Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Legal Staff

Erik Crew, Bertha Justice Fellow (New York), is a recent graduate from the part-time evening division at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. He earned his B.A. in African American Studies, with distinction, from Yale University. He started law school while working at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC), a non-profit law firm that represents people in prison, people with criminal records, and advocates for an end to the practice of mass incarceration. At OJPC, Erik spent four years as lead investigator and litigation support on the Human Rights in Prison Project, and he spent three years managing public advocacy and communications campaigns including the successful effort to free Tyra Patterson, a woman who had spent 23 years in prison for crimes she did not commit. During night school for law, Erik interned at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the Hague-based Global Rights Compliance, the Association for Defense Counsel practicing before International Courts and Tribunals, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. His freelance writing has appeared in Crash Course Literature, Abservd Magazine, The Hummingbird Review, and in 2007 won the Nella Larsen Award for Black Atlantic Writing.

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. Contact:

Sienna Merope-Synge, Legal Director (New York and Port-au-Prince), works primarily on UN accountability issues, including co-leading global advocacy efforts to secure remedies for victims of the UN-introduced Haiti cholera epidemic. Prior to joining IJDH, Sienna worked as a United Nations consultant on transitional justice and gender-based violence issues, as a public law litigation attorney with the law firm of Herbert Smith Freehills, and as a refugee advocate with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Sienna earned her LLM at the NYU School of Law, where she was a Hauser Global Scholar, and holds political science and law degrees from the University of Melbourne, Australia. She speaks English, French, and Kreyol. Contact:

Sandra Wisner, Staff Attorney (Toronto), is a Canadian human rights attorney working to hold international human rights violators accountable for their actions in Haiti. Prior to joining IJDH, Sandra worked as a UN legal consultant assisting with prosecutions of the Khmer Rouge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She has litigated plaintiff-side discrimination and tort cases in Toronto, Canada, and spent a year in South Africa assisting the Legal Resources Centre in their representation of victims at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. Sandra holds Canadian J.D. and Honours Bachelor of Arts degrees as well as an Advanced LL.M. in Public International Law from Leiden University, specializing in business and human rights. Contact:


Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Legal Fellows/Interns

Alondra Urbina, Legal Intern, was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, California. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Sociology and Legal Studies, and is currently a law student at Columbia Law School. During her 1L summer, Alondra interned at Safe Passage Project, a nonprofit specializing in representing unaccompanied minors, where she advocated and petitioned for clients in immigration and family court. This upcoming summer, Alondra will be a summer associate at White & Case LLP in their New York office. On campus, Alondra serves as the President of Empowering Women of Color (EWOC), the Mentorship Chair of the Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA), a staff editor on the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, and as an Admissions Student Ambassador. Alondra is most interested in international law, immigration law, refugee law, and human rights. Contact:

Olivia Griffin, Legal Intern, is a second-year law student at Boston University School of Law specializing in international law. She previously worked at the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva and with a grassroots women’s rights organization in South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in the Plan II Honors program at the University of Texas at Austin. Contact:



Contact IJDH

Institute for Justice & Democracy In Haiti
867 Boylston Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (857)-201-0991
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