Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow
International Attorney / Transitional Justice Program Director
Carolyn Patty Blum
Senior Legal Advisor
Individual Giving Manager
Finance & Operations Director
Mytili Bala joins CJA as a Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow. Ms. Bala rejoins the human rights community after four years in private practice at Irell & Manella LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she represented clients in civil litigation in federal and state court. Ms. Bala graduated from Yale Law School in 2009. During law school, Ms. Bala participated in the Community Lawyering Clinic, where she worked with a community organization in New Haven to address local housing and employment concerns. She also participated in the Temporary Restraining Order Project and served as Senior Editor of the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. Ms. Bala interned with an NGO in southern India as part of the EU-funded National Project on Preventing Torture in India. Ms. Bala received a B.A. in Economics with Honors from the University of Chicago in 2005. She is admitted to practice in California and Illinois and is fluent in Tamil and proficient in Spanish.
Almudena Bernabeu, International Attorney & Transitional Justice Program Director, joined CJA in 2003. Ms. Bernabeu is the lead on CJA's work in Spain in the Guatemala Genocide Case and the Jesuits Massacre Case and oversees CJA’s Transitional Justice Program. Ms. Bernabeu has worked in human rights and international law for over sixteen years and has published articles on human rights litigation in national courts and its effectiveness in the struggle against impunity. She has also written on reforming Spanish asylum law and on the criminal legal reform in Spain. Ms. Bernabeu has received many awards for her human rights work with CJA. These include the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize (2012), the Yo Dona Magazine prize (2012), the SCEVOLA award (2013), and the Human Rights Hero Award (2013) by the Program for Torture Victims. She also was included as one of Time Magazine's 200 most influential people (2012) and was named by the Spanish newspaper El Pais as one of the top 13 most influential leaders in the Spanish and Latin American world (2013). In 2011, Ms. Bernabeu’s work on the Guatemala Genocide Case was featured in the documentary Granito: How to Nail a Dictator that debuted at Sundance Film Festival. Ms. Bernabeu is vice-president of the Spanish Association for Human Rights and serves as an adviser to the Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Peruvian Institute of Forensic Anthropology and the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation and is Vice-Chair of the International Human Rights Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco. She is a member of the Valencia, Madrid and American Bar Associations. Ms. Bernabeu graduated from the University of Valencia School of Law, where she specialized in Public International Law, and is licensed to practice in Spain, she also was awarded an Honoris Causa PhD in Law from Santa Clara University.
Carolyn Patty Blum, Senior Legal Advisor, was a key member of the legal team in CJA's El Salvador and Chile cases and is now working as a consultant for CJA. She is a Clinical Professor of Law Emeritus at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. She founded the law school's International Human Rights Law Clinic which she directed from 1998-2002. She has been involved in a range of human rights policy and legal issues, including trafficking in women, the rights of migrant workers, and the protection of women and gay refugees. She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford, Masters of International Law Program and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University Law School. Ms. Blum also consults with a range of other NGOs, including the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Center for Constitutional Rights on their Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative.
Scott Gilmore, Staff Attorney, rejoins CJA after graduating from the George Washington University Law School (J.D., Order of the Coif). Before law school, he worked on communications and policy analysis for CJA. Mr. Gilmore summered with the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, as a law clerk in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP). At HRSP, he worked on the extraterritorial prosecution of human rights abuses and complex transnational crimes. He interned for the Hon. Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law; and the ABA Center for Human Rights. He was also a musician in the Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra and Black Ox Orkestar, and a writer and performer in Le Petit Théâtre de l'Absolu, a Franco-American theater company performing original work on armed conflict and historical memory. He holds a B.A. in English and Jewish studies from McGill University and speaks fluent French. Mr. Gilmore is admitted to practice in California.
Rachel Hill, Individual Giving Manager, joined CJA in Spring of 2014, overseeing CJA’s efforts to develop and grow its base of individual supporters. Rachel has over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector. Prior to CJA, Rachel served as Deputy Director of Development at the Shanti Project, a direct service non-profit in San Francisco that provides emotional and practical support services to people living with serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS or breast cancer. At Shanti, Rachel advanced Shanti’s various revenue streams including special events, individual giving, and foundation support, as well as their marketing and communications efforts. Prior to relocating to her native Bay Area in 2012, Rachel worked with several organizations in New York City including the Catalog for Giving of NYC, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Lifebeat-Music Fights HIV. Rachel holds an MSc in Gender and Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA from New York University’s College of Arts and Science. Rachel is proud to work at CJA and to do her part to help achieve CJA’s mission.
