Your browser does not support JavaScript

Wasserstein Fellows are on campus for a couple of days to meet with HLS students one-on-one.

Sign up for an appointment with a Wasserstein Fellow Sign up for an appointment with the Wassersetin Fellow-in-Residence, Sareta Ashraph

If you are a Harvard Law School student and would like to meet with a Visiting Wasserstein Fellow, advising schedules will be posted in September.

If you’d like to contact a Fellow after their visit to HLS, email OPIA at

Below is the complete list of our 2015-2016 Wasserstein Fellows here for three to four days.

Below is our 2015-2016 HRP/OPIA Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence here throughout the Fall 2015 semester.

Sign up for an appointment with the Wasserstein Fellow-in-Residence

Thomas B. Harvey: Co-Founder and Executive Director, ArchCity Defenders, St. Louis, MO

Days on campus: September 23-25

Thomas B. Harvey is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit civil rights law firm providing holistic legal advocacy to the poor and homeless in the St. Louis region and beyond. ArchCity Defenders uses direct services, impact litigation, and advocacy through policy and public relations as its primary tools to promote racial justice and protect civil and human rights. Thomas has overseen the growth of ArchCity Defenders from an all volunteer organization of three to a paid staff of fifteen, handling over 1000 open cases in direct representation of the homeless as well as eleven federal and state class action lawsuits challenging unconstitutional practices in the St. Louis region. Thomas is the lead author of ArchCity’s white paper on St. Louis County’s municipal court system published in August of 2014 that brought context to underlying factors in the protests following the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. The paper served as the template for the Department of Justice’s findings in Ferguson in March of 2015 and has sparked a national conversation about the way police and local courts worked in concert to criminalize Black lives and generate revenue, violated the clear mandates of the United States Constitution, and destroyed the public’s confidence in the justice system and government. Thomas’s work on these issues has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The New York Times, Democracy Now, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Thomas is the lead author of 6 Months Later, a publication of the Harvard African American Policy Journal and the co-author of a chapter of Ferguson Fault Lines, a forthcoming American Bar Association published book detailing the systemic racism, for-profit policing, and unconstitutional procedures and practices in the municipal courts brought to light by ArchCity Defenders paper on the topic. Thomas also served on the organizing committee for the historic Law4BlackLives convening in Harlem’s Riverside Cathedral. He is active in the representation of Ferguson protesters, as well as litigation and advocacy directed at reducing systemic racism through the elimination of cash bail, debtors’ prisons, revenue-based policing, and unconstitutional court practices in Ferguson and throughout the St. Louis region. He was a member of the Ferguson Commission Working Group on Municipal Courts and has provided policy guidance to state and federal legislators concerning the rights of protesters, law enforcement misconduct, and unconstitutional and racist practices in local courts. Finally, Thomas is a member of the National Association of Public Defender’s Working Group on Fines and Fees as well as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the City of St. Louis’s Continuum of Care to End Homelessness. ArchCity Defenders’ work in St. Louis has been recognized by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association in 2014 with its 2014 New Leaders in Advocacy Defender Award, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 2013 with its Atticus Finch Award, the St. Louis Bar Foundation with its Spirit of Justice Award in 2012, and by Saint Louis University School of Law in 2011 with its Excellence in Pro Bono Award. Thomas is a 2009 graduate of Saint Louis University School of Law, gained ABD status at University of California Irvine in 2004 in French Literature, and was awarded his MA in French Literature in 2001 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Derrick Johnson: State President for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, and Executive Director of One Voice, Inc., Jackson, MS

Days on campus: September 28-30

Derrick Johnson currently serves as State President for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, and Executive Director of One Voice, Inc. He recently served as a Mel King Community Fellow with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He holds a Juris Doctorate from South Texas College of Law in Houston, TX and a Bachelor of Arts from Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS. Mr. Johnson serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors, the Board of Directors of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, the Advisory Council of the Mississippi Economic Policy Center, and as an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College. Additionally, Mr. Johnson was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court as a Commissioner to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission. Before assuming his current roles, Mr. Johnson served as a Fellow with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C., working in the office of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson as well as a Fellow with The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management Minority Fellowship Program. Mr. Johnson also served on the staff of Southern Echo, Inc. as a Regional Organizer providing legal, technical, and training support for communities within six states across the south. Later, Mr. Johnson successfully managed the Convention Center bond referendum campaign to construct a $65 million convention center in the City of Jackson and Jackson Public School District bond referendum campaign that brought $150M in renovations and new schools to the City of Jackson. Additionally, Mr. Johnson was appointed by the Governor of the State of Mississippi as Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Commission for Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal after devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Johnson founded One Voice Inc. (formerly Community Policy Research and Training Institute (CPRTI)), a non-profit social justice organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other disenfranchised communities by increasing civic engagement in the formation of public policy through leadership development, research support, training and technical assistance. Since its inception, One Voice sponsors an annual Black Leadership Summit for elected and appointed officials and established the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute, a nine month program to support local leadership development for emerging and established community leaders between the ages of 25 – 45.

