October 3, 2022

East Providence resident to receive a national leadership award in Washington, D.C.

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East Providence resident Kayla Faria will be honored the Young Portuguese “Promessa” Award at the 2022 PALCUS Leadership Awards Gala in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2022. The Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS) is a national advocacy organization for the Portuguese-American community. Faria has lived in the Riverside section of East Providence for 15 years. She is one of two recipients who will receive this national leadership award, which recognizes a young Portuguese American who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and holds promise for the future.

The daughter of two Azorean immigrants, Faria currently serves as an attorney with the Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender, representing indigent children in their juvenile cases before the Family Court in Providence, Newport, and Kent counties. She previously worked as a civil rights attorney at the nonprofit SouthCoast Fair Housing, assisting clients in securing reasonable accommodations for their disability, representing clients in housing discrimination cases in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and engaging in community outreach to increase equal access to housing; and worked as an associate attorney for the Deaton Law Firm, a private litigation firm in East Providence, representing persons diagnosed with cancer against corporate manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in mass tort cases filed in the superior courts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

While an East Providence resident, Kayla received an academic achievement scholarship to help fund first-year college expenses from the Portuguese Beneficial Association Don Luiz Filipe in Bristol, R.I. in 2009 and participated in the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. in 2003.

Faria earned her Juris Doctor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Women’s Studies at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the University of Maryland-College Park. During her studies, Faria authored, “The pain and gain of growing up Portuguese,” a memoir, which was later published by the Portuguese American Journal, and became featured reading in a multicultural counseling course at UMass Dartmouth.

As an undergraduate, Faria worked as a reporter for Capital News Service where her writing and photojournalism were featured in publications nationwide. On the way to becoming the first in her bilingual household to graduate from college, she also freelanced for various student and community news publications; drove 40-foot transit buses after earning her Commercial Driver’s License in Maryland; completed sales school in Tennessee; sold educational books door-to-door in Illinois; and lobbied Congress as an intern with the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.

During law school, she practiced law, as a student attorney, with both the family law clinic and mediation clinic in Baltimore; testified before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee; led a conflict resolution workshop at the Baltimore City Detention Center; served as a research assistant for the Community Development Clinic; clerked for the Truancy Court Program; and completed externships with Advocates for Children and Youth’s Education Policy team and the Baltimore City Circuit Court.

In the summer before her final year of law school, Faria practiced child welfare law in family court with Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) as a “Rule 9 Intern,” under the expert tutelage of fellow East Providence residents Lia Stuhlsatz and Jennifer Griffith. After graduating, Faria returned to her home in Riverside where her family has lived since 2001. She then volunteered as a head soccer coach for an AYSO Boys Under-10 recreational soccer team in East Providence. More recently, Faria started a blog called www.LusoKid.com,  which features a few of her personal cultural narratives.

Kayla Faria is a Co-Founding Ambassadors of the PALCUS NextGen Leadership Academy, a fellowship for the personal and professional advancement of Young Portuguese Americans. In this role, Faria has drafted legislative testimony in support of Portuguese-American businesses and delivered remarks on panels hosted by Fresno State University’s Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute (PBBI) and the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD). She co-hosts the PALCUS NextGen Podcast, a platform that centers the voices and lives of young Portuguese Americans, shining a light on Portuguese-American success stories across diverse professional fields, and providing snapshots into different roles and career paths with the aim of providing a blueprint to empower the upcoming generation. The first episode of the podcast features East Providence resident Danielle Angelo, an associate attorney practicing real estate law at the Law Office of Michael C. Lima in East Providence.

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