Margaret Satterthwaite ’99
Professor of Clinical Law
Faculty Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
Director, Global Justice Clinic
Faculty Director, Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights
Margaret Satterthwaite’s research interests include economic and social rights, human rights and counterterrorism, and methodological innovation in human rights. Satterthwaite graduated magna cum laude from NYU School of Law in 1999 and served as a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1999-00 and to the judges of the International Court of Justice in 2001-02. She has worked for a variety of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights First, and the Commission Nationale de Verité et de Justice (Haitian Truth and Justice Commission), and has authored or co-authored more than a dozen human rights reports. She has engaged in human rights work in places such as Guyana, Haiti, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, the United States, and Yemen. Satterthwaite has served as a human rights consultant and advising expert to UN agencies and special rapporteurs and has been a member of the boards of directors of several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International USA, the Global Initiative on Economic and Social Rights, and Digital Democracy. Satterthwaite is currently the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers for the United Nation's Human Rights Council. She also serves as a member of the Africa Council to the ABA's Rule of Law Council.
Sukti Dhital is a human rights lawyer and the Executive Director of the Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law, a human rights center dedicated to advancing legal empowerment and defending dissent through participatory research, education, and advocacy. She also serves as a Supervising Attorney with the Global Justice Clinic at NYU Law, where she oversees legal empowerment projects spanning jailhouse lawyers and immigrant rights. Previously, Sukti was the Executive Director and Co-founder of Nazdeek, an award-winning legal empowerment organization committed to bringing access to justice closer to marginalized communities in India. She worked closely with affected communities and social movements to advance human rights through a community-driven approach, with a focus on indigenous and Dalit women. Prior to Nazdeek, Sukti was the Director of the Reproductive Rights Unit at the Human Rights Law Network, India and assisted in securing landmark social and economic rights judgments including the first decision in the world to recognize maternal mortality as a human rights violation and to award constitutional damages. She has also worked at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project and as an appellate litigation associate at the firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP. Sukti received her BA from the University of Michigan and her JD from Northeastern University School of Law.
Tyler Walton '18
Tuttleman Project Attorney
Tyler Walton is the Tuttleman Legal Empowerment Attorney at the Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law. Tyler works on legal empowerment, researching and co-developing strategies with affected community members to access and exercise their rights and shift power paradigms back towards communities and individuals. Prior to joining the Bernstein Institute, Tyler was a fellow at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre where he led the program on freedom of expression, working to combat closing civic spaces in southern Africa and address new human rights issues caused by the rise of the Internet and digital technologies. He also served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi developing participatory community health programs to advance gender equality, access to safe drinking water, and HIV prevention and mitigation. Tyler received his BA from the University of Missouri and his JD from NYU School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest scholar.
Participatory Action Researcher and Educator
Emese Ilyes is a critical social psychologist whose scholarship excavates the history of constructs that group people into categories. Her research, writing, and organizing has sought to understand the systems that define capacity and impose labels like intellectual disability on select bodies and minds. As an educator and researcher - working with participatory methodologies that make room for poetic and non-textual ways of knowing - she continues to work in collaboration with communities who most deeply understand structural violence and who can most clearly articulate visions of a just world. With this commitment to participatory methodologies led by those most impacted, Emese continues to work in solidarity with communities to interrogate systems of power and to name radical possibilities.
Consultant, Participatory Action Research
Melania Chiponda is an ecofeminist, popular educator, and participatory action researcher who believes in centering people’s lived experiences and realities in the creation of knowledge. To Melania, community empowerment and knowledge creation is a collective process that shifts power from mainstream knowledge systems and institutions to the people. Her research approach is embedded in participatory action approaches that bring out grassroots people's experiences, stories and struggles, and is oriented towards evidence- based advocacy and people-driven reforms that go beyond short-term reformism. The research contributes towards longer-term structural changes that are required to ensure economic and development justice. Melania has a PHd in Development Studies with a MSc in Development Studies.
