Introducing the 2015 Draper Hills Summer Fellows

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As human rights defenders in Bahrain, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Egypt, Georgia and Uganda, our fellows are supporting victims' rights, promoting gender justice, keeping governments accountable and reporting these abuses to the international community.

In Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Jordan, India, Nigeria and Zambia, our fellows are working to strengthen the rule of law to provide legal services to the poor, protect refugee rights, prosecute corruption and advance police reform.

Fellows are using innovative ICT tools and online platforms in Cuba, Kenya, Nigeria and Ukraine to increase transparency, build virtual communities and magnify their reach.

Social entrepreneurs in Bhutan, Paraguay and Tunisia are supporting rural communities and incubating new start-up initiatives to spread the culture of entrepreneurship among youth. And lastly, activists in Belarus, Burma and Thailand are working to promote democratic reforms to support their country’s political development.

The 2015 class will mark the 11th cohort of the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program and this will join the Omidyar Network Leadership Forum, a community of 250 alumni in 70 countries worldwide.

Please join us in congratulating this remarkable group of democracy leaders and welcoming them to the Stanford community.

More information on the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program can be found here.



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Silvina Rivarola is a criminal prosecutor with the Attorney General’s office for the City of Buenos Aires where she is in charge of the cybercrime unit. Rivarola has devoted her 25-year career to advancing the rule of law in Argentina’s judicial branch where she previously served as a criminal judge.

Ala’a Shehabi is a senior researcher at the University of Lancaster’s Work Foundation. Previously, she was an independent research and civil rights activist in Bahrain. She co-founded Bahrain Watch, a watchdog group that carries out investigations into state policies to promote transparency and accountability. They have led investigations into state-controlled media, PR companies, surveillance technology and sales of tear gas.

Aleś Łahviniec is the vice-chair of the Movement for Freedom, one of Belarus’ leading democratic opposition organizations working to advance democracy and develop civil society. Łahviniec ran for parliamentary and local elections. As an instructor, he is leading several education programs for young people. He is also a political commentator in Belarusian independent media. 

Thinley Choden is an independent consultant, social entrepreneur and an advocate for education and women’s leadership. She also founded READ Bhutan, the first organization to establish a network of community libraries and resource centers in rural areas. To date, READ programs serve over 35,000 Bhutanese and help to instill democratic practices on a grassroots level.

Sumeja Tulic is a researcher for Amnesty International responsible for monitoring, researching, investigating and analyzing human rights developments for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. As an activist is the Balkans, Tulic helped launch networks to combat hate crimes and speech and has also used photography as a tool for human rights outreach.

Myat Ko is the co-founder of the Yangon School of Political Science where he directs their political education department working to train and empower citizens with political knowledge to support Burma’s political development. Ko works with ethnic groups and opposition parties to engage them in Burma’s transition.

Terith Chy is the executive officer of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an organization that documents the crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge regime to help bring justice to the millions of victims and survivors. Chy’s work in transitional justice has made him one of Asia’s leading experts on victim participation in mass crimes proceedings.

Laura Gil is a senior advisor to the Minister of Interior in Colombia where she has worked on drafting and implementing law to support the peace process and reparations for victims. Working with government and civil society, Gil has sought government action to aid in the peaceful resolution of internal armed conflicts.

Karina Sarmiento is the regional director for Asylum Access Latin America, an international organization working to support refugee rights. Sarmiento leads the organization’s growth and implementation strategy for refugee legal aid clinics, strategic litigation, community legal empowerment and national policy advocacy across Latin America.

Heba Morayef is an Egyptian human rights defender based in Cairo. As Human Rights Watch’s Egypt director for six years, Morayef focused on documenting human rights violations, publicizing them, and lobbying decision-makers. Most recently, she served as a senior Egypt analyst for the International Crisis Group until the authorities shut down the Cairo office.

Giorgi Gogia is a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch where he researches, monitors and documents human rights abuses in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Gogia’s work on criminal justice reform in Georgia led to an amendment overhauling the government’s flawed system of administrative detention in 2014.

Mukul Saxena is a colonel with the Indian Army who has 11 years of service in conflict regions of the country. As a passionate human rights advocate, Saxena is working within the Indian army on human rights issues pertaining to children's rights in areas of civil unrest.

Navaz Kotwal works for the United Nations Development Program leading a project to provide legal empowerment for the poor, while working on broader issues of justice delivery and reform. Kotwal’s involvement in rights work began in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, India, where she helped obtain justice for survivors.

May Al-Taher is a researcher and the founder of the Vision Institute for Civil Society Studies, a policy research institute that works on legislative reform and monitors legal implementation in Jordan. Most recently, Vision Institute led the Jordan Local Governance Watch, which conducted an assessment of the state of local democracy in Jordan.

Teddy Warria is a Kenyan entrepreneur and the CEO of Africa 2.0 Kenya, an action-oriented community of young and emerging leaders from Africa who share a collective vision for the future. Warria is also the director of Africa’s Talking Limited, a mobile telecommunications company working to close the information poverty gap in Kenya.

Roukaya Kasenally is a senior advisor with the African Media Initiative, an organization supporting independent media on the African continent. Kasenally has served as a researcher for a number of pan-African democratic and governance institutions and co-founded an advocacy organization to engage the Mauritian public in democratic development. Kasenally also teaches at the University of Mauritius.

Oludotun Babayemi is the co-founder of Connected Development [CODE], an organization that uses online and offline tools to put pressure on governments and organizations in Nigeria to be more accountable and transparent. Their “Follow the Money” campaign has helped to monitor and track public resource allocation so marginalized communities receive government provisions and services. 

Okechukwu Nwanguma is the national coordinator of the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, a network of 46 civil society organizations committed to promoting police accountability and respect for human rights. For nearly two decades, Nwanguma has been involved in efforts to reform and strengthen state institutions in Nigeria, particularly the criminal justice system.

Bruno Defelippe is a social entrepreneur who has launched several social initiatives to engage young people to solve social and environmental challenges in Paraguay. He is the co-founder and CEO of Koga Social Business Lab, which incubates social businesses and provides a strong ecosystem for social entrepreneurs to thrive.

Kornchanok Raksaseri is a journalist, educator and activist working on media reform to support Thailand’s democratic development. Raksaseri is a member of the Thai Journalists Association and a vice president of the ASEAN Journalists Club where she promotes professionalism of the media, freedom of the press and the welfare of journalists.

Houssem Aoudi is the founder of Wasabi, a media and communications company working to promote the freedom of expression and entrepreneurship in Tunisia. Aoudi served as the director of the Media Center for the 2014 Tunisian parliamentary and presidential elections, and is the co-founder of a hub and community space for entrepreneurs.

Irene Caroline Ovonji-Odida is the CEO of the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers, which works to use the law to advance human rights and social justice for women and children. Ovonji-Odida has dedicated 25 years of her career to advancing gender equality and justice as a policymaker, activist and legislator.

Maksym Savanevskyi is the founder of Watcher, an online news platform that explores and analyzes the impact of digital communications on society in Ukraine. He co-founded the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, which was set up in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, to provide objective information about developments in Ukraine.

Catherine Phiri is a public prosecutor for the government of Zambia where she prosecutes cases of corrupt practices, abuse of authority and money laundering that undermine the rule of law. Through her work she has helped implement systems that enhance the efficient and effective flow of cases.