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.
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.
Kristine Rembach is the Director of Complementary Pathways at IRAP. In this role, Kristine leads IRAP’s development of legal assistance pilot programs focused on family reunification, humanitarian visas, and other complementary pathways to safety for refugees.
Prior to joining IRAP, Kristine was 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. Before joining RLAP, Kristine was a litigation partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in Washington, DC.
Kristine graduated with highest honors from the George Washington University Law School and received a B.S. from Boston College.
Kristine is a member of the District of Columbia bar.
Charlotte Bertal Nasser is the Europe Legal Program Manager at IRAP. In this role, Charlotte is in charge of IRAP’s program for Europe, including the development of Complementary Pathways opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers to European countries.
Charlotte previously held the position of Syria Case Manager at the IRAP Lebanon Office for three years. Prior to joining IRAP, Charlotte worked for the UNHCR Resettlement Unit in Lebanon and for the French Asylum Agency as a Protection Officer. She also held the position of Humanitarian Officer at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Charlotte co-founded the non-profit “Yalla! For Kids” aimed at providing free quality education and psychosocial support to Syrian refugee children.
Charlotte holds a Master’s Degree in International Public Law from the University of Paris 2 Assas and a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid from the University of Aix-Marseille 3. She also graduated in Arabic Language and Oriental Studies at the University of Aix-Marseille 1.
Julia Kessler is the Project Manager with IRAP’s Complementary Pathways team. In this role, Julia assists the Legal Services Department in piloting and building sustainable legal assistance projects for refugees seeking relocation through family reunification and other complementary pathways.
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 holds an M.A. in Global Affairs from New York University, 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. in Middle East and North African Studies from the University of Michigan.
Intake & Legal Information
Manal El Khoury is an ILI caseworker. In this role she screens and responds to inquiries from individuals requesting assistance in refugee resettlement and other immigration processes, and conducts intake interviews with refugees and/or other vulnerable persons remotely or in-person.
Prior to joining IRAP, Manal started working in the humanitarian field as a Community Nutrition Promoter with Relief International. She was part of a mobile medical team performing screenings of the nutritional status of children under five and pregnant/lactating women in their designated location (tents and informal settlements). In 2016, Manal started working as a caseworker/acting unit team leader at ICMC Resettlement Support Center Turkey and Middle East. She conducted interviews and prepared refugee files for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), following the guidelines set forth by USRAP.
Manal holds an M.A. Degree in Political and Administrative Sciences from the Lebanese University. She also holds a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Holy Spirit University, Kaslik. Manal is fluent in Arabic, French and English.
Tania El Khoury is an ILI Caseworker at IRAP. In this role, Tania talks to refugees and displaced people from all over the world to screen requests for legal assistance.
Prior to joining IRAP, Tania was a caseworker at ICMC Resettlement Support Center Turkey and Middle East. She interviewed hundreds of refugees and prepared their files for resettlement to the U.S. She also managed the USRAP P3 program. Before switching to humanitarian work, Tania was a research intern at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, a think tank at the American University of Beirut.
Tania went to law school at the Saint Joseph University in Beirut and holds a Master 1 equivalent in Public Law. She is currently pursuing a MicroMasters in Project Management. Tania is fluent in Arabic, French, and English.
Tiba Fatli is an ILI Caseworker at IRAP. In this role, Tiba supports the Intake and Legal Information team in screening and responding to inquiries from individuals requesting assistance in refugee resettlement and other migration processes, and facilitating legal counseling and information to refugees and asylum seekers.
Prior to joining IRAP, Tiba worked with research institutions and international organizations including the Danish Refugee Council in Duhok, Iraq and the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies in Cairo, Egypt. Most recently, Tiba worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Cairo as a Liaison Associate, where she researched and drafted reports on statelessness in the Arab region and worked with the League of Arab States on drafting a regional agreement to eradicate and prevent statelessness.
Tiba holds a B.A. in International Relations from the State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.A. in Migration and Refugee Studies with a focus on international law from the American University in Cairo. Tiba has been awarded an Andrew Mellon research fellowship to conduct research on environmental change and forced movements in the Arab region. She speaks Arabic and English.
