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Robina Foundation Human Rights Fellows

2013-14 Fellows
2012-13 Fellows
2011-12 Fellows
2010-11 Fellows
2009-10 Fellows
2008-09 Fellows

The 2013-2014 Fellows

Julie Hunter graduated from the Law School in 2013. She will spend her Fellowship year in Strasbourg, France, working at the European Court of Human Rights.

In law school, Julie has worked on many projects with the Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, including reports on the trafficking and abuse of third-country nationals on U.S. military bases, the rise of homeless encampments in the United States, and development-induced displacement of Bedouin tribes in the Negev. She also conducted a legal analysis for the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the Indian residential school system. Julie was a student director of the Orville H. Schell Center for Human Rights and an editor for the Yale Journal of International Law and the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. She also served as an advisor for the Papua New Guinea mission to the United Nations. During her summers, she worked for DNA, a legal aid organization on the Navajo reservation, and for human rights attorney Paul Hoffman on Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Adhikari v. Daoud.

Julie received her B.A. in 2007 from Harvard College and her M.Sc. in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, she worked for the regional advocacy program of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

Sarlet Kim graduated from the Law School in 2011. She will spend her fellowship year working in the Legal and Enforcement Unit of the Presidency of the International Criminal Court.

In law school, Scarlet was a teaching assistant for Professor Paul Kahn and a Board Member of the Initiative for Public Interest Law. She participated in several student clinics, where she represented an individual incarcerated in solitary confinement in a Connecticut state prison, workers applying for Trade Adjustment Assistance, and a refugee in asylum proceedings. After law school, Scarlet was a Gruber Fellow in Global Justice at the New York Civil Liberties Union. As a Gruber Fellow, Scarlet investigated the use of solitary confinement in New York state prisons and authored a report documenting her findings. Scarlet is currently clerking for the Honorable John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Scarlet graduated from Yale College in 2005 with a B.A. in History and International Studies. Prior to law school, she studied in China on a Fulbright Fellowship and worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ryan Liss is a member of the LL.M. class of 2013. For his fellowship, he will be working at an international criminal tribunal.

Ryan’s work and studies have focused on international criminal law and international human rights law. He has worked with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (both in New York and at the Kampala Review Conference), the Canadian Centre for International Justice, and the Canadian International Development Agency (as a human rights intern in Manila, The Philippines). Ryan received his J.D. and B.A. from the University of Toronto. While completing his J.D., he was Editor-in-Chief of the University of Toronto’s Journal of International Law and International Relations, competed in the Jessup Moot and the International Criminal Court Moot Competition, and worked with the International Human Rights Clinic and the refugee law division of Toronto’s Downtown Legal Services clinic. After graduating from law school, Ryan clerked for the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal. He has continued his focus on human rights at Yale as a member of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic.

James Shih will graduate from the Law School in May 2013. He will spend his fellowship year working in the chambers of the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

In law school, James served as a Comments & Online Features Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law. His interest in international criminal law was sparked by his participation as a first-year student in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia Project, which he went on to co-direct in his second-year. He was a member of the Law School's 2012 team to the International Criminal Court Moot Competition North America Round, at which he and his teammates swept the Best Briefs honors, and he served as an assistant coach to the 2013 team. During his summers, James interned at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York and at the law firm of Skadden Arps, where he worked primarily on criminal matters.

James graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University, where he studied journalism. During and after college, he worked at several international news media organizations, including NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation, the International Herald Tribune, CBS and China Daily.


2012-2013 Fellows

Leah Bellshaw graduated from the Law School in 2012. She is spending her fellowship year working in the chambers of President Theodor Meron at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Leah received a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied international development. Prior to law school she worked at the Refugee Law Project in Kampala, Uganda. At Yale, Leah served as a Managing Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law and as a Policy Editor for the Yale Law & Policy Review. In her second year, Leah competed in the International Criminal Court Trial Competition. She also co-directed the Project Assisting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, co-chaired the Human Rights Committee of the American Constitution Society, and served as a Board Member of the Initiative for Public Interest Law at Yale. During her summers Leah interned with the Department of Justice Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and the World Bank.

Colleen Gilg graduated from the Law School in 2008. She is spending her fellowship period working for the Prosecution Coordinator and the Appeals Section in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Colleen graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a B.A. in Government and International Studies. During her time at the law school, Colleen served as a student director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, a student director of the Schell Center, and a Teaching Fellow for a Yale College international human rights course. She also worked with immigration clients in the Community Lawyering Clinic. Colleen spent her law school summers in Costa Rica with the Center for Justice and International Law and in San Francisco with the Center for Justice and Accountability. Between her second and third years of law school, Colleen worked in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on the Darfur situation.

