Pinto Fellowship Supports Students Committed to LGBTQ Rights


As a client legal services intern at Housing Works, Elliot Disha Tanha ’21 has been spending the summer doing client intake, drafting pleadings, representing individuals in housing court, and working on a long-form memo on tenant succession rights—all on behalf of LGBTQ clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Tanha’s internship is supported by the Arthur Pinto Public Service Fellowship for LGBTQ Rights, which was created by Professor Emeritus Arthur Pinto upon his retirement in 2017 and is awarded to a student for work at a nonprofit or government agency that supports LGBTQ rights law or represents LGBTQ individuals. The fellowship has allowed Tanha to do work on behalf of clients dealing with the difficult intersection of issues related to HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

“I really appreciate that the Pinto Fellowship allows me to work with the very community I wanted to assist,” they said. “It gave me a chance to explore these broader issues surrounding housing and access to medical care.” A member of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and secretary of OUTLaws, the Law School’s student LGBTQ organization, Tanha looks forward to further exploring intersectional ideas of LGBTQ identities, race, and disability issues in the law.

“I was very excited for Elliot to pursue this opportunity,” said Professor Susan Hazeldean, who oversees the fellowship program with Danielle Sorken, executive director, Public Service Law Center. “Arthur Pinto created this fellowship to nurture students who are going to be leaders in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Elliot is an energetic and passionate advocate who is sure to make a contribution to the community.”

“After spending close to 35 years at Brooklyn Law School, it felt like my second home and family,” said Pinto. “I was the faculty advisor for OUTLaws for many years, and when I retired, I wanted to make a donation that would support the students and their continued work toward LGBTQ rights. I am pleased that each year there have been excellent students and summer projects.”

Last year’s fellowship was awarded to Anne Melton ’19, who spent the summer at Demos, the nonprofit specializing in economic policy research and campaign finance and voting rights litigation, focusing on research projects that examine LGBTQ rights through the lenses of economic policy and election law. Professor K. Sabeel Rahman currently serves as president of the organization.

For Tanha, who is also auction co-chair for Brooklyn Law School Students for the Public Interest, the summer experience has really helped crystalized their career in public service. “I’ve had a pretty long history with litigation, and right now as direct client services intern, I’m in court a lot,” they said. “It’s something I really see myself doing in the future.”