Esmeralda Lopez: Advocacy Officer, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, Arlington, VA

Days on campus: October 27-29

Esmeralda Lopez serves as an Advocacy Officer at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).   In her position at USCRI, Ms. Lopez works extensively with the U.S. government, foreign diplomats and international organizations advocating on behalf of refugees, unaccompanied immigrant children, and trafficking survivors.  She spoke on the vulnerabilities of unaccompanied immigrant girls in the Americas before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland and has testified twice before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights concerning the protection of refugees in the Americas. In addition to her work with USCRI, Ms. Lopez is a Mexico Country Specialist with Amnesty International USA where she helps develop strategies to call attention to the human rights and political situations in Mexico.  Ms. Lopez had two op-eds published by CNN and Fusion, and has been interviewed by a variety of national and international media outlets such as Univision, Radio La Gente and La Prensa Grafica. Prior to relocating to Washington, D.C., she worked with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California from December 2008 to September 2012.  Ms. Lopez earned her JD at Santa Clara University School of Law and clerked for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in San Jose, Costa Rica.  She is a native English and Spanish speaker and conversant in Italian.

Brent Mitchell, J.D. ’98: Senior Counsel, Enforcement Division, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Washington, DC

Days on campus: November 2-4

Brent Mitchell is a senior counsel in the Enforcement division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  He currently works in the Complex Financial Instruments Unit.  Since 2004, Mr. Mitchell has investigated fraud and other securities violations for the SEC – identifying possible violations, conducting interviews and document review to determine what happened, then settling or litigating with defendants.  With other attorneys, he has brought cases related to FCPA violations, accounting fraud, and the structuring and sale of CDO bonds.  He recently brought a case against a Silicon Valley company accused of the first violations of Dodd-Frank limitations on the sale of security-based swaps.  For about eight years, Mr. Mitchell led SEC intern programs in the Washington headquarters, including hiring and training law students.  From 1999 to 2004, Mr. Mitchell was an associate and junior partner at Hale and Dorr LLP, primarily litigating intellectual property cases involving plant breeding, lighting, and other technologies.  Previously, he was a clerk for Judge Ronald R. Lagueux and a reporter for The Miami Herald.  Mr. Mitchell graduated in 1998 from Harvard Law School and has taught a course on government investigations as an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law.

ReNika Moore, J.D. ’03: Section Chief of Civil Enforcement, Labor Bureau, New York Attorney General’s Office, Albany, NY

Days on campus: October 19-21

ReNika Moore is an advocate for racial and economic justice.  She recently joined the New York Attorney General’s Office as Labor Bureau’s Section Chief of Civil Enforcement. As Section Chief she develops strategies to enforce labor standards in NY, especially in low wage industries, such as food services, car washing, and construction. Prior to this role, Ms. Moore supervised and coordinated the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s economic justice litigation, public education, and public policy efforts. Ms. Moore litigated high-impact racial justice cases tackling a variety of civil rights issues, including criminal background checks in employment, discrimination in major federal housing programs, and environmental racism. For example, Ms. Moore was lead counsel for LDF in Cogdell v. Wet Seal, which resulted in a $7.5 million settlement that also provided for numerous compensation, promotion, and personnel changes to ensure fairness and opportunity for current and future African-American retail workers. Last year she served as a faculty member in the Shriver Center’s inaugural Racial Justice Training Institute for legal aid and legal services attorneys from around the country.  Before joining LDF, Ms. Moore worked as an associate with the plaintiff employment law firm Outten & Golden advocating for the rights of workers who had been unlawfully discriminated against or had been unlawfully denied their earned wages. Ms. Moore began her career clerking for civil rights luminary, the late Honorable Robert L. Carter in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. Ms. Moore’s advocacy on behalf of workers and racial and ethnic minorities has been both engaging and challenging in the face remarkably dynamic racial, economic, political and technological terrain.  Ms. Moore received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and A.B. from Harvard College cum laude.  She lives in Brooklyn, NY holding her own in a home with her husband (also a civil rights lawyer), two elementary-aged boys, and the littlest guy born October 2014.