Consultant, Researcher and Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative founder
Jhody Polk is the founder of the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative (JLI) and CEO of A Light In The Valley, LLC. She is the Pathways to Research and Advocacy Fellow at the Fortune Society and Center for Justice Innovation, and is the creator of the Legal Empowerment & Advocacy Hub (LEAH), an online space dedicated to people Knowing the Law. She is the recipient of the 2019 Peacebuilder of the Year Award, the 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr. Legacy award and named a Soros Justice Fellow in 2018. She currently serves on the board of Namati.
Jhody is known for her work as a central Florida Organizer on Amendment 4, a campaign to restore voting rights to over 1.5 million Floridians with felony convictions. She is the formal Director of Community Justice at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding and served as the Director of the Alachua County Reentry Coalition 2017-2020. Jhody is a rising Tarot Reader, Astrologer, and Energy Healer. She unapologetically lives for the liberation of Black People, Power, Peace , Human Rights, Participatory Action Research (PAR), Legal Empowerment, Community Peacebuilding and Justice For All.
Kelly Harnett was a law clerk and jailhouse lawyer for 12 years in New York, before she was released in May of this year and joined the Institute as our first community paralegal. She was wrongfully convicted in New York for Second Degree Murder as an accessory at the age of 28. She thought that her life was over until she found the power inside of her to overcome the oppressive carceral system as well as the Court system. The 17 years to life sentence merely signified how long she might be a jailhouse lawyer. Kelly viewed the daily legal questions as her purpose in prison. She contributed to the release of multiple women at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, so much so that they took her position away from her at the law library. Ultimately, her conviction was reduced and she was released after serving 12 years. She saw her mother on the day of her release, after almost a decade of separation due to her illness. Kelly’s mother waited to pass on until she could see her daughter free once again. Kelly spent three wonderful weeks with her before her passing. She knows her mother is smiling down on her as she begins this new role at JLI, and warmly remembers her words, “Kelly, I can’t believe it’s you. I didn’t think that I would ever see you again. I’m so proud of you, you look so pretty”. She plans to hold onto those words for the rest of her life and they inspire her to keep striving and helping people.
Gabriela Piñeros Medina
Gabriela is the Program Manager at the Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights at NYU School of Law. Gabriela is also an Immigrant Youth Accompaniment Aide at The Door, an organization that provides a wide range of free services to NYC-based youth. Prior to joining the Bernstein Institute, Gabriela was an organizer with the Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA) where she worked with students and young people to further the goals of the Fair Food Program developed by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an internationally recognized human rights organization. Prior to SFA, Gabriela volunteered at the Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Hub (LEAH) where she learned about the power in people being able to know, use, and shape the laws that affect them. While at LEAH, she had the opportunity to work on the Jailhouse Lawyers Initiative, a national project that aims to re-conceptualize the role of jailhouse lawyers as agents of empowerment. Gabriela has also served as a Democracy Program Intern at the Brennan Center for Justice.
Gabriela is an immigrant from Colombia and first-generation college student. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Florida where she earned a BA in Criminology and in Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Ben Polk is an international justice policy expert with subject matter expertise in rule of law, access to justice, civil and criminal legal aid, and justice data indicators. He served most recently as Global Policy Director for the International Legal Foundation, an NGO that builds and promotes legal aid systems in post-conflict countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, and Tunisia. He previously served as Justice Deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis (formerly United States Secretary of Labor for President Barack Obama). Ben also has worked extensively as a legal aid lawyer (including as a Skadden Fellow), most recently managing a team of attorneys and support staff providing wrap-around legal services to people experiencing homelessness. Ben has a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School. Before entering public service, Ben was a management consultant for Bain & Co., based in London and working on projects in South Africa, and across Europe and the United States. While at the Bernstein Institute, Ben is working on a law review article seeking to quantify the funding necessary to provide constitutionally-sufficient public defense (a.k.a. criminal legal aid) services throughout the United States, and is also supporting Professor Satterthwaite's work as Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers by identifying the most critical indicators of independence for judges and lawyers.
