Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Legal Staff


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:

beatrice-lindstromBeatrice 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. Contact:

Sienna Merope-Synge, Staff Attorney (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:

Nicole Phillips, Esq., Staff Attorney (San Francisco and Haiti), 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. Contact:

P1010034Sandra Wisner, Attorney, Bertha Justice Fellow,
is a Canadian human rights attorney working as a Bertha Justice Fellow with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti on UN accountability matters and as the liaison to Bureau des Avocats Internationaux’s fellows 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

Sahadia Auguste, Legal Intern, is currently a third-year student at Rutgers Law School. She relocated to New Jersey from South Florida. Sahadia studied International Affairs and Political Science at the Florida State University. Upon graduation, she was given the Award of FSU Global Scholar and provided funding for a volunteer initiative she planned in Port Au Prince Haiti. During her time in Haiti, Sahadia observed the need for a student-friendly environment. With the encouragement of friends and family, Sahadia founded Bisou Bisou Haiti, a non-profit student resource center operating in the commune of Carrefour Feuilles in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Her legal experience includes a judicial internship with the Honorable Judge Karen Williams for the District of New Jersey, serving as the Director of Social action for MABLSA and acting as co-director of the Mortgage and Foreclosure Clinic on campus. She plans to pursue a concentration in International Development Law in practice. Sahadia will employ her education to fuel her passions on her pursuit of social justice. In her free time, Sahadia enjoys watching foreign films. Contact:

unnamedAshlyn Castoe, Legal, Communication and Development Intern, is an upcoming third-year law student at New England Law| Boston. She is currently working on an immigration concentration and is very interested in international human rights issues. Ashlyn is the current International Law Society President and works with her schools Center For International Law and Policy, where she researches different business operational grievance mechanisms to see if they are following the United Nations Model. As a first-year law student, Ashlyn worked with her schools Center of Law at Social Responsibility by conducting interviews with J-1 visa holders living in the US, to report any issues for suggested policy changes. Ashlyn applied to IJDH because as a law student, she believes that advocating for human rights should always be a priority. Studying abroad in Guatemala while getting her undergraduate degree, and traveling to other underdeveloped countries was an eye-opening experience that made her very aware and passionate about human rights. During her legal internships while in law school, Ashlyn had the pleasure of working with many Haitian’s seeking citizenship. Through her experience in legal immigration work, Ashlyn became frustrated with the immigration system and lack of relief and resources for immigrants. This experience made her want to apply to IJDH, to help with policy work for people in Haiti.

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. Contact:

unnamedKatline Racine, Legal Intern, is a Canadian of Haitian descent completing her last semester of law school (J.D.) with a specialization in Social Justice at the University of Ottawa.  Before this, she completed her bachelors in conflict studies and human rights with a minor in women studies at the same university and also completed an international exchange in France at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.  She has previously worked for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and has also completed work for Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice.  Her primary areas of interest include human rights, politics and international law, precisely how anti-colonial history intersect with gender, the environment and the law.  Katline’s passion for social justice derives from her mother’s constant dedication to the Haitian community as a social worker for the diaspora in Ottawa, Canada. Contact:

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. Contact:




Contact IJDH

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

Telephone: (617) 652-0876
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