May 16, 2019

Who We Are

Brittany Benowitz

Since 2011, Brittany Benowitz has served as the director of the ABA’s Justice Defenders program. Previously, she served for four years as a defense advisor to a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In that capacity, she conducted oversight of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and monitored U.S. counterterrorism, foreign assistance, arms control and security sector reform policies. She has worked on litigation in civil and criminal courts both in the United States and abroad and conducted human rights investigations in Latin America, Eastern Europe and South Asia. She received her JD from the Washington College of Law at American University.

Ginna Anderson
Deputy Director

Prior to joining the Center, she was a Georgetown Women in Law and Public Policy Fellow. She served as a legal fellow with the International Community of Women Living with HIV, where she advocated for the rights of women living with HIV and AIDS in global policy and practice. As a legal fellow at the DC-based Center for Health and Gender Equity, she analyzed U.S. foreign policy and legislation in the context of women’s reproductive health rights. Ginna clerked for the Honorable Thad Heartfield, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Texas. She received her JD from Georgetown University and a BA in Law, Letters, and Society from the University of Chicago.

Ali R.
Staff Attorney for Middle East and North Africa

Ali has worked on access to justice, transitional justice, and rule of law programs in the Middle East and North Africa region since 2003. During his previous work for Freedom House, Ali managed the implementation of Freedom House’s Envisioning Justice in Tunisia program. As part of that program, he worked closely with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, Constituent Assembly, Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice and civil society to reform the prison system of Tunisia. He was also responsible for Freedom House’s Iraq work, primarily the Post Elections Democracy Promotion Project. Prior to moving to the US in 2006, Ali worked with the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to build the rule of law and justice sector of Iraq. He was also a rule of law advisor for the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), the United Nations and the British Army in the South of Iraq. Prior to the Iraq war in 2003, Ali worked as criminal law attorney before deciding to work for the Iraqi Ministry of Justice as a criminal Investigator and Assistant judge.

Juan Ramírez
Staff Attorney for Latin America and Caribbean

Juan Ramírez is a staff attorney with the ABA Center for Human Right’s Justice Defenders program, where he coordinates pro bono assistance for human rights defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean.  He earned his LL.M. in International Legal Studies from the American University Washington College of Law. He has worked in research and litigation concerning human rights issues in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Juan has experience in litigating before International and Regional Human Rights systems on freedom of expression, access to justice and transitional justice issues. He worked for the Impact Litigation Project of the Center for Human Rights at American University Washington College of Law conducting research and monitoring human rights violation across the hemisphere and litigated cases before the Inter-American System of Human Rights at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Prior to earning his LL.M., he conducted research and training on women’s rights and legal aspects of armed conflict. 

Staff Attorney for Eastern Europe and Eurasia

Bio coming soon!

Sumaiya Ismail
Program Assistant

Sumaiya is responsible for coordinating the day to day administration and programmatic support for the Justice Defenders Program. Prior to joining the Center, Sumaiya interned at The ONE Campaign where she worked on international development and digital engagement. She has worked on women’s economic empowerment issues in the Middle East while an intern at Vital Voices and has experience with international labor trafficking cases as an intern with the Human Rights practice group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. She holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics where she focused on children’s rights and a BSFS in Regional Studies where she concentrated on the Middle East and North Africa at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service.

Claudia Fess
Program Assistant

Claudia supports the administrative, programmatic, and communication needs of the Justice Defenders Program. Prior to joining the Program, Claudia interned for the ABA Rule of Law Initiative in which she managed outreach efforts for the program's judicial strengthening programs. Her experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer and later as an intern in its communication department, solidified her interest in using communication and the law to support human rights abroad. Claudia has a B.S. in Marketing and a B.A. in Communication, with a concentration in public relations from the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Anthony Ayres
Legal Fellow

Anthony Ayres is a Legal Fellow with the ABA Center for Human Right's Justice Defenders program. Anthony served as a Legal Extern with the Public International Law and Policy Group, assisting civil society organizations in Burma with work on human rights legislations and supporting negotiations in Syria for the Public International Law and Policy Group's clients. As a Student Trial Attorney with D.C. Law Students in Court, Anthony represented indigent D.C. residents in Landlord and Tenant Court. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.S. in Political Science from Santa Clara University.