Our Team

United States

Lamya Agarwala

Staff Attorney

Lamya Agarwala is a Staff Attorney with the legal department in IRAP’s New York office. She was previously a fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. Lamya graduated from New York University School of Law, where she served as the director for NYU Law’s IRAP chapter, was a student attorney with the Federal Defenders of New York, and and interned with the Policing Project at NYU. During law school, Lamya also worked with Kids in Need of Defense and the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security program.

Yousif al-Timimi

Case Worker

Yousif al-Timimi is a freelance linguistic liaison and journalist. He is a former ICG research consultant, member of the media watchdog the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), and IRAP coordinator and logistics liaison in Iraq. In Iraq, Yousif also worked as a researcher for Human Rights Watch, interviewing over 40 secret prison inmates who were denied family visits, fair trials, and access rights to lawyers. Yousif’s research led to the exposure of the secret prison in Al Muthana Airport in Baghdad.

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Yousif’s continued work with HRW, ICG, JFO, and IRAP involved a hostile working environment dominated by Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents, and the harassment and aggravating restrictions placed by the government. He faced serious threat in case of exposure, and had to work with the lowest possible profile to be able to perform his duties. Yousif conducted interviews with victims of authoritarian violence in situations like the protests in Tahrir Square in Baghdad in 2011, during which he was beaten and dragged by the Iraqi Security Forces, and the unarmed protests of Hawija in 2013. He continued reporting on cases of authoritarian violence until he got a phone call informing him of his exposure to the Iraqi Security Forces and fled the country.

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Deepa Alagesan

Supervising Attorney

Deepa Alagesan is a supervising attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. She was previously an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and clerked for the Honorable Denny Chin of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Kiyo A. Matsumoto of the Eastern District of New York. At Cleary Gottlieb, Deepa’s pro bono work included representing clients in removal proceedings and assisting foreign trafficking victims with their T-visa applications.

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Deepa graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. During law school, she was a member of the Prison Legal Assistance Project and interned in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Before law school, Deepa worked as a high school science teacher in New York City. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Human Biology.

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Kathryn Austin

Staff Attorney

Kathryn Austin is a staff attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. Before joining IRAP, Katie worked as an immigration staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NY, where she represented refugees, asylum seekers, and other noncitizens in removal proceedings in Buffalo and Batavia as well as in affirmative applications. She has also worked as an associate at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP and as a law clerk to the Hon. Amalya L. Kearse and the Hon. Susan L. Carney, both of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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Katie is a graduate of Harvard College (A.B., Classics and Philosophy), the University of Oxford (M.St., Music), and Stanford Law School (J.D.). At Stanford, she was a member of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, the Law Review, and Stanford’s IRAP student chapter.

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Jennifer Babaie

Staff Attorney

Jennifer Babaie is a Staff Attorney in IRAP’s legal department. She previously worked for the Open Society Justice Initiative as a Litigation Fellow providing litigation support on cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee Against Torture. She also served as a judicial clerk and attorney advisor for a U.S. immigration court in Washington State where she advised judges adjudicating asylum claims, claims under the Convention Against Torture, and on credibility issues.

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Jennifer received a J.D. and M.A. in International Law and Organizations from George Washington University and a B.S. from Santa Clara University magna cum laude. During law school she spent a year working with the U.N. International Law Commission developing research on states duties to prevent and prosecute crimes against humanity. Before law school, she worked as a refugee resettlement case manager with the International Rescue Committee in San Jose, California. Jennifer also collaborated with human rights organizations in Iraq to support their engagement with various U.N. human rights mechanisms, including the Forum on Minority Rights and the Human Rights Committee. In a past life, she coached girls’ lacrosse and participated in competitive Greek dance. Jennifer speaks Greek and Assyrian. 

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Adam Bates

Policy Counsel

Adam Bates is an IRAP Policy Counsel. Before coming to IRAP, Adam spent three years working on criminal justice and civil liberties issues at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.. His work there focused on police surveillance, police militarization, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror.

Adam received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and an M.A. in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.

Prior to law school, Adam earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Miami, where he also walked on to the Hurricanes football team.

Justin Cox

Senior Supervising Attorney

Justin Cox is a Senior Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. He was previously a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center and the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.  His practice has focused on protecting and promoting the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees through litigation and administrative advocacy.

