In 2017, NPNA and Jones Day Law Firm launched the Women Empowered to Lead, WE Lead Program, focusing on women’s leadership and professional development via the Community Navigator model. The resulting WE Lead program provides a replicable model for legal services and training partnerships between community-based organizations, local law firms, municipal partners and local donors.

WE Lead Community Navigators receive professional support from legal partners to undertake work similar to that of paralegals, expanding the capacity of lawyers to focus on the best uses of their time and providing culturally competent understanding of the immigrant population. This three-year, $2 million partnership has funded WE Lead programs in six cities where Jones Day has offices: New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles with NPNA members, New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Michigan United, Global Cleveland, The Resurrection Project, Texas Organization Project, and the Coaltion for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA).

In WE Lead’s first year, more than 663 Navigators were trained, who in turn assisted more than 39,000 individuals through Know Your Rights, Naturalization and Deportation Defense training. “The navigators model builds trust in the community and expands capacity of lawyers to focus on the things that represents the best uses of their time,” says Laura Tuell, firmwide pro bono counsel for Jones Day. “There’s just not enough immigration lawyers to do the work that needs to get done, and Navigators culturally understand the population better than most attorneys. And if we do more work to train navigators to assist lawyers, it would help lawyers serve a ton more immigrants.”