Between 1989 and 2023, more than 350 advocates from nearly 100 countries have attended the program. HRAP participants have ranged from early-career advocates who cut their teeth in very urgent human rights situations to mid-career advocates who have founded organizations. HRAP alumni have served as UN special rapporteurs, in the ministries of their governments, and at leading human rights organizations around the globe. They have been recognized with honors including the Rafto Prize, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, the highest acknowledgment from the international human rights community.
Below are the biographies of current Advocates and descriptions by select alumni as to why they became human rights advocates.
To see a list of additional past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
Programme Manager, NGO Atina
Jelena Hrnjak is a women's rights activist who believes in the strength of civic actions as key in the fight for equality. She is committed to providing direct support and long-term assistance to women and children victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence. As a Programme Manager of NGO Atina, Jelena has been managing the work of the organization for the past 14 years. She is considered one of the most experienced professionals in the field of combating human trafficking in Serbia, especially when it comes to programming and providing support to children who have survived sexual exploitation. She has been lecturing and leading trainings in Serbia as well as regionally and internationally. For almost a decade, she worked as a journalist in Switzerland and Serbia. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Belgrade. She is an alumnus of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the International Visitors Leadership Program at the U.S. Department of State, and the leadership-building program at the Vital Voices Global Partnership. She engages with the Council of Europe as an international expert on human trafficking. Jelena is also the editor, author, and co-author of numerous research papers, analyses, and newspaper articles on the topic of human and women's rights protection.
South Africa, 2022
Co-Director and Knowledge and Research Manager , Iranti
Jade Jacobs (they/them) is an LGBTQIA+ activist from South Africa. They joined the human rights movement because they want to help end the violence, fatal hate crimes, and human rights violations perpetrated against the LGBTQIA+ community in South Africa. Jade’s passion for activism is rooted in their personal experience within the LGBTQIA+ community, which has motivated them to continue working towards creating more inclusive and supportive spaces. They act as both the Co-Director and the Knowledge and Research Manager of Iranti, a media-advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening African LGBTQIA+ rights movements. Iranti uses narratives to advance human rights by serving as a platform for various kinds of collective evidence-based documentation. By creating archives of human rights violations, engaging in policy reform, and influencing changes in legislature, Iranti helps strengthen movements at local, national, and regional levels. Through Iranti, different movements can help shift public dialogue and perceptions around sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Civil and Political Rights Program Director , Georgian Democracy Initiative
Marine Kapanadze (she/her) is a human rights lawyer currently serving as the Civil and Political Rights Program Director at the Georgian Democracy Initiative, a local non-governmental organization in Georgia. She is actively engaged in the protection of different vulnerable groups including LGBTQ+ activists and journalists and has represented them before state bodies and courts. For more than nine years, she has been monitoring cases of discrimination, hate speech, and hate crimes; litigating strategic cases; and advocating for changes in legislation and practice. As a part of her job, she is also in charge of fundraising and communication with various stakeholders, including local and international organizations, state bodies, donors, etc. Moreover, she lectures at universities and conducts trainings on freedom of speech, national anti-discrimination mechanism, and the rule of law.
Head of Strategy, TRANSmoras Association
Antonia Moreira (she/her) is the Head of Strategy of Ateliê TRANSmoras Association, a trans-led non-profit organization that aims to promote the inclusion of trans people in Brazil. TRANSmoras Association seeks to advocate for the rights of trans people, especially travesti people, because of the increasing violence these communities face in Brazil. TRANSmoras uses fashion to showcase the contributions trans people make to Brazilian culture, build critical narratives around society, and validate the existence of trans identities as legitimate. The organization has been developing collective work that contemplates trans people’s material and symbolic demands while fostering new possibilities of life for trans people. By teaching regenerative design and manufacturing techniques such as upcycling, TRANSmoras Association has made designing clothes a source of self-expression and income more accessible to trans people. The organization sustains itself by forming a network of creative types where knowledge and resources can be shared with one another.