After graduating from law school, Colleen spent two years at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York, where she helped represent the Government of the Dominican Republic in an international arbitration proceeding and successfully represented several clients seeking asylum. She then worked as an Associate Legal Officer in the Office of the Co-Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and as a law clerk to Judge John C. Coughenour of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Josiah Pertz is a member of the class of 2012. He is spending his Robina Fellowship year in Strasbourg, France working at the European Court of Human Rights. At the Court, Josiah clerks in the chambers of Judge András Sajó of Hungary, and is the Research Division’s advisor on American law. He is the first American in history to undertake a yearlong clerkship at the Court.

In law school, Josiah served as Editor of the Yale Journal of International Law and co-chairman of the Barristers’ Union trial advocacy organization. Devoting a substantial portion of his coursework to international law, Josiah received a Coca-Cola World Fund Fellowship to research Costa Rica’s historic referendum on the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement. He is currently at work on a book about that election. Josiah also interned in the chambers of Judge Sandra Townes of the Eastern District of New York.

Prior to law school, Josiah was chief English speechwriter for Nobel Peace Laureate and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, then chief speechwriter for United States Senator Robert Menendez. He received a B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard.

After the fellowship, Josiah plans to practice law in New York State with his father, Richard Pertz ’76, and clerk for the Hon. William Walls ’57 of the District of New Jersey in Newark. 

2011-2012 Fellows

Amanda Aikman is a legal officer at the International Labour Organization (a UN specialized agency in Geneva) in the Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour (SAP-FL). Amanda spent her fellowship year providing legal support to SAP-FL; for instance, she developed training materials for law enforcement, analyzed legal and policy developments related to forced labour and trafficking, and co-authored a background report addressing the prevention of forced labour and protection of victims.

Amanda received a B.A. from Stanford University in 2003. Prior to law school, she worked with non-governmental organizations based in Southeast Asia, Washington, D.C., and Moscow. At Yale Law School, she participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, served as support chair of Yale Law Women, and was a Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal and an Articles and Business Editor of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

After graduating from the law school in 2008, Amanda worked as a Trial Attorney in the Fraud Section, Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she investigated and prosecuted individuals and corporations for paying bribes to foreign officials in international business transactions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. She also completed rotations in two other offices of the Department of Justice, including the Appellate Section of the Criminal Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she spent seven months prosecuting domestic violence cases in D.C. Superior Court.

Michelle Argueta graduated from the Law School in 2011. As a Robina Fellow, Michelle will spend six months working in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and six months at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Michelle graduated summa cum laude from the American University’s School of International Service with a B.A in U.S. Foreign Policy and Asian Studies. She earned the School’s Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar Award and the Multicultural Affairs Academic Award. At the Law School, Michelle participated in the Allard K. Lowenstein Human Rights Project and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project. She worked for two years defending asylum applicants through the Immigration Legal Services Clinic and, for a semester, worked through the Prosecution Externship program at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She also participated in the International Criminal Court Moot Competition, where she crafted legal arguments outlining personal jurisdiction and individual criminal responsibility for a hypothetical case. Michelle spent both of her law school summers working at international criminal tribunals. In 2010, she was a legal intern at the Special Court for Sierra Leone Trial Chamber, and in 2009, she worked in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Clark Gard is a member of the class of 2009. As a Robina Fellow, he is spending six months clerking in the office of the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

After law school, Clark worked as a capital-markets lawyer in London. He received a B.A. in Economics and Art History from Columbia University, graduating magna cum laude in 2003. Clark also has an M.A. in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo, where he was an International Graduate Fellow from 2004 to 2006 and a teaching assistant in international human rights law. While in Cairo, Clark also participated in a research clinic focused on Islamic and humanitarian law with the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. Clark spent the summer of 2005 in Afghanistan working with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. He began law school at Columbia in 2006 and spent the summer of 2007 working with the International Center for Transitional Justice, focusing on the Iraqi High Tribunal and the prosecution of former regime officials for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He transferred to Yale Law School in the fall of 2007. At Yale, Clark served as a first-year editor of the Yale Journal of International Law, as a Student Director of the Middle East Legal Forum, as a student organizer of the Middle East Legal Studies Seminar, as a Teaching Fellow for the Yale College course, International Human Rights Law, and as a Student Director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic.

Nadia Lambek is a 2010 graduate of the Law School. She is spending her fellowship year working with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. She is addressing allegations of individual violations of the right to food and will organize a consultation on access to food in eastern and southern Africa. The projects share an emphasis on addressing the marginalization of communities most often affected by broken food systems, on adopting the principles of food sovereignty, and on liaising with local partners and food producers to build national and international strategies.

