Melissa C. del Aguila is the Center's assistant director and also serves as director of the Center's Human Rights Education Program. In this role, she is responsible for the implementation of several collaborative human rights education projects, including the USAID-sponsored Colombia-U.S. Human Rights Teaching and Research Partnership Program, the Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Teaching Fellows Program developed in collaboration with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Teaching International Humanitarian Law Initiative. Ms. del Aguila 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 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, has presented as a panelist at the Colombian National Congress in Bogotá, and also assisted the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in developing observations and recommendations for the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Working Group charged with preparing a Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance. Prior to law school, Ms. del Aguila 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 internship and 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.
Ms. del Aguila earned an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University and a Juris Doctor in Law and LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Cornell Law School.
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.
Ms. Nicolescu holds a JD from the American University Washington College of Law, an MSc in the Theory and History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA from McGill University. You can follow her on Twitter @andraotilia.
Rebecca DeWinter-Schmitt is the director of the Center's Human Rights in Business Program (insert hyperlink to new webpages). 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.” Dr. DeWinter-Schmitt received her master’s degree from the University of Marburg, Germany and her undergraduate degree from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.
Anastassia Fagan is the Center's Program Coordinator. Anastassia 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 holds a B.A. in Russian and European Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Public Anthropology at American University.