Press Release

First Year Law Student
Awarded Prestigious Public Labor Law Fellowship

April 27, 2012

DeKalb, Ill.--First year Northern Illinois University College of Law student Danielle Blanks has been awarded a prestigious ten-week summer fellowship by The Peggy Browning Fund. Danielle will spend the fellowship working for the Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission Administrative Law Judges in Washington, DC. She was one of only 70 public interest labor law fellows selected nationwide in the highly competitive application process.

“With more than 500 applicants from 125 participating law schools, securing a Peggy Browning Fellowship is not an easy task, “according to Mary Anne Moffa, Executive Director of The Peggy Browning Fund. “Peggy Browning Fellows are distinguished students who have not only excelled in law school but who have also demonstrated their commitment workers’ rights through their previous educational, work, volunteer, and personal experiences.”

Danielle has displayed initiative and leadership at every phase of her educational and professional career. She is an Opportunity Scholar at the College of Law, vice president-elect of the Black Law Students Association for the 2012-2013 academic year, and Supreme Court Justice of the Northern Illinois University Student Association.

“NIU Law is very proud of Danielle for earning this prestigious fellowship,” said Dean Jennifer Rosato. “She has already demonstrated tremendous promise as a first-year law student, and her commitment to public interest is commendable. This award is a fitting recognition of her skills and her drive.”

Prior to law school, Danielle worked in the governmental sector as a Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice - Office of the Inspector General. She also has worked for the Chicago Housing Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chicago Urban League, and the Great Cities Institute. In addition, her activism was evident in 2007 when she and two classmates founded The Positive Radio Campaign, a non-profit organization which challenged the prevalence of misogyny and racial stereotypes in popular music through petitions and surveys. She has volunteered with various non-profits, including ChildServ, where she has served as a tutor and mentor.

“Receiving this fellowship means a lot to me because it is an amazing opportunity to learn hands-on about labor and employment law, while connecting with experienced practitioners,” Danielle commented. While in DC this summer, Danielle expects to hone her legal writing and research skills in a practical, real-world context while expanding her knowledge base concerning the adjudication of complaints filed specifically under the Mine Act. She is also excited to work with her mentor along with other experts in the public labor law field.

Danielle’s diverse educational background includes a B.A. in political science with a minor in black world studies from Loyola University Chicago and a master’s in public administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Adding a J.D. degree will give her more professional flexibility as she continues to pursue a career in public interest law in a capacity that will enable her to advance and defend civil rights.

The Peggy Browning Fund is a not for-profit organization established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, a prominent union-side attorney who was a Member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 1994 until 1997. The mission of the Fund is to educate and inspire the next generation of advocates for workplace justice by providing law students with valuable work experience in public labor law.


For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or