Middle East Legal Services – Jordan
Ra’ed Almasri is a Caseworker at IRAP Jordan. Ra’ed’s role focuses on interviewing, interpreting for and liaising with vulnerable refugee populations with the goal of providing them with resettlement-related legal services.
In addition to his role as Caseworker, Ra’ed leverages his background in IT and data management to support IRAP’s Jordan-based field office with continually adapting and improving its case management system, and measuring service delivery and impact. Before joining IRAP, Ra’ed worked briefly within a number of fields, including data retention and archiving assistant at a VPN and IT service provider, and as a fixer and interpreter for Swedish documentary project about the Middle East.
Ra’ed holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Jordan, trained in Psycho-Social Case Management at the Jesuit Refugee Services, and earned a Social Work Diploma with a focus on refugees and migration from the German Jordanian University. Ra’ed also serves as a translator and interpreter in both English and Arabic.
Faten Khalil is the Program and Operations Assistant at IRAP Jordan. In this role, Faten assists the Jordan Program and Operations Director in the day to day Office Operations and Management.
Prior to joining IRAP, Faten performed the role of Office Manager at the Center for Victims of Torture CVT Jordan, CVT works with War and Torture Survivors by providing them with Psychosocial Counselling, Physiotherapy and Social Services. Prior to CVT, Faten worked in a number of companies in the Private Sector in Jordan as an HR Officer.
Faten holds a B.Sc in Hotels Management from Jordan Applied University for Hospitality and Tourism Education and a Diploma in Tourism Services from Al Arabia College.
Reem Quttineh is a Caseworker at IRAP Jordan, where she supports IRAP’s efforts in delivering resettlement-related legal services to vulnerable refugee populations.
Hailing from a background in minority rights, advocacy, PR and strategic communications, Reem has worked within different capacities with organizations such as, but not limited to, Rainbow Street, an international NGO that provides a lifeline for exceptionally vulnerable LGBT people in the MENA region, and Trans*Jordan, a grassroots initiative that works closely with professionals across the medical, psychiatric, educational, legal and employment fields to ensure that non-binary Jordanians can access the same opportunities and services as other citizens.
Reem studied at the University of Wollongong in Dubai and graduated from intensive training programs conducted by the National Democratic Institute, Swedish Institute, and Arab Foundation for Freedoms & Equality. She has and continues to serve as a translator and interpreter in both English and Arabic.
Peter Stavros is a Staff Attorney at IRAP’s Jordan office.
Prior to joining IRAP, Peter was a fellow at UNICEF’s Jordan Country Office Child Protection Section. He has 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., and the International Program at Earthjustice in San Francisco. Peter has previously taught Environmental Law and Policy at Boston College and currently teaches Forced Migration and Refugee Studies in Arabic at Middlebury College.
Peter received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was co-director of IRAP’s Harvard Chapter. He was also a student attorney at the International Human Rights Clinic and the Harvard Immigration Project. Peter studied at the Hague Academy of International Law, obtained a certificate in Transnational Law from the University of Geneva, and took classes at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Peter received his Honors B.A. from the University of Toronto.
Peter is a member of the New York bar.
Trinh Tran is a Senior Staff Attorney at IRAP’s Jordan office.
Prior to joining IRAP, Trinh managed the legal services program at Sauti Yetu Center for African Women and Families, a New York non-profit providing holistic services to African immigrants. Her work included representing survivors of violence and sexual assault in family, matrimonial, and immigration matters. Trinh’s advocacy got her appointed to the Advisory Council on Immigration Issues in Family Court and Advisory Committee on Language Access. Trinh’s publications include Mis-Matched: Taking a State Approach to Enforcing the Growing International Matchmaking Industry and More People to Listen: Legal and Social Services Needs of Bronx Communities Affected by Intimate Partner Violence. Trinh is an alumnus of the Coro New York Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
Trinh received her J.D. from Hofstra Law School where she was awarded the Distinguished Service to the School Award. She was a student attorney in the Political Asylum Clinic, president of the Asian American Law Students Association and managing editor of the Family Court Review law journal. Trinh received her B.A. in International Affairs and Anthropology from The George Washington University.
Trinh is a member of the New York bar.