Director of Communications for the Americas, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
Daniel Alejandro Pinilla is a Colombian journalist with more than nine years’ experience in human rights and sustainable development. He has worked for international organizations such as the United Nations, Caritas Internationalis in Vatican City, the Latin American Rule of Law program of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and CEJIL where he is currently the Director of Communications. As a journalist he wrote for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo and the international news chain CNN. Most recently, he has led important initiatives using new technologies to promote human rights such as databases with open access to regional jurisprudence, virtual observatories of justice and journalism, the International Film Fest on Human Rights, and online courses to access to international justice. He has worked on interdisciplinary approaches like connections between arts and human rights. Daniel holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Communication and Journalism from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Colombia) and a specialization in Human Rights from the Collège Universitaire Henry Dunant (Switzerland). In 2012, he was awarded with a scholarship at the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. Daniel’s participation in HRAP is funded by friends of 1990 Advocate Felipe Michelini of Uruguay in his memory.
Mariam Antadze has been the project coordinator at the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT) since 2017. She has contributed to the rehabilitation and social empowerment of vulnerable groups including female victims of gender-based and domestic violence, IDPs from conflict-affected regions, and prisoners and former prisoners whose rights have been violated. Currently, Mariam is managing a project focusing on the establishment of a victim-centered approach for SGBV survivors within the judiciary system in Georgia. She holds the BA in Forensic Psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Costa Rica, 2021
Larissa Arroyo Navarrete is a bisexual activist from Costa Rica. She is also a lawyer whose academic and professional work has focused on human rights, especially on sexual and reproductive rights, as a researcher, legal adviser and expert consultant. She has worked with multiple national and regional organizations to achieve legal and political changes through projects that promote strategic actions for human rights. She is the founder of the Asociación Ciudadana ACCEDER, a feminist organization dedicated to promoting strategic actions for human rights to strengthen the leadership of women, especially bisexual, lesbian and non heterosexual women. She was the director of ACCEDER until 2021. Also, she has been an active member of FDI (Frente para los Derechos Igualitarios), a Costa Rican collective focused on actions for effective access to human rights LBGTIQ+ in Costa Rica since 2013. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree and a Licenciatura of Law from the Universidad de Costa Rica, two postgraduate diplomas in Human Rights and Women by the University of Chile, and a master’s degree in Human Rights by the Universidad Estatal a Distancia. She holds the Master's Degree in Constitutional Justice from the Universidad de Costa Rica.
Mario D’Andrea is a Venezuelan attorney working with NGOs including Defiende Venezuela, Civilis Derechos Humanos and Compromiso Compartido with experience in advocacy and international litigation before the Inter-American and Universal Human Rights Systems drafting individual petitions, precautionary measures, and communications around the human rights treaty bodies and special procedures. Since he started working on human rights litigation in Venezuela, he has drafted cases helping approximately 80 human rights victims, and he was part of private hearings to release a victim with a precautionary measure from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Mario’s activities involve also building the capacity of civil society organizations, especially those focusing on low-income communities, and coordinating projects. Mario holds the Bachelor of Law from Universidad Catolica Andrés Bello.
North Macedonia, 2021
Marija Krstevska has been involved in the youth sector in North Macedonia in various capacities over the past 12 years, starting as a participant and volunteer and moving up the ranks as a project coordinator, moderator, facilitator and trainer. She is now the Secretary General of Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID), a youth organization in Kumanovo. Marija plans to devote her time as the Secretary-General of CID to improving the position of young people in Kumanovo and the country in general, by providing more opportunities for active and quality involvement of young people in all processes that are tackling youth issues. She is also the President of the National Youth Council of Macedonia (NYCM), the largest youth representative body in North Macedonia, representing and advocating for youth and its 51 members (youth organizations, organizations for youth, unions, and youth wings of other organizations). She holds the LLM from Faculty of Law Iustinianus Primus in Skopje.
Ro-Ann Mohammed (she/her) is a Caribbean feminist and activist, based in Barbados. Her activism focuses on fostering women’s leadership in Caribbean LGBTQI+ discourse, facilitating safe spaces, access to resources and platforms for empowerment for local LGBTQI+ communities, combating religious intolerance, public education and visibility. Ro-Ann is the founder and director of SHE Barbados, the only platform in Barbados dedicated to LBQT advocacy, movement building and research. She is Director of Pride Barbados and the representative for Barbados on the LGBTTTI & Sex Workers Coalition of the Organization of American States. She is an OutRight Action International Beijing +25 Fellow, Communications Officer at FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, Co-Chair of the Project Selection Committee for the Act Together for Inclusion Fund and Advisor to the Equality Fund’s Women’s Voice and Leadership. She also co-founded Barbados – Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals against Discrimination (B-GLAD), and is a Women’s Deliver Global Young Leader alumnus.
