Amanda Rawls, Director of the Africa Division, joined ABA ROLI’s Africa Division in July 2013 to oversee ABA ROLI’s programs in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. From 2011–2013, Rawls worked as program advisor for the Carter Center’s access to justice program in Liberia, focusing on strengthening both statutory and customary justice systems through civic education, alternative dispute resolution, capacity building for traditional leaders and support to national law reform processes. Previously, she worked as a legal advisor to Liberia’s justice minister, and as policy director for the non-profit Touch Foundation in Tanzania. In addition, Rawls served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, working to promote girls’ education from 1999–2001. She holds an LL.M. degree in indigenous peoples’ law and policy from the University of Arizona, where she conducted research on natural resource exploitation and marginalized communities, and worked as a member of the support team for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. In addition, she holds a JD from the NYU School of Law and an M.Sc. in international development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She speaks English and French and is admitted to the New York State Bar.
Sebastián Albuja, Deputy Director, joined ABA ROLI in October 2015. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Albuja served as head of the Africa and Americas Department at the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva, where he also worked as a regional analyst for the Americas. He was also a lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston, and an associate attorney with one of Ecuador’s preeminent law firms, Quevedo & Ponce. Albuja has written widely on rule of law issues, contributing chapters to four academic books and a number of articles and reports on migration and internal displacement. His current interests focus on the intersection between the rule of law and human mobility, including migration and forced migration, and in addition to his work with ROLI, he is currently a non-resident fellow with Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration. Albuja holds a Ph.D in law and public policy from Northeastern University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar, as well as a J.D. and B.A. from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador. Albuja is originally from Ecuador, is fluent in Spanish, English and French, and is admitted to the Quito Bar Association.
Melinda Bernard, Program Associate, joined ABA ROLI in February 2017, as part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo team. She previously worked for the World Affairs Council of Northern California coordinating high-profile events on migration, international conflict and human trafficking. Prior to that, Bernard worked at an environmental advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., where she campaigned for stronger local environmental protections. Bernard has lived and studied in France with the American Field Service. She is fluent in French, and holds a B.A. in international studies from the Universityof San Francisco where she graduated summa cum laude in 2016.
Claire Duguid, Program Associate, joined ABA ROLI in January 2017. Duguid works on rule of law programming in the Central African Republic. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Duguid worked at RAINN providing crisis counseling to members of the U.S. military who have been affected by sexual assault. She also worked at Human Rights First on their Campaign to Dismantle the Business of Human Trafficking. Duguid holds a B.A. in history and international relations from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and is fluent in French.
Kelvin Kabunga, Senior Program Officer - Operations. Before joining ABA ROLI’s Africa Division in DC, Kabunga worked as a project director for ABA ROLI in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has worked as a lawyer in the DRC for many years. Kabunga has worked with other international development organizations, such as Tetra Tech and Global Rights/Partners for Justice, on rule-of-law projects. He has also been a lecturer at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs in the DRC. Kabunga has a bachelor and license degree in international public law from the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs. He speaks French, English, Swahili and Lingala.
Timothy Meyer, Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI in Washington, DC, in January 2015 to manage justice support programs in Mali and the Central African Republic. Meyer previously worked for ABA ROLI in 2012 in Liberia, where he managed a program coordinating civil society groups to reduce instances of prolonged pre-trial detention. Prior to re-joining ABA ROLI, Meyer served, from 2013 through 2014, as a legal associate and program advisor for the Carter Center’s access to justice program in Liberia, where he focused on strengthening statutory and customary justice systems through civic education, alternative dispute resolution, civil society development, capacity building for traditional leaders and support to national law reform processes. Meyer holds a J.D. degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and a B.A. degree in diplomacy and foreign affairs from Miami University in Ohio. In addition, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, West Africa, working to promote girls’ education and empower women from 2005–2007. Meyer speaks French and is admitted to the Illinois State Bar.
Paula Paixao, Senior Program Officer, joined ABA ROLI in February 2012 to work on rule of law programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and, more recently, in Mauritania. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, Paixao worked for the legal departments of INTERPOL and UNESCO, practiced before labor courts in Brazil, advised high-ranking Brazilian government officials on foreign policy issues and volunteered for the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic. She holds a J.D. degree, cum laude, from the Universidade Federal do Amazonas in Brazil and an LL.M. degree in public international law from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in France. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish, and is admitted to the Brazilian Bar.
Rebecca Vernon, Program Manager, joined ABA ROLI’s Asia Division as a Program Manager in June 2014 and transferred to the Africa Division in February 2016. She had previously served with the division as a legal fellow and consultant. Prior to joining ABA ROLI, she worked for a government transparency academic research project and has held positions at PILnet, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and a large corporate law firm. She has also provided pro bono assistance to the ABA’s Center for Human Rights and the International Bar Association. She holds a J.D. degree with specialization in international legal affairs from Cornell Law School and a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College. Her work has been published inGovernment Information Quarterly, Pace Law Review, the International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law and the Federal Lawyer. She speaks French fluently.