Our Staff

Department

Elizabeth Prudente

Elizabeth Prudente

Supervising Legal Service Coordinator, DOJ Partially Accredited

About

Eleanor Acer

Recent Articles:

Refugee Protection Travesty Human Rights Stain, Public Health Farce Upholding President Biden’s Asylum Commitments A Year of Horrors: The Trump Administration’s Illegal Returns of Asylum Seekers to Danger in Mexico Human Rights Fiasco: The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Asylum Returns Continue Orders from Above Sweeping Guatemala Agreement Illegal and Inhumane Is Guatemala Safe for Refugees and Asylum Seekers? Real Solutions to the Disorder at the Border The Real Solution: Regional Response Rather than Border Closures, Mass Incarceration, and Refugee Returns A Sordid Scheme: The Trump Administration’s Illegal Return of Asylum Seekers to Mexico Compact on Migration Adopted, But Without America Top 10 Reasons Family Incarceration is Not a Solution Trump’s Fabricated Border Crisis Will Trump DHS Nominee Adhere to International Law? Remembering Juan Osuna A Sign of Desperation: Syrian Refugees are Selling Their Organs Parole Denials Lead to Increased Detention Under Trump’s Executive Order President Trump to Issue Revised Executive Order—Will It Be Better or Worse? Questions for Secretary Kelly Executive Orders Could Block Access to Asylum for Vulnerable Individuals U.S. Should Not Turn away Asylum Seekers at its Borders Barring Refugees Would Hurt National Security United States to Resettle Refugees Languishing Indefinitely in Australian Off-Shore Detention Centers The World Humanitarian Summit and Beyond Utah Shows the Way on Welcoming Refugees Obama’s Opportunity in Germany The Right to Run Deserving Asylum Seekers are Trapped in Detention, Like Military Interpreter Samey A Death in Limbo: How one refugee family’s loss demonstrates the toll of resettlement backlogs They Hear Us: The Toxic U.S. Debate about Refugee Resettlement Refugees Shouldn’t Be Deported “Safe” Zones Should Not Trap Syrian Refugees Report Details Flaws in U.S. Immigration Detention System Alternatives to Detention are a No-Brainer Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Asylum Reform to Protect Refugees Federal Court Got It Right: Detaining Mothers and Children to Deter Other Asylum Seekers Is Wrong President’s Budget Recognizes Need for More Immigration Judges, but Congress Should Fund More Refugees in Egypt Urgently Need Protection Syrian Refugees: The Snow is Just One of Many Dire Challenges Christmas in Immigration Detention U.S. Pledges to Resettle More Syrian Refugees, But Doesn’t Say How Many More Needs to be Done to Address the Syrian Refugee Crisis In-Country Refugee Processing for At-Risk Children in Central America: Potential Benefits and Risks Asylum Seekers Facing Religious and other Persecution Impacted by Impediments to Protection, in Europe and the United States TAKE ACTION: Urge Congress to Address the Border Crisis by Properly Funding Immigration Courts U.S. Government Should Take Steps to Address Challenges Due to Border Surge Human Rights First Researches Asylum System at U.S. – Mexican Border Addressing the Challenges of Immigrant Representation in Louisiana Bipartisan Call to Address Impact of Immigration Inadmissibility Provisions The Guardian: America has resettled 121 of Syria’s 2m refugees. We must do better – now Strong U.S. Commitment and Leadership Key to Launch of Global Resettlement Initiative for Syrian Refugees Fraud Prevention Tools in Immigration System Should Be Strengthened without Adding Unnecessary Burden Fraud Prevention Tools in Immigration System Should Be Strengthened without Adding Unnecessary Burden Faith, Human Rights Groups to Urge U.S. Leadership in Protecting the Persecuted Asylum and the Border: Setting the Record Straight ABA and CMS Event Focuses on ABA Civil Immigration Detention Standards and Need to Reform U.S. Immigration Detention Policies Debating Immigration Detention Reform Sec. Napolitano: Sign Exemptions for Refugees Mislabeled as Terrorists! A System Designed to Fail Haitians

Eleanor Acer

Senior Director, Refugee Protection

As the director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program, Eleanor Acer oversees Human Rights First’s research and advocacy on issues relating to refugee protection, asylum, and migrants’ rights. Eleanor advocates, speaks and writes regularly on issues relating to the human rights of refugees and migrants, including legal representation, detention, U.S. asylum law and policy, U.S. global refugee protection and resettlement policies, and protection from xenophobic and bias-motivated violence. She works closely with Human Rights First’s pro bono legal representation team, conducts field research, has authored numerous reports and articles, and has testified before the U.S. Congress.

Eleanor was awarded the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award for Public Service by Fordham University School of Law in 2007. She was selected by the American Bar Association to serve on its Commission on Immigration, and serves on the Advisory Board of the International Detention Coalition. She was also vice chair of the Refugee Council USA from 2006 to 2008. She has taught classes on refugee protection and migrants rights as an adjunct professor at the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs.

Before coming to Human Rights First, Eleanor was an associate handling federal litigation at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP. She has coordinated mentoring programs and has served on the International Human Rights Committee and Immigration Committee of the Association of the Bar of New York, as well as the Board of Advisors to the Crowley Program in International Human Rights at Fordham University School of Law. Eleanor received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and her B.A. in History from Brown University.

About

Christina Asencio

Director Research & Analysis, Refugee Protection

As Director of Research & Analysis for Refugee Protection, Christina Asencio advocates for the U.S. government to bring immigration laws, policies, and practices in line with international refugee and human rights law.

Most recently, Christina was an attorney with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona where she represented detained asylum-seekers in their immigration removal proceedings, including as court-appointed counsel for individuals deemed incompetent to represent themselves.

Prior to that, Christina spent a decade working in refugee protection in the Americas, Middle East, and Southeast Asia with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and various NGOs. As Head of Protection with UNHCR Brazil, she coordinated the agency’s national refugee protection response to the influx of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, including at Brazil’s northern border, and oversaw technical support provided to the Brazilian asylum authority.

Previously, she worked with UNHCR in the Dominican Republic on issues of asylum and statelessness and in Jordan adjudicating complex asylum claims. Christina was awarded a Public Service Fellowship by Boston University School of Law to work with Asylum Access Ecuador to provide free legal assistance to refugees in their asylum claims and later worked with Asylum Access Thailand supporting the provision of free legal services for refugees in Bangkok. Christina also previously represented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking in their affirmative U.S. immigration applications such as VAWA, U, and T visas.

Christina received her J.D. from Boston University School of Law, spent a semester studying international law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and received her B.A. cum laude in Political Science and International Studies with a minor in Foreign Languages from the University of Miami. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese. She is licensed to practice law in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.