Isabella Mukankusi is the Legal and Advocacy Advisor at MyStory Initiative, a nongovernmental organisation based in Uganda that promotes human rights for persons with disabilities. She is passionate about justice and human rights, having trained as a lawyer. She is responsible for providing strategic direction and advice to the board, and provides legal support. She also works directly with grassroots communities on women’s and children’s rights. Having previously worked as the Legal Services Manager at Justice Defenders, Uganda, she led programs to increase access to justice for prisoners through legal education, training and practice, helped to set up the first legal aid clinic inside a maximum security prison in Uganda and advocated for reforms of the law of incarceration of mentally ill prisoners. She began her human rights career at Foundation for Human Rights Initiative where she worked on a European Union-funded project aimed at promoting access to justice for women and children in six districts.
Elvira is Indigenous lawyer from Oaxaca, Mexico. She is part of the Ayuuk Indigenous Peoples. Elvira collaborates with civil society organizations for the defense and promotion of human rights, especially women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, on topics related to sexual and reproductive health and rights, violence prevention, political participation and indigenous peoples’ collective rights. She conducts advocacy at the local, national, and international levels. She is part of the National Coordinator of Indigenous Women, the National Network of Indigenous Women Lawyers and the Youth and Children Commission of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women from the Americas. Elvira currently works as the Policy and Member Engagement Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.
Aminatu is from the Mbororo-Fulani Indigenous Peoples of Cameroon. Aminatu is the Program Coordinator of Political Participation and Advocacy at the Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indígenas-International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI-IIWF). Her work focuses on promoting and strengthening the active participation and political advocacy of Indigenous women in key decision-making spaces from national to global levels. She earned a BA from the University of Yaoundé II Soa-Cameroon in Common Law and the MA in International Law. Aminatu is an alumnus of the OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship Program in Geneva and the Project Access training by the Tribal Link Foundation in New York.
A founding member of the Organisation Trans d’Haiti (OTRAH), Dominque St. Vil became Executive and Administrative Director in 2020. OTRAH promotes the recognition, visibility, and development of Haiti’s transgender and transexual community by challenging discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Dominque leads OTRAH’s advocacy, collaboration, and civic education initiatives. He works directly with trans individuals to ensure their effective and efficient civic participation and to lay the foundations for an affirming, fair, united and inclusive Haitian society. Dominique strives to create and maintain a strong network of trans organizations throughout the country so that all trans Haitians can access important resources and information. Dominque and OTRAH also lead programs to promote physical and mental wellbeing with an emphasis on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and mental health assistance. Previously he served as a logistical and technical advisor to the Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans wing of kouraj pou Pwoteje Dwa Moun, best known as Kouraj. With KPPDM and OTRAH, he has represented Haitian civil society and LGBTQI communities at conferences and events throughout Latin American and the Caribbean. Dominque has also completed extensive secretarial training and coursework in law. Additionally, he has taken coursework in cross-cultural competency at the University of Rhode Island.
A lawyer with the Indigenous Women Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG), Ritu provides free legal aid to Indigenous and other marginalized groups, especially women and young girls, in Nepal. She is currently working with the hydropower-affected indigenous community of Tanahu, Nepal. She earned the LL.M. from the University of Pune, India. Ritu has been involved with human rights issues since college when she first had the chance to meet and interact with victims of human rights violations. These experiences are what drove her to enter the field. Later, through the Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC), she advocated for equal property rights for women in Nepal. Along with her colleagues, she campaigned for legislatures, participated in workshops, and organized rallies to pressure lawmakers. They organized discussion groups, collected feedbacks from the Gorkha and Tanahu districts, and supported the draft of a proposed bill for the legislative reformation of women's property rights in Nepal. As a result, Nepal's government enacted equal property rights for women, which was a milestone in Nepal.