Justin is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Yale Law School. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Mark R. Kravitz of the District of Connecticut and for the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Justin was born and raised in a small town in Missouri.

Tania Cohen

Development Coordinator

Tania is IRAP’s Development Coordinator. Prior to joining IRAP, she lived in Germany, first as a fellow with the Congress-Bundestag Young Professionals Exchange, through which she studied German refugee resettlement and integration policies, and then as the project coordinator for a local NGO, where she designed and implemented professional development and cultural exchange programs for refugees. Before moving to Germany, she worked at a Washington D.C. organization that promotes the study and practice of international law.

Tania graduated summa cum laude from Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University with a B.A. in political science and minors in European history and Italian. Her bachelor’s thesis explored secondary trauma in the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. While at ASU, she founded the campus chapter of a national organization that advocated for bipartisanship and youth engagement in policy-making. As chapter director, she led students in developing a bipartisan immigration reform proposal, which was adopted as the basis for the organization’s national immigration policy platform. Tania is also a published writer; her work has appeared in publications including The HillThe Huffington Post, and The Diplomatic Courier.

Mary Dahdouh

Staff Attorney

Mary Dahdouh is a staff attorney in IRAP’s Legal Department. Prior to becoming a staff attorney, Mary was a Berkeley Public Interest Fellow in IRAP’s New York office. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, where she received the Francine Diaz Memorial Award for her commitment to social justice work with immigrant communities.

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During law school, Mary served as the legal director and chapter director for the Berkeley Law IRAP chapter, a student attorney in the International Human Rights Law Clinic, and a contributing writer for IntLawGrrls, an online platform that gives voice to women scholars, lawyers, and leaders on issues related to international law. She also interned with the Middle East & North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, the Center for Justice & Accountability, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Mary received her B.A. in journalism and political philosophy from the University of Houston.

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Henrike Dessaules

Communications Director

Henrike Dessaules is the Communications Director at IRAP. She was previously the Assistant Director of Programs at the Council for European Studies at Columbia University, where she promoted research on European policy and social affairs through the organization of large international conferences, digital publications, and research grants.

Prior to moving to New York, Henrike managed the communications of the European Network for Women in Leadership in Paris, a network of European policymakers and business leaders that lobbies for gender equality in the professional sphere.

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Henrike speaks French, German, Danish, and English, and holds an M.A. in North American Studies from Freie Universität Berlin.

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Linda Evarts

Staff Attorney

Linda Evarts is a staff attorney in IRAP’s Litigation Department.  She was previously a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders, where she represented hundreds of indigent clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies in Bronx Criminal and Supreme Court.  After law school, Linda served as law clerk to the Honorable Dolly M. Gee of the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

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Linda graduated from Yale Law School, where she received the C. Larue Munson Prize for her work in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic and the Criminal Justice Clinic.  During law school, Linda was an intern at the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Orleans Public Defenders, and she was an editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.  Prior to law school, Linda was a U.S. Student Fulbright Scholar in Bogotá, Colombia, and she worked as a paralegal at the Federal Defenders of New York.  Linda earned a B.A. from Brown University with Honors in Latin American Studies.

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Betsy Fisher

Director of Strategy

Betsy Fisher is IRAP’s Director of Strategy. She coordinates IRAP’s efforts to improve and expand global refugee resettlement and other pathways to safety for the world’s most vulnerable refugees. She previously served as IRAP’s Jordan attorney and intake coordinator based in Amman, Jordan. She also represents vulnerable refugees and U.S. wartime allies in the Special Immigrant Visa Program.

As a student at Michigan Law, Betsy founded and directed the IRAP chapter. During law school, she worked at UNHCR in Washington, D.C., and Amman, Jordan, and with IRAP in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. Betsy received a J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, an M.A. in Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, and a B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science and Arabic from Denison University. She also researches statelessness and nationality law.

Elizabeth Foydel

Deputy Policy Director

Elizabeth Foydel is IRAP’s Deputy Policy Director. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Columbia University (Columbia College) with a B.A. in Political Science and French. She is also a graduate of Stanford Law School, where she participated in Stanford’s Rwanda Legal Development Project, Journal of International Law, Human Rights Pro Bono Project, and IRAP chapter.

During law school she spent a term with the International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic, in which she conducted primary research on violations of the laws of armed conflict and developed trainings around human trafficking.

