(Pictured from left to right: Daniel Symonds, Kathleen McPolin, and Melanie Kane)

The Peggy Browning Fund has recognized the exceptional talents of three Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law students by awarding them prestigious fellowships in workplace justice advocacy. Melanie Kane, Kathleen McPolin, and Daniel Symonds have been chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants, highlighting their dedication to workers’ rights and social justice. 

The Peggy Browning Fund, committed to fostering the next generation of labor lawyers, has accepted 117 law students into its 2024 fellowship program, the largest cohort in its history. With over 3,950 applications, the selection process is rigorous, emphasizing the significance of this achievement for Melanie, Kathleen, and Daniel. 

Daniel Symonds: From Teaching to Labor Law 

Daniel Symonds, a rising 2L, will be joining the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) in Hanover, MD, for his fellowship. Dan’s journey to labor law was preceded by a decade as a public school teacher and union organizer in Philadelphia. He co-founded the Working Educators Caucus, a group within his union that has successfully organized across numerous schools to strengthen union power and member involvement. 

Dan’s extensive experience includes supporting union organizers in major cities, serving as the student liaison for the Philadelphia National Lawyers Guild, and working as a deportation defense fellow. Currently interning with Justice at Work, Dan remains committed to labor rights and community activism. He is also an active member of the Philadelphia Democratic First Ward, dedicated to increasing voter turnout and electing progressive leaders. 

Kathleen McPolin: A Legacy of Union Advocacy 

Kathleen McPolin, a rising 3L, will undertake her fellowship at Markowitz & Richman in Philadelphia, PA. Coming from a proud union family in New Jersey, Kathleen’s dedication to labor rights is deeply rooted. Her mother is a public-school teacher and UFT member, and her grandfather was a long-time member of the Steamfitters’ Local 638. 

Kathleen’s labor advocacy began during her undergraduate years at the University of Chicago, where she co-founded the Student Library Employee Union, which became the first undergraduate union at a private university recognized by the NLRB. Her commitment to labor law was further solidified during her internship at the NLRB office in Newark, NJ. Before attending Temple Law, Kathleen worked as a paralegal at a boutique litigation firm in Manhattan, focusing on federal criminal defense and advocating for compassionate-release motions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At Temple Law, Kathleen has gained diverse legal experiences, including internships with a Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, the Solicitor of Labor’s office, and Temple’s Social Justice Lawyering Clinic. Her Peggy Browning Fellowship will allow her to continue growing as a passionate advocate for working people. 

Melanie Kane: Championing Collective Action 

Melanie Kane, a rising 2L, will spend her fellowship at the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) in Washington, D.C. Originally from Los Angeles, Melanie’s journey into labor advocacy began during her undergraduate studies in sociology at Carleton College. After moving to Philadelphia, she became actively involved in an organizing campaign at a local restaurant, an experience that ignited her passion for workers’ rights and collective action. 

Melanie’s commitment to social justice and her desire to develop her legal skills led her to Temple Law. Her goal is to support workers in achieving dignity, agency, and better working conditions. This summer, she is eager to learn how to leverage the law to advance the labor movement and empower workers through her Peggy Browning Fellowship at the UFCW. 

The Peggy Browning Fellowships awarded to Melanie, Kathleen, and Daniel not only recognize their exceptional qualifications but also underscore their unwavering commitment to workers’ rights. As they embark on their fellowships, they will continue to advance the cause of workplace justice, contributing to a movement that is more vital than ever.