The Kathryn Wadia and Natalie Rea International Fellows

The ILF’s Natalie Rea International Fellows (formerly the Kathryn Wadia International Fellows from 2003-20013) are lawyers with at least five years of criminal defense, prosecution, or judicial experience who volunteer to work and live abroad on three-month assignments. International Fellows mentor local lawyers day-in and day-out, case-by-case, to help them develop their knowledge and skill and, in the process, contribute to rule of law reform. The work includes assisting local lawyers as they visit clients in jail, write motions, make court appearances and conduct investigations. Fellows may also participate in meetings with government officials, other NGOs, and donor countries involved in rule of law projects, as representatives of the ILF.

Since 2001, over 50 Fellows from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have helped transform the role of local lawyers in Afghanistan, Nepal and the West Bank from passive participants in the criminal justice system to proactive advocates for their clients. As a direct result, clients languishing in detention have been released and many innocent have been acquitted. Fellows have influenced judges to change policies and practices from the bench, and have helped win landmark legal victories in court which have improved the justice systems of all three countries in which the ILF works.

Current Fellows



Former Fellows
International Legal Fellows – Afghanistan (2003-2007)

Mary Ross is a commissioner on the New York State Parole Board, appointed by former Governor David A. Paterson on June 10, 2008. Prior to joining the Parole Board, Ms. Ross served as a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division with The Legal Aid Society in Queens, New York. From 1990 to 1995, Ms. Ross was the executive director of Providence House, a non-profit corporation that provides transitional and permanent housing for female ex-offenders, homeless women and their children. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from St. Joseph’s College, her master’s in education from Brooklyn College and her JD from the City University of New York.

Kenneth Deluca is a retired supervising attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.

Karena Rahall is a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Rahall worked at the Urban Justice Center, a pioneer in the use of outreach legal services to New York’s indigent. Rahall is a graduate of Fordham University Law School and of Hampshire College.

The Honorable Mary McGowan Davis served as an acting justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York from 1986-1998 and has been involved in a variety of matters relating to transitional justice and human rights law since her retirement from the bench. In addition to her work in Afghanistan, she has traveled to Sierra Leone and Cambodia in connection with projects related to the establishment of special courts to try war criminals in those countries. She has also been a frequent visitor to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as a consultant and as a participant in trial advocacy training programs for prosecutors. Davis has taught international criminal law at Seton Hall University Law School’s summer program at the American University in Cairo and continues her association with Legal Momentum – Advancing Women’s Rights (formerly the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund) in New York City.

Robert Fogelnest is a retired criminal defense attorney in New York City. He is a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, and a charter member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Fogelnest graduated from Temple University in 1973 and Rutgers School of Law – Camden in 1976.

Michael Skibbie is the policy director of New Hampshire’s Disabilities Rights Center (DRC) and works with staff, constituents and other organizations to ensure full and equal enjoyment of civil and other legal rights by people with disabilities. Prior to joining the DRC, Skibbie was a research associate, professor of political science and co-coordinator of the Justice, Law & Society Project at Justiceworks, a legal think-tank within the University of New Hampshire. He began his career as a criminal defense attorney in a variety of roles for the State of New Hampshire Public Defender’s Office, culminating his tenure as executive director from 1992 to 2001. Skibbie is a 1984 graduate of Franklin Pierce Law School and the University of Vermont.

Noel Casey is an experienced and versatile practitioner in all areas of criminal law. Having developed a practice based on defense work in serious cases, he has a wide range of experience in trials involving murder, sexual assault, child abuse, violence, fraud, robbery, firearms and drug trafficking. Casey also regularly provides advice on grounds of appeal and has appeared in the Court of Appeal on numerous occasions. Although a busy practitioner, in recent years he has invested time in extending his range of activity and qualifications, mainly in the field of international law. Casey holds a bachelor’s degree in medieval and modern history from the University of London and an LLM from the Benjamin J. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

Benoît Turcotte is a former criminal defense attorney with the International Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association and a private criminal defense attorney. As a renowned lecturer Turcotte has taken part in conferences all over the world, including “Post-War Justice in Afghanistan” about his work helping to create and operate a network of public defender offices throughout Afghanistan. In the past, Turcotte, a senior analyst of policies within the government of Canada, has spoken for the Office of the Private Council on the activities of community regulators during the second annual National Workshop of Canada. Turcotte has lent his support to such organizations as the Mwamba Family Foundation, which provides money for education for the children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Rachel Saunders is a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.

Dorothea Grieger is a criminal justice program assistant with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime and a former German attorney.

Trish Cheverie is a criminal defender and president of the John Howard Society of Prince Edward Island, Summerside, Canada.

Patricia Lavelle is a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.

Angela Krueger is a deputy public defender at the Tulare County Public Defender’s Office in Central California. An ILF Fellow in 2007, she went to Afghanistan following tenures as an assistant public defender with the CNMI Public Defender’s Office in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and as a staff attorney at Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. Krueger is a graduate of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Tulane University Law School.

