The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice Welcomes the Inaugural Judge Debevoise Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellow

Today, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice welcomes Scott Novakowski as Associate Counsel and the inaugural Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise Social Justice Legal Advocacy Fellow.

“Scott joins the Institute at a critical moment when our work in building an inclusive democracy, ensuring economic justice, and advocating for transformative criminal justice reform couldn’t be more important," said Ryan P. Haygood, Institute President and CEO. “We are clear here at the Institute that the solutions to the greatest social justice challenges of our time will come from the ground up in our cities. We are honored to have Scott join our team to help fight for the solutions that Judge Debevoise dedicated his career to achieving.” 


“My father dedicated his life to advancing social justice and ensuring that every member of our society had their voice heard and their rights respected,” said Molly Debevoise Rennie, Judge Debevoise’s daughter and the Associate Director of The ALICE Project at United Way of Northern New Jersey. “My father would be honored to know that, as a tangible tribute to his life and legacy, Scott is powerfully moving social justice forward at the Institute, an organization he helped to found and loved.” 

A founding trustee of the Institute, Judge Debevoise dedicated his life to social justice and advocating for the most vulnerable members of our society.  From representing civil rights workers as a legal advocate in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement, to serving as President of the Newark Legal Services Project, Judge Debevoise left an indelible mark on both the City of Newark and the state of New Jersey.

“The Institute’s work is guided by Judge Debevoise’s values, principles, and mighty commitment to social justice,” continued Haygood.

Scott was most recently a voting rights attorney at the New York-based policy organization Demos working to eliminate barriers to civic participation faced by low-income communities and people of color.  Through advocacy and litigation, his work at Demos focused primarily on enforcing the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law that requires voter registration services to be provided by state public assistance agencies and departments of motor vehicles, and protecting voters from being unlawfully removed from the registration rolls.

“The importance of the Institute's work in reducing economic inequality, reshaping the criminal justice system, and advancing inclusive democracy cannot be overstated,” said Scott. “I look forward to working with the Institute and its partners throughout the state to empower New Jersey's communities and to help achieve a truly just society."

Prior to law school, Scott was a Policy Analyst at Demos for five years, performing data analysis and writing reports and articles on various aspects of voting rights. While in law school, Scott worked with the Innocence Project and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and served as Submissions Editor of the Cardozo Law Review. Scott holds a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a M.S.W. and B.A., both from the University of Connecticut.