Schell Center Announces 2021 Postgraduate Fellows

Schell postgraduate fellows
Clockwise from top left: Benjamin Dearden ’21, Sofea Dil ’21, Aydan Figaroa ’21 LLM, Alexandra Francis ’18, Megan Pearson ’21, Jessica Tueller ’21, Anna Wherry ’21, Alyssa Yamamoto ’18.

The Schell Center for International Human Rights has announced eight Yale Law students and recent graduates who will receive postgraduate fellowships in human rights. The Schell Center awards two postgraduate fellowships. The Bernstein Fellowship supports a year of full-time work in human rights advocacy. The Robina Fellowship also funds full-time human rights work, particularly international or foreign courts and tribunals and intergovernmental human rights agencies.

Benjamin Dearden ’21 will spend his Robina Fellowship year at an international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. He will assist with three upcoming high-profile cases. While at Yale Law, he participated in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic as well as the New Haven Legal Assistance Association’s Immigrant and Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also participated in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. He spent summers working at the Yale Housing Clinic and at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a dual degree in English and Spanish Studies.

Sofea Dil ’21 will spend her Robina Fellowship year working in the Legal Office of the U.N. World Food Programme in Rome, Italy. She will work on facilitating the legal aspects of WFP's worldwide humanitarian operations including focused attention to the application of international humanitarian law to the organization's field operations in conflict zones. During her time in law school, Sofea served as the Executive and Managing Editor for the Global Constitutionalism Seminar, an Executive Editor for the Yale Journal of International Law, a volunteer and board member for the International Refugee Assistance Project, and a member of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She received a B.A. in Linguistics with Highest Distinction in General Scholarship from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Aydan Figaroa ’21 LLM will be spending his Bernstein fellowship year at Minority Rights Group, an organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide. Aydan will be based in MRG’s London office where he will be working closely with MRG’s legal team. Aydan will focus primarily on developing a legal intervention strategy around intellectual property, cultural rights and traditional knowledge that feeds into MRG’s existing environmental justice work. During his time at Yale Law School, Aydan was an Editorial Board Member of the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities and a member of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. Prior to Yale, Aydan was a lecturer in Intellectual Property at Utrecht University and was an advisor to the Dutch Council for Culture. Aydan holds an LL.B. and Research LL.M. from Utrecht University.

Alexandra Francis ’18 will be a Robina Fellow at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, where she will provide support on a diverse range of issues relating to international humanitarian and human rights law in the context of the provision of humanitarian assistance. Alexandra graduated from Yale Law School in 2018, where she was a Student Director of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. She also served as a Student Director and Herbert J. Hansell Fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges, Co-President of the National Security Group, and as a Legal Director for the International Refugee Assistance Project. Alexandra was previously an associate at Covington & Burling LLP, where she advised on public international law proceedings before the International Court of Justice, Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, as well as on matters relating to U.S. sanctions, export controls, and human rights compliance. Prior to law school, Alexandra was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Amman, Jordan and a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She also holds a B.A. in political science from Davidson College. 

Megan Pearson ’21 is spending her Bernstein Fellowship year at Accountability Counsel. Megan will join their Policy Team, which consults with international financial institutions and aid programs to make their accountability mechanisms more accessible and effective for local communities who are harmed by internationally financed development projects. Megan will also pursue research on the elusiveness of meaningful remedies for victims of environmental and human rights harms. At Yale, she was a member of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, a board member of the Black Law Students Association, a Dean’s Advisor, and an avid Law Revue cast member. She spent her summers working at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Research Division at the European Court of Human Rights. She holds a B.A. in English from Duke University.

Jessica Tueller ’21 will spend her Robina fellowship at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. She will be based in the Commission’s Rapporteurship on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, where she will focus primarily on gender stereotyping and transformative equality. Jessica will also support Commissioner Flávia Piovesan, Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, in initiatives beyond the scope of the Rapporteurship, such as the establishment of an Impact Observatory to measure and to increase the effects of the Commission on human rights practices in the Americas. During law school, Jessica served as a Student Director of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, a Student Director of the Schell Center for International Human Rights, and a Director of the Lowenstein Human Rights Project. She was also a Teaching Fellow for the undergraduate course “Theories, Practices, and Politics of Human Rights,” an Editor in Chief of the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, and a member of the Global Health Justice Partnership. During her studies, Jessica interned at Human Rights Watch, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Blue Ocean Law, the Center for Justice and International Law, and Lawyers Without Borders. Jessica holds an A.B. in History and Literature from Harvard College.

Anna Wherry ’21 will spend her Bernstein Fellowship year in Bogotá, Colombia assisting human rights lawyers providing counsel to demobilized FARC combatants whose cases are before the country’s transitional court, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). Her fellowship is sponsored by the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), which funds and oversees the legal team. She will help prepare respondents’ cases and research relevant human rights and humanitarian law. Outside the court, she will advocate for demobilized individuals’ safety and economic security, helping ensure successful completion of the court’s legal process. At Yale, Anna participated in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Global Health Justice Partnership’s Sex Worker Health and Rights Project. She was a summer intern at the Federal Defenders for the Eastern District of New York and at Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice. Anna is also completing a Ph.D. in Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. As a Marshall Scholar, she attained master’s degrees from the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre and the University of Edinburgh’s Department of Social Anthropology. Anna received a dual B.A. in Public Health Studies and Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University.

Alyssa T. Yamamoto ’18 will spend her Robina Fellowship year working as the Research and Advocacy Fellow to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism. Since graduating from Yale, Alyssa has worked as an associate in the Public International Law and International Dispute Resolution Groups at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Her representations have involved inter-State proceedings before the International Court of Justice and U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, individual communications before the U.N. Human Rights Committee and Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and plaintiff-side cases under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act. At Yale, Alyssa was a Herbert J. Hansell Fellow at the Center for Global Legal Challenges and a member of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. Prior to law school, Alyssa worked as a researcher and engagement manager for the nonprofits Partners In Health and Village Health Works, respectively. She received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College.