About

Brenda Balcarcel

Brenda Balcarcel

Human Resources and Office Coordinator

Brenda Balcarcel is the human resources and office coordinator at Human Rights First.  She works on recruiting candidates, onboarding new staff, and managing important office communications.

Brenda has been at Human Rights First for two years.  She previously worked for Jubilee JumpStart, a nonprofit in the Washington, DC area that provides quality care and education to young children in the local area.  At Jubilee JumpStart, Brenda worked in operations, handling employee-related duties like onboarding and payroll.

Brenda earned her B.A. in interdisciplinary studies from Mount St. Mary’s University, where she studied Spanish and education.  Brenda earned SHRM-CP certification, a competency-based certification focused on knowledge and behaviors necessary to be a successful HR professional.  Brenda, who is fluent in English and Spanish, enjoys reading and is passionate about advocating for refugee rights.

About

Robyn Barnard

Senior Director, Refugee Advocacy

As Senior Director of Refugee Advocacy, Robyn oversees Human Rights First’s congressional and administrative advocacy to protect the rights of refugees and ensure the United States commits to refugee protection, including access to asylum protections and resettlement, at home and abroad.

Robyn previously served as an attorney on our Refugee Representation team, where she focused on pro bono representation of asylum seekers in immigration detention, expedited removal, and those subject to policies such as Remain in Mexico and Title 42. She supported pro bono attorneys’ representation of asylum seekers at all levels of the immigration system. Robyn also worked as a staff attorney with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies and was a C.V. Starr Fellow at Peking University School of Transnational Law. 

Robyn has appeared in numerous print, television, and online media outlets and has testified in federal court as an expert on the detention of asylum seekers. She is a graduate of the University of Melbourne Law School and is admitted to the bar in New York State. Robyn serves on the board of Aldea – the People’s Justice Center.

About

Jim Bernfield

Jim Bernfield

Senior Vice President, Marketing & Communications

Jim Bernfield oversees Human Rights First’s marketing and communications efforts.  His work has always focused on using data to craft emotional narratives that brand organizations, elect leaders, and change policy.

Before joining Human Rights First, he worked with a range of nonprofit, political, and commercial organizations, from the Alliance for Climate Protection to the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Los Angeles Dodgers to the last five Democratic Presidential nominees.  For Repower America, he amplified voices not typically at the center of the environmental movement in the fight against climate change. The success of his work at American Resources Network led to his creating the television documentary Rally Behind the Virginians and writing a chapter on communications strategy in Let the People Judge.  In electoral politics, Jim produced media that defeated Joe Arpaio, known as America’s worst sheriff for his disregard of immigrants’ and prisoners’ human rights.

As President of the 1661 Foundation, Jim nurtured new generations of leaders from underrepresented communities.  At the outset of his career, he helped plan and lead the Chaney-Goodman-Schwerner Memorial Coalition’s bus caravan from New York City to Philadelphia Mississippi to highlight America’s unfinished journey toward social justice.

Jim produced and directed Me To Play, a documentary feature now streaming about actors with Parkinson’s disease who put up Samuel Beckett’s Endgame.  He wrote It’s Best Not to Know, a TV miniseries based on two sisters’ experience in the Holocaust.

Jim holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film from Columbia University’s School of the Arts.  He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Columbia College at Columbia University in the City of New York.

About

Michael Breen

President and CEO

Michael Breen is President & CEO of Human Rights First. In partnership with a diverse and highly skilled team and their allies around the world, he leads actions that defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law, hold oppressors accountable, and free people from injustice. On Mike’s watch, Human Rights First has launched a series of impactful new initiatives to oppose antidemocratic extremism with a rights-based approach, develop and field advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning tools for the human rights movement, respond to crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine, protect asylum seekers on the southern border, bring accountability to the world’s worst human rights abusers, and confront systemic injustice.

Before joining Human Rights First, Breen served as President and CEO of the Truman National Security Project and the Center for National Policy, co-founded the International Refugee Assistance Project, served in the Obama administration’s Office of White House Counsel, and led American paratroopers in combat as an Army officer. He has worked and served in conflict zones around the world, led dozens of successful and award-winning campaigns for policy change at the federal and state level on a range of climate, national security, and human rights issues, and advised hundreds of electoral campaigns for offices from state representative to president. His writing and commentary have been featured by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Meet the Press, and many others.

Breen holds a JD from Yale Law School and a BA from Dartmouth College, having studied in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and England. A former ice climbing instructor, big wall rock climber, martial artist, wilderness search and rescue team leader, and open ocean sailor, Mike can often be found enjoying the outdoors with his family.

About

Joseph Bustamante

Joseph Bustamante

User Experience Designer

Joseph Bustamante serves as the User Experience Designer in Human Rights First’s Innovation Lab. He is a human-centered design specialist with expertise in user research, interface, and interaction design,

Joseph was an external UX consultant for our Innovation Lab on Glimpse, its flagship artificial intelligence project that uses computer vision and natural language processing to detect violence in videos for human rights investigations. Joseph previously served as an entrepreneurial UX and Product Design consultant, supporting new initiatives and product launches at startups, software agencies, and Twilio’s SendGrid.

Joseph earned his Bachelor of Science in Informatics with a specialization in human-computer interaction from the University of California, Irvine.

About

Peter Chan

Peter Chan

Director of Information Technology

As director of information technology, Peter Chan oversees the technological environment for Human Rights First.  He is responsible for designing and implementing technological strategies to provide solutions that align with the organization’s mission.

With over twenty years of experience in information technology, Peter has worked in time-sensitive environments for the Bank of New York Mellon and provided consulting services to Fortune 500 companies like TD Waterhouse and Pfizer Inc.

Peter earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from St. Johns University and is accredited as a Cisco Certified Network Professional.

About

Farida Chehata

Farida Chehata

Managing Attorney (Los Angeles)

Farida Chehata is the managing attorney of the Los Angeles office of Human Rights First where she oversees the pro bono legal representation of indigent asylum seekers.  She provides support and guidance to volunteer attorneys in law firms located in Los Angeles, California, who represent asylum seekers at all levels of the immigration system.

Before joining Human Rights First, Farida was the Director of the Immigration Practice Group at Inland Counties Legal Services (ICLS), where she oversaw direct legal representation of survivors of domestic violence and other serious crimes.  Prior to that, Farida founded the Immigrants’ Rights Center at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) office.  As Managing Attorney, she positioned CAIR-LA as a legal resource on immigration matters through varied publications, speaking events, and media interviews on issues impacting AMEMSA immigrants.

Farida has a dual degree in political science and economics from the University of California, Irvine. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pepperdine Caruso School of Law and is admitted to practice law in California. She is fluent in Arabic.

About

Warren Craig

Warren Craig

Supervising Senior Staff Attorney

Warren is a supervising senior staff attorney at Human Rights First’s Los Angeles office. His responsibilities include helping to administer Human Rights First’s pro bono refugee representation program, mentoring pro bono attorneys, supervising Human Rights First staff and associate attorneys, and directly representing asylum seekers before the Immigration Court and USCIS Asylum Office.

