Melissa C. del Aguila

B.A. in Politics, Princeton University
J.D., Cornell Law School
L.L.M in International and Comparative Law, Cornell Law School

Melissa C. del Aguila is the Associate Director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law. Melissa is responsible for managing strategic human rights programming and outreach initiatives. She oversees the implementation of human rights projects with international partners based in Cambodia, Vietnam and Colombia, and domestically on human rights education initiatives, such as the Speak Truth to Power Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program and the Teaching International Humanitarian Law Initiative.  Through her work she has developed an expertise in monitoring and evaluation. Melissa has worked extensively on the issue of the right to education and has experience working with domestic legal accountability mechanisms in Colombia. In particular, she has worked with Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (formerly the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights) on issues relating to the education, non-discrimination, and equal protection rights of Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples within the Inter-American Human Rights System and was part of the team that successfully brought a case before the Colombian Constitutional Court to provide free and compulsory primary school education. Melissa previously served as a Princeton-in-Latin America Fellow at the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress in San José, Costa Rica, where she worked on projects relating to gender, political participation and human security.  She has also held research positions at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, where she focused on issues relating to asylum law and human trafficking.

Jennifer de Laurentiis

B.A., Double Major in English and Spanish, Albion College, Cum Laude
J.D., American University Washington College of Law

Jennifer de Laurentiis is the Associate Director of Impact Litigation and the Kovler Project Against Torture (formerly the United Nations Committee against Torture (UN CAT) Project), the latter which she co-founded with Professor/Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman in 2004. An Adjunct Professor of Law, she teaches on the prohibition of torture under international law and strategic/impact litigation. Ms. de Laurentiis also supervises and participates in litigation before the Inter-American human rights bodies, and works on a wide range of diverse issues and special projects. She speaks Italian and Spanish. Ms. de Laurentiis received the 2016 AU WCL Public Interest/Public Service Scholarship Program Award for “enduring contributions as a public service advocate.” She previously served as Special Assistant to then-Dean Grossman where she worked extensively on human rights, legal education, and other matters and, prior to that, Ms. de Laurentiis practiced international trade law.

Andra Nicolescu

B.A. in Political Science & English Literature, McGill University
M.Sc. in Theory and History of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science
J.D., American University Washington College of Law

Andra Nicolescu is the Assistant Project Director of the Center’s Anti-Torture Initiative. She has experience working on issues related to torture prevention, civil and political rights, human rights and transitional justice mechanisms in post-conflict situations. While pursuing her J.D., Ms. Nicolescu was a Dean’s Fellow for the Anti-Torture Initiative, a Research Assistant for the Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture, and a Research Associate with the Public International Law and Policy Group, where she advised countries including Libya and Tunisia on topics such as the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms and constitution drafting. Ms. Nicolescu has also spent time working at INTERIGHTS, where she assisted counsel in conducting strategic human rights litigation at the European Court of Human Rights on issues involving the treatment of persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, and minorities, and for a legal aid organization in Bamenda, Cameroon. Before obtaining her law degree, Ms. Nicolescu worked in international development in various locations in the Middle East, West Africa, and South Asia, and in the Political Affairs and Development Cooperation sections of the Delegation of the European Union in New Delhi, India. You can follow her on Twitter @andraotilia.

Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt

B.A., Dickinson College
M.A., University of Marburg
PhD., American University School of International Service

Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt is the director (pro bono) of the Center's Human Rights in Business Program. Dr. DeWinter-Schmitt is an expert in business and human rights, in particular pertaining to the private military and security industry. She has been involved in a variety of efforts to develop standards for private security providers. Most recently, she chaired the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the ISO committee that developed an international management system standard for security operations. Dr. DeWinter-Schmitt is also Senior Managing Director at Human Analytics, a D.C.-based risk management consultancy specializing in helping public and private organizations address human rights risks associated with operating in complex environments. She serves on Amnesty International USA’s (AIUSA) Business and Human Rights Group. Dr. DeWinter-Schmitt’s consulting and advocacy work are linked to her academic research interests in multi-stakeholder efforts to ensure corporate responsibility.

Until 2012, Dr. DeWinter Schmitt was an Assistant Professor at American University’s School of International Service’s Peace and Conflict Resolution Program. From 1998-2002, she was a staff member of AIUSA, first in its National Field Program and then as Program Associate to the Just Earth! Program on Human Rights and the Environment. In 2007, Dr. DeWinter-Schmitt received her PhD from American University’s School of International Service for her dissertation, “Business as Usual? The Mobilization of the Anti-sweatshop Movement and the Social Construction of Corporate Identity.”

Anastassia Fagan

B.A. in Russian and European Studies, University of Notre Dame
M.A. in Public Anthropology, American University

Anastassia Fagan is the Center's Program Coordinator. She recently served in the Peace Corps as a Youth Development Specialist based in Morocco, and recently returned to the U.S. after an extended stay in-country working as an ESL instructor. Her research interests include human rights and U.S. foreign and military policy in the Middle East and North Africa. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Anthropology from American University.