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She also interned with Columbia’s Human Rights Institute and the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, and studied international and comparative law abroad at the Sciences Po in Paris. Before joining IRAP, Elizabeth was a Presidential Fellow at the Open Society Foundations in New York, where she worked on a variety of projects related to human rights, rule of law, and organizational governance.

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Wendy Fu

Pro Bono Manager

Wendy Fu is IRAP’s Pro Bono Manager. In this role, she builds pro bono capacity and support for IRAP’s work and develops new ways to organize and leverage the resources of the legal community. She was previously the Attorney & Pro Bono Programs Coordinator at If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, and an associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. At Weil, Wendy worked pro bono on behalf of asylum seekers and victims of trafficking.

Wendy received her B.A. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, and her J.D. from Cornell Law School. During law school, she interned for the AIDS Legal Referral Panel in San Francisco and the Federal Public Defender’s office in Honolulu.

Stephanie Gee

Supervising Attorney

Stephanie Gee is a Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s legal department. Prior to joining IRAP, she spent two years as the Robert L. Bernstein Fellow in the refugee rights program at Human Rights Watch. Her research and advocacy were focused on the right to education, access to asylum, and the importance of global responsibility-sharing amidst unprecedented levels of displacement.

Stephanie is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she worked extensively on international human rights and migration issues. She was a student director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, an editor for the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, a member of the Yale IRAP chapter, and a participant in the Legal Services for Immigrant Communities Clinic. She spent her summers working with IRAP in Amman, the Mental Disability Advocacy Center in Budapest, and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition in Washington, D.C.

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She received a B.A. in English from Williams College, where she also completed a Jewish Studies concentration and studied advanced Arabic.

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Legal Assistant

Sara Gomez is the legal assistant at IRAP. In this position, she works closely with both the legal and litigation departments. Prior to joining IRAP, Sara worked as a legal assistant at Badilla Quinteros, P.C., a boutique immigration law firm, where she worked closely with asylum seekers from Central and South America. As an undergraduate student, Sara interned with the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project, where she provided free legal assistance to individuals seeking shelter and facing imminent eviction in New York City.

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Sara graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Media Studies and a minor in Politics. During her time at Pomona, she served as the co-president of IDEAS, a student-run outreach and advocacy group for undocumented students. In this capacity, she spearheaded various fundraising initiatives, including an annual 5K run to raise scholarship funds for graduating undocumented high school students in Southern California. Sara’s senior thesis focused on the social performativity of undocumentedness and the legal precarity of naturalized citizenship. Sara is an alumni of the UCLA Law Fellows program, a pre-law preparatory program for populations currently underrepresented in law schools. She hopes to use her voice to advocate for immigrant and refugee rights in law school and beyond.

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Kelly Gramp

Director of Development

Kelly Gramp is IRAP’s Director of Development. Prior to joining IRAP, Kelly spent five years in the Department of Donor Relations & National Programs at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, an organization that develops philanthropic support for a scientific research institution located in Israel.

Throughout her tenure at the American Committee, Kelly was responsible for all national and international fundraising and leadership programs, which focused on advancing the organization in the areas of donor cultivation, education, and recognition. 

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Additionally, Kelly assumed responsibility for many donor service initiatives and governance liaison functions, including working closely with members of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.

Kelly received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Wagner College in New York, where her studies and internships focused on nonprofit community engagement.

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Emmy Hammond

Executive Assistant

Emmy Hammond is the Executive Assistant at IRAP. She received her B.A. in Political Science from New York University with double minors in Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies and Spanish. During her semester abroad at NYU Tel Aviv, Emmy researched the plight of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers being held at detention facilities in Israel. As a recipient of the Cultural Vistas Fellowship, she lived in Buenos Aires for a summer and interned at Fundación Leer, a local literacy organization. Emmy also traveled to Beijing through a cross-cultural exchange fellowship sponsored by the Bank of China.

Prior to joining IRAP, she interned for several years with Land is Life, a global grassroots network of indigenous activists. Emmy collaborated directly with indigenous partners to promote indigenous rights and participation in national and international political spaces, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Becca Heller


Becca Heller is the Executive Director and co-founder of IRAP. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work with IRAP, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Charles Bronfman Prize, the American Constitutional Society David Carliner Public Interest Award, a Skadden Fellowship, a Draper Richards Kaplan Fellowship, an Echoing Green Fellowship, a Gruber Human Rights Fellowship, the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut Annual Community Service Award and a Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Jr. Emerging Leader in Social Justice Award. She was also named Foreign Policy’s Citizen Diplomat of the Year, Politico’s Women Rule Summit Ambassador, one of the Christian Science Monitor’s “30 under 30” change makers, and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Becca was a visiting clinical lecturer at Yale Law School from 2010 to 2018, and has also been honored as an Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecturer at Cornell University and as a speaker at the Chicago Ideas Week Edison Talk.

