ALUMNI PROFILES — Winter 2008
   

 

Providing Equal Access to Justice

Dan Glazier provides legal assistance to low-income people in eastern Missouri.

Like some future attorneys, Dan Glazier, M.S.W. ’80, J.D. ’81, grew up watching television shows of criminal lawyers and dreamed of being in their place.

During his undergraduate studies at Syracuse University, however, he started to take an interest in social work and began to refocus his future plans. “In my social work courses, I started to connect with the information being taught about how we can deliver vital services to those in need. I truly enjoyed my studies in these courses and realized I wanted to be an advocate to help people improve their lives,” Glazier says. “What I needed to figure out next was what kind of advocate I wanted to be and what kinds of tools I would need.”

That search led Glazier to Washington University’s dual degree program in law and social work and, eventually, to the organization he joined 27 years ago: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM). LSEM is an independent nonprofit organization that provides high-quality civil legal assistance and equal access to justice for all low-income people in eastern Missouri.

Glazier is executive director and general counsel for the organization, which has a staff of approximately 80 and serves the low-income population in 21 counties in eastern Missouri. He began working at LSEM as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow after graduating from the University.

As a fellow in the welfare unit, he represented clients in administrative proceedings and courts to help them obtain welfare and social security benefits. Next, in the housing unit, Glazier assisted the homeless and those on the verge of being evicted. In March 2005, he assumed his current position as agency director.

"Working here, where your job is to be a representative for individuals whose voices would not otherwise be heard, is what I wanted to do,” he says. “We provide the kind of assistance that helps people to survive and ultimately thrive.”

LSEM’s nine departments run the gamut of the legal spectrum, offering services that range from helping strengthen and support the victims of domestic violence, resolving landlord–tenant issues, challenging predatory lending practices, helping special needs children get educational services, ensuring access to state-administered public assistance programs, and more. The organization focuses on providing “holistic advocacy” by tying together the support and counseling of social workers with the legal advocacy of attorneys.

According to Glazier, one of the benefits of his career at LSEM has been the ability to see the impact of his work on a day-to-day basis. In one case, Glazier ran into a former client while in the grocery store, 10 years after helping her avoid eviction. The client was still in the same apartment and had been able to avoid falling into poverty and homelessness because she and her children had stable housing available.

“When I first met her, she was on the precipice of being evicted, and it could have thrown her entire equilibrium and family into disarray, from which they may never have recovered,” Glazier says. “That’s an example of how, over time, what you do continues on and resonates. Because her family had stable housing, the children had a place to go and a base from which they could grow.”

Since graduating from the University, Glazier has maintained close ties with both the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and the Washington University School of Law. In addition, many students from both schools pass through the LSEM office as interns, gaining clinical experience to round out their classroom education.

After nearly three decades in the same office, Glazier still enjoys his job and looks forward to the continuing challenge of advocating for and building connections within the community.

“Participating in the dual degree program allowed me to realize my dream,” Glazier says. “I’ve been here for 27 years, and I have felt fortunate and good about what I do every single day.”

—Sam Guzik, Class of ’10


Advocating for AIDS Patients

Bisola Ojikutu works to increase awareness and treatment of HIV/AIDS around the world.

Though Bisola Ojikutu, A.B. ’95, came to Washington University to study political science, her true passion was connecting with individuals and trying to help those around her. “Due to my interest in political issues, I did a lot of advocacy work in the St. Louis area,” Ojikutu says. “I then realized that I really wanted to have a one-on-one impact on people’s lives, and I thought medicine was a way I could do that.”

To make her vision a reality, Ojikutu went on to medical school at Johns Hopkins University and then to a residency in internal medicine and primary care at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. While working at an HIV clinic during her residency in New York City, she encountered a city with a notably high rate of infection, especially among minority and under-resourced populations.

“That was the point when I had an epiphany. I could see this as a disease that I wanted to spend my life working on because I understood the politics of the issue,” she says. “I thought I could be that person to really link the policies and the communities that are at highest risk.”

After her residency, Ojikutu studied disparities in health-care access through a fellowship at the Harvard School of Public Health and completed an infectious disease fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Since then, she continues to work to increase awareness and treatment of HIV/AIDS around the world. Based on the lessons learned during her training, Ojikutu concentrates her efforts on two things: one, helping under-resourced patients gain access to life-saving treatments, and two, working within communities to help provide for women affected by and children orphaned by AIDS.

“Children orphaned [by AIDS] are a high-risk group. Many are homeless, and they do not go to school or have access to adequate health care,” Ojikutu says.