Before joining Human Rights First, Warren worked for over seven years as an immigration attorney in private practice in Austin and San Antonio, Texas. He has successfully represented many asylum seekers and their families in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court, affirmative applications before the USCIS Asylum Office, and appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He has also helped clients obtain immigration relief such as special immigration juvenile status, temporary protected status, U and T visas, benefits under the Violence Against Women Act, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, naturalization, immigrant visas, and DACA. Additionally, Warren has worked on federal litigation cases involving immigration and human rights issues, including several cases that led to favorable precedent decisions.

Warren is licensed in California and Texas and is a graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. Prior to law school, Warren was a high school English teacher where he taught students who recently immigrated to the United States.

About

Emilee Cutright

Recent Articles:

Troops at the Border

Emilee Cutright

Program Strategist, Veterans for American Ideals

As Program Strategist for the Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI) initiative at Human Rights First, Emilee Cutright supports and advances the policy objectives of VFAI by engaging in research, policy analysis, administrative support, and targeted advocacy with veterans and refugees around the country.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Emilee worked at the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, where she managed a caseload of over one hundred clients. There, she conducted targeted advocacy, facilitation, and mediation to eliminate housing discrimination and homelessness in the greater Nashville area.  She has also interned with the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice in San Diego, CA, where she worked as a member of the editorial staff for their Women Peacemakers initiative. During graduate school, she interned with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Community Relations Service, the “Peacemaking” agency of the DOJ for communities in conflict.

Emilee holds a Master of Arts in Peace and Justice Studies from the Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego, where she focused on Human Rights Advocacy. She also attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she graduated with highest honors with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a minor in Psychology.

About

Vlad Davydovych

Vlad Davydovych

Finance Supervisor

As the Finance Supervisor at Human Rights First, Vlad oversees the organization’s accounting and ensures the accuracy and integrity of its financial data. He performs the monthly closing entries, assists with audits, and conducts finance orientations for new employees.

Vlad graduated from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Baruch College.

About

Brian Dooley

Recent Articles:

Ukraine’s Intelligence Services Harass Anti-Corruption Activists Hong Kong’s New Security Law Spells Further Repression Inch by Inch Six Key Takeaways as Ukraine Marks Two Years of War Kharkiv’s Frunze Kitchen Feeds a City at War Applauding a New Bill to Better Protect Human Rights Defenders Ireland Takes British Amnesty Law to Court Hidden Harm Why Bahraini prince must be sanctioned for human rights violations As British Soldier Finally Faces Murder Charges for Bloody Sunday, Victims’ Families Speak 25 Years After the UN Declaration To Protect HRDs, Much More Has To Be Done Ukraine’s Winter War Liptsi medics restore services after Russians destroyed their hospital Ukraine Medics Defy Missiles and Mud to Bring Aid to Civilians on Front Lines The U.S. Needs a Human Rights Institute to Reform the International System As UAE Waffles on Human Rights, U.S. Congress Must Act Belfast Judge Offers Hope to Springhill/Westrock Families Seeking Truth Before Deadline Two Prisoners on Hunger Strike in Bahrain Tell of Their Ordeal Double Jeopardy: Russia Threatens to Invade Kupiansk Again Bahrain Faces New Crisis As Prison Protests Escalate Since the Rabaa Massacre Fight corruption, support Ukraine High Stakes for Human Rights as Kharkiv Battles Corruption Another Northern Ireland Human Rights Lawyer Under Attack Bombed Out and Occupied Amendments to UK’s Northern Ireland Conflict Bill Compound Injustice Polish Authorities Continue to Attack Human Rights Defenders Near the Belarus Border Time to Compel Social Media Companies to Protect HRDS Two Ukrainian Children at Risk of 20 Years in Russian Prison How the Ukrainian village of Tsyrkuny Survived Russian Occupation Civilians Under Air Attack in Ukraine Warned: “Overconfidence Is Your Weakness” Undaunted by War, Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Activists Track Public Spending NGO Sphere Provides Resistance and Aid in Kharkiv What Biden Should Say in Belfast About Human Rights Civilians Organize to Resist Russian Occupation in Ukraine Irish America, Give Us a Hand This St. Patrick’s Day As Human Rights Researchers Denied Entry to Bahrain, U.S. Embassy Stays Silent No Room For Silence in Hong Kong’s Mass Trial Calling for Justice in the Murder of Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko Ukrainian Activists Urge Reform on Prisoner Swaps and Military Ombudsman Ukraine’s Gwara Media Fights For Truth in Kharkiv DIVOCHE.MEDIA: Amplifying Voices of Women in Ukraine Coping in the Kharkiv cold Special Envoy Kennedy Faces Crucial Year in Northern Ireland Same-sex Partnerships In Ukraine Would Show Its Values Crimean Human Rights Lawyers Appeal for Solidarity in Wake of Attacks Ukrainian Experts Produce Guide for Journalists Reporting War-Related Sexual Violence Calls for Solidarity as Attacks on Colin Harvey Intensify Statement before Tom Lantos Commission: “Say Their Names” November Offers Ideal Time for Bahrain to Release Jailed Activists How LGBT Groups in Kharkiv Help The City Fight Back Listening to Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ukraine Kharkiv Battles on Despite Russian Rocket Attacks A Taste of Normal Life in a Ukrainian City at War Leading Rights Activist Joins Ukraine’s Army and is Taken Prisoner Ten Years But Still Counting – UAE Fails To Release Jailed Activist Al-Roken Responsibly Researching War Crimes in Ukraine “Prison Atlas” details Egyptian Cases, Prisoners, and Judges International Expert Panel: State Impunity and the Northern Ireland conflict Biden to Visit Saudi: Recalibration of the Relationship or Rehabilitation of MBS? Air Raid App Offers Reassurance in Ukraine Ukraine’s Public Mobilizes to Document War Crimes Underground in a Ukrainian City at War: How Kharkiv’s Metro System Offers Shelter “There is a Shortage of Body Bags” The Polish Catholic Group Taking Risks to Help Refugees Poland’s Secret Heroes Crimea Offers Disturbing Blueprint for Russian Takeover of Ukraine Biden Should Speak Out on Trans People Blocked from Leaving Ukraine Mila Yankina’s Medical Work in the Violence of Kyiv Driven by Humanity: One Polish Volunteer’s Efforts in Ukraine Tracking War Crimes in Ukraine with the Truth Hounds Ukraine Medics Face Rocket Attacks with Defiance Lviv Offers Fast Track to Safety U.S. Should Spell Out How It Will Help Activists Needing to Flee Ukraine Human Rights Activists in Ukraine Call for Swift Response On Bloody Sunday’s 50th Anniversary: Frustration at New British Proposal to Hide the Truth State Department’s Second Chance To Get HRD Guidelines Right Leading Human Rights Figure Under Attack in Northern Ireland Families Preventing Britain from Burying the Truth on Irish Conflict Cover-up in the Finucane Case + Brexit = Trouble in US-UK relations Biden Administration Should Move to End a Decade of Pain in Bahrain What’s Happening Behind the UAE’s PR Mask British Government Proposes Amnesty for Killings That’s Worse Than Pinochet’s Biden Administration Faces Imminent Decision on Egyptian Military Aid as 12 Await Execution Blinken’s Decision Imminent on Funding an Egyptian Government that Enables Terrorism Time for Biden to Call for Prisoner Releases in Bahrain as Medical Neglect Continues Ballymurphy Families Win Decades-Long Fight For Official Truth Lessons for the Next US Ambassador to Bahrain The Biden Administration Can and Must Help Save Abdulrahman al-Sadhan Cairo Family Targeted as US Embassy Tweets Support for Egypt’s Security Forces Biden Faces Golden Opportunity To Send Signal to Cairo on Human Rights Do Not Split: An Illuminating Look at Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Uprising COVID Outbreak in Prison Sparks New Protests in Bahrain The F1 Grand Prix: A Chance to Spotlight Bahrain’s Abysmal Record on Rights Reimagining Protection for Human Rights Defenders Celebrating 2021 Martin Ennals Award Winner Yu Wensheng For the Biden Administration, 10 Lessons from 10 Years of U.S. Mideast Policy Hong Kong Human Rights Icon Albert Ho Battles On How AI Could Help the Fight for Accountability and Justice UN Makes Public Independent Experts’ Fears Over Attacks on Hong Kong Medics Egypt Activist Mozn Awaits April 22 Court Verdicts Four Reasons Middle East Governments Should Release Prisoners Members of Congress Should Question Egyptian Ambassador About Rights Activist New Report Details Abuse and Radicalization of Children in Egyptian Jails Putin Presses Gulf Advantage with Saudi Visit October 1: A Turning Point for Hong Kong Protests? Hong Kong Volunteer Lawyers Provide Public Education During Unrest Congress Pushes Back Against Trump’s Erratic Saudi Friends Response to Egypt’s Referendum on Constitutional Changes Trump Clings to MBS as Saudi Arabia Targets Americans How ISIS Recruits in Egyptian Prisons Trump’s Extreme Hypocrisy: Venezuela & Egypt Bahrain Stages Fake Elections For Poodle Parliament Bahrain Stages Fake Elections For Poodle Parliament Anti-Orban Protestors Rally in Budapest New Book Details Activist Responses to Modern Authoritarianism in Hungary and Beyond Egypt Targets Disappearance Activist Working on Regeni Case Trump Prepares Dangerous Sale of F-16s to Bahrain Trump Prepares Dangerous Sale of F-16s to Bahrain Middle East Activist Experts Offer Advice on Fighting Trump Policies Fears for Sudan Human Rights Defender Mudawi Bahrain Travel Bans Reveal Insecurity Bahrain Travel Bans Reveal Insecurity October 31 to Test Bahrain’s Reforms State Department Should Speak out for Aya Hijazi, U.S. Human Rights Defender in Egypt Prison Apple, Shaggy, and Hacks in the Gulf Still Fighting for the Truth About Argentina’s Disappeared Bahrain’s Truth Will Out High Price for Exposing Disappearances in Egypt Bahrain Targets Clerics in New Wave of Attacks Bahrain’s Money Talk Time for Washington to Act as Bahrain Government Provokes Crisis Time for Washington to Act as U.S. Ally Bahrain Targets Human Rights Defenders 50 Days of a Broken Promise in Bahrain Bahrain’s False Claims On BICI Today is Razan Zaitouneh’s Birthday Egypt Human Rights Defender Ahmad Abdallah Accused of Belonging to Terrorist Group US Ally UAE Attacks Leading Academic Naser Bin Ghaith 5 Things Obama Should do in Saudi Arabia Finding the Key to Release Zainab Al Khawaja Six Things John Kerry Should Do in Bahrain Bahrain’s Window Dressing Reforms Can’t Hide Botch Job Civil Society Should Not be Locked Out of Syria Talks Bahrain’s Fake Human Rights Conference Another PR Disaster Five Years On, Egypt’s Uprising Flagged at Tahrir More Sisters Vanish into UAE Police Custody Bahraini Sheikh and FIFA Presidential Hopeful Continues to Dodge Allegations over Targeting Athletes FIFA, Man United, and Torture in Bahrain Who Needs to Know at Guantanamo Guantanamo: Washington’s Expensive Mistake Guantanamo September 11 Detainee Suggests Becoming His Own Lawyer Smiles Jar in Guantanamo Court Drama Lift UAE Dissident’s Travel Ban Americans Jailed in UAE For A Year Without Charge Saudi Arabia Threatens FATF Progress A Generation of Fighting for Human Rights 2022 Becomes a Crucial Test of Human Rights and Sport In Cairo, Kerry Should Reinforce Obama’s Remarks in Kenya Bahrain’s Hokey Pokey Dance Kenyan Corruption Undermines Fight Against Extremism Kenyan Government Struggles to Fight Mombasa Terrorism No Hollywood Ending for Bahraini Opposition Leaders A Bad Year for Yara Sallam in Egypt’s Republic of Fear Bahrain Medic Recounts Conditions in Jaw Prison Fighting Bahrain’s Sectarian Threat Bahrain’s Prisons At Their Breaking Point Is Bahrain the New Apartheid State? Bahrain Medics Still in Prison Top 5 Things John Legend Should Know About Bahrain Reports of Torture Haunt Bahrain’s CID Four Years On, U.S. Should Push Bahrain to Reform Security Forces Why February 14 Matters in Bahrain Why Bahrain Needs Security Force Reform The Beginning of the End for Bahrain’s Tolerated Opposition Matar Matar and Brian Dooley Discuss Bahrain’s Intensive Weeks Ahead New Year, New Congress: What to Watch on Middle East Policy How CIA Torture Didn’t Prevent an Attack on Heathrow The CIA Torture Report and the UK’s Hooded Men Seven Helpful Things the New Ambassador To Bahrain Can Do Five Useful Things America’s New Ambassador to Egypt Can Do Seven Things to Watch For in Bahrain’s Upcoming Elections Six Things to Watch Out for in Ukraine’s Elections Is the United States Government Finally Losing Patience with Bahrain? Bahrain Human Rights Defender Faces Charges for Tweet What’s Next for Maryam Al Khawaja? Ambassador Nominee States Intent to Flout Bahrain Law on Meeting Opposition A Day in the Life of Maryam Al Khawaja Abdulhadi Al Khawaja Embarks on Hunger Strike State Department Responds to Bahrain’s Denial of Access to Rep. McGovern and Human Rights First Washington’s Wishful Thinking Policy on Egypt The Exceptional Egyptian Human Rights Defender Yara Sallam Remnants of Revolution in Kyiv LGBT Activist Refused Membership of New Ukrainian Party Bahrain Rewards Assad’s Arms Supplier With New Contract 100 Days Later Bahrain Allies’ Dangerous Myopia Embassygate In Bahrain Not The Fundamental Problem Bahrain’s Sunningdale Three Years Later, Reform in Bahrain is Nowhere to be Seen Stories from Bahrain’s Crackdown: Dr. Ali Al Ekri Irish America’s Identity Parades State Department Report on Bahrain Confirms Extent of Repression Bahrain’s Soldier Sailor Sunni Shia Struggle American Recounts Arrest in Egypt The United States should Speak Out on Bahrain Abuses U.S. Ambassador Donahoe Hits Back at Bahraini Media Distortion of Meeting with Regime Officials Cairo’s Dispersal Dilemma Bahrain Torturers Must Be Held Accountable Bahrain No More Stable as Nabeel Rajab Marks One Year in Custody U.S. State Department Country Report on Bahrain Highlights Key Abuses Manchester United, Denis Law, and Torture by the Bahrain Regime Silent Witness – The U.S. Government and the Trial of Bahraini Human Rights Defender Abu Deeb A Message from Nabeel Rajab Egyptian Police: Million Man Mafia? Maryam al Khawaja Accepts Baldwin Medal of Liberty Ordeal Continues for Targeted Bahraini Medics One Year Later, Bahrain Reform Remains Shallow Promise Questions Remain Unanswered Eight Years After Munir’s Death Derision on Prison Indecision Bahrain Escalates Attacks on Civil Society Salah Alshayeb: One of the Overlooked Victims of Bahrain’s Revolution Younis Ashoori: One of Bahrain’s Forgotten Prisoners