Nadia attended Brown University, where she concentrated in International Development Studies and Political Theory, and studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal. After graduating, Nadia moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where she worked with a local NGO engaged in housing rights advocacy. At the Law School, Nadia was a Student Director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Project and the Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. She was also involved with the Yale Information Society Project and was a member of the Legal Services for Immigrant Communities Clinic. In the summer of 2008, Nadia worked in Bangalore, India, at the Alternative Law Forum, a social justice legal center involved in litigation, direct services, lobbying, and research. While there, she worked on intellectual property policy reforms to help developing countries. In the summer of 2009, Nadia worked at the Ontario Human Rights Legal Support Center in Canada, where she aided individuals who had been the victims of discrimination. After graduating from law school, Nadia clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Elizabeth Nielsen, a member of the J.D. class of 2011, is working in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She will assist trial attorneys with litigation-related tasks, such as preparing chief and cross examinations, proofing witnesses, drafting motions and briefs, and preparing evidence. She will also perform research on comparative and international criminal law issues.

At Yale Law School, Elizabeth was a member of the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition Team, which competed successfully in The Hague. She was Co-Director of the Project Assisting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and worked as a summer legal associate at the Documentation Center of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. As a member of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, she traveled to Jordan and Syria to train Jordanian law students working with Iraqi refugees. She also completed prosecution internships at the Department of Justice Counterterrorism Section in Washington, D.C., the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Office of the State’s Attorney in New Haven. She is currently a legal intern in Wilmer Hale's International Arbitration Group in London and a Howard M. Holtzmann fellow in international arbitration and dispute resolution.

Elizabeth’s publications address judicial independence in hybrid international criminal tribunals, state responsibility for terrorist groups, the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties, and globalization’s effect on trafficking in women.

Elizabeth received a B.A. from Northwestern University in Political Science and Legal Studies. Prior to entering law school, Elizabeth worked at the Center for International Human Rights at the Northwestern University School of Law and was Co-Chair of the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights.

Catherine (Katie) Rivkin, a member of the class of 2011, spent her Robina Fellowship year in The Hague, clerking for Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Throughout her year, she primarily worked with President Meron on the Gotovina and Markac, Perišic, and Bagosora et al. (“Military I”) appeals in the ICTY and ICTR. She also assisted in case deliberations, drafted speeches and memoranda on various issues of international criminal law and procedure, and managed the ICTY’s enforcement of sentences work, including overseeing detention conditions for individuals convicted by the Tribunal.

At Yale Law School, Katie participated in the Balancing Civil Liberties and National Security Post-9/11 Clinic, was a Senior Editor of the Yale Journal of International Law, served as Co-Chair of the Yale Forum on International Law, and acted as research assistant to visiting professor Laurel Fletcher, with whom she drafted a briefing paper for judges and prosecutors at the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh on the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence in international criminal tribunals. She also worked as a prosecution extern at the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Haven and was a finalist in the 2010 International Criminal Court Moot Competition in The Hague. In the summer of 2009, Katie worked in London as a Robina Summer Fellow, first with the General Counsel of the London 2012 Olympic Organizing Committee and then with the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, where she focused on issues of judicial independence and access to justice in Palestine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa.

Katie graduated from Yale College phi beta kappa, with a B.A., magna cum laude, in History. After college, she received an M.Phil. in Modern European History from the University of Oxford. She is currently serving as a law clerk to the Hon. Denise Cote in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


The 2010-2011 Fellows

Terra Gearhart-Serna, who graduated from the Law School in 2010, spent her Robina Fellowship year working in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), in The Hague. She spent her first six months assigned to the Prosecutor v. Sainovic et al. appeal team, assisting in research and drafting for the appeal judgment in that case. During her second six months, she served as a law clerk to Appeals Judge Theodor Meron, for whom she performed research, wrote memoranda, and drafted and reviewed decisions and judgments. Because the same judges serve in the Appeals Chambers of both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Terra also worked on cases concerning the Rwandan genocide.

At Yale Law School, Terra participated in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic for four semesters and also spent five semesters in the Goldman Family Advocacy for Children and Youth Clinic, four of those semesters as a student director. During her summers, she was a Linkages Latin America Fellow in Buenos Aires, Argentina, interned for the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 presidential election, and worked at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York. She will return to Debevoise & Plimpton as a Litigation Associate in October 2011. Terra has published a Comment in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, on which journal she served as an Articles Editor. She also served as the Managing Editor for Submissions on the Yale Journal of International Law. In addition, she was an active board member of the Women of Color Collective and the Latino Law Students Association and served as a research assistant to Visiting Professor Madhavi Sunder and as a Teaching Fellow in the Yale Department of Political Science for four semesters.

Terra earned her B.A. in Political Science and English with a minor in Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, where she graduated summa cum laude.