Beyond her clinical responsibilities, Ojikutu serves as director of the Office of International Programs within the Division of AIDS at Harvard Medical School. In that role, she founded a program that increases access to HIV testing and treatment for women and children in rural South Africa. In addition, she trains health-care workers and helps integrate HIV management into primary health-care systems.

Ojikutu’s extensive effort spans communities in South Africa and minority communities within the United States, both of which have been particularly impacted by the AIDS epidemic. Within both groups, she faces the challenge of overcoming the stigma of the disease, but she works to increase the rates of patients seeking testing and treatment.

In the years since beginning work in South Africa, Ojikutu has observed many more patients seeking treatment for AIDS, though much still remains to be done.

According to Ojikutu, one of the biggest challenges she battles fighting AIDS in the United States is imparting the urgency of increasing HIV testing and ensuring access to treatment for those who are newly infected.

“One of the interesting things I noticed while working overseas is higher adherence to treatment because in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is a national emergency,” she says. “In the United States, we have access to more than 25 different medications to treat HIV, so there is less of a sense of urgency. This may translate into lower adherence and poorer outcomes. In terms of both HIV testing and treatment, we have failed to make HIV a national emergency, even though there are certain U.S. cities with higher prevalence rates than areas in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

In the United States, AIDS affects minority communities more severely than it affects the general population. This trend may give the sense that the disease only poses an isolated problem, but, to Ojikutu, it presents a significant challenge.

Ojikutu recently edited a book that aims to help health-care providers address the needs of their communities regarding the treatment of HIV. She also works extensively with community organizations like the Women of Color Roundtable, where she acts as a consultant training others to advocate for public health issues on the community level.

Her desire to have an impact on people’s lives continues undaunted.

—Sam Guzik, Class of ’10


Exploring Privacy on the Internet

Daniel Solove explores the relationship between the Internet and privacy in his books.

When the World Wide Web was introduced in the 1990s, many people were excited about the promises the new technology held. At the time, scholars and the media paid little attention to the legal questions raised by the new development. Over time, however, concern for privacy laws regarding the Internet has grown significantly.

As a student, Daniel Solove, A.B. ’94, began to research this legal topic. He predicted the relationship between the World Wide Web and privacy would be “an increasingly important issue of concern, given the revolutionary ways that information now could be collected, stored, and disseminated,” he says.

After graduating from Yale Law School, he clerked at both the federal district and appellate court levels and worked for the law firm of Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. In 2000, he joined the faculty at Seton Hall University School of Law and moved to George Washington University Law School in 2004, where he is a professor. As a professor, author, and blogger, he continues to explore the relationship between privacy and the Internet and looks for ways to balance this with free speech.

His interest in this relationship has resulted in four books. The first, Information Privacy Law, is a textbook. “Writing that book helped me understand the field as a whole, and it really shaped my future research,” Solove says. His three other books are meant for a more general audience.

In The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, he examines the processes of information gathering and use by businesses and the government. He discusses the problems this can cause, including identity theft. Solove believes that the biggest issue facing people today is the fact that “information about us is being kept without our knowledge or participation, and decisions about us are being made based on this information,” he says. “This can be reductive and harmful.”

His next book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, explores the way people are using others’ personal information to hurt them online. “Blogs and social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, allow people to express themselves to the entire planet without needing access to a lot of money or to the mainstream media,” Solove says. “However, this can lead to gossip and rumor online. Everything said on the Internet is permanently available to all.”

Understanding Privacy is his most recent book. It examines what privacy is and why it is valuable. “I argue that it is not just valuable to individuals … it is important to society as a whole,” he says.

As a founding member of the blog, concurringopinions.com, Solove discusses cases, book reviews, and several other issues with law professors, attorneys, government officials, journalists, law students, and others. The blog has had nearly three million visitors since its inception in 2005.

According to Solove, studying at Washington University helped prepare him for his career. “Classes were terrific, and professors were bright, accomplished scholars and also accessible—the ideal combination,” he says. “The University was strong in nearly all areas—it is a wonderful place to get a general liberal arts education.” In addition to his English classes, Solove took courses in philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, and more to broaden his studies.

What’s next for Solove? “I have plans for many more books in the future—some similar to my previous ones, some on other topics, and maybe even a work of fiction,” he says. “One of the joys of an academic job is that I have the freedom to explore issues that fascinate me.”

Solove’s book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, is available online for free. Visit futureofreputation.com to download.

—Blaire Leible Garwitz