World-Class Talent, Global Impact
As a Transitional Justice Researcher at Dejusticia, a Colombian NGO based in Bogotá, as well as an associate researcher at the UKRI GCRF Gender, Justice and Security Hub. Currently, Aaron’s work focuses on corporate accountability for economic actors in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and victims’ access to land restitution in Colombia’s land restitution process.
Before being employed by Dejusticia, Aaron spent a year with the program as a Promise Institute for Human Rights Fellow, where he researched transitional justice issues and International Humanitarian Law in the Colombian context.
Natasha works in the Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. She writes briefs for and argues cases before federal appellate courts on a variety of civil rights issues, including housing and employment discrimination, police brutality, desegregation in schools, hate crimes, and much more.
Prior to this, Natasha clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Nashville) and in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). She also served as an Appellate Advocacy Fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, D.C.
Looking back on her time at UCLA, “It was through the Promise Institute as well as the International and Comparative Law Program’s (ICLP) many courses and events that I built relationships which have helped me pursue my dreams of being a human rights lawyer on both a domestic and international level.”
Using her International and Comparative Law Specialization, Laura has worked for the UK-based legal charity, Reprieve. Reprieve supports individuals facing extreme human rights abuses, including the death penalty and abusive counter-terror measures such as arbitrary detention and torture. As part of their Secret Prisons Team, Laura provided legal and investigative support to clients detained in North East Syria and Guantanamo Bay, and assists former Guantanamo Bay detainees as they try to rebuild their lives.
Of her time at UCLA Law, Laura says “I would not be where I am today without the support of the Promise Institute and the UCLA International and Comparative Law Program. Through UCLA, I was able to take a range of human rights courses that have proved crucial to my professional development. I also conducted research for Professor Aslı Bâli, spent a semester at the UN OHCHR, interned at a grassroots organization in Benin, and served as rapporteur at a human rights conference in Nepal. Finally, I began my career at Reprieve as an inaugural Promise Institute Fellow.
“Today, I continue to benefit from the support and advice of professors and administrators within the Promise Institute and the International and Comparative Law Program. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had at UCLA and to be in a position where I can meaningfully work on issues I care deeply about.”
As a Legal Trainee on the Migration team of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and as a Legal Researcher with the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), Amanda is using strategic litigation to challenge border violence, pushbacks, racial discrimination and other human rights violations in the context of migration.
She credits the faculty of the Promise Institute with giving her the skills, knowledge, exposure and mentorship to pursue this work, and thanks Professor Achiume in particular for the relevant guidance extended in her International Human Rights Law clinic and course and her semesters of supervision on independent research. Amanda regards Professor Achiume’s teaching as having significantly advanced her work on the intersections of race and migration and as having equipped her to file a recent communication with the UN Human Rights Committee, where she was GLAN’s lead author of a complaint filed against Greece alleging the enforced disappearance of a Syrian refugee.
Graduating with a specialization in Critical Race Studies, International and Comparative Law, and Public Interest Law and Policy, Amanda was a recipient of the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law & UC Office of the President Public Service Law Fellowship.
During law school, Amanda worked with various organizations on projects relating to statelessness, sea rescue, immigration and asylum services, and human rights accountability in global migration governance. She served as a Research Assistant for the Promise Institute during her 2L and 3L years and was the founding editor of the Promise Human Rights Blog.
Presently, Kathleen is a Staff Attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. Within the Immigrant Children’s Protection Project, she represents unaccompanied children who are applying for asylum and other forms of immigration relief.
The international and comparative law staff at UCLA inspired Kathleen to pursue her interests in international human rights and refugee law. With the support of her fellow students and alumni, she interned at the OHCHR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She also did a semester of law school abroad at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.
Having specialized in International and Comparative Law, Kathleen also received the Morris Greenspan Memorial Prize for top performance in international law among the graduating class. After law school, Kathleen received the support of UCLA Law as a Public Interest Fellow and worked with a local non-governmental organization in Benin doing international human rights and refugee law.
Kathleen then did tenant eviction defense in New York City Housing Court with the Legal Aid Society. Next, she consulted at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.
Now a Skadden Fellow, Grace reflected “As my time at UCLA Law comes to an end, I am so incredibly grateful for the people who helped me not only survive law school, but come to thrive and to be able to do my dream work upon graduation. I am especially thankful to the Native community at UCLA Law, including students, professors, and alumni. They guided and supported me every step of the way. And as always, I am forever grateful for my mother, who paved a path for me to succeed, for my siblings, and for my relatives and ancestors. I am able to imagine and work towards a better world because of them.”
As Human Rights in the Americas Project Director Joseph Berra noted, “Grace is that special combination of activist, advocate and scholar that will go on to have real impact in her career after law school. She displayed those talents as my research assistant on various Promise projects, and is an inspiration for her commitment to her community, to carceral abolition, to Native American reparation and healing. I look forward to following her work on restoration justice as a Skadden fellow with the Tribal Law and Policy Institute here in Los Angeles.”
