Gruber Program Names 2016–2017 Fellows

The Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale Law School is proud to announce the 2016–2017 Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellows in Global Justice and Women’s Rights: Mohsin Bhat ’16, Conchita Cruz ’16, Ruth Metzel ’16 FES/SOM, Hassaan Sipra ’16 FES, and Sarah Tolbert ’16 Jackson/FES. Each Fellow has developed in collaboration with a host organization a yearlong project that aims to advance justice and human rights. Topics span a range of critical issues including access to housing, political asylum, and environmental justice. Projects include developing a pilot program to secure land rights for indigenous groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, launching a new organization to advocate for the end of family detention for asylum seekers in the United States, and establishing a new cooperative model to formalize the waste picker sector in Lahore, Pakistan.

M. Mohsin Alam Bhat ’16
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

As a Gruber fellow, Mohsin Bhat will build a project to tackle religious and caste discrimination in urban housing in India. Discrimination in the private housing market has perceptibly escalated in the country leading to further ghettoization of marginalized communities. In collaboration with the Centre of Equity Studies, Mohsin will consolidate the empirical evidence of housing discrimination and its impact on disadvantaged groups. He will draft a policy document addressing the absence of a comprehensive anti-discrimination legal regime through extensive consultation and involvement of local communities in Delhi and Mumbai. He will also generate a long-term legal strategy in partnership with legal advocacy groups. The goal of the project is to create a platform joining local communities and activists in furtherance of the right to housing, minority rights, as well as the nascent movement for civil rights in the non-state public sphere in India. Mohsin received his bachelors of law from NALSAR University (India). Prior to his graduate studies at Yale Law School, he served as a law clerk to Justice P. Sathasivam at the Supreme Court of India. His doctoral research is on the law and social movement politics of affirmative action for religious and caste minorities in India.

Conchita Cruz ’16
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Women’s Rights

Conchita Cruz is the co-founder and future project director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) at the Urban Justice Center, a new project to help Central American refugee families while in detention and upon release to win their asylum cases and stay in the United States. She will work directly on cases and on policy measures to stop the detention and deportation of Central American refugee women and children. Conchita graduated from Brown University (BA) and is currently in her third year at Yale Law School. At Yale, Conchita served as the chair of the Latino Law Student Association (LLSA) and the president of the American Constitution Society (ACS). Before starting law school, Conchita served as the deputy chief of staff to Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), responsible for communications and immigration policy. Conchita also served as the chief of staff for State Senator Gustavo Rivera of the Bronx, where she focused her work primarily on immigrants’ rights issues and criminal justice reform. Conchita has also worked on a number of political campaigns, including Obama for America and the Alex Sink for Governor campaign.

Ruth Metzel ’16 FES/SOM
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

During her Fellowship year, Ruth Metzel will work with the Azuero Earth Project to connect smallholder farmers and landowners to the global climate finance landscape. The Azuero peninsula of Panama is one of the most drought-prone, climatically vulnerable regions of Central America, and although its farmers are becoming increasingly interested in reforestation, national and international reforestation finance landscapes are difficult to navigate. Through her Gruber Fellowship, Ruth will develop a strategy for advocating for smallholder farmer rights at the international level by enhancing understanding of current climate and reforestation finance policies, and creating a vehicle through which smallholder farmers can insert themselves into this finance landscape to capture funding that will help them mitigate and adapt to climate change. Ruth will graduate in May with a Master of Forestry (MF) from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Yale School of Management. Prior to her graduate studies, she co-founded the Azuero Earth Project and served as its first director. She holds a BA in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University.

Hassaan Sipra ’16 FES
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

Hassaan Sipra will be working with the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) in Pakistan to formalize the informal waste pickers sector of Lahore and streamline the waste management processes of the city through the development of a cooperative model. Inspiration for this project was drawn from successful cooperative models already established in other developing cities, including Curitiba, Brazil and Pune, India. Furthermore, the Government of Punjab has given LWMC the mandate to expand their operations to six other major cities in the province, and lessons learned from engaging the informal waste pickers sector of Lahore may be applied to that expansion process. A well-structured cooperative model that involves all relevant stakeholders will raise the living standards of the informal waste pickers of Lahore and simultaneously increase LWMC’s operational efficiency. Hassaan will work closely with LWMC, City District Government Lahore, United Nations Development Program, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, universities and other relevant stakeholders to implement engagement mechanisms for the informal waste pickers of Lahore, through commissioned studies, dialogue, and negotiated action plans. Prior to completing his graduate studies at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Hassaan had worked in the U.S., Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Oman, and Uzbekistan in the fields of energy efficiency, rural housing development, commodities market analysis, farming practices, conservation and policy development. He also received a BA from Westminster College (Missouri) in 2011.

Sarah Tolbert ’16 Jackson/FES
Peter and Patricia Gruber Fellow in Global Justice

As a Gruber Fellow in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sarah Tolbert will collaborate with Strong Roots, a local Congolese organization, on a pilot project to help indigenous groups apply for land tenure under the 2014 Community Forest Law. The passage of the 2014 Community Forest Law is the first time communities in the DRC are able to apply for land tenure, which ensures access to the land they depend on. During her fellowship, Sarah will work with communities in the Kahuzi-Itombwe Corridor. This area is not only home to six indigenous communities, but also provides habitat for numerous endemic and endangered species, most notably the eastern lowland gorilla. Working closely with Strong Roots staff, traditional authorities, and local communities, Sarah will help create Conservation Committees and work with the Committees to collect the baseline information needed for the Conservation Plans, both of which are requirements to qualify for land tenure. Sarah will graduate in May from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (MEM) and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs (MA) and holds a BA from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to graduate school, Sarah worked in Benin for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, implementing sustainable agriculture projects. She also conducted research on the cost and benefits of living near gorilla-protected areas in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda.