Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti


mario faceMario Joseph, Av., BAI Managing Attorney, has co-managed or managed the BAI since 1996, and has practiced human rights and criminal law since 1993. The New York Times called him Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyer. He spearheaded the prosecution of the Raboteau Massacre trial in 2000, one of the most significant human rights cases anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. He has represented dozens of jailed political prisoners, in Haitian courts and in complaints before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In 2013, he was a finalist for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. In 2014, he and Brian Concannon were awarded the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice.  In 2009, Mr. Joseph received the Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award from the Center for Justice & Accountability and the Katherine and George Alexander Human Rights Prize from the University of Santa Clara Law School. He has testified as an expert on Haitian criminal procedure before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and in U.S. courts, and served on the Haitian government’s Law Reform Commission. Mr. Joseph is also an educator, and a graduate of Haiti’s Teachers’ College. He has extensive experience teaching human rights and legal issues to grassroots advocacy organizations, human rights groups and victims’ organizations. He appears frequently on television and radio in Haiti to explain legal issues. He speaks Haitian Creole, French and English.


Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., IJDH Executive Director, co-managed the BAI in Haiti for eight years, from 1996-2004, and worked for the United Nations as a Human Rights Officer in 1995-1996. He founded IJDH, and has been the Director since 2004. He helped prepare the prosecution of the Raboteau Massacre trial in 2000, one of the most significant human rights cases anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. He has represented Haitian political prisoners before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and represented the plaintiff in Yvon Neptune v. Haiti, the first Haiti case ever tried before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Mr. Concannon has received fellowships from Harvard Law School and Brandeis University and has trained international judges, U.S. asylum officers and law students across the U.S. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Health and Human Rights, An International Journal. He speaks and writes frequently about human rights in Haiti. He holds an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College and JD from Georgetown Law. He speaks English, Haitian Creole and French.

Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

For the security and privacy of BAI staff, their names are excluded from this site.  In addition to Mario Joseph, the BAI team includes roughly three attorneys, six legal trainees, four administrative and program staff, nine support staff, and more than three dozen civic engagement training and outreach staff, for a total of over 40 staff who are all Haitian.

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti Boston, MA, USA

(Remotely-based team members noted)

19030490_1207424329404460_5162174437905841161_nAshley Armand, Communications and Development Assistant, is passionate about social justice, advocacy, and human rights. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Theoretical and Applied Ethics. While working on her undergraduate degree, Ashley spent her time providing her expertise in data analysis, coding, and communications. She also worked as a research fellow under grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for professors at both Brigham Young University and Boston University. Ashley is of Haitian descent and speaks Haitian Creole fluently. She has volunteered as a tutor and translator for a plethora of Haitian students in multiple school districts, assisting and instructing high school aged students with academic course curriculum and organizational skills. She has also volunteered with several non-profit organizations in efforts to improve lives in Haiti.


Bet­sey Chace, Development Director.  Betsey first joined IJDH as a volunteer in 2011.  She has handled IJDH finance and operations, and focuses now on raising funds to support the work of BAI and IJDH.   She has 20 years of social justice and social service experience, including finance work at Partners In Health, grants and financial management at the Brigham and Women’s Hos­pi­tal Divi­sion of Global Health Equity and pro­gram coor­di­na­tion at the Mass­a­chu­setts Office for Refugees and Immi­grants. Betsey holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Man­age­ment and a BA in East Asian Stud­ies from Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity. She has lived and worked in China, Mozam­bique and Brazil.  She is flu­ent in Portuguese, used to speak Man­darin and French and has learned some Kreyol.


ValValerie (Val) Dionne-Lanier, Operations Manager. Val has 40 years of nonprofit and education administration experience. Val was the first Director of Rosie’s Place, a shelter for homeless women.  She moved on to Director of The Commission for Homeless for the City of Boston and then to Pine Street Inn as Director of Permanent Housing. Val also spent 13 years in Cochabamba, Bolivia and founded the Casa de la Mujer, a program for teenage pregnant girls with a high-risk daycare center. Her years spent in education were in the areas of administration and fundraising; as Vice-Principal of St Patrick’s School in Roxbury and as Director of finances and Operations at The Advent School in Boston. Val speaks English and Spanish.