Brian Dooley

Senior Advisor

As Senior Advisor, Brian supports Human Rights First’s work with human rights activists in hostile environments.

Prior to serving as Senior Advisor, Brian directed Human Rights First’s engagement with the U.S. government and other partners to end threats and obstacles to human rights defenders.

From 2020 to 2023, he served as Senior Advisor to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Brian spent twenty years working for U.S., Irish, and international NGOs. He led Amnesty International’s work on partnering with national NGOs in the global South. Brian has also worked as Head of Media for Amnesty International in London and in Dublin and as Director of Communications for Public Citizen in Washington, D.C.

He is the author of several books about civil rights and U.S. politics. He had early experience on Capitol Hill, serving as a legislative researcher for Senator Edward Kennedy in the mid-1980s when he contributed to what ultimately became the 1986 Anti-Apartheid Act.

In 1981 and 1982, Brian lived and worked as an English teacher and community organizer in a black township in South Africa, which was prohibited under apartheid’s racial segregation laws.

Brian earned a PhD in the transnational history of rights from the University of East Anglia, an MPhil in Government and Politics from The Open University in London, and a B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of East Anglia.

About

Ethan Duncan

Ethan Duncan

Data Scientist

Ethan Duncan serves as the Data Scientist in our Innovation Lab. He has expertise in cross-functional team collaboration focused on the design and implementation of data science solutions.

As a researcher at NASA, Ethan led and implemented advanced computer vision techniques for recognizing and classifying ice blocks on the Jovian moon Europa, resulting in published conference papers and presentations at multiple scientific conferences.

Ethan earned his Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS) from the University of California, Berkeley, where his work culminated in a waterpoint functionality predictor to that used machine learning to assist those in water scarce areas of the world find reliable sources of water. Ethan earned dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Astrophysics and Physics at Arizona State University.

About

Diyerly “DJ” Duque

Diyerly “DJ” Duque

Human Resources Manager

As HR Manager, Diyerly Duque oversees all human resources processes and programs. She manages the overall recruitment and hiring process — benefits management, onboarding, payroll administration, and our internship and fellowship programs.

DJ joined Human Rights First in 2018 as a Bilingual Administrative Assistant Volunteer at the Washington, DC office, and then served as HR Assistant, HR Coordinator, and HR Generalist. In addition to currently serving as our HR Manager, DJ is the organization’s DEI Council Co-Chair.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, DJ served as a Human Development Intern at the Venezuelan National Assembly, where she was responsible for training employees in professional tools, improving work culture, and developing a citizen participation project to promote democracy and government accountability in communities.

DJ is passionate about freedom and committed to defending human rights and social justice. In 2017, she was a speaker at the HDCA Annual Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa where she presented her thesis work, based on Amarya Sen’s perspective of freedom, on emigration and its relationship to Human Development.

DJ is SHRM certificated and has earned a Management Certificate from Harvard Business School Online. Diyerly graduated cum laude from Lisandro Alvarado University of Venezuela, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human development.

About

Maya El Cheikh

Maya El Cheikh

Legal Services Coordinator/DOJ Fully-Accredited Representative

As a legal services coordinator in New York, Maya El Cheikh conducts screenings of potential clients; writes case assessments; supports pro bono and in-house attorneys; helps manage the New York office’s client database; assists in supporting advocacy efforts; and helps select, train, and supervise interns.    

As a Department of Justice (DOJ) fully-accredited representative, Maya directly represents immigrants in removal proceedings before the Department of Homeland Security and the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the supervision of our New York office’s managing attorney. She helps clients secure various immigration-related benefits, including asylum, employment authorization, family reunification, and adjustment of status. 

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Maya worked with the Victim Services Unit at the District Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. There, she assisted victims of various crimes, including domestic violence, with VAWA and U-visa petitions. 

In addition to her legal background, Maya holds a master’s degree in Special Education and Inclusion from the University of Roehampton, a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Canada. Maya is a native Arabic speaker and is conversationally fluent in Spanish.

About

Andrew Feinberg

Andrew Feinberg

Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow

Andrew Feinberg, the Equal Justice Works Legal Fellow sponsored by Latham & Watkins LLP, provides pro bono representation to asylum seekers and works to dismantle systemic barriers that prevent indigenous peoples from Central America from receiving asylum in the United States.

During law school, Andrew was a student attorney with UCLA’s Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, where he successfully represented asylum seekers and petitioners for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Andrew was a summer legal fellow with the UCLA Law Center for Immigration Law and Policy and worked as a legal intern with Al Otro Lado on immigrants’ rights litigation before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Andrew served as Executive Director of UCLA Law Students for Immigrant Justice and Managing Editor of the UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs.

Andrew holds a J.D. with a specialization in Public Interest Law and Policy from the UCLA School of Law, and a B.A. from Hampshire College.

About

Maya Fernandez-Powell

Human Rights Investigations Researcher

As Human Rights Investigations Researcher, Maya Fernandez-Powell researches the targeting of Human Rights Defenders and other HRD-related issues. She engages with international HRDs to support their security and advocacy efforts and writes about issues related to HRDs.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Maya worked as an undergraduate research fellow in the BMW Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University, where she researched the far right in the European Union. She also worked as a foreign affairs legislative intern for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.  

Maya is currently studying for her Master’s Degree in Georgetown’s Applied Intelligence program. She earned a B.S. in Foreign Service, a minor in French, and a certificate in Diplomatic Studies from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Her senior thesis was on far-right political rhetoric in Western and Eastern Europe. She is a fluent French speaker.

About

Ira Forman

Ira Forman

Senior Advisor for Combating Antisemitism

As Senior Advisor for Combatting Antisemitism, Ira Forman supports Human Rights First’s work to expose and counteract antisemitism at home and abroad in keeping with a U.S. foreign policy rooted in a strong commitment to human rights, universal values, and American ideals.

Ira was appointed the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (SEAS) in May 2013, serving until January 2017. From 2011-2012, He served as the Jewish Outreach Director for the Obama for America campaign. He also served for nearly 15 years as the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC). Today, Ira is a visiting professor and senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Jewish Civilization, where he teaches courses on confronting contemporary antisemitism, and is also is a senior fellow at Moment Magazine.

Ira received his B.A. from Harvard University and his MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

About

Shala Gafary

Managing Attorney, Project: Afghan Legal Assistance (PALA)

Shala leads Project:  Afghan Legal Assistance, Human Right’s First’s nationwide coordination of legal stakeholders responding to the resettlement of at-risk Afghans by the U.S. government.  She also oversees the pro bono program that provides legal screenings and representation to Afghans eligible for asylum, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), and other forms of humanitarian protection.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Shala served as Director of Mercy Center’s Immigrant Services Department and as Supervising Attorney with Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of NY.  Previous to that, she was a Blossom Hill Legal Fellow with Refugee Rights Turkey in Istanbul, and worked in Greece for Greek Council for Refugees and HIAS, serving Afghan and Iranian asylum seekers.  Shala worked on a report documenting reconciliation following the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and served in anti-poverty projects in Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Shala obtained her B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University, and her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in New York and is fluent in Dari, Farsi, and Spanish.

About

Rebecca Gendelman

Recent Articles:

Correcting the Record: The Reality of U.S. Asylum Process and Outcomes Inhumane and Counterproductive Representing Asylum Seekers with Disabilities: Relevant Law Rhetoric v. Reality: Refugee Protection Travesty Asylum Processing Rule at One Year Rushed Timelines, Inadequate Access to Legal Representation Impede Meaningful Opportunity to Seek Asylum Under New Asylum Processing Rule Inadequate Access to Legal Representation, Rushed Timelines Impede Meaningful Opportunity to Seek Asylum Under New Asylum Processing Rule Pretense of Protection “I’m a Prisoner Here” “Aquí Soy Un Prisionero” From our FOIA of HRIFA Reports: Over 140,000 Asylum Seekers Detained Between 2015 and 2017 Biden Administration Poised to Eliminate Critical Safeguard Amid Escalating Reports of Erroneous Credible Fear Decisions Biden Administration Move to Eliminate Requests for Reconsideration Would Endanger Asylum Seekers, Deport Them to Persecution and Torture Immigration and Customs Enforcement Records Received Through FOIA Confirm Need for Increased Oversight of Agency’s Arbitrary and Unfair Parole Decisions for Asylum Seekers “We feel safe”: As Biden administration ends the Migrant Protection Protocols, asylum seekers included in the wind down experience security, stability, and joy in new lives in the United States Failure to Protect: Biden Administration Continues Illegal Trump Policy to Block and Expel Asylum Seekers to Danger Humanitarian Disgrace Amy Coney Barrett’s Troubling Record on Asylum and Immigration A Year of Horrors: The Trump Administration’s Illegal Returns of Asylum Seekers to Danger in Mexico Human Rights Fiasco: The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Asylum Returns Continue

Rebecca Gendelman

Senior Research and Policy Counsel, Refugee Protection

As Senior Research and Policy Counsel with Refugee Protection, Rebecca supports Human Rights First’s efforts to promote the protection of refugees and reform the U.S. asylum system.

Rebecca received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in 2019. In law school, Rebecca was a student director of the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, where she represented asylum seekers and green card applicants. She was also a research coordinator for the Immigration Policy Tracking Project, which catalogues every immigration policy from January 2017 to January 2021. During law school, Rebecca interned at the Capital Area Immigrants’  Rights Coalition and the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Appeals Bureau.

Rebecca graduated Cum Laude from Williams College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with honors.

About

Jenna Gilbert

Director, Refugee Representation

Jenna Gilbert is Director of Refugee Representation, where she oversees Human Rights First’s pro bono legal representation program, which provides indigent asylum seekers with high quality legal representation in the New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. 

She previously served as the Managing Attorney of the Los Angeles office of Human Rights First, leading the Los Angeles team, overseeing the legal representation of indigent asylum seekers in the Los Angeles area, and training and mentoring pro bono volunteer lawyers. Prior to her role as Managing Attorney, Jenna was a Staff Attorney in both the New York and Los Angeles offices of Human Rights First. 

Before joining Human Rights First, Jenna was an associate attorney at an immigration law firm in Los Angeles, CA, where she managed a large caseload of defensive and affirmative immigration cases. Jenna specialized in removal defense, and frequently appeared in the Los Angeles Immigration Court representing clients with various forms of relief, including asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, NACARA, and criminal waivers. She also successfully appealed cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to that, Jenna received a public interest fellowship to work for Asylum Access Ecuador, where she provided legal services for refugees and led a prison advocacy project in an effort to ensure that detained migrants were guaranteed protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol. Jenna litigated and presented oral arguments before Ecuador’s highest court in a case involving Ecuador’s unlawful imprisonment and denial of reparations to a Guinean refugee.

Jenna has a dual degree in international relations and Spanish language and literature from the University of San Diego. She received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is admitted to practice law in California. She is a frequent speaker on immigration-related topics affecting asylum seekers and is fluent in Spanish.

About

Sara Gormley

Sara Gormley

Program Manager

Sara Gormley is a Program Manager supporting the operation of the Refugee Representation team.

Sara joined Human Rights First with seven years of experience in logistics and project management, most recently as a senior associate at UNICEF USA and as a volunteer with HIAS, where she worked with immigrant detainees. Previously, Sara worked for the United Nations Secretariat in New York, managing operations for the UN General Assembly meetings.

