Gisela Perez Kusakawa, JD
Gisela Perez Kusakawa is the 2019-2021 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Law Foundation Community Law Fellow at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
At Advancing Justice | AAJC, Gisela will advocate in Congress and federal agencies to challenge the ongoing criminalization of Asian Americans and immigrants. She will specifically address issues that impact Chinese and Chinese Americans, Southeast Asian refugees, and our AMEMSA population. Gisela will challenge attacks against Chinese and Chinese American academics and professionals, the deportation of Southeast Asian refugees for decade old-criminal offenses, and the targeting of our AMEMSA population in a climate of ongoing islamophobia. These attacks separate families and disrupt our communities as a whole.
Gisela received her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School, where she received the Justice Thurgood Marshall Civil Liberties Award for her work in civil rights and public service. She was an inaugural member of the GW Law Business & Finance Law Review. After receiving her degree, Gisela clerked under the Honorable John M. Tran of the Fairfax Circuit Court, 19th Judicial Circuit. She then worked for a refugee firm helping asylum seekers and refugees find protection in the United States.
During law school, Gisela worked as a student attorney with the GW Law Immigration Clinic, where she won a grant of asylum for a client in Arlington Immigration Court, and interned with AAJC, Farmworker Justice, and at a law firm specializing in the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
Gisela has been a leader in the Asian American student community, acting as the President of the Asian Pacific Law Student Association (APALSA), the President of the International Law Society, an inaugural Board Member of the Filipino American Lawyers Association, and the Conference Chair of the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA). She is a recipient of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Law Foundation Scholarship, selected winner for the negotiations competition for the Alternative Dispute Board Honorary Society, and a Semi-Finalist at The Judge Albert H. Grenadier International Moot Court Competition. She has been a naturalization clinic volunteer for the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) since March 2016.
Gisela’s other past leadership positions have included: Committee Member, the National Filipino American Lawyers Association (NFALA) Advocacy Committee; Committee Member, NFALA Communications Committee; Professional Development Chair, JETAA of Washington, DC; Pro-Bono and Events Coordinator, Immigration Law Association; Chair, Spanogle International Arbitration Competition; and Moderator, Filipino Intercollegiate Networking Dialogue.
Gisela is passionate about speaking on Asian American and immigration issues. She has been invited to speak on immigration in the United States for the S&R Foundation and Kingfisher Global Leadership Program, 2018; on investing in change at the national conference of JETAA, 2017; and on asylum and the right to freedom from fear for GW Law and The George Washington University Museum, 2019.
Gisela has a long history advocating for Asian American issues. She served under the AmeriCorps Corporation for National and Community Service for two years addressing the educational, social, and financial needs of local immigrants. Previously, Gisela worked as a teacher in Ise City, Japan through the JET Program during which she was also a disaster relief volunteer for the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. She studied under an intensive Mandarin program in Beijing and worked on business and job development in the rural villages of the Philippines through Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo). Gisela is a former Rotary Scholar at Kofu City, Japan.
She received her B.A. in Political Science from Villanova University with a concentration in East Asian Studies and a Minor in Chinese and Business.
Her civil rights background includes working to advance the rights of vulnerable communities and serve the public interest. She has worked with asylum seekers, criminal defendants, and indigent clients. Gisela aspires to be a public servant for her country and to serve her community to the best of her ability.