Middle East Legal Services – Lebanon
Firas Abi Ghanem is the Lebanon Programs and Operations Director at IRAP. In this role, Firas is responsible for ensuring smooth and effective operations in accordance with Lebanese laws, and maintaining and developing IRAP programs in Lebanon.
Prior to joining IRAP, Firas worked for six years with INTERSOS – an Italian humanitarian organization – managing the quality department, government relations, communications, complaint mechanism and investigations, in addition to contributing to donor relations and strategic programming.
During the past 15 years, Firas has been active in Lebanese civil society, in the fields of environment, education, and human rights, with particular involvement in campaigning for the rights of female migrant domestic workers in Lebanon.
In his spare time, Firas runs ‘Firas Yatbokh’, a cooking event that promotes cultural exchange through food and music.
Firas holds an M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding from the University of Bradford, U.K., and a B.A. in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut. In 2008, he was awarded the Chevening Fellowship from the British Council in Beirut.
Prior to joining IRAP, Imani was a student at Harvard Law School, where 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. Imani 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 DOJ’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions section. Before graduate school, she worked at the Ford Foundation and at Think Unlimited in Amman, Jordan.
Imani graduated cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an M.A. in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She graduated with distinction from Stanford University with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Arabic.
Sally Salem is the Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator at IRAP. In this role, Sally leads IRAP’s Humanitarian Assistance referral system in IRAP’s Lebanon office.
Prior to joining IRAP, Sally has volunteered and worked in Lebanon with various international and local nonprofits, non-governmental organizations, and charitable associations providing humanitarian aid assistance to refugees in camps. Later, she established and managed a school for Syrian refugee children for the Jesuit Refugee Services and then for Jusoor, where the main goal was highlighting the importance of education for children between 5 to 15 years old.
Sally holds a B.A. in Translation and Interpretation from the University of Damascus. During her career she obtained many training accomplishment certificates in the fields of gender-based violence, narrative exposure therapy for survivors of trauma, and case management.
Wendy Fu is IRAP’s Director of Pro Bono. 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.
Prior to joining IRAP, Wendy was 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 was part of the antitrust practice group and also 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 with the AIDS Legal Referral Panel in San Francisco and the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Honolulu.
Wendy is a member of the New York bar.
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 interned in the case management department of a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. She also worked on the program management team at Pratham Education Foundation, an education non-profit in New Delhi, India.
Charlotte graduated phi beta kappa and summa cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Sociology. After college, Charlotte taught English in rural South Korea on a Fulbright grant. She also spent a year working with Roma youth in Serbia. Charlotte received her M.A. in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, where she earned a certificate in Global Social Development Practice focusing on forced migration.
U.S. Legal Services
Stephen Poellot is the Legal Strategy Director at IRAP. In this role, Stephen leads IRAP’s commitment to developing new and innovative areas of practice, expertise, and legal strategy in refugee law.
Stephen was a founding director of IRAP during his first year at Yale Law School. Prior to law school, Stephen was an investigator at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and worked at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University of Cairo. During law school, 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. He is currently a visiting clinical lecturer in law at Yale Law School and has taught refugee law at Fordham University School of Law.
Stephen holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. from Columbia College. He is a member of the New York bar.
Lamya Agarwala is a Staff Attorney with the Legal Services Department at IRAP. In this role, Lamya provides direct legal assistance to refugees and displaced persons globally.
Prior to joining IRAP, she was a fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. In law school, Lamya served as the chapter director for the NYU Law IRAP chapter, was a student attorney with the Federal Defenders of New York, and externed with the Policing Project at NYU. Lamya also interned with Kids in Need of Defense, where she served unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings. She additionally interned with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security program, conducting research for policy reports and litigation.
Lamya holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior, as well as in Criminology, Law, and Society, from the University of California, Irvine.
Lamya is a member of the New York bar.
Jennifer Babaie is a Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s Legal Services Department. In this role she focuses on representing refugees and other displaced people, and provides expertise and guidance to pro bono teams working on IRAP-referred cases. She also supervises other staff in the Legal Services Department at IRAP.
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. Before law school, she managed the volunteer program and resettlement case docket for the International Rescue Committee in San Jose, California.
