PUBLISHED:June 16, 2021

Reed ’21 selected to receive inaugural Keller Fellowship


The new post-graduate fellowship established by Duke Law alumni provides financial support to a graduating student to work in a public interest organization for one year.

Mary Beth Reed '21 Mary Beth Reed '21

Mary Beth Reed ’21 has been selected as the inaugural recipient of a year-long fellowship supporting post-graduate public interest work.

The new Keller Fellowship provides financial support to a graduating Duke Law student to work in a U.S. public interest organization for one year. Members of the Class of 1987 created the fellowship to honor their classmate John Keller and his more than 30-year career with Legal Aid of North Carolina.

“I am delighted to be able to offer the Keller Fellowship to deserving graduates who aspire to serving the public,” said Dean Kerry Abrams. “Thank you to the Class of 1987 for your generous support and to John Keller for the example of your many years of service, and congratulations to Mary Beth Reed on becoming this new fellowship’s first recipient.”

Reed will work with JusticeMatters, a Durham organization founded by Duke Law alumna Libby Magee Coles ’08 that provides trauma-informed legal services to protect children and help survivors of human trafficking and other traumas.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to pursue this project, which is a culmination of the support I have received from so many at Duke Law, JusticeMatters, and beyond,” Reed said. “I cannot wait to continue serving this community, a place that has come to mean so much to me over the past three years that I now call it home.”

Reed will work with undocumented children who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected to find a caregiver and obtain legal status. She will also work with local organizations to equip them to find children eligible for immigration relief, including legal and other services.

A selection committee made up of alumnae Tish Szurek ’87 and Julie Petrini ’87 as well as Clinical Professor Michelle Nowlin JD/MA ’92 and Professor Sara Greene evaluated the applicants’ proposed projects, which also included a medical/legal partnership directed to accessing benefits, an initiative to support strategic poverty-elimination projects at the state and local level, and a program to address tax and lending inequities. Caleb Logan ’21, Elsa Haag ’21, and Sarah Champion ’21 were the other finalists.

“We were so impressed with the depth and breadth of the experience and passion of all the applicants,” said Szurek. “Our candidates were real stars with long records of active involvement in legal aid and nonprofits as well as excellent law school records. It was humbling to say the least to see their proven and skilled devotion to legal aid, and it was a tough decision because of the quality of the candidates and their support from their sponsors. All were deserving.”

Added Petrini: “The thoughtfulness, ambition and dedication of the finalists blew us away, and serve as proof of the impact of the Law School's efforts to build public interest practice issues into the curriculum. Through robust clinical offerings, courses like Poverty Law, and the Certificate in Public Interest and Public Service, the Law School has embraced and promoted the ideals that we seek to honor with the Keller Fellowship.”