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Becca’s interest in the legal challenges facing refugees began on a trip to Jordan during the summer after her first year in law school. During her stay, she visited with six different refugee families; each of them identified legal assistance as their most urgent need. Having just completed her first semester in Yale Law School’s Immigration Legal Services clinic doing asylum work, Becca believed that law students could assist refugees applying for resettlement. She returned to Yale and, together with Jon Finer, Mike Breen, Steve Poellot, and Kate Brubacher, founded IRAP in 2008.

Becca received her J.D. from Yale Law School in May 2010. During law school, she participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, and the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She served as an Articles Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law, and received a Coker Fellowship to teach legal writing to first year law students. She also received the Charles G. Albom Prize for excellence in the area of judicial and administrative appellate advocacy in connection with a Law School clinical program.

Prior to law school, Becca lived and worked in Sub-Saharan Africa for two years, including one year as a U.S. Student Fulbright Scholar in Malawi. She graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College in 2005. While in college, she was also the recipient of Campus Compact’s National Student Humanitarian Award.

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Mariko Hirose

Litigation Director

Mariko Hirose is the Litigation Director at IRAP.  She was previously a Senior Staff Attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked on impact litigation involving a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties issues.  She has also worked at Outten & Golden LLP, where she represented employees in class action discrimination and wage-and-hour cases, and at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she was the William J. Brennan Fellow with the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.  She has taught at the New York University School of Law and at the Fordham University School of Law.

Mariko is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School. After law school, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to law school, Mariko lived in China as a Yale-China Teaching Fellow and in Spain as an intern with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Melissa Keaney

Senior Staff Attorney

Melissa Keaney is a Senior Attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. Prior to joining IRAP, she was a staff attorney at the National Immigration Law Center for nearly a decade. Her practice has focused on protecting and promoting the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees through litigation and advocacy, with a particular focus on issues related to law enforcement abuse.

Melissa is a graduate of Loyola Law School Los Angeles, where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review. She was awarded the Honorable Darlene R. Seligman Immigration Law Award for her work in the field of immigrant rights.

Julia Kessler

Legal Advocate and Casework Manager

Julia Kessler is IRAP’s Legal Advocate and Casework Manager. In this role, she works with IRAP’s Legal Team on individual client representation, and coordinates and supports case work, client advocacy and services, and pro bono and student chapter case management. Julia was previously a Program Coordinator with Facing the Nakba, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, and an International Advocacy Officer with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association in Ramallah, Palestine.

Julia is a graduate of New York University’s Master’s program in Global Affairs, specializing in human rights and international law. During this time, she was a Research Assistant focused on human rights and social services in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and an Advocacy Intern with the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Government Misconduct and Racial Justice program. She received her B.A. with High Distinction in Middle East and North African Studies from the University of Michigan.

Julie Kornfeld

Skadden Fellow

Julie Kornfeld is a Skadden Fellow in IRAP’s New York office. Julie is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where she was named a Dean’s Public Service Fellow and a Program in Refugee and Asylum Law Fellow.

During law school, Julie served as the Legal Advisor for the Michigan Law IRAP chapter, as a  student attorney in the Human Trafficking Clinic and the Civil-Criminal Litigation Clinic, and as the Editor-in-Chief for RefLaw.org, an online scholarly journal focusing on international refugee law.

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Julie also interned at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington D.C., Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Human Rights Watch in Washington D.C. Prior to law school Julie worked for a development NGO in Uganda and for a humanitarian aid organization in New York City.

Julie graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University in 2011 with a B.S. in Social Policy. It was during Julie’s Junior year of college, when she worked for a refugee resettlement organization, that her passion for working on refugee issues began.

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Serena Kumalmaz


Serena Kumalmaz is a paralegal with IRAP’s litigation department. Prior to working at IRAP, she interned with the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project, where she worked on housing law, immigration issues, and rights to food and cash assistance in New York City.