During law school, Jennifer spent a year working with the U.N. International Law Commission developing research on states duties to prevent and prosecute crimes against humanity. She recently authored a chapter in A Practical Guide to Using International Human Rights and Criminal Law Procedures focused on how human rights defenders may engage with European human rights institutions.
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. She speaks Greek and Assyrian, and is learning Spanish.
Jennifer is a member of the California bar.
Mary Dahdouh is a Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Legal Services Department. In this role, Mary provides direct legal representation to IRAP clients seeking resettlement through a number of U.S.-based and international immigration processes.
Prior to joining IRAP, Mary received her Juris Doctor from the University of California – Berkeley School of Law, where she focused on international human rights and refugee law. During law school, Mary served as the chapter director for the Berkeley Law IRAP chapter, interned with the Berkeley Law International Human Rights Law Clinic, and was 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 worked 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.
In addition to her J.D., Mary holds a B.A. in journalism, English literature, and political philosophy from the University of Houston.
She is a member of the New York bar.
Liliana Fajardo Cantero is the Legal Support Manager in the Legal Services Department. In this role, Liliana provides case management support and oversees legal support staff based in the U.S.
Before joining IRAP, Liliana worked for the Protection and Legal Affairs Department of the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, where she managed immigration and criminal cases, assisting unaccompanied children and incarcerated Mexican nationals in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey. Liliana’s previous experiences include being a Youth Delegate for the Mexican Delegation at the United Nations and a research assistant at the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington D.C.
Liliana holds a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne in Australia, with a focus on International Law and Human Rights, and a Bachelor of Laws from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Stephanie Gee is a Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s Legal Services Department. She previously served as IRAP’s Jordan Office Director, managing the team based in our Amman office.
Prior to joining IRAP, she was a Robert L. Bernstein Fellow at Human Rights Watch. Her research and advocacy focused on refugees’ right to education, access to asylum, and the importance of global responsibility-sharing amidst unprecedented levels of displacement.
Stephanie holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was a student director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and an editor of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. She was also a member of Yale’s IRAP chapter and the Legal Services for Immigrant Communities Clinic. She interned with IRAP in Amman, the Mental Disability Advocacy Center in Budapest, and the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition in Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. in English from Williams College, where she also completed a Jewish Studies concentration and studied advanced Arabic.
Stephanie is a member of the Maryland bar.
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 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.
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. Sara’s senior thesis focused on the social performativity of undocumentedness and the legal precarity of naturalized citizenship. Sara is an alumnus 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.
Julie Kornfeld is a Staff Attorney at IRAP in the Legal Services Department. In this role, Julie directly represents refugees and other persecuted individuals to help them navigate their legal pathways to safety. Julie also trains and mentors IRAP’s law firm and student attorneys to represent and advocate on behalf of refugees.
Before joining IRAP, Julie was a Program and Refugee Asylum Law Fellow at the Human Rights Watch, an extern at Lawyers for Human Rights in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a Dean’s Public Interest Fellow at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Caribbean Protection Unit. Julie has also represented human trafficking survivors through the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Clinic. Prior to her legal career, Julie worked for a development NGO in Kampala, addressing the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons throughout Uganda.
Julie holds a B.S. in Social Policy, Political Science, and Global Health from Northwestern University and received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She is currently a visiting clinical lecturer in law at Yale Law School.
Julie is a member of the District of Columbia bar.
Alaa Majeed is a Casework Coordinator in the Legal Services Department. With extensive experience working with refugees and the displaced since 2004, she has volunteered and worked with various international non-profit and non-governmental organizations, as well as news outlets as a reporter, translator, cultural consultant and researcher. Among the non-profit and NGOs is the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Arab-American Family Support Center, International Rescue Committee, Global Exchange, People in Need, Voices in The Wilderness, and Nature Iraq. She reported on human rights, women and children, and refugee issues in war-torn Iraq for various international media outlets, such as The Christian Science Monitor, Al-Jazeera English, National Public Radio, The New Yorker, United Press International, The Independent, The Sunday Times,CBS 60 Minutes, The Nation, and Free Speech Radio News. She was featured in many American newspapers and magazines, as well as radio stations.
