University News

Ariel Clemmer Named to BusinessWest 40 Under Forty Class of 2022

Published: May 13, 2022 | Categories: All News, Law

Ariel Clemmer, Director of the Center for Social Justice at Western New England University School of Law, is a recipient of this year's 40 Under Forty award from BusinessWest magazine. Each year, BusinessWest presents the award to 40 'rising stars' in Western Mass. who have demonstrated extraordinary success in the business or nonprofit world and civic leadership in the region.

Early in Clemmer's professional career, she taught elementary school in New York City's Spanish Harlem with Teach for America. While studying law, her initial plans were to be a public defender, and immediately after graduation, she joined Bronx Defenders, representing low-income clients charged with crimes. In 2014, she was named one of the top 30 pro bono attorneys of 2014 by Legal Services of New York City.

What stayed with her from her experiences in NYC, she told BusinessWest, was a desire to help people, and a drive to continually challenge systemic inequities. She brought that passion to her next role as pro bono director at the Hampden County Bar Assoc., and then to her current position, as director of the Center for Social Justice at Western New England University School of Law.

"Our mission is to advance justice through research, education, advocacy, innovation, and public engagement," she said, and the Center does so through initiatives like a sealing and expungement program to address harm caused to people of color by the war on drugs, a consumer-debt initiative to defend consumers facing credit-card collection actions, and a gender-affirming identification project that offers pro bono legal services to individuals who need help with gender-affirming name changes, birth-certificate amendments, and more.

"It's an exciting time to be working in social justice and living out this mission through our programming," Clemmer told the magazine. "When racial injustice happens, or other types of limitations are put on people because of disabilities or gender status or sexual orientation, it bothers me," she added. "That's why the work I do now is so meaningful. It enables me, every day, to work toward something better."

The 40 Under Forty Gala honoring Clemmer and this year's other 39 shining stars will take place on Thursday, June 16 from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.

The University also congratulates WNE alumni who were selected for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2022, including Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni ('03, L'07) and Assistant District Attorney for the Northwestern District Attorney's Office and adjunct professor in the WNE School of Law Veronice Santana (L'19).