Serena graduated from Columbia University with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies. During college, she participated in and led community organizing efforts around various issues, such as equitable mental healthcare access, mass incarceration, and advocacy for Palestine. She was a 2018 recipient of the OMA Graduation Cord for her efforts in promoting justice and exploring diversity issues. For her thesis, she designed a wastewater recycling and distribution system to provide affordable, clean water for the population of Puerto Rico internally displaced by Hurricane Maria, a major confluence of her engineering training and her passion for social justice.

Megan McDonough

Supervising Attorney

Megan McDonough is a supervising attorney in IRAP’s Legal Department. Before joining IRAP, Megan provided direct legal services to refugees and humanitarian immigrants in various jurisdictions globally. Most recently, she was based in Southeast Asia with Asylum Access, leading legal teams in advocating for refugee rights and protections. Megan also worked at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo, Egypt, where she represented clients in UNHCR refugee status determination procedures.

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After graduating from law school, Megan worked as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, assisting elderly and disabled refugees in obtaining US citizenship, as well as representing immigrant survivors of domestic violence under the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA). Megan attended Suffolk University School of Law where she graduated with Pro Bono Honors and participated in the Immigration Clinic, representing unaccompanied minors, and providing Know Your Rights training to immigrants in detention. Megan received a dual B.A. in Global Studies and International Relations from Emmanuel College.

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Kate Meyer

Staff Attorney

Kate Meyer is a Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Litigation Department. She was previously a Legal Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, where she worked to advance the rights of pregnant and parenting workers and eliminate gender stereotypes in schools. She has contributed to impact litigation on a variety of civil rights and social justice issues affecting the New York community through legal internships at the New York Civil Liberties Union and New York Legal Assistance Group’s Special Litigation Unit.

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Kate is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law. During law school she was a counselor at the California Asylum Representation Clinic and helped clients navigate disability benefits at the East Bay Community Law Center’s Health Clinic. She served as the Recent Developments Editor of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice and the President of Berkeley’s Law Students for Reproductive Justice chapter.

Prior to law school, Kate supported international legal advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights’ Global Legal Program. Kate earned her B.A. cum laude in Government from Cornell University.

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Amira Mikhail

Equal Justice Works Fellow

Amira Mikhail is an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the International Refugee Assistance Project where she focuses on legal pathways for family reunification, including the development of all training materials and organizing of clinics.

She is also serving as the director of Eshhad: Center for the Protection of Minorities, a nonprofit that is focused on the protection of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East. Amira has worked as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and as a legal fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

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She is a graduate of Washington College of Law at American University, where she worked with the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic, the Human Rights Brief, and as a research assistant to the Chairperson of the United Nations Committee against Torture. She also interned with the International Refugee Assistance Project and the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch and has been published on a variety of legal and social issues relating to Egypt and the Middle East. She graduated from Covenant College with a B.A. in Psychology.

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Sarah Morton

Director of Operations

Sarah Morton is IRAP’s Director of Operations & Special Projects. She keeps IRAP’s backend running, including human resources, finance, and administration.

During the 2016-2017 academic year Sarah was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Berlin, Germany where she did research comparing criminal justice and prison policies in Europe with those in the United States. She was previously the Administrative Director at the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) at Harvard Law School. She has also worked at Harvard Business School and GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders (GLAD.). Sarah is especially proud of her time serving on the board of the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund and her eight years playing for and eventually coaching one of Boston’s all-gender softball teams: the Trailblazers.

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Sarah received her Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Her Master’s degree in English Literature, with a speciality in Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change, is from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.

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Jennifer Patota

Supervising Attorney

Jennifer Patota is a supervising attorney in IRAP’s New York office. She has represented refugees from throughout the Middle East and Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants. Jennifer graduated from Brown University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. She graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University School of Law in 2009 where she was selected to Order of the Coif and was a Senior Notes & Articles Editor on the Fordham Urban Law Journal. She worked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in the summer after her first year of law school. After law school, Jennifer worked at Latham & Watkins LLP and Pryor Cashman LLP where her pro bono work included representing immigrant women in abusive relationships in their self-petitions for legal permanent residency pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act and assisting Holocaust survivors with applications for reparations from the German government.

Stephen Poellot

Legal Director

Stephen Poellot is IRAP’s Legal Director and was a founding director of IRAP during his first year at Yale Law School. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham School of Law, where he teaches a course on refugee law.