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.
Megan McDonough is a Supervising Attorney at IRAP. In this role, Megan supervises Staff Attorneys in IRAP’s Legal Services Department and provides legal representation to refugees and humanitarian migrants.
Prior to joining IRAP, Megan provided direct legal services to refugees and displaced people in various jurisdictions globally. Most recently, she was based in Southeast Asia with Asylum Access, leading legal teams in advocating for increased refugee rights and protections. She also worked at St. Andrew’s Refugee Services in Cairo, Egypt, where she represented clients in UNHCR refugee status determination procedures. Megan began her legal career as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, assisting elderly and disabled refugees in obtaining U.S. citizenship, as well as representing immigrant survivors of domestic violence under the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA).
Megan received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, where she graduated with Pro Bono Honors. Megan attended university at Emmanual College where she majored in Political Science and Global Studies.
Megan is a member of the Massachusetts bar.
Amira Mikhail is a Staff Attorney at IRAP in the Legal Services Department, where she represents refugees and displaced individuals in seeking safety and reuniting with their family members. She also trains and mentors pro bono attorneys and students to represent and advocate on behalf of refugees and immigrants.
Amira 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. Prior to joining IRAP, Amira worked as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy and as a legal fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
Amira 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 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 and is bilingual in Arabic and English.
Amira is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bars.
Jennifer Patota is a Supervising Attorney in the Legal Services Department at IRAP. In this role, Jennifer represents individual clients from around the world, provides expertise and guidance to pro bono legal teams working on IRAP-referred cases, and supervises other staff in the Legal Services Department at IRAP.
Prior to joining IRAP, Jennifer was an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP and Pryor Cashman LLP, where her pro bono work included representation of immigrant women in abusive relationships in their self-petitions for lawful permanent residency pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act and assisting Holocaust survivors with applications for reparations from the German government.
Jennifer holds a B.A. in Linguistics from Brown University and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. Additionally at Fordham University School of Law, Jennifer was selected to Order of the Coif and served as a Senior Notes & Articles Editor on the Fordham Urban Law Journal.
Jennifer is a member of the New York bar.
Marissa Ram is a Senior Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Legal Services Department. She assists individuals navigating refugee recognition, resettlement, and visa application processes though mentorship of pro bono teams and in-house representation.
Prior to joining IRAP, Marissa co-produced “Refugee RealTalk,” a podcast featuring conversations with refugees in Berlin, Germany. She was a 2013-2015 Equal Justice Works Fellow at the New York Legal Assistance Group’s LGBTQ Law Project and Safe Horizon Anti-Trafficking Program, where she represented LGBTQ youth and immigrants in a variety of civil legal matters, as well as employment, immigration, and family law cases.
Marissa is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Law. She represented asylum seekers and refugees in indefinite detention as a UC Human Rights Center Fellow with the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties in Sydney, Australia. Before 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 conducted research on freedom of expression while in residence at Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
Marissa is a member of the New York bar.
Mariko Hirose is the Litigation Director at IRAP. In this role, Mariko founded IRAP’s litigation department and manages its team of staff dedicated to bringing impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
Prior to joining IRAP, Mariko litigated a broad range of individual and class-action civil rights cases at the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Outten & Golden LLP. She also taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law, where she co-led a clinic, and at the Fordham University School of Law. She clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Mariko is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Yale University. Before law school, she served as a Yale-China Teaching Fellow. She speaks frequently about her work and has published essays, including Refugee Litigation in the Trump Era: Protecting Overseas Humanitarian Migrants in U.S. Courts, which appeared in the Stanford Law Review Online.
Mariko is a member of the New York bar.
Deepa Alagesan is a Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation. She also supervises the department’s fellows and staff members.
Before joining IRAP, Deepa was a litigation associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where her practice included representing noncitizens in removal proceedings or applying for T-visas pro bono.
Deepa is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. She served as a law clerk for the Honorable Kiyo A. Matsumoto of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the Honorable Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Deepa is a member of the New York and Massachusetts bars.
Kathryn Austin is a Litigation Staff Attorney at IRAP. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
Before joining IRAP, Katie represented noncitizens in immigration court and before USCIS with the Legal Aid Society of Rochester, NY, and worked on false advertising and residential mortgage-backed securities litigation as an associate at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler LLP in New York.
