorable Joel Schneider, Magistrate Judge, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Prior to law school, Joanna spent two years as a family law paralegal at Philadelphia Legal Assistance, where she also coordinated the organization’s Violence Against Women Act grant from the Department of Justice. She then spent a year teaching English in Quito, Ecuador. In addition to her work at Penn Law, Joanna serves on the board of the Philadelphia Student Union and co-chairs the outreach committee of the Pennsylvania Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. Joanna began her long term relationship with the University of Pennsylvania over a decade ago, having earned her BA with honors in Urban Studies and Hispanic Studies (Spanish) from Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences.


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