Melanie Nakagawa: Member, Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, Washington, DC

Days on campus: November 3-5 

Melanie Nakagawa is a Member of the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff where her portfolio includes climate change, energy, environment, and development. In this role she leads the strategic policy efforts to elevate climate change as a foreign policy priority through policy articulation and guidance. She advises, briefs and provides recommendations to Secretary Kerry for further collaboration, new initiatives, and increased engagement in her portfolio areas. Previously, she served as the Senior Energy and Environment Counsel for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for then-Chairman John Kerry from 2009-2013. She analyzed and drafted legislation in these areas, including extensive work on comprehensive bipartisan climate change legislation. She also assessed the foreign policy operations of the Executive Branch by monitoring the implementation of environmental programs, reviewing authorization requests for appropriations, and evaluating U.S. engagement with international financial institutions. In addition she was the lead author of a Committee report providing policy recommendations on trans-boundary water security issues titled “Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s Growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Prior to government service, she was an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council focusing on climate change, clean energy and water security. She served as NRDC’s lead representative at several international negotiations and directed NRDC’s Global Safe Water Project promoting U.S. leadership in addressing water security in developing countries. She earned a law degree and master’s degree in international affairs from American University and Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, and is a Truman National Security Project Fellow. Her participation in the Wasserstein Fellows Program is strictly in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the Department of State.

Kristen Nelson, J.D. ’04: Deputy State Public Defender, Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Denver, CO

Days on campus: October 14-16

Kristen Nelson ’04 is a Deputy State Public Defender on the Complex Litigation Team for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender in Denver, which represents indigent clients at the trial level in complex first-degree murder cases, including those in which the State is considering or has declared it is seeking the death penalty.  Along with her teammates, Kristen most recently spent three years representing James Holmes in the Aurora theater shooting case, which fostered a public dialogue about the issues of mental illness and the death penalty.  As the designated appellate-minded lawyer on the trial team, Kristen was responsible for developing the legal issues in the case, drafting and arguing the motions, interlocutory appeals, and jury instructions, and providing legal analysis and input on other strategic decisions in the case. Prior to moving to Colorado in 2011, Kristen spent four years as a staff attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, where she spent the majority of her time representing indigent clients in various stages of appeal on Alabama’s death row, as well as other criminal defendants and prisoners denied fair treatment under the law.  Kristen began her indigent defense career as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia from 2005-2007 following a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson in the Middle District of Alabama.  Kristen received her undergraduate degree in English summa cum laude from Wellesley College in 1999, an M.Phil in Criminology from Cambridge University in 2000, and her law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2004. She was named a Heyman Fellow in 2005.

Purvi Shah: Bertha Justice Institute Director, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY

Days on campus: September 15-18

Purvi Shah is the Bertha Justice Institute Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. As the Director of CCR’s new training institute, her work focuses on deepening the theory and practice of movement lawyering across the United States and the world. Through the Institute, Purvi supports lawyers at every stage in their careers – as students, emerging lawyers, and senior lawyers – to both develop a deeper understanding of the connections between law and social change and to gain the practical skills and expertise to be effective advocates. Purvi’s current projects include designing CCR’s internship and post-graduate fellowship programs, including the Ella Baker Program; publishing educational resources and training materials on the theory and practice of movement lawyering; designing and facilitating national and international conferences, trainings, and CLEs; and building national and international networks to increase collaboration, innovation, and strategic thinking within the progressive legal sector. Most recent, she co-founded the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee—a national network of lawyers working to support the Ferguson movement and the growing national #BlackLivesMatter movement. Prior to coming to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Purvi spent a decade working as a litigator, law professor, and community organizer. At the Community Justice Project at Florida Legal Services – a project she co-founded and started – she litigated on behalf of taxi drivers, tenants, public housing residents, and immigrants in a variety of class actions and affirmative damages litigation. She was an adjunct clinical professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she co-founded the Community Lawyering Clinic. She graduated from Northwestern University and the Berkeley School of Law at the University of California. Her honors and awards include the Ford Foundation’s New Voices Fellowship, the ACLU of Florida Rodney Thaxton Award for Racial Justice, and the Miami Foundation’s 2009 Miami Fellowship. Her work has been featured on MSNBC and in The Nation.

Sareta Ashraph, LL.M ’01: Chief Analyst, UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, Geneva, Switzerland

Since May 2012, Sareta Ashraph has been the Chief Analyst on the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, investigating and reporting on violations of international law in the context of ongoing events in Syria.  Immediately prior to this, she occupied the same position on the United Nations’ International Commission of Inquiry on Libya, examining violations of international law by the pro-Qadhafi forces, the anti-Qadhafi armed groups and NATO.  Previously in 2010 and 2011, Ms. Ashraph was based in the Hague as the Legal Adviser to the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defence (OPCD) in the International Criminal Court, working on the Kenya and Central African Republic cases.  In 2009, she worked as a Legal Consultant to the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Inquiry, and was part of the team that conducted investigations and drafted the final Report.  From 2004 to 2009, Ms. Ashraph was based in Freetown, Sierra Leone where she was Co-Counsel on the Defense team representing Issa Sesay (the former interim Leader of the Revolutionary United Front) before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Ms. Ashraaph is a member of the Board of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and on the roster of defense legal consultants to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (the Khmer Rouge trials) and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Ms. Ashraph completed her LL.M at Harvard Law School in 2001.  In 2013 and 2014, she was ranked by Chambers and Partners (UK edition) as a Notable Practitioner in the field of international criminal law.