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 .
Executive Director, Beijing LGBT Center
Activist, Middle East
As a women’s rights activist in the Middle East, this HRAP participant has dedicated her career to developing and maintaining a grassroots campaign that engages other women in an effort to protect, educate, and build equality for women throughout the region.
Most recently, Lina Castellanos was a Policy Research Fellow with the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Prior to earning her M.A. in International Affairs from The New School, Castellanos interned for Human Rights Watch where she worked with the Development and Outreach division and the Americas division. She has also worked with the Peace and Security section of UN Women.
Before moving to New York, Castellanos worked in Bogotá, Colombia with the Director General for the Colombian National Protection Unit, analyzing cases of human rights violations and advising the Director on the approval of security measures for over 300 cases. She has a B.A. in Political Science.
Sierra Leone, 2018
Director, Prison Watch Sierra Leone
Mambu S. Feika is the Director of Prison Watch Sierra Leone (PWSL), an organization dedicated to monitoring prisons throughout the country and advocating for the humane treatment of individuals who are detained. Feika represents PWSL on the Sierra Leone Correctional Service Council, which advises the President of Sierra Leone on policy matters pertaining to correctional services and centers.
Feika holds a Bachelor of Law from the University of Sierra Leone-Fourah Bay and will be attending the University Institute of Geneva in 2019 for the Master’s in International Relations.
Executive Director, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U)
Robert Kirenga is the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Uganda (NCHRD-U), a network organization focused on advocating and securing the rights of human rights defenders who have been threatened or are under attack. In addition to his work with NCHRD-U, Kirenga serves as a human rights trainer for the national human rights organizations, law enforcement agencies, civil society groups, and institutions of higher learning. Over the course of his career, Kirenga has worked in Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Kirenga earned a Master of Arts in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Oslo and a post-graduate diploma in International Law, and Organization from the Institute of Social Students at The Hague.
Executive Director, Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud
Oriana López Uribe is the Executive Director of Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud (Balance), an organization based in Mexico City that seeks to transform national policies, programs, and actions so that sexual and reproductive rights are guaranteed throughout Mexico. López Uribe is responsible for connecting with donors, developing a monitoring and evaluation system for programs, setting the strategy to internally strengthen Balance, and representing the organization.
Prior to serving as the Executive Director of the organization, López Uribe worked at Balance in the following capacities: Abortion Fund Manager, Deputy Director, Representative to the NACA, and the Youth Advocacy Coordinator. López Uribe has also volunteered with the Youth Coalition for Sexual Rights, where she has also served on the board of directors. She is a member of the feminist alliance Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice (RESURJ), a member of Vecinas Feministas por la Justicia Sexual y Reproductiva en América Latina y el Caribe, and a board member of Mama Cash.
López Uribe earned a bachelor’s degree in social communication from the Autonomous Metropolitan University. She has taken specialized courses focused on population and equity, advocacy in practice, and leadership and youth.
Democratic Republic Of Congo, 2018
Program Coordinator, Youth and Development, Centre d’ Education et formation Intégrée
Lungwe is the Program Coordinator for Youth and Development at Centre d’ Education et formation Intégrée, an organization focused on engaging young people in community development and in the eradication of human rights abuses. In collaboration with her colleagues, Lungwe cultivates dialogue between marginalized persons and local government entities and develops community trainings on advocacy, monitoring, and mobilization. Her areas of focus include community mobilization in rural regions, development of educational toolkits, and engaging women and children who have been affected by armed conflict in advocacy projects directed at government stakeholders. Lungwe has received specialized training on gender-based violence, peacekeeping, and environmental protection.
Lungwe earned her bachelor’s degree in information science from Sikkim Manipal University.
Program Assistant, Disability and Human Rights Program, National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda
Solomon Collins Nkulinga is a Program Assistant with the Disability and Human Rights Program at the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), an organization that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities. NUPIPU engages with religious, cultural, civic, and political leaders in the region in dialogue around how to cultivate equal rights and access for individuals with disabilities through the enactment of national laws and policy. As a Program Assistant, Nkulinga is responsible for coordinating the Human Rights Project for Refugees with Disabilities, which seeks to improve the quality of life and the access to development services for refugees with disabilities. He has been involved with a mapping project aimed at linking refugees in Western Uganda with disabilities services.