Danielle Knutson, Development Officer, comes to CJA after graduating from the University of South Dakota in 2011, where she double majored in Political Science and International Studies and minored in French Studies. While in college, Ms. Knutson served as Amnesty International’s Student Activist Coordinator for South Dakota and North Dakota, where she worked with local groups to increase fundraising, membership, and outreach. Ms. Knutson also interned with United States Senator Tim Johnson, assisting staff with constituent communications and casework. After moving to the Bay Area, Ms. Knutson worked as a Volunteer Infrastructure Program Fellow for the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, where she increased the capacity and efficiency of the agency’s volunteer program.
Pamela Merchant, Executive Director, is an attorney with 25 years of experience in the conduct and management
of complex state and federal litigation. She joined CJA in October 2005
and has overseen a period of significant growth – both programmatically
and financially. Under her leadership, CJA has grown from an
organization devoted solely to human rights litigation in the U.S. to
one that also engages in human rights litigation in foreign
jurisdictions, such as Spain and Cambodia. CJA now represents over 200
clients from 21 countries and has tripled its operating budget. Ms.
Merchant has testified before Congress on accountability for human
rights abusers and other human rights issues. Ms. Merchant received
degrees from Georgetown University and Boston College School of Law and
has served in leadership positions on ten different nonprofit boards. Click here to listen to an interview with Ms. Merchant about her work with CJA.
Kathy Roberts, Legal Director, brings to CJA a background in civil litigation, civil rights, and social theory. Her work focuses on investigating and litigating impact cases on behalf of survivors of torture and other severe human rights abuses. Prior to joining CJA, Ms. Roberts led multiple class action and Unfair Competition Act cases on behalf of workers deprived of their basic labor rights, including the right to minimum wages and overtime. She has also worked as a deputy public defender. In addition, Ms. Roberts teaches international human rights law part-time at the University of San Francisco and serves on the Boards of Trustees for the Playwrights Foundation and Just Theater. She received her BA with honors from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1992, her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2001, and her JD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. Ms. Roberts is admitted to practice in California, and she speaks Spanish.
Nushin Sarkarati, Staff Attorney, is a U.S. lawyer who works on CJA's ATS/TVPA litigation in federal court, and is the civil party lawyer on CJA's case before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, where she represents Cambodian survivors of Khmer Rouge atrocities in their claims for reparations against the senior leaders on trial in Phnom Penh. Nushin also runs CJA’s outreach program to the Cambodian diaspora in the U.S. Before joining CJA, Ms. Sarkarati graduated from U.C. Davis School of Law and interned with the U.N. Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Chambers of Judge Illston at the Northern District Court of California. In addition, Nushin spent a year externing at the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Sacramento, where she successfully argued and won a motion to suppress evidence under the fourth amendment, and worked at the U.C. Davis Prison Law Clinic, where she won a motion for writ of habeas corpus attesting the means of her client’s confinement. Ms. Sarkarati was also a legal intern at CJA. Prior to law school, Ms. Sarkarati worked with several non-profit organizations, including Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa. She received her B.A. in Philosophy from U.C. Berkeley with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Ms. Sarkarati is fluent in Farsi and is admitted to practice law in California and Cambodia.
Joninna Simpson, Finance & Operations Director, brings significant experience and expertise to CJA. In her capacities as a management consultant and an executive director, she provided ongoing and project-based financial, strategic planning, board development, and project management services to nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs and law firms. She has served as an interim director and manager and enjoys bringing her operational expertise to organizations with a compelling social mission like CJA. Joninna also has provided leadership and pro bono contributions to the education and social justice sectors as a board president, treasurer and trustee. She has a B.A. from Williams College and an M.B.A. from Boston University.
Susana Solis, Office Manager, joined CJA after working for ten years at La Raza Centro Legal, a non-profit organization in San Francisco dedicated to providing free legal services and advocacy to the Latino, immigrant and low-income community in the Bay Area on issues related to immigration and workers’ rights. At La Raza, Ms. Solis worked in a progression of jobs in administration, office management, finance and ultimately fundraising. She also served for seven years as an activist for CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting the Salvadoran people's struggle for self-determination and social and economic justice. Ms. Solis is fluent in Spanish.