Akilah was born in the East Bay Area of California and spent the first half of her childhood there, before moving to Tacoma, WA. Growing up in a single parent household at the intersection of poverty and race, with a disabled brother and a learning disabled sister, also suffering from mental illness, who was funneled out of mainstream schools and into the criminal justice system, Akilah saw firsthand the many barriers to access, equity, and justice faced by a large portion of the population. These experiences shaped her view of the world and grew within her a dedication to ensuring meaningful access to opportunity, justice, and equal rights under the law for all. Akilah received her undergraduate degree in Politics from Willamette University. In 2009, she graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law where she was honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award. While in law school, Akilah served on the student boards of the Black Law Student Association and the ACLU. She also interned at the San Jose Public Defenders Office in both the juvenile justice division and on a felony trial calendar assignment. Additionally, Akilah interned at the Mental Health Advocacy Project of the Silicon Valley Law Foundation. Prior to joining ACLU Montana, Akilah worked as a staff attorney with Montana Legal Services Association providing legal support and assistance to survivors of domestic violence. Akilah is passionate about building inclusive community, centered on awareness of social justice issues. In her free time, Akilah enjoys dancing, floating rivers and hiking to alpine lakes with her two children. When not with her children you can find her trail running, racing half and full marathons, and learning more about Black history- especially related to her Gullah heritage.
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