Katie is a graduate of Harvard College, the University of Oxford, and Stanford Law School, where she was a member of IRAP’s SLS chapter. From 2013-2015, she clerked for the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse and the Honorable Susan L. Carney, both of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Katie is a member of the New York bar.
Geroline Castillo is the first inaugural Nierenberg International Refugee Assistance Project Fellow in IRAP’s litigation department. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
Geroline graduated cum laude from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she received a Jacob Burns Medal for her work in the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic and the Benjamin B. Ferencz Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic. She was also an editor of the Cardozo Law Review.
During law school, Geroline interned at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she provided litigation support for cases that focused on racial injustice and abusive immigration practices. She also interned at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative, where she provided direct legal services to individuals in removal proceedings detained in Folkston, Georgia.
Geroline earned a B.A. from Boston College in Sociology with a minor in International Studies, Ethics and Social Justice.
Justin Cox is a Senior Supervising Attorney in IRAP’s litigation department. In this role, he works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation. He also supervises the department’s litigation attorneys.
Prior to joining IRAP, Justin was a staff attorney at the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and an Arthur Liman fellow at CASA de Maryland. Following law school, Justin served as a law clerk for the Honorable Mark R. Kravitz of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and for the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Justin obtained a J.D. from Yale Law School, and he graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science. He is from a small town in Missouri, and he speaks Spanish.
Justin is a member of the Georgia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia bars.
Linda Evarts is a Litigation Staff Attorney at IRAP. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
Prior to joining IRAP, Linda was a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders, where she represented hundreds of indigent clients, tried six felony and misdemeanor cases, and successfully litigated numerous motions to suppress and motions to dismiss charges. After law school, Linda served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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. Prior to law school, Linda was a U.S. Student Fulbright Scholar in Bogotá, Colombia. Linda earned a B.A. from Brown University with Honors in Latin American Studies. Linda speaks Spanish.
Linda is a member of the New York bar.
Melissa Keaney is a Senior Staff Attorney in IRAP’s Litigation Department. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
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 refugees through impact litigation and advocacy, with a particular focus on issues related to law enforcement abuses.
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. Prior to law school Melissa worked for a Palestinian NGO, which brought her frequently to the Middle East where she developed a basic level of Arabic.
Melissa is a member of the California bar.
Serena Kumalmaz is a Paralegal in IRAP’s litigation department. In this role, she supports impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
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. Serena speaks Arabic.
Kate Meyer is a Litigation Staff Attorney at IRAP. In this role, she works on impact litigation in U.S. courts to advance and defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and other people in need of humanitarian relocation.
Prior to joining IRAP, Kate was a Legal Fellow at the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she brought impact litigation to advance the rights of pregnant and parenting workers and eliminate gender stereotypes in schools. During law school, Kate represented asylum seekers through the California Asylum Representation Clinic, counseled clients in the health practice of the East Bay Community Law Center, and was on the editorial board of the Berkeley Journal of Gender, Law & Justice.
Kate holds a J.D. from UC Berkeley School of Law and a B.A. cum laude in Government from Cornell University. Kate speaks Spanish.
Kate is a member of the New York bar.
Betsy Fisher is the Director of Strategy, supervising IRAP’s Policy, Communications, and Intake and Legal Information teams. In this role, 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. Prior to joining IRAP, she completed internships with UNHCR and IRAP in the United States, Jordan, and Iraqi Kurdistan. Betsy has published op-eds and academic articles about statelessness and refugee resettlement in publications like the New York Times and the Michigan Law Review.
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.
Betsy is a member of the Michigan and Minnesota bars.
Adam Bates is a Policy Counsel at IRAP. Based in Washington, D.C., Adam advocates for IRAP’s clients and mission in the nation’s capital.
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.
Adam is a member of the Oklahoma bar.
Farida El Hefni
New York City, USA
Farida is the Policy Assistant at IRAP. In this role she provides administrative and programmatic support to IRAP’s policy and communications work. Prior to joining IRAP, Farida was a Policy Fellow at Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. As an undergraduate student, Farida worked at a local community center in Athens, Greece assisting refugees seeking asylum in Europe with a particular focus on vulnerable populations.
