Protecting Postsecondary Student Consumers: A Webinar Series

Protecting Postsecondary Student Consumers: A Webinar Series

Date and Time

  • Thursday, October 8, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, December 16, 2020 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, February 10, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, February 24, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, April 14, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.



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Failing U, the landmark report published by the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law's Children's Advocacy Institute (CAI), evaluated to what extent each state's laws protect our veterans and other student consumers from unfair and predatory practices by for-profit postsecondary institutions.  

Following up on that effort, CAI, the Center for Public Interest Law, and the Veterans Legal Clinic invite policymakers, prosecutors, and consumer advocates to participate in a series of free webinars presented by leading experts who will share information and strategies to protect college student consumers from unfair practices and predatory institutions.   

February Webinars:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 9-10am PST / 12-1pm EST
How Advocates Can Work with the Media to Effect Change and Protect Postsecondary Students

Please join us on February 10 for our discussion with seasoned journalists and student advocates about how to work with the media to effect change and protect postsecondary students.

Click Here to Register for February 10


  • David Halperin, Republic Report [Moderator]
  • Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post
  • Sam Gilford, Director of Student Affairs, Student Defense
  • Kate Manning Kennedy, Senior Advisor, Project on Predatory Student Lending, WilmerHale Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School
  • Erica L. Green, New York Times

Panelists' Bios:

David Halperin

David Halperin, a self-employed lawyer based in Washington DC, engages in public advocacy and investigative work on a wide range of issues, including higher education and climate change. He also advises organizations and companies on strategy, policy, communications, and legal matters, and he is of counsel to Halperin was previously: founding director of Campus Progress and senior vice president at the Center for American Progress; senior policy advisor for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign; founding executive director of the American Constitution Society; White House speechwriter and special assistant for national security affairs to President Clinton; co-founder of the Internet company Progressive/RealNetworks; and counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He has represented clients in the U.S. Supreme Court and various state and federal courts. He writes at Republic Report, and his articles also have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, Politico, Slate, Foreign Policy, and other outlets.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers student debt for The Washington Post. Danielle joined the national economy desk in July 2012 from Capital Business, a Post publication where she served as the local retail, hospitality and banking reporter. Before Capital Business, Danielle was the managing editor of Real Estate Forum, a commercial real estate trade magazine. Her writing has appeared in, the New York Sun and the New York Amsterdam News. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Sam Gilford

Before joining Student Defense, Sam served as senior spokesman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he managed communications regarding a variety of financial markets and products, including debt collection and credit reporting, mortgage and auto lending, payday loans, and federal fair lending regulations. Sam led the CFPB’s communications rollouts on a range of initiatives, from establishing the first federal protections against abusive payday loans, to overhauling the residential mortgage market, to taking on discriminatory pricing in the auto finance market.

Previously, Sam served as the press secretary for the Senate Banking Committee under Chairmen Chris Dodd and Tim Johnson, where he worked on the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, international trade sanctions, oversight of the Federal Reserve, and confirmation of key federal financial regulators. Sam has also worked in the private sector as a communications consultant and writer, and as an English teacher in Japan. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Williams College.

Kate Manning Kennedy

Kate Manning Kennedy is Senior Advisor to the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School. A veteran communications strategist, Kate has spent her career delivering winning communications campaigns for a wide array of social impact organizations. At the Project on Predatory Student Lending, Kate has dedicated the last several years to increasing awareness of the predatory for-profit college industry and the actors that enable it to scam students. Under her direction, the Project’s litigation and the stories of the Project's clients – the students most impacted by this predatory industry – have gained national attention and earned consistent media coverage across national, regional and local media outlets. Kate lives in the Boston area with her husband and three young daughters. Twitter: @KateKennedy527

Erica L. Green

Erica Green is a correspondent in Washington who covers the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos, focusing on higher education policy, educational equity and civil rights enforcement in the nation’s K-12 schools.

