Christan Rozzell has lived in Atlanta for 13 years and currently calls Vine City home. As AVLF’s newest Safe & Stable Homes paralegal, she is tackling issues that incubate systemic poverty in Atlanta. She brings almost 10 years of paralegal experience to this role, along with a wealth of community service work with organizations such as Care, Hands on Atlanta, and the Empowerment Council. On the weekends, you’ll find Christan at a food drive, community clean-up, or at a workshop to help organize Atlanta’s communities. She also enjoys writing poetry, taking Afrikan Martial Arts classes, traveling, and relaxing with friends.
Shortly after Christan started working at AVLF at the beginning of March, we spoke her with about what brought her to the organization, what she hopes to accomplish while working here, and how she stays involved in her community.
How did you first learn about AVLF?
I learned about AVLF initially through Ela Orenstein, an attorney I used to work for. She’s good friends with Michael Lucas. I was having trouble with a landlord, so I spoke with him a couple times. About two or three months ago, I heard there was a job opening, and I started researching the organization. I just went down a rabbit hole about the work AVLF does.
What appealed to you about AVLF?
I love that AVLF gives a voice to people that don’t usually have one. I think the most important thing, outside of love, is feeling safe. That’s something that should be a natural law, but is often tampered with. I’ve always had extra concern for people who don’t necessarily know what to do, or who don’t believe they have the power to do something. I have a passion for working with those people.
AVLF focuses on community. That was the main thing that stood out to me. It feels like it’s truly community-based work.
How have your first few weeks treated you? What have you learned?
I learned that there are a lot more resources and partnerships than I knew AVLF had. I think that’s awesome. It’s not just about attorneys: it’s also about advocates, social workers, and other members of the staff and community that are all connected, making sure all types of needs are being handled.
AVLF doesn’t just ask, “Do you need an attorney?” But rather, “In the meantime, do you need something to help your living situation or make you more comfortable?” It connects people to different types of resources, and doesn’t just address one part of the problem.
Outside of AVLF, what has been your biggest professional achievement?
I’m proud of the network I’ve built. I’ve always been interested in law, especially as an adult, but as of late I’ve really found the type of law I’m interested in. I’ve finally found the type of work I would like to do. This job isn’t pushing papers or helping people out with small, quick claims. Through everything else I’ve done, I’ve gained the experience to get to where I’m at now.
How are you involved in your community outside of work?
I do a lot of community clean-ups and workshops. The community clean-ups are usually on Saturdays, typically twice a month. That’s through the Black Empowerment Council. The workshops are usually through Afrikan Martial Arts or the Urban Preparedness Survival Institute. We cover mental health, self-defense, and learning the laws surrounding those things.
It gives people these empowering skills, often when they feel like they’re hopeless. We want people to feel like they have control over their lives and over their communities. We don’t just go out and start cleaning up a neighborhood. We engage people who are driving by or walking by, asking them, “Do you want to help us out? I’m sure you don’t want your neighborhood to look like this either.” We also do food, clothing, and book drives.
What do you hope to accomplish at AVLF?
I’m hoping to continue to build my community-based skillset, and get to know different communities in Atlanta. Eventually, I may decide to go to law school. If I do, I want to be the type of attorney that would assist in AVLF-type cases. I really want to be, no matter what I end up doing, the type of person that assists where is needed. I want people to not feel like it’s an unachievable goal to get out of any type of situation they’re in. I want to continue to grow, and to help people know that they are empowered.