During the spring of 2018, Farida was a visiting student at the American University of Beirut. It was during this time that she worked as a Research Intern at the European Center for Democracy and Human Rights, where she researched and drafted extensive reports regarding violations of medical impartiality. While in Lebanon, she conducted fieldwork for her Honors Thesis on the complexities of identity among second-generation Palestinian refugees living in Beirut’s refugee camps; she was awarded the Gerald E. Williams Memorial Prize for Culture & Communications for her work.
Farida holds a B.A. in Anthropology and History from the University of Rochester. Her first language is Arabic and she has volunteered as a translator and an ESL instructor for Arabic speaking populations.
Elizabeth Foydel is the Deputy Policy Director at IRAP. In this role, Elizabeth works on IRAP’s systemic advocacy to improve humanitarian immigration for refugees and other displaced persons, with particular focuses on U.S. administrative policy and on resettlement policies and complementary pathways abroad.
Prior to 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.
Elizabeth 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 IRAP chapter, Rwanda Legal Development Project, Journal of International Law, Human Rights Pro Bono Project, International Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic, and Sciences Po exchange program. During law school she interned with the Human Rights Institute and with Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program. She is fluent in French.
Elizabeth is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bars.
Henrike Dessaules is the Communications Director at IRAP. In this role, Henrike leads IRAP’s communications strategy and media relations.
Prior to joining IRAP, Henrike managed programs and communications at the Council for European Studies, a research institute at Columbia University promoting research on European policy and social affairs through international conferences, digital publications, and research grants. Before moving to New York, she also managed communications for the European Network for Women in Leadership in Paris, France.
Henrike holds an M.A. in North American Studies, History, and Literature from Freie Universität Berlin and has worked as a translator between English, German, and French. She has written numerous articles on the intersection of gender and migration and volunteered with New Women New Yorkers and Women’s Information Network.
Boris Alvarado-Gonzalez is the Digital Communications Coordinator at IRAP. In this role, he is in charge of IRAP’s digital and social media operations.
Prior to joining IRAP, Boris was the Development and Communications Coordinator at Centro Legal de la Raza, a legal services nonprofit in Oakland, CA that provides access to legal representation to low-income, immigrant, and Latino communities in Northern California. After graduating from college, he completed a marketing internship with NPR’s sponsorship division, National Public Media.
Boris received his B.A. in Political Science and Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and is fluent in English and Spanish.
Kelly Gramp is the Director of Development at IRAP. In this role, Kelly leads IRAP’s fundraising efforts and manages a team dedicated to cultivating a growing network of supporters and strengthening and sustaining the organization’s development program, including individual, corporate, and institutional fundraising support.
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 leading scientific research institution. Throughout her tenure at the American Committee, Kelly was responsible for executing national and international fundraising and leadership programs, which focused on advancing the organization in the areas of donor cultivation, education, and recognition. 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, where her studies and internships focused on nonprofit community engagement.
Tania is IRAP’s Development Coordinator. In this role, she supports the daily operations of the Development Department, including processing donations, responding to donor inquiries, and managing IRAP’s fundraising database.
Prior to joining IRAP, she spent two years 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 assisted with fundraising at the American Society of International Law.
Tania graduated summa cum laude from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University with a B.A. in political science and minors in European history and Italian. While at ASU, she founded the campus chapter of a national student advocacy organization, including leading the development of a bipartisan immigration reform proposal that was adopted as the basis for the national organization’s immigration policy platform.
Kate Jellema is the Assistant Director of Institutional Giving at IRAP. In this role, Kate manages a portfolio of foundations that provide support to IRAP.
Prior to joining IRAP, Kate was the Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont, where she led academic programs in sustainable business, nonprofit management, teaching English as a second language and teaching for social justice, and stewarded the College’s “Changemaker Campus” partnership with the Ashoka Foundation. Kate was also the founder and director of the Center for New Leadership, Vermont’s hub for social sector education and training, and the co-creator of Benchmarks for a Better Vermont, a statewide federally-funded initiative to strengthen social sector accountability. In these roles, Kate cultivated foundation support, led strategic fundraising initiatives, and managed a portfolio of private and federal donors.
