It's kismet that the Krista Foundation and Stephanie Cotton correspond on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in the Gideon v. Wainwright case. The Court's decision was that those who are indigent and face jail time deserve a lawyer. It's quite poetic, now, because Stephanie is an attorney.
Stephanie attended Whitworth and earned an International Studies degree. Unfortunately, after undergrad she wasn't sure what to do. It was then that Jim Hunt informed her of the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. Filling out an application - unsure if anything would turn out - Stephanie was elated as she went on to become a Krista Colleague and receive a service placement by Lutheran Volunteer Corps with the Public Defender's Office in Seattle.
In Seattle, Stephanie was exposed to the grim realities of the criminal justice field. Reflecting back, the moment that shaped her - the precise moment she discovered her calling - was when a young African American boy and a caucasian boy were in court for the same charge. The young, African American boy - with support of a public defender and school counselor petitioned to reduce his bond because he couldn't afford it. He was denied a bond reduction and led back to jail in shackles. The caucasian boy, with similar criminal history and the same charge, had a private attorney who could petition his bond reduction. The judge reduced his bond amount and he was permitted to resume his life. Stephanie burst into tears, and committed to representing the underrepresented.
At the time, Stephanie was immersed in service. She found herself struggling to deal with the complex challenges of service and her service organization was unable to offer any debriefing after the end of assignment. Stephanie said, "during service, the job was challenging and stressful, and my community life was not the greatest. So, I was very fortunate to be able to plug into the Krista Colleague community when I needed little breaks and to be around people that just understood me!" For her, the colleague community, debriefs, retreats, and annual conference were welcome reprieves during the few years following her service. Being in an intergenerational community and transforming her experiences helped motivate her to pursue a law degree at Gonzaga University Law School.
Currently, Stephanie is in Colorado working as a public defender. She said, "I am absolutely where I want to be! Practicing law where I want to practice law and serving the group of people I want to serve. I feel very fortunate!"
Zachary Pullin is the Communications Coordinator at the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. He was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2010 to 2012 in Belize, Central America teaching organization development, and was also a literacy educator, braille tutor, creative writing teacher, and founded Belize's first LGBTQ support group. His most recent role was as the Logistics Coordinator on the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride. Prior to that he worked as the Communications Director of the NATIVE Project and a development intern with TOMS Shoes. Zachary loves going on jogs around Green Lake, eating apples and bananas, singing apples and bananas, and baking apple pie and banana bread.