Lucía Chibán Zamar
Currently serving as the Policy and National Campaigns Fellow at Equal Rights Advocates, Lucía said “Pursuing my LL.M. at UCLA has been an important stepping stone in my career to grow both personally and professionally. It has opened the door to academic excellence, and to the possibility to strengthen and globalize my network of colleagues and professionals in my field. During my program, I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant at the Promise Institute, which has been an incredibly rewarding experience to delving deeper into human rights topics. I am confident all the knowledge and skills attained at UCLA will serve me for the next step in my professional career while also contributing to projects that could have a real impact on gender justice.”
“I truly enjoyed my time/sabbatical at UCLA Law as part of the MLS program, focusing on public interest law courses, including international human rights law and political asylum and refugee law. Since graduation, I’ve returned to UNHCR and am currently heading a field office in Irbid, Jordan, where we provide protection and assistance to refugees.”
Mara Gonzalez Souto
As Mara is starting her new role,Assistant Federal Defender with the Federal Defenders of San Diego, she reflected on her time at UCLA Law. “From my first semester of 1L year to the very last one, the Promise Institute and its faculty exposed me to a myriad of classes, real-world volunteer experiences, clinics and research projects. These deepened my interest in human rights and transnational criminal law. I felt especially honored to work with community members in Honduras, as well as immigrant clients in the Human Rights Litigation Clinic. My doctrinal classes were no less engaging; I had professors that were visibly passionate about their work and who took the time and effort to educate thoughtfully and innovatively. There is so much of that learning, inside and outside the classroom, that has stayed with me. I cannot wait to take it with me on my journey as a lawyer.”
Currently working as the UCLA Center for Immigration Law and Policy’s Law Fellow, Astghik previously worked with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) as an intern in the Human Mobility Project. That work involved a number of issues related to migration in Mesoamerica, such as the impact of COVID-19 on immigration detention centers and the Asylum Cooperative Agreements the U.S. has entered into with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
While a student at UCLA Law, Astghik was closely affiliated with the Promise Institute, taking part in the Human Rights in Action Clinic International Field Experience in Honduras, competing in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition and working on a variety of Promise Institute projects.
Our Promise Institute for Human Rights Fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Janina shared “I am so grateful for the unparalleled opportunities that UCLA offered me and the support that I received from the Promise Institute for Human Rights. I learned very much and was welcomed with open arms by the student body and the staff. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling LLM experience- ranging from so many human rights course offerings, two human rights clinics, moot court competitions, journal, and the opportunity to support incredible professors through research assistantships.
“Such opportunities enabled me to deepen my knowledge and experience in the human rights field. After graduation, I look forward to fulfilling a long-held dream of mine to work for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as the next Promise Institute for Human Rights Fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.”
Paula is currently undertaking a prestigious fellowship at the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (ESCER) at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. There she is conducting research on the situation of ESCER in the Americas, drafting country reports, as well as press releases. Additionally, she is supporting a project to develop guidelines and standards from the Inter-American System on climate change from a human rights perspective.
With a specialization in Human Rights and in International and Comparative Law at UCLA, Paula was also the recipient of the Promise Institute LL.M. award for outstanding contributions to the field of human rights upon graduation.
Now a Housing Justice Fellow at Inner City Law Center, Shyann reflected on her time at UCLA Law. “I’m so grateful for the Promise Institute’s support and guidance throughout law school! Participating in the Human Rights Litigation clinic and taking classes on international human rights law will be invaluable as I move into my career hoping to find domestic applications for international human rights law in the United States.”
Madhavi is spending her first year after UCLA Law in a Post-Graduate Fellowship with Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa. “Without a doubt, the Promise Institute is the reason I was able to complete law school. In an environment focused on racing towards rules and “objective” frameworks, the Promise Institute’s faculty and staff center the human experience before the law. The Promise Institute pushed me not only to identify the ways in which the law has maintained hierarchies of global power, but also be creative in finding how it can be used as a tool for solidarity and collective liberation. I am truly grateful for the past three years with this incredible community, and look forward to the years to come as an alum.”
Since graduation, Andrew has taken up a position as a Fellow with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “The Promise Institute really played a vital role in helping me to launch my career in international human rights law. I believe that the opportunities that Promise offered to make connections with those working in the field, along with providing courses and activities reflecting the variety of approaches to advancing human rights, gave me a unique and valuable introduction to human rights law.
“Furthermore, the Promise faculty’s enthusiasm and personal attention ensured that I was able to make the most of the events, opportunities, and connections that they offered. Perhaps most importantly, they also built an incredible community allowing similarly inclined law students to connect and build relationships that I know will be invaluable resources as we all move forward in practicing human rights law.”
Embarking on his next chapter as a Law Clerk in the Higher Regional Court of Berlin, Simon shared “It’s hard to condense the impact of Promise into a single sentence. Of course, I met fantastic friends and mentors and there more speakers than I can count whose talks made me change my perspective on the world around me. But right now, I am heading towards two years of rigorous training in German law. The people at Promise showed me that it’s about leaving a mark wherever I find myself.”
