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2014-15 Gruber Fellows



The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School is proud to announce the 2014-2015 Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellows in Global Justice and Women’s Rights. This group of outstanding Yale graduates will work to advance the rights of diverse populations in a multitude of settings, including China, Latin America, Myanmar/Burma, Antigua and Barbuda, and the United States. Their projects tackle a wide range of critical issues, including LGBT rights, gender and the environment, global access to medicines, mass atrocities and international relations, microfinance, and immigrant domestic workers’ rights. The Gruber Fellows will work to develop innovative advocacy strategies, research, and policy recommendations with potentially far-reaching impact.

Hannah Brennan (Yale Law School ‘13)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

Hannah Brennan will work with Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Project to develop a human rights-based litigation strategy that seeks to expand access to medications. This litigation strategy will marshal novel right-to-health arguments to modify or invalidate key intellectual property (IP) laws in developing countries. The project will focus on the Latin American region, where most nations respect the right to health within their constitutions. The project’s outputs will be three-fold: a working brief articulating the legal arguments necessary to link the right to health to higher patentability thresholds and decreased data exclusivity; a report comparing the level of IP protection in various low- and middle-income countries and their potential receptivity to human rights-based litigation; and, most importantly, the initiation of such litigation in at least one country. Hannah will be based in Public Citizen’s Washington, D.C. office, and will conduct research in target Latin American countries. Prior to attending Yale Law School, Hannah was a Fulbright Scholar in Lima, Peru, where she studied human and labor rights abuses in the domestic housework industry. She also has worked for a variety of public health-oriented NGOs throughout Central and South America. Hannah is currently clerking on the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., which has appellate jurisdiction over all patent appeals.

Hilary Oliva Faxon (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies ‘13)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Women’s Rights

Hilary Oliva Faxon will work to implement the environment section of Myanmar’s first National Strategic Plan for Advancement of Women, which comes at a critical juncture in the country’s recent pivot towards human rights and democracy. Hilary’s fellowship placement is with the Local Resource Centre, a Myanmar non-governmental organization focused on building civil society capacity. She also will serve as technical advisor to the Gender Equity Network, which will provide a platform for cross-sector collaboration on the twin goals of women’s empowerment and sustainable development. Drawing upon her previous experience with community conservation and development in Bhutan and with women and water in Haiti, Hilary will initiate research and reports to inform how gender considerations might be incorporated into national environmental policies and programs. Hilary also will develop related workshops, educational curricula, and toolkits for government, civil society groups, and local communities. A graduate of both the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale College, Hilary aims to blend her academic background in environmental governance with practical experience in policymaking and community conservation to contribute to the successful implementation of Myanmar’s ground-breaking national plan.

Lia Nicholson (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies ‘14)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Women’s Rights

As a Gruber Fellow, Lia Nicholson will manage a community-based climate change project for the government of Antigua and Barbuda. Based in the Environment Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment, Lia will pilot adaptation measures to protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of global climate change. Lia’s work will include a focus on engaging and empowering women’s groups to proactively respond to climate variability and sustain an active voice in national development. As part of her program with the government, Lia will work closely with community groups and non-governmental organizations. She also will use a personal blog to document grassroots efforts. Lia’s fellowship project aims to inform national planning and policy, as well as to disseminate lessons learned through regional and international networks. As a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda, Lia’s goal is to contribute to the developing portfolio of adaptation solutions for those who most acutely suffer from, but are least responsible for, the climate crisis. Lia is a graduate of Scripps College (with honors) and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to graduate school, she directed a civil society organization in Antigua and Barbuda that worked to improve quality of life through the sustainable management of natural resources.

Celso Perez (Yale Law School ‘14)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

Celso will work with Human Rights Watch (HRW) to implement the organization’s nascent advocacy strategy on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) couples in Latin America and the Caribbean. In collaboration with local advocacy groups, Celso will identify Latin American countries where an intervention by HRW could have a significant impact on the rights and needs of LGBT couples in areas such as housing, access to healthcare, violence, adoption, marriage, child custody, taxes, and public benefits. Over the course of his fellowship, Celso will research and draft a human rights report on the state of LGBT rights in these countries, lead a media advocacy campaign around the report, and lobby key decision makers for changes in national policy and legislation. Celso’s project seeks to set a precedent that will both protect LGBT couples in Latin America, and help develop broader advocacy strategies around LGBT rights in the global South. Before coming to Yale, Celso was a community organizer and high school teacher in Ecuador.

Shayak Sarkar (Yale Law School ‘13)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Women’s Rights

As a Gruber Fellow, Shayak Sarkar will work with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to strengthen domestic workers’ rights to fair pay and employment practices. Specifically, Shayak will help draft research reports mandated by the pending Massachusetts Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights (MDWBR) by drawing upon legal analysis and the voices of domestic workers, many of whom are vulnerable immigrant women. As domestic workers build organizing strength, Massachusetts has the potential to create robust state-based employment structures that exceed federal minimum standards. He will also directly represent aggrieved domestic workers as an attorney in the labor and employment unit at GBLS. Before attending Yale Law School on a Soros Fellowship for New Americans, Shayak graduated from Harvard with dual bachelor's and master's degrees in applied mathematics and statistics. Afterwards, he studied social work and development economics at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Harvard.

Julia Spiegel (Yale Law School ‘13)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

Julia will serve as a policy advisor in the Executive Office of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. She will work on a variety of foreign policy issues, focusing in particular on preventing and responding to mass atrocities. She will author briefing papers for Ambassador Power and her senior staff, assist with writing speeches and remarks, and actively participate in the development of policy positions affecting the United Nations and the U.S. government on matters concerning civilian protection, international justice and accountability, and sanctions among other issues. To accomplish these goals, she will work closely with a range of colleagues at the U.S. Mission, the State Department, and the White House, as well as with representatives from other U.N. Missions and non-governmental organizations. Julia is a graduate of Yale Law School (J.D.), the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University (M.P.A.) and Stanford University (B.A.). She currently serves as a law clerk to Hon. M. Margaret McKeown of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Daniel Tam-Claiborne (Jackson Institute for Global Affairs ‘14)
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Women’s Rights

Daniel Tam-Claiborne will spend his fellowship year working on a microfinance initiative with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), the largest civil society organization of its kind on the mainland. Against the backdrop of China’s rapid economic growth, small-scale microfinance has been applied as a way to mitigate the increasingly widening income gap between the urban rich and the rural poor. CFPA has been a pioneer in the field, having benefitted over 1.2 million rural farmers in its 16-year existence, of which over 90% are women. Based in Beijing, Daniel will undertake fieldwork in rural townships to support the organization by measuring the impact of CFPA’s microloans on women farmers. These impact evaluations will incorporate both qualitative surveys and quantitative analysis to assess the degree to which microloans are supporting improved livelihoods across a matrix of key indicators. With a background in writing and a passion for storytelling, Daniel will also be drafting ethnographic pieces that provoke wider discourse on domestic poverty in China. By working directly with a local NGO to empower rural women, this initiative seeks to contribute to increased participation and further development of the fledgling microfinance sector in China. Prior to his graduate studies at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Daniel spent two years working in the rural northern town of Taigu, China as a recipient of a Shansi Fellowship. Daniel is a graduate of Yale University (M.A.) and Oberlin College (B.A.).

Read about previous Gruber Fellows here.