Kate received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and her MA from Johns Hopkins, where her research, supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Social Science Research Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the National Science Foundation, examined the experience of Vietnamese asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Kate received her undergraduate degree with highest honors from the University of Michigan, where her thesis focused on the history of Mexican migrant farmworkers in Michigan.
Julia Ostroff is the Development Manager at IRAP. In this role, Julia manages a portfolio of donors and partners who provide support to IRAP.
Prior to joining IRAP, Julia held fundraising roles at PENCIL and the Food Bank for New York City, as well as Center Stage in Baltimore, Maryland. Throughout these roles, Julia was responsible for donor cultivation and recognition, including the coordination of sponsorship and volunteer engagement opportunities to support programming.
Julia received a B.A. in Peace Studies from Goucher College.
Sarah Vaughan Troyer is the Director of Institutional Giving at IRAP. In this role, Sarah leads IRAP’s grant writing and foundation fundraising efforts.
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. 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 B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from New York University.
Sarah Morton is IRAP’s Director of Operations. She keeps IRAP’s backend running, including human resources, finance, IT, facilities, and administration.
Sarah joined IRAP in June 2017. In the year before she was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Berlin, 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.
Sarah received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire where she was a Senior Fellow. Her M.A. in English Literature, with a specialty in Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change, is from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England.
Emmy Hammond is the Executive Assistant at IRAP. Her responsibilities include providing logistical, administrative, and research support to the Executive Director and the extended team of department directors as needed.
Before joining IRAP, Emmy interned with Land is Life, a global grassroots network of indigenous activists. While there, she collaborated directly with indigenous partners to promote indigenous rights and participation in national and international political spaces. As a recipient of the Cultural Vistas Fellowship, Emmy spent a summer interning at Fundación Leer, a children’s literacy organization in Buenos Aires. She also spent time in Beijing through a cross-cultural exchange fellowship sponsored by the Bank of China.
Emmy holds a B.A. in Political Science with minors in Spanish and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies from New York University.
Ashwed Patil is the Technology Systems Manager at IRAP. In this role, he is in charge of managing IRAP’s fundraising database and assists with general tech support and legal information management.
Prior to joining IRAP, Ashwed worked with Keshif, a tech startup in Washington DC, where he assisted with developing data analytics and visualization dashboards for various international nonprofit organizations and government agencies. He has also worked at the Indiana University Libraries, where he assisted with data-driven assessments of library operations and services. During his undergraduate studies in India, he volunteered with a local nonprofit as a tutor for low-income and underprivileged students.
Ashwed holds an M.S. in Information Science from Indiana University Bloomington; while there, he published a research paper about technology serving the information needs of refugees.
Ankita Suri is the Operations Manager at IRAP. In her role, she focuses on human resources, recruitment, IT and special projects. She also spearheads IRAP’s anti-oppression efforts.
Prior to joining IRAP, Ankita was a Program Manager at All Star Code where she managed and designed programs providing underrepresented youth populations the skills, networks and mindset to succeed in the tech industry. Previously, she coordinated scholarship and fellowship programs for human rights activists at the Open Society Foundations.
Ankita holds a B.A. in International Political Science, Sociology and Art History from the City University of New York – Baruch. During her time at Baruch, she interned at Medecins Sans Frontieres, Butterflies NGO – New Delhi, and the World Conference of Religions for Peace. More recently, she has participated in the Grantmaking Advisory Committee at the New York Women’s Foundation, and the Fellows Program Expert Working Group at the International Institute of Education.
Alice Wang is the Operations Coordinator at IRAP. In this role, Alice supports a variety of administrative functions, including human resources, finance, and information technology.
Prior to joining IRAP, Alice worked in Operations and Concert Production at Riverside Symphony, a professional freelance orchestra that regularly performs at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, among other venues.
She is an active volunteer with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, a Chinatown-based nonprofit that advocates for tenants’ rights in rent-stabilized and public housing, as well as language access for New York’s immigrant communities.
Alice holds an M.Phil. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge and completed her B.A. in German Studies and English Literature at Dartmouth College.