During law school, he participated in the National Litigation Project of the Allard K. Lowenstein Clinic and the Worker & Immigrant Rights & Advocacy Clinic. He received the Charles G. Albom Prize for excellence in the area of judicial and administrative appellate advocacy in connection with a Law School clinical program. After law school, he was a Kirby Simon Summer Fellow at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva and a Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow at the Refugee Legal Aid Project in Egypt.

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Stephen graduated from Columbia University in 2005 with a B.A. in Anthropology and received his J.D. in 2011 from Yale Law School. Prior to law school, Stephen was an investigator at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and worked with refugees in Egypt at the offices of Dr. Barbara Harrell Bond.

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Marissa Ram

Senior Staff Attorney

Marissa Ram is a Senior Staff Attorney in IRAP’s legal department. Prior to joining IRAP, Marissa was based in Berlin, Germany, co-producing “Refugee RealTalk,” a podcast featuring conversations with refugees. She was a 2013-2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow and attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group’s LGBTQ Law Project and Safe Horizon Anti-Trafficking Program, where she provided direct representation, community legal education, and advocacy for LGBTQ youth and immigrants.

Marissa is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law, where she founded a student-led legal clinic, the Boalt Anti-Trafficking Project, and represented asylum seekers and refugees placed in indefinite detention as a UC Human Rights Center Fellow with the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties in Sydney, Australia. 

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Prior to law school, she provided health education for homeless youth engaged in the sex trade in Mumbai, India. She earned her B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and also conducted research on freedom of expression while in residence at Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.

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Charlotte Sall

Student Coordinator

Charlotte Sall is IRAP’s Student Coordinator. In this role, she supports IRAP’s 30 law school chapters across the United States and Canada. Prior to joining IRAP, Charlotte received her Master’s in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, where she earned a Certificate in Global Social Development Practice focusing on forced migration. During graduate school, Charlotte interned in the case management team of a refugee resettlement agency and at Pratham Education Foundation, an education non-profit in New Delhi, India.

Before pursuing her Master’s, Charlotte was a Fulbright grantee and taught English in South Korea, where she lived in a rural army town 10 kilometers south of the DMZ. She also spent a year in Serbia facilitating forum theater workshops for Roma youth. Charlotte graduated phi beta kappa and summa cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Sociology.

Sarah Vaughan Troyer

Director of Institutional Giving

Sarah Vaughan Troyer is IRAP’s Director of Institutional Giving. Prior to joining IRAP, Sarah was the Major Gifts Officer at the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, where she managed fundraising efforts around the organization’s capital campaign and annual fund giving society.

Sarah also spent over three years at the Global Justice Center, where she served as the Director of External Relations, spearheading the organization’s development and communications departments. 

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Additionally, Sarah helped execute donor cultivation activities at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Association for Psychological Science. Her experience includes frontline fundraising, portfolio and campaign management, event planning and working closely with Board members and related committees.

Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University.

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IRAP has additional staff members working in the field who are not listed here for confidentiality reasons.

Wael Ballout

Lebanon Office Manager

Wael Ballout manages IRAP’s office in Beirut, Lebanon. He previously worked as a videographer at INTERSOS, filming documentaries and short movies about issues facing refugees in Lebanon. In 2017, he joined IRAP as an office manager. Wael is now pursuing his Master’s degree in International Affairs; he holds a B.A. in Radio and TV (Directing) from the American University of Science & Technology.

Charlotte Bertal

Europe Legal Program Coordinator

After she graduated from the University of Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas in International Public Law in 2008, Charlotte lived for a year in Damascus where she learned the Syrian dialect and studied in a bilingual Master of International Business law at the University of Damascus. She became passionate about Syria and the Middle East, while also concerned by the condition of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees in the region. Once she returned to France, she specialized in Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid at the University of Aix-en-Provence in 2010 and received a Licence in Middle Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

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Charlotte worked in several administrations involved in international humanitarian aid and developed a global understanding of the humanitarian system and refugee protection. She worked successively in the Department of Human Rights and Humanitarian aid at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), and at the United Nations High Committee for Refugees in Beirut.She is also a founding member of the French NGO Yalla! Pour les Enfants,  which provides quality education to Syrian refugee children and organizes peace-building activities in Lebanon.

