Our Team

United States

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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Sarah Blume

Communications Assistant

Sarah Blume is the Communications Assistant at IRAP. She received her B.A. in International Studies and Middle Eastern & North African Studies from the University of Michigan. Recipient of the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship, she studied Arabic in Ibri, Oman during the summer of 2014. She has also spent time studying and volunteering in Jordan and the West Bank. Previously, Sarah was co-director of the Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival for two years and, more recently, interned in Geneva, Switzerland at the legal human rights organization, Alkarama – where she worked on a media advocacy campaign about arbitrary detention in Saudi Arabia.

Kelly Blundin

Director of Development

Kelly Blundin 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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Henrike Dessaules

Communications Manager

Henrike Dessaules is the Communications Manager 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, has written for several online publications, such as Gender Across Borders and Missy Magazine, and holds an M.A. in North American Studies from Freie Universität Berlin.

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Mark Doss

Supervising Attorney

Mark Doss is a supervising attorney in IRAP’s New York office.  As a member of the IRAP Legal team, Mark represents refugees and Special Immigrant Visa applicants before UNHCR and the US Government. He also assists with IRAP’s litigation docket.

Mark graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics-Economics and a B.A. in Africana Studies. He graduated cum laude from Georgetown Law and was also awarded a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies. Mark was a staff member of The Georgetown Law Journal and an Executive Editor of the Annual Review of Criminal Procedure. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable James G. Carr in the Northern District of Ohio. He then completed an Equal Justice Works Fellowship at IRAP.

Lara Finkbeiner

Deputy Legal Director

Lara Finkbeiner is IRAP’s Deputy Legal Director and a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. She is a 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Getnick & Getnick.

Lara is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a 2011 Dean’s Public Service Fellow and the 2012-2013 recipient of the Hessel E. Yntema Award, presented annually to a senior student who has performed with distinction in courses in international and comparative law and in related law school activities. In law school, Lara spent extensive time working in clinics, including the Human Trafficking Clinic, the General Clinic, and the Refugee Rights Clinic at the University Cape Town in South Africa.

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She also interned at the AIRE Centre in London and at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington D.C., which led to deployments as a refugee status determination officer in Guantanamo Bay and The Bahamas. Prior to law school, Lara spent a year in Ecuador researching Colombian refugees as a Fulbright scholar.

Lara received her B.A. in History with Honors from the University of Michigan in 2008, her M.Sc. in Forced Migration from the University of Oxford in 2010, and her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 2013.

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Betsy Fisher

Policy Director

Betsy Fisher is IRAP’s Policy Director. 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

Policy Counsel

Elizabeth Foydel is IRAP’s Policy Counsel. 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 Coordinator

Wendy Fu is IRAP’s Pro Bono Coordinator. 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.

Becca Heller

Director

Becca Heller is the director and co-founder of IRAP and a visiting clinical lecturer in law at Yale Law School. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work with IRAP, including The Charles Bronfman Prize, a Skadden Fellowship, an Echoing Green Fellowship, a Gruber Human Rights Fellowship, and a Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Jr. Emerging Leader in Social Justice Award. She was also named one of the Christian Science Monitor’s “30 under 30” change makers, and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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.

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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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Julia Kessler

Paralegal

Julia Kessler is a graduate of New York University’s Master’s program in Global Affairs, specializing in human rights and international law. She received her B.A. in Middle East and North African Studies from the University of Michigan.

Most recently, Julia worked with Facing the Nakba, a project of Jewish Voice for Peace, as a Program Coordinator, and previously worked with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association as an International Advocacy Officer.