Former Visiting Scholar
Tejal Jesrani is a Program Officer in the Crime Research Section of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime where she has worked for 15 years on implementation of international conventions, capacity building and applied research in transnational crime and criminal justice issues. Her current research incorporates the lived experiences and voices of prisoners to inform better rehabilitation and reintegration programs and policies. At the Bernstein Institute, Tejal will be developing the analytical framework and exploring the availability of data and appropriate methodologies for a global study on discrimination in the criminal justice system. Tejal is also on the Board of Directors of Synergy for Justice, an organization that supports local actors to collect and preserve medical and legal evidence of torture, sexual violence and trafficking in persons for use in justice and accountability processes. Tejal has also worked in the areas of immigration law, international human rights and international criminal law. She was a Dean’s Fellow at the War Crimes Research Office at American University, Washington College of Law, worked as an Attorney Advisor at the United States Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review and at Human Rights Watch as Women’s Rights Associate.
Critical Legal Empowerment Symposium Fellow
Jahnavi J. (she/they) is a 2L from Memphis, Tennessee who is interested in using her law degree to support prison and police abolition, decarceration, community and movement building, and environmental justice work. She got her bachelor's degree in Policy Studies, Sociology, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, then worked in Houston as a field organizer for a senate campaign in 2018. She then worked in criminal legal policy research at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC until moving to New York for law school. She is a singer and visual artist, working in digital and physical media, and enjoys partnering with local creative collectives. She hopes to use her law degree to support radical movements working to dismantle harmful systems and prioritize community care, appreciation for the natural world, and creative paths to safety.
Kate Evans (she/her) is a second-year J.D. candidate at NYU School of Law. Kate graduated magna cum laude from Duke University with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies. Prior to law school, Kate worked on criminal justice reform and voting rights advocacy in North Carolina at Forward Justice and Emancipate NC. She has also conducted research on the juvenile justice system in her home state of New Jersey. Kate hopes to use her law degree to challenge the flawed and inaccessible U.S. legal system and promote equity and justice.
Critical Legal Empowerment Symposium Fellow
Sean is a 3L student at NYU Law. Before law school, he spent two years In Washington D.C. working for the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide. In those roles he lobbied the White House and Congress to decrease the military budget and increase peacebuilding efforts in Iraq and Syria. After that he moved to New York and worked for the Institute of International Education and RIF Asylum Support, where he focused on refugee resettlement and services for asylum seekers. In law school he has interned at the Federal Defenders of New York, the Legal Aid Society, and Brooklyn Defender Services.
Critical Legal Empowerment Symposium Fellow
Hailey Corkery (she/her) grew up in Reston, Virginia and graduated from Colorado College in 2020 with a B.A. in Sociology and Feminist and Gender Studies. As a 2L at NYU Law, Hailey is a Staff Editor on the NYU Review of Law & Social Change and a student researcher with the NYU-Yale American Indian Sovereignty Project. She is also on the board of various student groups, including Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Ending the Prison Industrial Complex’s Solitary Confinement Project, and NYU Law’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. During her 1L summer, she was an International Law and Human Rights Fellow at National Foundation for India in New Delhi. She will be spending her 2L summer as a Legal Intern with EarthRights International in Washington, D.C. Hailey hopes to use her JD to defend human rights and support grassroots movements through a community-centered approach.
Critical Legal Empowerment Symposium Fellow
María Alejandra Torres García is a third-year J.D. candidate at NYU School of Law. She was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and raised in New Jersey. Alejandra graduated summa cum laude from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with the self-titled concentration, “Empire and Postcolonial Subjectivity.” She obtained a postgraduate Specialization in Human Rights and Access to Justice in Latin America at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.
Alejandra is passionate about anti-imperialist, racial, and climate justice. She has worked primarily in the international space with immigrant and racialized communities, women, and children, through advocacy, education, policy and legal research, community-building, and direct services. Alejandra is a Derrick Bell Scholar, an NYU Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellow, a Book Annotations Editor for the Journal of International Law and Politics, and a Global Justice Clinic Student Advocate. After graduation, she will be a Masiyiwa-Bernstein Fellow with the Global Justice Clinic.