Amy Laura Cahn is a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center, focusing on environmental justice. In 2011, through a Skadden fellowship, Amy Laura launched the Garden Justice Legal Initiative (GJLI), using law and organizing to support Philadelphia community gardens and farms, with a particular focus on land security and land sovereignty for community spaces in historically disinvested communities. In 2012, GJLI collaborated to incubate Soil Generation (formerly) Healthy Foods Green Spaces), Philadelphia’s garden and farm coalition, as a result of defeating legislation that would have put 20% of Philadelphia’s gardens at risk. In 2013, GJLI launched www.GroundedinPhilly.org, democratizing information on vacant land and fostering garden preservation. For the past three years, Amy Laura has also worked with the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition and the greater Eastwick community to ensure residents a meaningful and equitable voice in the future of their environmentally vulnerable neighborhood. Amy Laura’s article on Eastwick, environmental justice, and urban renewal–“On Retiring Blight as Policy and Making Eastwick Whole”–was published in Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review in 2014.
Amy Laura is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School, magna cum laude, and Hunter College, summa cum laude. While at Penn Law, Amy Laura worked with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights (New Orleans), the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Penn Law Transnational Legal Clinic, and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Environmental Justice Project (national), and co-founded Penn Law’s environmental pro bono project. Before joining the Law Center, Amy Laura served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Skillman of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. Prior to law school, Amy Laura worked with the community organizing departments of the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Pratt Area Community Council (Brooklyn) and was a founding collective member of Bluestockings, one of North America’s remaining feminist bookstores. In 2004, Amy Laura co-authored, with Gabriel Thompson, a community-based study on childhood lead paint poisoning that helped overturn New York City’s lead laws. She currently serves as co-chair of the Bread and Roses Community Fund board of directors and chair of the Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Council vacant land subcommittee, and is a board member of the Neighborhood Gardens Trust and advisory board member of 595 Acres (Brooklyn) and Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (New Orleans).