Upon graduation, he spent time as a mentor with Journey for Change, a program designed to empower at-risk youth through global service. Through Journey for Change, Zellnor had the opportunity to travel to South Africa with 30 Brooklyn teens. Upon returning to New York City, hungry to learn more about the inner workings of local government and eager to make a difference through legislative influence, Zellnor took a job as the Director of Legislation and Press for Councilman Fernando Cabrera. During his tenure in the Council, he worked on meaningful legislation including bills and resolutions to:
Protect tenants through a Tenant Bill of Rights;
Reduce unnecessary artificial lighting in lobbies and hallways;
- Require New York City to donate surplus city-owned computers to non-profits and public/private institutions;
- Add new reporting requirements on the police department regarding hate crimes;
- Limit the City’s cooperation with ICE;
- Require the City to identify children qualifying for protected immigration status when they come into contact with ACS;
- Call on Albany to expand rent regulation and repeal the Urdstadt law;
- Raise the age of juvenile accountability;
After two years in the City Council, Zellnor decided to pursue a masters in Urban Studies to deepen his knowledge of issues affecting his own community. During graduate school, Zellnor had the privilege of serving as chair of his Neighborhood Advisory Board. As the youngest chair in New York City at that time, Zellnor worked to secure hundreds of thousands of dollars for after school programming, job training for adults, and housing services for his neighborhood. At school, Zellnor was equally ambitious, earning distinction as a Presidential Scholar.
Upon graduating from Fordham, Zellnor decided to pursue a law degree at Cornell Law School because he recognized the impact a legal education could have on affecting change. During his time at Cornell, Zellnor was an editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and served as Student Government President. He also continued the public service work he cares so deeply about by volunteering his time and talents to Cornell Legal Aid and serving as a constitutional law instructor at the Auburn Correctional Facility through the Cornell Prison Education Program.
Zellnor took and passed the bar exam in his third year of law school — the only one his class to do so — in order to spend his last semester at Cornell working full time as a pro-bono scholar for Justice 360, an organization dedicated to promoting a fair and just criminal justice system for capital defendants. Zellnor’s extraordinary accomplishments in law school, both academically and extracurricularly, were recognized when he was selected to represent the entire law school class at graduation as JD Marshal.
Currently, Zellnor works as a lawyer at a premier global law firm and continues to deepen his commitment to his community. Zellnor is currently President of his building’s tenants association and is a Member of the Legal Aid Society’s New Leadership Program. Zellnor was proud to assist the office of the Public Advocate in their suit against the City for lack of service provision to students with disabilities. Zellnor continues to be recognized for his service and recently received the Legal Aid Society Pro Bono Publico Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Defense of the Accused for his work on reforming the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices.
Zellnor is the first lawyer in his family and hopes to serve as an inspiration to young people in his community – especially our young black men.