Can you tell us about your role at OneJustice?
My role at OneJustice involves assisting the Statewide PBJ team with logistical preparation of the clinics, implementation of the clinics, and support with after clinic administrative tasks. I also support the Healthy Nonprofits team with the logistical and administrative work with the Executive Fellowship. Most recently I am also part of the Homelessness Prevention Project and will assist the team with the planning, coordination, and implementation of the Remote Housing Court Hearing Toolkit.
Can you tell us about the impact COVID has had on managing clinics? What is the most challenging aspect of virtual clinics?
In the beginning one of the most challenging aspects was converting all of our physical clinic documents into pdf fillable forms. Prior to COVID all of our clinics were done using physical papers, which did not have fillable pdfs. Before COVID hit us, the client and probonos were given physical folders that contained paper clinic documents. Since we had several different clinics such as housing, expungement, estate planning and immigration, each clinic folder had specific paper documents that were not electronically accessible or fillable. I was tasked in the beginning with ensuring that all our clinic forms contained in probono folders and client folders were all accessible and fillable electronically.
We also prepared a client clinic preparation guide that explained to clients what to do to prepare for their remote clinic, which included instructions about how to download zoom, how to log into zoom, and how to sign their documents virtually. This part was also challenging given that it required translating the client prep guide into Spanish.
Can you describe your role with the Executive Fellowship program?
As a Program Associate I am tasked with three areas to support the Executive Fellowship program, including: (1) Assisting the Director to prepare materials for each session, (2) maintaining communication with fellows with any assistance they may need, and (3) serving as the main host in managing all zoom sessions of the executive fellowship.
How has the program had to shift due to COVID and work from home?
The program has had to modernize the implementation of it’s program. Similar to the clinic’s challenges, the fellowship had several paper documents that were not electronically accessible or fillable in pdf format. In the past, the fellows met physically in a location and everything was done using traditional paper work. The fellows had physical folders. Due to COVID many of the fellowship materials had to be made electronically accessible and fillable. The program has also had to use zoom as a platform to hold virtual clinics. Since fellows meet virtually, the experience is not the same as it was in person. This is such that in person fellows were able to physically be with each other and build relationships.
Virtually it was a bit challenging for fellows to connect since they were not in the same room physically. One way to foster fellows’ sense of connection was implementing ice breakers and putting them in break out groups of 4 in each room to do their ice breakers. This has allowed the fellows to get to know each other by doing fun activities that build connections. We also pair up fellows at the end and give them time to talk about what they enjoyed, learned, or would implement at their organization. This was also a strategy we used to foster building relationships among the fellows.
What do you think has been the most valuable takeaway from this year’s Executive Fellowship program for the attendees?
One of the most valuable takeaways from this fellowship has been that the fellows feel informed and empowered as leaders. Many have expressed that they will implement the ideas, techniques and strategies they are learning in their work.