Join ISHR in welcoming the 2022-23 HRAP cohort to Columbia University! Ten advocates working on issues including LGBTQI+ rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, citizenship, migration, women's rights, and environmental justice have been attending skill-based workshops this fall. In the spring, they will join us on campus for the continuation of HRAP which will include participating in academic courses, networking with the human rights community in NYC and DC, and sharing their work with students at Columbia and other universities.
Below are the biographies of the new cohort.
To see a list of our past Advocates click here.
To read about more about the work of our Advocates click here .
Communications and Advocacy Officer, Dana Social Group
The advocate from Ethiopia (they/them) is an artist and activist who works on reshaping the public narrative of queer and trans people in contemporary Ethiopian culture. They joined the underground LGBTI movement in 2017 after identifying the evident gap in representation and inclusivity within the LGBTI+ movement and the greater feminist initiatives in the country; they launched various projects targeting LBQ and TGNC (lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and gender-non-conforming) people. In 2019, they were elected as co-director of Dana Social Group and worked to strengthen the country’s longest-running LGBTQI organization in its early stages of movement and community building. They also worked to establish Ethiopia’s presence in global advocacy by co-writing shadow reports for CEDAW and UPR and participating in advocacy week in Geneva for the latter. Following their three-year term as director, they have held the role of communications and advocacy officer for the organization.
Executive Director, Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn-SOFA
Sharma Aurelien (she/her) is a lifelong women’s rights activist specializing in the exploitation and exclusion of women and girls in her home country of Haiti. For the past seven years, she has worked for Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn-SOFA, a Haitian non-profit organization helping women escape experiences of subordination, domination, discrimination, exclusion, and exploitation.
Dominican Republic, 2022
Founder and Leader, Reconoci.do
Ana María Belique (she/her) is a founding member and a leader of Reconoci.do, a movement that mobilizes and empowers Dominicans of Haitian descent, campaigns for equality and their citizenship rights, and supports those who need legal support to access their documents.
Coordinator , Warmi Shining and Uru Uru
Dayana Blanco Quiroga (she/her) is an Indigenous Aymara advocate of women’s rights, Indigenous rights, and environmental justice. She is the founder and main coordinator of the Warmi Shining and Uru Uru projects. The Warmi Shining and Uru Uru projects are part of the NGO Fundación Pueblos de Montaña’s effort to build the capacity of Indigenous girls impacted by climate change and gender-based violence. Girls are empowered through English classes, leadership workshops, and activities that make them more knowledgeable of social justice issues and the ways to tackle them. Warmi Shining teaches Indigenous girls leadership skills that help them overcome obstacles in their personal, academic, and professional lives. Uru Uru creates awareness of environmental justice issues and empowers Indigenous girls to advocate for their rights. Uru Uru generates spaces that encourage debates aimed at finding solutions to climate change issues affecting Indigenous communities. By seeking environmental justice and an end to violence against Indigenous women, Dayana hopes to bring peace and security to Indigenous communities in Bolivia.
Institutional Communication Officer , International Indigenous Women’s Forum
Isabel Flota (she/her) is the Institutional Communication Officer for the International Indigenous Women’s Forum/Foro Internacional de Mujeres Indigenas (IIWF/FIMI). As a Maya woman who has experienced discrimination firsthand, she joined FIMI to advocate for Indigenous communities facing the same racism, discrimination, and alienation from their culture that she experienced. FIMI is a global network that mobilizes Indigenous women from all parts of the world to find consensus on agendas, coordinate objectives, and develops leadership. The organization bridges together women-led initiatives at the national, regional, and local levels They empower Indigenous women to lead international decision-making processes. By doing so, FIMI hopes to have the perspectives of Indigenous women consistently and seriously included in human rights discussions on an international level.
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.
Democratic Republic Of Congo, 2022
Advocacy Officer, La Colombe ASBL
Julienne Mugaruka Byenda (she/her) is the Advocacy Officer of La Colombe ASBL, which is based in Goma, DRC. Motivated by the trauma she has experienced as a trans woman, Julienne became an activist so that she can fight for the rights of the trans community and improve lives. La Colombe ASBL promotes a safe environment in which LGBTQ people, especially trans women, can safely and freely live their lives without fear of discrimination, stigma, or violence. La Colombe ASBL empowers trans women to rebuild their lives with dignity and purpose through direct services and support. The organization primarily focuses on protecting the rights of trans women because they are the most vulnerable population within the LGBTQ community and are the most affected by discrimination, family rejection, social exclusion, arbitrary arrests, repeated corrective rapes, increased poverty, and lack of a legal protection framework.