She received her B.A. in International Relations and Political Science from Northeastern University, and her MSc in International Development from the University of Edinburgh. Sara has spent many years of her professional and academic career living outside of the United States, where she studied French, Spanish, and Arabic.  She is currently based in Washington, D.C

About

Miranda Hawkins

Miranda Hawkins

Event Operations Associate

As the events operations associate, Miranda supports the development team in all in-person and virtual fundraising activities, from meetings to annual awards celebrations.

Miranda comes to Human Rights First with years of experience in both non-profit and corporate organizations.  She has held positions in events management and operations at Sony Music Entertainment, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Drum Major Institute, and most recently Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of New York.

Miranda earned a BS degree in psychology from Morgan State University and a JD from the University of Maryland. She serves as co-founder of The Light Community Service Ministry and actively volunteers with many local service organizations in her community of Mount Vernon, New York.

About

Navid Ahmad Hewadwal

Navid Ahmad Hewadwal

Legal Services Coordinator, Special Projects

Navid serves as a Legal Service Coordinator with our Project: Afghan Legal Assistance (PALA) team. He provides legal support for newly-arrived Afghan refugees by supporting PALA attorneys with data collection, arranging interpreters, handling translation requests, organizing legal clinics and client check-ins, and other tasks.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Navid worked as a translator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Kabul, Afghanistan. He has years of experience as a translator and as an administrative assistant with local and international non-profit organizations in Afghanistan. He also served as a teacher and manager of the classes management committee at an education center in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Navid received his B.A. in Economics, Political Science, and Sociology at Bangalore University in 2016.  He is fluent in English, Pashto, Dari, and Hindi.

About

Quentin Hines

Quentin Hines

Chief of Staff

Quentin Hines is Chief of Staff at Human Rights First. With nearly 25 years of experience in government affairs, executive support, and project management he manages the executive team, our Board of Directors, the organization’s day-to-day operations, and special projects of the Executive Office.

Quentin had a varied career before joining Human Rights First, supporting top lobbyists, government officials, and some of Washington’s most influential attorneys. He most recently served in the Office of Global Programs at the American Bar Association, where he supported the Associate Executive Director in managing ABA Global Programs and their Rule of Law Initiative.

As Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President at New York Life, Quentin helped manage operations of the Office of Governmental Affairs – Federal. In Washington, DC Mayor Anthony A. Williams’s executive office, Quentin served as liaison between the Deputy Mayor and Agency Directors regarding operations, funding, and legislative issues. As a Legislative Secretary at Powell Goldstein, Quentin oversaw the day-to-day operation of the firm’s Political Action Committee, in addition to those of clients such as the National Association of Public Hospitals and the National Association of Music Manufacturers.

Quentin graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School. A native Washingtonian, Quentin continues to live in Washington, DC, and is based in our DC office.

About

Anwen Hughes

Director of Legal Strategy, Refugee Programs

Anwen Hughes helps oversee Human Rights First’s pro bono representation program for indigent asylum seekers. Anwen provides training and support to volunteers from law firms in New York and New Jersey who represent asylum seekers through our program and assists in Human Rights First’s local and national advocacy on asylum issues. She also provides information and legal services to asylum seekers in INS detention, and helps coordinate their legal representation.

Before joining Human Rights First, Anwen was a staff attorney with the Passaic County Legal Aid Society in Paterson, New Jersey, where she represented recipients of public benefits and coordinated legal services for the elderly.

She graduated summa cum laude from Yale University (1993) with a B.A. in Classics, and from Yale Law School (1998).

About

Mona Iman

Supervising Senior Staff Attorney

Mona Iman is a Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Special Projects in Human Rights First’s Refugee Representation program. In this role, she provides training and mentorship to pro bono volunteer attorneys and coordinates wide-scale legal representation for Afghan refugees.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Mona was a Staff Attorney at Immigrant Defenders Law Center, where she represented hundreds of detained adults and unaccompanied minors in their defensive removal proceedings for over five years. Mona has broad experience in human rights advocacy and international legal development. She previously advised and coordinated strategic rule of law initiatives with the US Institute of Peace to support Iraq’s first independent constitution-making process following the US invasion, and directed programing to support human rights documentation in Iran with the Taslimi Foundation. Later at the ACLU of Southern California, Mona led the first investigation of a previously-secret US immigration policy that creates barriers and exclusions for Middle Eastern and North African applicants on the basis of overbroad national security designations. Mona was among the first to respond to former President Trump’s so-called Muslim Ban in Los Angeles, while maintaining a civil litigation practice at a private firm, and among other endeavors has worked widely in the Middle East and Africa.

Mona received her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, and a dual degree in Middle Eastern Studies and International Relations from Emory University, with a minor in Persian Language and Literature. She was recently awarded for her legal and humanitarian contributions to the city of Los Angeles. Mona is fluent in Persian and has used her Spanish and Arabic professionally.

About

Jung Rae Jang

Recent Articles:

Jung Rae Jang

Full Stack Developer

Jung Rae Jang is a Full Stack Developer; he is responsible for the development, testing, maintenance, and launching of Innovation Lab projects.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Jung Rae was a software development analyst at Citi.  Before becoming a software engineer, Jung Rae worked at various non-profit organizations as a community organizer working on issues including affordable housing, immigration reform, and language access for immigrants with limited English proficiency.

His previous experiences compelled him to combine his passion for technology with the goal of fighting injustice.  He earned a B.A. at Hunter College.

About

Piibe Jogi

Piibe Jogi

Managing Attorney, New York

Piibe Jogi is the managing attorney of the Refugee Representation team at the New York office of Human Rights First, overseeing the pro bono legal representation of indigent asylum seekers.  She mentors pro bono attorneys from New York and New Jersey law firms who represent asylum seekers at all levels of the system.

Before joining Human Rights First, Piibe was a senior staff attorney at Immigration Equality, a nonprofit organization that represents and advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and HIV-positive immigrants.  She co-managed Immigration Equality’s pro bono asylum program, mentored pro bono attorneys, and also directly represented clients in affirmative and defensive proceedings.

Prior to joining Immigration Equality, Piibe worked for several years as a corporate attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, then briefly as a solo practitioner.  She also worked pro bono for several nonprofit organizations in Westchester County, assisting undocumented immigrant survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking to gain legal status in the United States. 

Piibe has taught law courses at Tartu University in Estonia, Uppsala University in Sweden, and Seton Hall Law School’s online program.  She is the author of the textbook “Law and Ethics” (in Estonian) and several other publications.

Piibe’s degrees include an LL.B. (with the highest distinction) from Tartu University, Faculty of Law in Estonia, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, England, and an LL.M. and a J.S.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Fulbright Scholar.

About

Vladimir Kara-Murza

Vladimir Kara-Murza

Senior Advisor, Human Rights Accountability

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian activist, politician, and filmmaker, has been a senior advisor to Human Rights First on human rights accountability since 2020. He was arrested in Russia in April 2022 for speaking out against the Russian government’s brutality in Ukraine and at home, and he remains arbitrarily imprisoned after being convicted in a sham trial and given a 25-year prison sentence.