In addition to Nkulinga’s work with NUDIPU, he has chaired the Persons of Concern working group in coordination with UNHCR emphasizing the levels of discrimination and stigma that refugees with disabilities face.
Nkulinga holds a bachelor’s degree in adult and community education from Kyambogo University.
Programs Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda
Pepe Julian Onziema is the Programs Director for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an organization focused on monitoring, coordinating, and advocating for the rights of the LGBTI community in Uganda through influencing legislation, challenging discriminatory laws, and spreading awareness on the status of human rights for individuals identifying as LGBTI in Uganda. As the Programs Director, Onziema is responsible for the coordination and administration of all ongoing programs, including the development, organization, and implementation of fundraising campaigns, mobilization initiatives, and advocacy work. Prior to serving as Programs Director, Onziema was the organization’s co-director and office administrator.
As a longtime advocate for LGBTI rights and as an out transgender man, Onziema is personally connected with the population he is currently serving. He was the recipient of the 2012 Global Citizen Award from the Clinton Global Initiative and received a GLAAD award in 2015.
Onziema holds a diploma in shipping and freight from Kampala College of Business Studies and the Advanced Certificate of Education from Makerere College School.
Marijana Savic is the Director of ATINA - Citizens Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and All Forms of Gender-Based Violence. ATINA promotes women’s and children’s rights within the developing social and political environment of Serbia, specifically advocating for victims of trafficking, sexual abuse, labor exploitation, discrimination, and violence. As the Director, Savic is responsible for providing overall organizational leadership, engaging with new partners and grassroots organizations, and monitoring ATINA’s programs. In addition to her work with ATINA, Marijana has served as a consultant for international NGOs and state governments advocating for the inclusion of marginalized trafficking victims in human rights policy.
Savic received her law degree from the University of Podgorica.
Fundraiser, Tzedaká Foundation
Asaravicius has worked on human rights education initiatives at various foundations and NGOs. She previously served as the Director of International and Social Justice at Hillel Uruguay. In Israel, she worked in the media and culture department of the Peres Center for Peace.
After living in Argentina, Israel and Spain, Asaravicius recently returned to Montevideo. She is currently working on resource mobilization at the Tzedaká Foundation. She earned the BA in Social and Political Science at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay.
Human Rights Project Leader, Research Center for the Teaching and Learning of the Law
Asúnsolo is the Human Rights Project Leader at the Research Center for the Teaching and Learning of the Law (CEEAD). The center’s mission is to transform legal education in Mexico to train lawyers to be committed to the rule of law and human rights in Mexico. Asúnsolo and his team have created a working group whose members come from civil society organizations and public institutions like the Supreme Court, the National Commission on Human Rights, and universities to develop a human rights educational model for law schools. CEEAD is also developing two manuals including an e-platform for human rights education for law schools. Additionally, Asúnsolo volunteers with a migrant shelter and holds workshops so that residents can know their rights and learn about the legal system.
Asúnsolo holds a Masters in the Advanced Studies of Human Rights from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and a Law Degree and a Masters in Applied Public Management from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.
Executive Director , TGEU
Lenny Emson is the Executive Director at TGEU. Born in Ukraine, Lenny Emson is a bigender trans activist with extensive knowledge in growing the movement, fundraising, and political presence. Lenny has been involved in the LGBTQI movement as an activist, founder, and employee of several LGBTQI organisations for over 20 years. Lenny has served as Executive Director for KyivPride, and represented the international community in the ILGA World Trans Steering Committee, the Eurasian Key Populations Health Network’s “Global expert group on Transgender People and HIV/AIDS”, TGEU Board, and the Grant Making Panel of the International Trans Fund. Lenny is an active Board Member of the European Pride Organisers Association.
Founder and Director, Samsara
Hudaya is the Founder and Director of Samsara, a feminist organisation based in Indonesia that promotes body autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights. In 2007, she founded askinna.com, a website for women seeking abortion services in Indonesia. One year later, she set up Indonesia’s first hotline for safe abortion information. With Samsara, she works directly with women at the grassroots level. Hudaya also established the SRHR School in Yogyakarta and then expanded the program from Java to East Indonesia through the SRHR Satellite Program. In 2013, she received a fellowship from Ashoka.
Country Representative, The Danish Association of the Physically Disabled-Uganda