After graduation, Rachel is serving as a Legal Fellow at Reprieve. “I am thankful that the Promise Institute has been an integral part of my UCLA Law School experience. The amazing staff and professors have shown me that a career in international human rights law is attainable and have provided incredible support.
I am forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences that the Promise community has offered. With those experiences, I know that I am better equipped to practice law using critical and creative approaches.”
After becoming a member of the New York Bar, Ben moved to Geneva, Switzerland to pursue further studies and to seek career opportunities in international organizations. He currently works for the Business and Human Rights Unit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In that position, Ben leads the work of the office’s Accountability and Remedy Project, which seeks to enhance accountability and access to remedy in cases of business-related human rights abuse.
Ben is also part of the secretariat of an intergovernmental working group tasked with elaborating an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. UCLA Law provided Ben the substantive knowledge and practical experiences needed to engage in international human rights legal work. Ben credits the invaluable support of the faculty, and the connections he made through events and friendships, at UCLA Law for his career opportunities.
Currently an attorney at Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP in Pasadena, Tanya specializes in civil rights, employment, and international human rights law. Prior to joining the firm, Tanya clerked for the Honorable Dena Hanovice Palermo of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She previously worked as a civil rights attorney at the Law Offices of Dale K. Galipo on cases involving police excessive force, prisoner rights, and wrongful convictions.
Straight out of law school, Tanya worked as a Legal Fellow and then as a Program Officer at Equality Now in New York and Kenya, where she represented victims of gender-based violence in impact litigation cases before international human rights tribunals including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She also engaged in policy advocacy to end violence against women and girls and improve their access to justice in over 40 countries around the world.
While at UCLA Law, Tanya worked with the U.S. Department of State monitoring cases involving war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague, non-profits in both California and South Africa aimed at ending gender-based violence, and another prominent civil rights law firm in California on cases involving torture and other international human rights violations.
After three years of serving the UNHCR in Washington DC, Shireen moved back to Los Angeles to start her own law firm. In her practice, she advises businesses and startups on international agreements and treaties affecting their operation in a wide range of industries, including entertainment and art.
With a specialization in International and Comparative Law, Shireen is one of the first recipients of the Promise Institute Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) following her graduation. Working as a Refugee Status Determination (RSD) Associate, Shireen adjudicated refugee claims lodged in the Caribbean region, and led the region’s strategic litigation efforts.
The Promise Institute Fellowship was integral in Shireen’s career trajectory; it gave her the opportunity to start a career in international law, and eventually led to her admission at the University of Oxford, where she earned her Master of Studies in international human rights law.
“I continue to apply a human rights framework in my current position as a Staff Attorney at Rubicon Programs, a Bay Area based nonprofit focused on the intersections of economic, racial, and criminal justice. I am responsible for a broad range of civil legal services as a part of an integrated team of legal, financial, employment, and mental health professionals dedicated to providing holistic services to our participants.
Of her time at UCLA Law, Jess noted: “As an active International and Comparative Law Program (ICLP) student, I gained a substantive foundation and robust legal skillset (in and out of the classroom) related to human rights. Immediately following graduation, and with the instrumental support of ICLP faculty, I secured a fellowship with an international human rights nonprofit working to address access to justice issues, predominantly within the Inter-American and African regional human rights systems.
“In the wake of the 2016 United States presidential election, I turned my attention to domestic human rights. I worked to amplify the impact of rural legal service and community-based organizations and to provide urgent immigration and criminal justice direct legal services.
“What strikes me as I look back on my journey so far is how much the connections I made through UCLA helped me navigate a particular corner of the law, human rights law, that I find immensely rewarding. In an under resourced sector, with comparatively low compensation and high competition, those connections truly make the difference — whether it’s an email or conversation about a job posting, a letter of recommendation, a networking opportunity, or mentorship and support, these connections have been incredibly valuable to me personally, and professionally.”
Having graduated with specializations in International and Comparative Law, Critical Race Studies, and Public Interest Law and Policy, Kristi is currently a Staff Attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles’s Right to Counsel Workgroup, where she represents indigent clients to expand access to justice and prevent homelessness.
Previously, she was the Promise Institute for Human Rights Fellow in Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division, where she advocated against xenophobic violence and barriers to basic services experienced by asylum seekers, refugees, and other migrants in South Africa.
Reflecting on her time in law school, she says, “I owe so much to the Promise Institute and International and Comparative Law Program. Their programming and faculty introduced me to critical scholarship such as Third World Approaches to International Law and supported me to pursue a wide range of experiences to develop my skillset as a human rights lawyer domestically and internationally. With their support and encouragement, I competed in the Jean Pictet International Humanitarian Law Competition, participated in an oral advocacy simulation at the International Criminal Court, and networked at international law conferences around the world. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I have had and continue to have through the Promise Institute and International and Comparative Law Program.”