Global Human Rights Advocate to Receive Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Scholarship

By Rebecca Melnitsky

March 27, 2024

Global Human Rights Advocate to Receive Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Scholarship


By Rebecca Melnitsky

Kristen Popham

The New York State Bar Association will present Kristen Popham, a champion of women and disability rights, with the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial Scholarship during its House of Delegates meeting April 6 in Albany.

Popham is a second-year student at Columbia Law School. She ranks in the top 2% of her class, serves as podcast editor of the Columbia Law Review, and is the founder and president of the Columbia Disabled Law Students Association. In her work with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic, she assisted women and LGBTQ+ activists from the Central African Republic and helped present their testimony to the United Nations.

Popham has also worked with the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the Fulbright Franco-American Commission, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Popham graduated summa cum laude from the College of William & Mary in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Government and Francophone Studies. In her application essay, she described how managing her rheumatoid arthritis has helped her connect with people from other countries and fueled her desire to fight injustice and marginalization.

“Kristen’s work ethic and dedication to helping others is impressive,” said Richard Lewis, president of the New York State Bar Association. “We are honored to present her with this award in recognition of her efforts to further gender equality around the world. She is truly living up to the late Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”

The $5,000 scholarship is presented by NYSBA’s Women in Law Section, the Committee on Annual Awards and the Committee on Civil Rights. Created in 2020 after the death of Justice Ginsburg, the scholarship is designed to honor Justice Ginsburg’s principles including elevating the standard of integrity in the legal profession, fostering a spirit of collegiality and promoting the public good.

In her nomination letter, Columbia Law School Professor Sarah Knuckey described how Popham “goes above and beyond constantly and impresses everyone around her with her unwavering commitment and drive.”

Popham aspires to be a civil rights impact litigator and wants to dedicate her career to advancing women’s equality and disability justice. She will intern with the American Civil Liberties Union in the summer.

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