steve face betterSteve Forester, Esq., Immigration Policy Coordinator (Miami). Steve leads efforts to win creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP) to speed entry into the U.S. of 110,000 beneficiaries of approved visa petitions, to give parity with DHS’s Cuban FRPP and help Haiti recover by generating additional remittances.  He has won support for this from about 100 congresspersons, 10 editorial boards in 17 editorials, the Miami-Dade County Commission, NY and Philadelphia city councils, the US Conference of Mayors, ABA, NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, MA Gov. Patrick and others.  Pre-quake, he secured pro-TPS editorials in major papers and political, legal and media support after devastating 2008 storms.  He meets officials and pens op-eds; his January 2009 work won a quiet halt of all non-criminal Haiti deportations formalized by TPS after the quake. A Haiti rights advocate since 1979, he has testified in the Senate, House and other bodies and led the fight to enact the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998 (HRIFA), under which 20,000 Haitians became U.S. permanent residents. IJDH has sponsored his work since February 2009.


beatrice-lindstrom Beatrice Lindstrom, Esq., Staff Attorney (New York). Beatrice manages advocacy and litigation to seek accountability and remedies from the United Nations for its peacekeepers’ introduction of cholera to Haiti. Beatrice is lead counsel in Georges v. United Nations, a class action lawsuit on behalf of Haitians and Haitian-Americans injured by cholera. She regularly provides expertise on UN accountability and human rights in Haiti, including as a former country expert for Freedom House, as a frequent guest lecturer at universities, and in the media. Prior to joining IJDH, she was a Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network (LERN) Fellow at the BAI, where she managed grassroots participation in the Universal Periodic Review and responded to human rights violations in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. Beatrice holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root Tilden Kern scholar, and completed her bachelor’s degree at Emory University. She is the 2015 recipient of the New York University School of Law Alumni Association’s Recent Graduate Award, and has an unhealthy love for mamba and pikliz.


Sienna Merope-Synge, Be Just Fellow (New York), works primarily on global advocacy efforts to seek accountability from the UN for introducing cholera to Haiti, and as a liaison with BAI’s Be Just Fellows in Haiti. Her experience prior to joining BAI/IJDH includes working on transitional justice and gender-based violence issues with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in public law litigation with the law firm of Herbert Smith Freehills and in refugee and indigenous peoples’ rights advocacy in Australia. Sienna is a graduate of the NYU School of Law, where she was a Hauser Global Scholar, and holds undergraduate political science and law degrees from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She speaks English, French, and Kreyol.


Nicole Phillips, Esq., Staff Attorney (San Francisco and Haiti). Nicole has always been passionate about international human rights. Moved by the Haiti earthquake, she left her career as a union labor lawyer to join IJDH in April 2010. Nicole is a law professor at the Université de la Foundation Dr. Aristide (UNIFA) in Port-au-Prince, and adjunct professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Advocates, an NGO with consultative status to the United Nations, and has appeared before various UN bodies and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Nicole earned her B.A. from the University of California, San Diego in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations, and her JD from the University of San Francisco. She is licensed to practice law in California, has lived and studied in Haiti, France and Mexico, and speaks French, Spanish and Kreyol.


WadnerPierreWadner Pierre, Communications Coordinator, is an award-winning photojournalist and a native of Haiti. Wadner worked as a Media Specialist for the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux from 2006-2008 while living in Haiti. He received a Master of Science in International relations from University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK and a Bachelor of Art from Loyola University New Orleans, School of Mass Communication. Wadner has been working as a photojournalist for the past ten years. His work was featured in national and international outlets such as Inter Press Service-North America (IPS), The Maroon, Gambit (a New Orleans-based weekly newspaper), and in Margaret Trost’s book,“On that Day Everybody.” Additionally, Wadner is a Social Media and Web Specialist, and ranks among the top ten percent of social media users globally according to his Klout score. Wadner also has a background in diplomacy: Besides participating in international workshops on diplomacy and global affairs, he received two certificates from London-based think tank Global Diplomatic Forum (GDF); is a contributing writer for the GDF, Diplomatic Digest; actively contributes to the GDF social media platforms.


