This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The Education Law Center has worked for nearly 40 years to help ensure that Pennsylvania’s children have access to a high-quality public education. Tomorrow evening, amid the grandeur of Philadelphia’s Crystal Tea Room, the nonprofit legal advocacy and educational organization will thank some of its biggest supporters by honoring the work of its former director, Len Rieser, and welcoming its new director, Rhonda Brownstein. The center will also celebrate five education champions whose commitment to public education has helped make a difference.
Rieser, an attorney and graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, started at ELC in 1982, handling cases and projects in all major areas of the organization’s education advocacy efforts. Rieser, also a member of the Notebook’s leadership board, became ELC’s co-director in 1993, but left the organization earlier this year to pursue other endeavors.
Brownstein, who led the Southern Poverty Law Center’s legal program, started at ELC in June. Before she started work, she said, in a statement: “I was fortunate to have collaborated with ELC when I was at the Southern Poverty Law Center, so I know firsthand the high quality of their work. I share their passion for ensuring that all students have access to good public schools.”
The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will also honor ACLU of Pennsylvania community organizer and Notebook leadership board chairman Harold Jordan, Mary Gay Scanlon, The Arc of PA, The Bridges Collaborative, and School Discipline Advocacy Services.