Covid-19 dispatches: Alumni pitching in to help fight the pandemic
Many of Duke Law School's alumni are doing things to help others during the pandemic, either through their professional work or their personal efforts. Read some of the stories we've received of our graduates helping in a time of crisis.
Talley Wells '98, T’93
Talley Wells is protecting people with disabilities during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic creates new challenges for Georgia’s children living in poverty, children with disabilities, and those facing systemic bias and racism. Georgia Appleseed is responding to secure access to necessary behavioral and academic supports, and safe, healthy homes. Talley Wells is in his second year as the executive director of Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice. Before taking that position, he was at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society for seventeen years, serving as the Director of Disability Integration Project where he advocated for children and adults with significant disabilities. (Shared by Amy Quinn T'93)
Michael Kleine '93, T’90
Michael Kleine, U.S. Consul General in Melbourne, is part of a world-wide effort to help U.S. citizens stranded overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic. As of June 10, the U.S. Department of State has coordinated the repatriation of 101,386 Americans from 136 countries and territories.
Alejandro Alfonso Sanchez-Mujica Almada LLM ’07
At the start of this crisis, Sánchez Mújica said, "We decided we couldn’t stand still. We had tools to help people, and we should put them to use. Adopting measures done elsewhere, we started 3D printing medical supplies at home in coordination with local hospitals. Our efforts went viral (in a good way), and suddenly, a ton of makers and schools started pitching in on the effort. Next step has been to provide pro bono legal assistance to qualifying small merchants who are struggling as a result of the current economic crisis. Our goal is to help them not only survive, but thrive".
Angus Jackson LLMLE ’18
Jackson said, "My biotech startup, Attwill Medical Solutions, has shifted a portion of our production to manufacture hand sanitizer for medical professionals and other public facing workers. As one of the nation's largest freeze dryers, we are gearing up to freeze dry (a necessary step in the manufacturing process) the reagents required for Covid tests."
Brandon Neal '08
Neal is the senior vice president and deputy chief legal officer at Novant Health in Charlotte. Neal said, "I feel fortunate to be near the front lines, supporting our remarkable clinical workers in the fight against the pandemic, and caring for our communities. While I would never ask for this pandemic, as an attorney, you cannot ask for many more meaningful opportunities to make a difference and engage in impactful work. I know that together we'll get through this and emerge stronger on the other side."
James Bergin LLM '93
At the start of the pandemic, Bergin was the vice president of law at Johnson & Johnson Global External Innovation in New Jersey. Bergin and his legal team worked with dozens of colleagues in Global External Innovation where, he said, "it was all hands on deck helping keep our incubators open during local and state shelter-in-place laws so we could continue to incubate or invest in over 50 companies to work on Covid-19. Some are working on a drug, some working on a vaccine, some working on a diagnostic, and some working on a platform solution that may address this and future pandemics."
That all changed on May 12, when Bergin was tapped to become the first dedicated lawyer for Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health organization. Now he spends all his time with a vast number of internal colleagues providing legal support for the development, manufacture and testing of a vaccine, as well as preparing for negotiations with governments and partner organizations on the best ways to distribute it globally, including to the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. Bergin said, "And we are going to do all this on a not-for-profit basis."
In his personal life, Bergin also helped to shepherd "a personal donation of 1,000 face masks shipped from China to an ICU doctor who needs them desperately in Philadelphia."
Venus Liles '10