Screen Shot 2017-07-14 at 4.22.50 PM Juliette Low Fleury, Communications and Development Intern, was raised between Cambridge, MA and La Gonave, Haiti. Juliette is currently a student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. She speaks fluent Haitian Creole and returns to Haiti annually. In Cambridge, she is a volunteer at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and Friends of Matènwa Inc. She has worked for the Matènwa Community Learning Center as an interpreter for teacher exchange programs between the United States and La Gonave. Juliette’s goal is to be able to help others navigate the complexities of the United States and Haitian legal systems.


Nick Morihisa profile picNick Morihisa, Volunteer Coordinator, is a junior at Harvard College studying economics and theatre. He realizes that this is an odd combination for someone interested in policy and law, but after a couple years of doing chemistry and physics on a pre-med track, who wouldn’t make decisions that are a little bit nutty? You know how people say that they’re into “all music, or ABC (Anything But Country)?” Nick feels pretty similarly about any subject be it related to people, hiking, running, science, history, politics, comedy (especially improv), movies, TV, or philosophy. He has experience working in the offices of NY State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn and Senator Elizabeth Warren as well as with a non-profit, the Public Utility Law Project of New York, which dedicates itself to educating, litigating, and advocating for low and fixed-income families in need of representation. He could go on, but he knows that Val is eagerly awaiting the submission of this bio. Nick hopes to go on to work in the public sector as an intermediary between economic advisors and policymakers who often are thinking on very different wavelengths. If you have any questions or would like to chat then you can email him at


Professional picture-1Lynn-Samantha Severe, Legal Intern,  is a native of Haiti. She has a passion for international law, social justice, and human rights. Lynn-Samantha speaks Haitian Creole and French fluently and came to the United States in 2010 following the Haiti earthquake. In 2014, Lynn-Samantha graduated with her Bachelors of Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she majored in Economics. Currently, she is a 3L at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC.


IMG_1500Anni Xu, Communications and Development Intern,  is a recent graduate from Boston University majoring in Journalism. Born in the UK and raised in China, she learnt to embrace multicultural differences in Singapore during her middle school years. She loves communicating with people from all different backgrounds and telling their stories through visual forms that stirs emotions. In the past, she worked as a radio broadcast at Boston University’s radio station WTBU, where she reported news and interviewed event hosts in the Greater Boston Area. Her goal is to educate people through multimedia tools , a more creative way of raising awareness. She speaks English and Mandarin.


Nathan YaffeNathan Yaffe, Legal Intern, has been involved  in human rights and development issues as a co-founder and board member of the Haiti Justice Alliance, as part of a university delegation studying land grabs in Ethiopia, and as a volunteer and research assistant for NYU’s Global Justice Clinic. Once upon a time, he graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, MN (catchphrase: “cows, colleges, and contentment!”). Currently a 3L at NYU School of Law, Nathan is an Institute for International Law & Justice Scholar as well as a Furman Scholar.

  Additional Team Members

Shannon Jonsson, Legal Fellow, has a longstanding interest in human rights due to living and traveling internationally since childhood.  Her experience prior to joining IJDH includes working as a graduate fellow at the Asylum and Human Rights Clinic at Boston University School of Law, and a legal internship in South Africa at Lawyers for Human Rights.  Shannon also served for two years as the co-chair of the International Refugee Law Committee at the American Bar Association, and maintains an active advisory role as immediate past chair.  She is a graduate of Boston University School of Law and earned her undergraduate degree at Stanford University, where she studied international relations and minored in French.  Shannon speaks English and French, and once upon a time spoke passable Italian.


Given our small office and high vol­ume of work, we depend heav­ily on vol­un­teers to help us with translations, advocacy, writing and much more. Thank you to volunteers all over the world, in all stages of their careers and education, who make time for IJDH. We are eter­nally grate­ful.

Chelsie Gawnemark Carmelita Francois Radney Jean-Claude Peggy Chateauneuf Photo Susan Koenig Photo Greger Calhan Susie Zeiger Photo Tom Driver Patricia Pabst Jessicah Pierre Rodney Pepe-Souvenir Photo Hugues Girard Photo Florian Renaux Lika Diouf Kerfy Pierre Karen Sullivan Tamara Isaac photo Ramon Oyarzun Soto Mark Phillips Wesley L Julien_Olihidé Ronald Chenet Cassie Ramos  Joe-Derilus    

See a list of our past team members from 2007 to present 

Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
15 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
General Inquiries:
Media Inquiries:

Use Giving Assistant to save money and support Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti Inc.