Jason Pielemeier, a 2007 graduate of the Law School, spent his Robina Fellowship year working as a Special Adviser in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL). Working for Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Jason managed a portfolio covering a variety of security and international law-related issues. On the security side, Jason helped develop State Department and government policies related to the detention, transfer, and treatment of individuals held in U.S. custody abroad. He also worked on business and human rights issues, including private security contractor accountability and was heavily involved in the development of a path-braking governance and oversight body for the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. In addition, Jason served as DRL’s point person for legal analysis and policy development on a variety of domestic litigation issues related to the Alien Tort Claims Act, the Torture Victim Protection Act, and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In September 2011, Jason was hired by the DRL to continue working on these and other issues as a State Department employee.

During his time at the Law School, Jason was an Associate Fellow in the Yale World Fellows program, a Student Fellow with the Information Society Project, a Vice President of the American Constitution Society, and a Teaching Assistant for then-Dean Harold Koh. Jason also served as student director of the Criminal Justice Clinic and participated in the Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic and the Legislative Advocacy Clinic.

Jason graduated with honors from Northwestern University in 2000 and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and then as Country Director of the Chisec Community Conservation Project in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Between law school and his fellowship year, Jason clerked for the Honorable Raymond J. Dearie, then-Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and worked as an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York.

Aaron Zelinsky graduated from Yale Law School in 2010. He spent his fellowship year as special assistant to State Department Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh. Aaron focused on a number of human-rights issues, including persons put at risk by Wikileaks disclosures, individuals detained in conflict zones including Libya, international LGBT rights, the International Criminal Court, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, Alien Tort Claims Act litigation, and the right to consular notification under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

After his fellowship year Aaron clerked for Judge Thomas B. Griffith on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In fall 2012 he was an adjunct professor at the Peking University School of Transnational Law teaching constitutional law. He is currently a visiting assistant professor at the University of Maryland Francis K. Carey School of Law, where he teaches foreign relations and national security law.


The 2009-2010 Fellows

Sam Ferguson is a member of the Yale Law School class of 2009. While at the law school, he was a Teaching Assistant for Professor Reva Siegel, a Programming Chair for the American Constitution Society, and an organizer for the Bernstein Symposium. He also participated in the Linkages Program, in Argentina. Sam received a BA in Philosophy with Highest Honors from the University of California at Berkeley.

As a Robina Fellow, Sam spent a year in Buenos Aires, researching and writing a book, Remnants of a Dirty War, about a series of human rights prosecutions in Argentina against that country's last military government. From 1976 to 1983, between 10,000 and 30,000 people were forcibly disappeared, many thrown alive out of airplanes into the South Atlantic. Sam followed the trial of 18 officers from Argentina's notorious Naval Mechanics School, sometimes called the Auschwitz of the south, attending more than 500 hours of the trial, conducting hundreds of interviews, and reviewing thousands of pages of official documents related to the case. He was granted an interview with Antonio Pernias, who is accused of being the school's chief torturer.

After the year in Buenos Aires, Sam clerked for Judge William Fletcher of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California. He is currently living in Brooklyn, New York, where he is finishing the book.

Matiangai Sirleaf received her J.D. from the Law School in 2008. She spent her Robina Fellowship year clerking at the Constitutional Court of South Africa for Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo. The Court is the highest court in the country and is known for its independence and its commitment to using international law, especially international human rights law, in its judicial decisions. Her duties included extensive foreign and international law research as well as assisting with the reform of the South African judiciary and the restructuring of the Office of the Chief Justice. Before her clerkship, Matiangai was a Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow and spent her fellowship year working with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in Cape Town, South Africa.

Matiangai is currently a Sharswood Fellow in International Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Sharswood fellowship is an academic fellowship for scholars committed to entering a career in legal academia. Matiangai’s research focuses primarily on international human rights, transitional justice, public international law, criminal law and procedure, international criminal law, civil procedure and comparative constitutional law. She is currently teaching a seminar on transitional justice. Prior to this she was a member of the Human Rights Practice group at Cohen Milstein, a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C. Matiangai served as counsel for the plaintiffs in numerous leading-edge cases.

The 2008-2009 Fellow

Brittan Heller graduated from the Yale Law School in 2009. She received a Robina Fellowship to spend six months working in the Prosecution Section of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Heller was one of sixteen people on the Prosecutor’s team in the case of the Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui.
Heller is also a graduate of Stanford University, having earned a BA with distinction and an MA in English. During law school, she interned for the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Crisis Group’s Africa Program, and the War Crimes Issues Office in the Office of the Secretary of State.
After her Robina Fellowship, Heller was selected as a Luce Scholar and placed in South Korea, where she joined the Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group to assist with North Korean refugee affairs. From 2010-2011, she was in Kabul, Afghanistan working for the Afghanistan Legal Education Project of Stanford Law School.

Currently, Heller is an Honors Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. She prosecutes genocide, war crimes, child soldier use, and extraterritorial violent crime as a trial attorney with the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section.