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Imani Franklin

Harvard Human Rights Program Fellow

Imani Franklin is a Harvard Human Rights Program Fellow in IRAP’s Beirut office. She graduated cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Master in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. During law school, she was a member of Harvard’s IRAP chapter, a student attorney in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic and International Human Rights Clinic, and an editor of the Harvard Law Review. She also served as a legal volunteer in immigration detention centers in Georgia and Texas through the Southern Poverty Law Center and American Gateways.

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During graduate school, she interned at the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Public International Law and Policy Group, Mercy Corps in Palestine, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and DOJ’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions section. Before graduate school, she worked as a gender justice fellow at the Ford Foundation and as the Program Coordinator at Think Unlimited in Amman, Jordan. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University in 2013 with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Arabic.

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Faten Khalil

Jordan Office Manager and Casework Coordinator

Faten Khalil manages IRAP’s office in Amman, Jordan. She started her career in the private sector, working in Administration and Human Resources at Middle East Regional Development Enterprises, the SITCON Group, and later at WTS Energy. After eight years in the private sector, Faten transitioned to the NGO world. In 2013, she became an Office Manager at the Center for Victims of Torture in Amman. She began working with IRAP in August 2015. Faten holds a BSc in Hotels Management.

Alaa Majeed

Case Worker

Alaa Majeed is an Iraqi-American researcher, translator, consultant, reporter, and volunteer. With a bachelor degree in English Language Arts, she has volunteered and worked with various international non-profits, and non-governmental organizations. Among those are the Committee to Protect Journalist, the Arab-American Family Support Center, International Rescue Committee, Global Exchange, Voices in The Wilderness, and Nature Iraq. She reported on human rights, women and children and refugees issues in the war-torn Iraq for various international media outlets such as The Christian Science Monitor, Al-Jazeera English, National Public Radio, The New YorkerUnited Press InternationalThe Independent, The Sunday Times,CBS 60 Minutes, and The Nation. Majeed is the winner of the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Award, winner of grants from the Pulitzer Center for International Crisis Reporting, and CUNY’s International Journalist-in Residence Fellowship.

Kristine Rembach

Director of Complementary Pathways

Kristine Rembach is IRAP’s Director of Complementary Pathways, overseeing identification, mapping and development of pilot programs to build the capacity and effectiveness of new pathways to safety for refugees. In this role, she also oversees IRAP’s capacity building work around refugee rights with NGOs all over the world.

Prior to joining IRAP, Kristine spent more than two years as the Director of the Refugee Legal Aid Program (RLAP) at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo, Egypt, where she supervised a team of 20 legal staff and volunteers representing refugees in resettlement, refugee status determination, and protection matters, and oversaw advocacy efforts relating to UNHCR procedures and refugee rights in Egypt. Before joining RLAP, Kristine was a litigation partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in Washington, DC.

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Kristine graduated with highest honors from The George Washington University Law School, where she participated in a legal clinic representing indigent defendants in criminal cases, and received a B.S. from Boston College.

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Sally Salem

Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator

Sally Salem is the Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator in IRAP’s Lebanon office. She holds a BA in Translation & Interpretation from the University of Damascus. Since 2011, she has volunteered and worked in Lebanon with various international and local nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, and charitable associations, such as Jesuit Refugee Services, Jusoor, and Mission De Vie. Her work began doing home visits and providing humanitarian aid assistance to refugees in camps; later, she established a school for Syrian refugee children aged 5 to 15, and held the role of school principal for three years, where the main goal was highlighting the importance of education. Sally carries with her the message of inter-religious dialogue throughout all of her work.

Peter Nash Stavros

Jordan Staff Attorney

Peter Nash Stavros is a Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Amman field office. Peter received his juris doctor from Harvard Law School. Prior to joining IRAP full time, he was a fellow at UNICEF’s Jordan Country Office Child Protection Section.

At Harvard Law School, Peter was a student attorney at both the International Human Rights Clinic and the Harvard Immigration Project as well as co-director of IRAP’s Harvard Chapter. He also interned at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague; the U.S. Protection Unit at UNHCR in Washington, D.C.; the Child Protection Section at UNICEF in Amman, Jordan; and the International Program at Earthjustice in San Francisco. Peter studied at The Hague Academy of International Law, obtained a Certificate in Transnational Law from the University of Geneva, took classes at the Graduate Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva, and taught Environmental Law and Policy at Boston College.

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Peter received an Honours B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Toronto and is a fluent Arabic speaker.

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