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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Mac McEachin

National Security Policy Associate

Mac McEachin is a 2016 graduate of the London School of Economics’ MSc in Comparative Politics, having obtained his B.A. cum laude from Temple University’s Political Science program in 2011. Between universities, Mac worked for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, as well as on several political campaigns, and very briefly attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Elissa Mittman

Executive Vice President of Operations

Elissa Mittman is IRAP’s Executive Vice President of Operations. She previously served as the Chief Operating Officer (Interim) and Associate Vice President of Policy and Programs at HIAS, and the National Immigration Director at the International Rescue Committee. Elissa also worked for several U.S. government agencies and non-profits. In addition to being a member of numerous national working groups, she has lectured and traveled widely. Elissa has a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, a JD from Hofstra University, and is admitted to the New York Bar. Over the years she has supported IRAP in various capacities, including being a Board Member, the Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee, a volunteer, and a mentor.

Jennifer Patota

Staff Attorney

Jennifer Patota is a staff 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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Sarah Vaughan Troyer

Institutional Giving Manager

Sarah Vaughan Troyer is IRAP’s Institutional Giving Manager. 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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Mark Wasef

Senior Staff Attorney

Mark Wasef is a Senior Staff Attorney in IRAP’s New York office. He is a seasoned litigator with an extensive background in complex tort litigation and has been a dedicated volunteer with nonprofits and NGO’s as a pro bono attorney, public policy advocate, and through membership of numerous organizations as a Board Member. Mark served nearly a year at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia located in The Hague, Netherlands, as a Trial Chamber Intern for the Honorable Carmal Agius, who presided over the Popovic et al. trial dealing with the Srebenica massacres. During law school, Mark was an editor with the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion and the Secretary of the International Law Society. He continues to be a zealous advocate for the protection of civil and humanitarian rights of Middle-Eastern minorities, having engaged in pro bono representation, speaking engagements, and advocacy efforts.

Overseas

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.

Stephanie Gee

Jordan Staff Attorney

Stephanie Gee is IRAP’s Jordan Staff Attorney. 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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Faten Khalil

Jordan Office Manager

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.

Phil List

Data and Tech Associate

Phil List is the Data & Technology Associate. He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from NC State University. He continued studies in Philosophy and Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia for three years.

Starting in 2012, he worked at the Shodor Education Foundation: teaching computational science, coordinating the Blue Waters Student Internship Program, and writing software. Upon moving to the Middle East, he worked as a software engineer until joining IRAP in 2016.

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.

Hady Matar

Jordan Program Manager

Hady Matar is the Jordan Legal Services Coordinator based out of IRAP’s Amman, Jordan office. Hady is a 2015 graduate of Georgetown Law with roots in the Middle East.

During law school, Hady represented a pair of brothers in defensive asylum proceedings in Georgetown Law’s asylum law clinic, the Center for Applied Legal Studies. While his concern for refugees and refugee law predates the clinic, this experience sparked his interest in refugee rights within the American legal system. At Georgetown, he was a staff member of the Georgetown Journal of International Law and represented Georgetown at the Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition.

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Hady graduated from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 2011 with a B.A. in History. His senior thesis focused on media coverage of American foreign policy towards South African apartheid during the mid-1970s.

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Katy Montoya

Intake Caseworker

Katy Montoya is the Intake Caseworker at IRAP’s Jordan office. She received her B.A. in Political Science and Islamic Studies from Swarthmore College. She studied Arabic with the University of Virginia-Yarmouk University program in Irbid, Jordan during the summer of 2013 and also as a CASA fellow (Center for Arabic Study Abroad) from 2015-2016 in Amman, Jordan. During this time, she interned at IRAP as an intake volunteer. She spent two summers doing fieldwork research on Syrian-led humanitarian initiatives in Jordan among urban refugees through the Institut de recherches et d’études sur le monde arabe et musulman. She published her research on Jadaliyya and other platforms for journalism and research on the Arab World.

Sally Salem

Social Worker

Sally Salem is a Social Worker 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, Harvard Human Rights Program Satter Fellow

Peter Nash Stavros is a Staff Attorney and the Harvard Human Rights Program Satter Fellow at 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.

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

Team 4
Team 3
Team 2
Team 1