Ms. Green's education coverage at The New York Times won first place in the beat reporting category at the Education Writers Association's 2018 National Awards for Education Reporting. She had previously won first place in the association's investigative reporting category in 2015.

She co-authored a Times investigation exposing leaders of a celebrated school in Louisiana who abused students and falsified their college applications to get them to Ivy League schools. The story was the subject of the debut episode of The Times' television show, “The Weekly.”

Before joining The Times in 2017, Ms. Green covered education for The Baltimore Sun, where she produced award-winning coverage on a range of topics including school funding, special education, school violence, school segregation, and children in Maryland's foster care and juvenile justice systems. In addition to winning more than one dozen local and national awards for her education coverage at The Sun, Ms. Green was named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists.

Ms. Green was also part of the Sun team named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist for breaking news coverage of the death of Freddie Gray. She co-authored a book, “Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City” about the riots in Baltimore that followed Mr. Gray’s death.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 9-10am PST / 12-1pm EST
Distance Learning and NC-SARA: What advocates need to know to protect student consumers

Click Here to Register for February 24th


  • Robyn Smith, Of Counsel with the National Consumer Law Center
  • Carolyn Fast, Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection, Office of the New York State Attorney General
  • Yan Cao, The Century Foundation

Over the past year, COVID 19 has decimated the job market while at the same time expanding online education offerings. This environment has made distance learning an attractive option for many students looking to improve their employment prospects through postsecondary education. This webinar will explore distance learning developments, alert advocates to the potential pitfalls facing students, and the role NC-SARA plays in the emerging landscape.

MCLE:  The University of San Diego School of Law is a State Bar of California-approved MCLE provider and the February 24th event has been approved for 1 hour of general MCLE credit.

Panelists' Bios:

Robyn Smith

Robyn Smith currently works as Of Counsel with the National Consumer Law Center, where she concentrates on student loan and for-profit school issues. She also works on these issues as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. Prior to this, Ms. Smith worked at the California Attorney General’s office where she investigated and prosecuted businesses engaged in consumer fraud and unlawful business practices. Ms. Smith also represented low-income consumers in a wide range of consumer law matters as the Directing Attorney of the Consumer Law Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles and as the Managing Attorney of the Windward Branch of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. She received her J.D. from the University of Southern California.

Carolyn Fast

Carolyn Fast is Special Counsel in the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office.  Her work includes enforcement related to for-profit colleges, student lending, and student loan servicing.  She participated in two U.S. Department of Education negotiated rulemakings on distance education and testified before the New York State Senate and Assembly on for-profit college oversight.  Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, she clerked for Judge Victor Marrero in the Southern District of New York.  She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard and law degree from Columbia Law School. 

Yan Cao

Yan Cao is a fellow at The Century Foundation where she works on higher education policy with a focus on expanding opportunity, reducing inequality, and ensuring fair outcomes for students.

Yan Cao worked previously as a Skadden Fellow at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, representing students defrauded by for-profit colleges, and as an attorney at South Brooklyn Legal Services, representing low-income families with predatory student loan debt. In addition to serving thousands of students in individual and collective actions, Yan has co-chaired the Student Loan Working Group at New Yorkers for Responsible Lending (NYRL), and led trainings on the legal rights of student loan borrowers. Yan has researched issues at the intersection of racial justice, economic mobility, and fair lending in work with diverse organizations, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the ACLU and NYCLU, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

A former law clerk to Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Yan received her J.D. from NYU Law School, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Law Scholar and Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Law Review. Yan is also a graduate of Stanford University and Simon’s Rock College of Bard. She is a product of public education systems in Arizona, Ohio, and Florida, and a beneficiary of many programs providing financial aid in higher education.




Upcoming Webinars:

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 9-10:30am PST / 12-1:30pm EST
Litigation as a Tool to Protect Postsecondary Students
Speakers/MCLE Info/Registration: coming soon

Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 9-10am PST / 12-1pm EST
Protecting Students from Innovations in Predatory Lending
Speakers/MCLE Info/Registration: coming soon

For more information, please email



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