A longtime colleague of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, Vladimir played a key role in the passage of the original Magnitsky legislation, which imposed targeted sanctions on Russian human rights violators. Twice, in 2015 and 2017, he was poisoned and left in a coma; the attempts on his life were widely viewed as the Russian government’s retribution for his work on the Magnitsky sanctions. Since his imprisonment, governments around the world have imposed Magnitsky sanctions on his persecutors.

Vladimir is a contributing writer at the Washington Post and has continued to write op-eds from prison. He previously hosted a weekly show on Echo of Moscow radio, and has worked for the BBC, RTVi, and Kommersant. He has directed three documentary films, They Chose Freedom, Nemtsov, and My Duty to Not Stay Silent, and is the author of Reform or Revolution: The Quest for Responsible Government in the First Russian State Duma.

He has received several awards, including the Sakharov Prize for Journalism as an Act of Conscience, the Magnitsky Human Rights Award, and the Geneva Summit Courage Award. He holds an M.A. (Cantab.) in History from Cambridge. He is a Russian and British citizen and a U.S. permanent resident.

About

Seelai Karzai

Afghanistan Advocacy Campaign Manager

Seelai Karzai is the Afghanistan Advocacy Campaign Manager at Human Rights First, where she works closely with members of the Evacuate Our Allies (EOA) Coalition to develop and lead public advocacy campaigns in support of organizational objectives on Afghanistan. Seelai coordinates communications strategies and digital advocacy campaigns to advance several objectives, including the introduction and passage of pro-refugee and resettlement federal legislation and continued evacuations and safe passage of flights for vulnerable Afghans left behind. She also serves on Human Rights First’s inaugural Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council.

Prior to this role, Seelai supported medical students and diversity programming at the Geisel School of Medicine while assisting in the evacuation efforts of vulnerable artists, writers, and cultural workers from Afghanistan after the US withdrawal in August 2021. Before this, she was a graduate student at the University of Oregon where she taught college-level poetry workshops and first-year writing courses.

Seelai earned a Masters in Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of Oregon and an MTS degree in Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion from Harvard University. She is a member of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association, an artist collective whose mission is to critically analyze US discourse on Afghanistan and showcase diasporic artworks to diverse audiences through public exhibits.

About

Amie Kashon

Program Manager, Evacuate our Allies Operations Center

Amie Kashon is the Program Manager of the Evacuate our Allies Operations Center (EOA Ops Center).  She oversees the strategy and day-to-day operations of a 7-day a week information center that assists Afghans, their advocates in the United States, and human rights and advocacy organizations with continuing relocation and resettlement. She also participates in ongoing advocacy on behalf of Afghans with U.S. government stakeholders. Amie has been with the EOA Ops Center since its start as a volunteer effort in August 2021 after the fall of Kabul.

Prior to working with Evacuate Our Allies, Amie served in a variety of roles at the Pacific Council on International Policy, including creating the organization’s impact program portfolio as Chief Initiatives Officer. She launched the Council’s U.S.-Mexico Initiative, worked in cooperation with local government on the Global Los Angeles Initiative, and supported ongoing project work for the Leadership Council of Women in National Security (LCWINS) and the Council’s Guantanamo Bay Legal Observer Program.

Amie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs magna cum laude from Occidental College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She is a member of the Truman National Security Project.

About

Adam Keith

Senior Director, Accountability

As Senior Director for Accountability, Adam Keith is responsible for Human Rights First’s work advancing human rights in U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on tools and institutions that help promote accountability for serious abuses and corruption.  He oversees our work coordinating a coalition of NGOs that use the Global Magnitsky Act and other targeted sanctions tools to pursue such accountability.   

Adam worked for ten years as a career civil servant for the U.S. Department of State, including an assignment to the National Security Council staff’s Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights directorate as director for war crimes and atrocity prevention (2013-14).  He also served as principal policy advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice; a desk officer for the African Great Lakes region and for Iraq; and a short-term political officer in Juba, South Sudan.  

After leaving the U.S. government in October 2017, Adam consulted for the Open Society Policy Center, Open Society Justice Initiative, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Human Rights First.  He is the co-author of the Holocaust Museum’s 2019 report, “By Any Other Name,” on the U.S. government’s policy and practice in making genocide determinations.  

Adam has a Master in Public Affairs degree from Princeton University’s public policy school and a Bachelor of Arts from Rice University.  He was a Fulbright fellow in Ghana, where he worked for the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, and he interned at the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.  He has lived and worked in Zimbabwe and South Sudan and studied in France.  He speaks French, holds on to fragments of other languages acquired in the course of his travels, and lives in New York City.

About

Nadia Khalid

Nadia Khalid

Supervising Senior Staff Attorney, Special Projects

Nadia Khalid is a Supervising Senior Staff Attorney for Special Projects in Human Rights First’s Refugee Representation program. In this role, Ms. Khalid leads a nationwide pro-se asylum clinic series, provides training and mentorship to pro bono volunteer attorneys, and facilitates advocacy and representation for Afghan arrivals.

Prior to joining Human Rights First, Ms. Khalid was the Senior Staff Attorney for Catholic Charities Dallas where she coordinated the Afghan legal response through large-scale pro-se asylum workshops in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. In the last year, Ms. Khalid has spoken on the refugee crisis at the State Bar of Texas Annual Poverty Law Conference and on leveraging services for recent Afghan arrivals for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) Annual Convening Conference. Ms. Khalid was recently published in the State Bar of Texas’ Immigration Bulletin Journal where she wrote on Title 42 as a Covid-19 crisis or a border crisis. Additional recent publications include  “Examining the Crossover of Immigration and Family Law in Determining Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” for the UNT Dallas College of Law Accessible Law Journal and the “Evolution of the Migrant Protection Protocol Program” for the Dallas Bar Association Headnotes Newspaper. Ms. Khalid has also written about the Afghan Adjustment Act and the search for permanent residency.

Ms. Khalid has been practicing immigration for five years with a focus on refugee and asylum law. Ms. Khalid received her Bachelors in Classical Languages from Rice University and her Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Khalid was an intern for then-First Lady Michele Obama. Ms. Khalid is admitted to practice law in Texas and is fluent in Urdu, Spanish, and conversational Arabic.

About

Jason Long

Technical Director

Jason Long provides technical and strategic guidance to Innovation Lab projects and manages the Lab’s tech partnerships.  Jason founded and built Blue Witness, an AI tool incubated at Human Rights First’s Innovation Lab to combat police violence in the United States. 

 Jason Long is a software engineer, founder, and technology executive with a passion for social change.  He served as Chief Technology Officer at the digital product firm Sevenstar.  Born and raised in Chicago, Jason is active in organizations providing opportunities to formerly incarcerated and otherwise marginalized people.