Zoey Vilasuso is working in the Princeton, West Virginia, office of ChildLaw Services as the 2021 recipient of the Regina Charon Fellowship. The fellowship is paying Vilasuso a stipend of $5500 for 10 weeks of valuable work experience.
ChildLaw is the only non-profit law firm in the Mountain State that represents children exclusively. Its mission is to advocate for the well-being of children through legal representation, policy development, and coordinated planning.
“ChildLaw Services was my first choice for this fellowship because I have always been drawn towards working with kids,” Vilasuso said. “I worked full-time at a daycare in Morgantown before going to law school, and my mom is a middle school teacher in Morgantown.”
Vilasuso also recently trained to serve as a CASA volunteer, which will allow her to be a court-appointed special advocate for children in abuse and neglect proceedings in Monongalia and Preston Counties. Last summer, she was a Public Interest Advocates Summer Fellow at Legal Aid of West Virginia in Charleston.
Vilasuso is pursuing a J.D. with a Public Interest Law concentration. She will serve as a student attorney in Child and Family Advocacy Law Clinic during the 2021-22 school year.
She is a member of the Public Interest Advocates, Community Service Council and Women’s Leadership Council student organizations, as well as the WVU Law student chapter of the ACLU.
Vilasuso is from Morgantown. She earned a B.A. in Philosophy with honors in 2018 from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The Regina Charon Fellowship was created in memory of the 1976 WVU Law graduate. It is awarded as part of the Public Interest Advocates summer fellowship program to a West Virginia University College of Law student who has shown a deep commitment to social justice and to increasing access to justice for all West Virginians.
About Regina Charon
The Honorable Regina Charon was a pioneering female lawyer and judge in West Virginia. She worked for many years for North Central Legal Aid of West Virginia before becoming an independent plaintiff attorney specializing in employment and family law.
Charon represented LGBT families in second parent adoptions before the legalization of same-sex marriage. She also served as a substitute Municipal Judge for the City of Morgantown and was president of the Monongalia County Bar. In 2002, she was appointed as an Administrative Law Judge for the Board of Review of the West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs.
Charon was one of the initial members of the Council for Women’s Concerns at WVU, which set the stage for the establishment of Women’s and Gender Studies at the university. In the Morgantown community, she was an ACLU member, served on the Board of North Central Legal Aid of West Virginia, was a member of the Morgantown Building Commission, and served as President of the Tree of Life Jewish Congregation. She also helped establish both Morgantown Health Right, now called Milan Puskar Health Right, and Caritas House, a home for people living with HIV/AIDS, in Morgantown.
Charon died in 2004 at the age of 58. In 2005, the West Virginia State Bar and Legal Aid of West Virginia established the Regina Charon Zealous Advocate Award, and in 2007 she received a posthumous award from the Women’s Law Caucus.
Charon’s husband, Nyles, her brother, Stanley Raucher, and her daughter, Mollie, established the fellowship in her memory.
To support the Regina Charon Fellowship Fund, visit www.wvpublicinterest.org or contact Jennifer Powell at 304-293-8555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be sent to the WV Fund for Law in the Public Interest, P.O. Box 6130, Morgantown, WV, 26506.