Roxanne Vachon


International Legal Fellows – Nepal (2008-2011)

Bejal Shah is a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York, where she has worked since 2004. During her tenure with Legal Aid, in 2008 she took a five-month leave to help train local lawyers with the newly created ILF office in Nepal and returned in spring 2009 with a new appreciation of criminal defenders in other countries. Prior to joining Legal Aid, Shah was a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Arthur J. Gonzalez of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York and an associate at the firm Mayer Brown. She received her A.B in psychology and political science as well as her J.D. from the University of Michigan.

Daniel Alterman has been practicing law for more than 30 years with Alterman & Boop, the small civil rights, employment law firm he co-founded in 1974. Since then, his firm has litigated more than 7,000 cases in New York City and the surrounding areas, representing anyone from the victims of police abuse to the wrongfully terminated employees of major corporations. Since 1971, Mr. Alterman has been a member of the Board of Cooperative Attorneys of the Center for Constitutional Rights and also serves on the board of directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Among his proudest achievements are working for the prisoners at Attica in 1971 and representing black editors and reporters who successfully sued the New York Daily News in 1987. Alterman received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of Buffalo, and then went on to attend the New York University School of Law where he received both his JD and LLM.

Kenneth Plotz is a former public defender and chief judge for the Eleventh Judicial District in Colorado. During his 15 years on the bench, he instituted a case management system that improved the flow of cases throughout the district and promoted the early resolution of civil, domestic and probate cases. As the result of years of judicial experience, he now serves on assignment as a senior judge throughout the state of Colorado. Judge Plotz has taught various courses in law for Colorado Mountain College. He regularly participates as a judge for “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution,” a statewide program to engender interest in the Constitution at the high school level. Judge Plotz earned his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Denver and will soon complete his master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Colorado – Denver.

Aileen Donnelly is a private defense attorney and former ILF International Fellow in Nepal. Operating within an independent referral bar, Donnelly defends and prosecutes on a case-by-case basis. For five years, she co-chaired the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and more recently was co-chair of an Advisory Committee for ICCL research on the Irish judiciary. A native of Ireland, she graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in law. After studying at King’s Inns, Dublin, where she obtained the degree of barrister-at-law, she became a practicing barrister at the Bar of Ireland, rising to senior counsel in 2004. Donnelly also holds a master’s degree in equality studies from the School of Social Justice, University College Dublin.

Angela Krueger is a deputy public defender at the Tulare County Public Defender’s Office in Central California. An ILF Fellow in 2007, she went to Afghanistan following tenures as an assistant public defender with the CNMI Public Defender’s Office in Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, and as a staff attorney at Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc. Krueger is a graduate of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Tulane University Law School.

Jacob Stevens is the director of the Criminal Justice Clinic at Hofstra University School of Law, where he brings to his students more than 15 years of experience defending the rights of the indigent and marginalized in the criminal justice system. After working as a public defender in Philadelphia and Harlem, and venturing into victim assistance as managing attorney at the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, he joined the Bronx Defenders in its inaugural year. There, as a senior trial attorney and supervising attorney, he helped build its innovative system of holistic defense to fight both the causes and the consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system by utilizing interdisciplinary teams of criminal, civil and family defense lawyers; social workers; parent advocates and investigators. Stevens has represented hundreds, if not thousands, of clients facing accusations ranging from trespass to murder. He graduated from New York University School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden Public Interest Fellow, and from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in social studiesmagna cum laude.

Kesha Louis is a staff attorney in the Brooklyn Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York.

Priya Lakhe is a senior trial attorney with the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office.

Lisa Polansky is a criminal defense attorney from Boulder, Colorado with more than a decade of experience in handling criminal defense cases in state and federal courts including homicide cases, drug cases, assaults, sex offenses and juvenile matters. While in private practice Polansky served as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Office on active duty as trial counsel to the 1st Armored Division, U.S. Army Europe, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (Germany). During her tenure there, she advised commanders on issues of military justice; coordinated with law enforcement in the investigation of crimes and prosecuted courts-martial. Prior to that, she worked as a deputy public defender for the Office of the Los Angeles Count Public Defender, where her last assignment as deputy in charge engaged her in the supervision of attorneys with misdemeanor caseloads,preliminary hearings and plea bargaining in felony cases. Polansky is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany and Pepperdine University School of Law.

Susan Lee came to Kathmandu from the Bronx, New York, where she had worked for the past four years as a staff attorney for Bronx Defenders, a New York non-profit organization that provides free legal representation to criminal defendants. While at Bronx Defenders, Lee conducted numerous felony jury trials; handled all aspects of representation, including arraignments; testified in front of the New York City Council and organized Know-Your-Rights trainings for local high school students. Prior to the Bronx Defenders, Lee held internship positions with several legal justice nonprofits dealing in both juvenile and capital law. Lee is a graduate of Yale University and the New York University School of Law. She now serves as the acting country director of ILF-Nepal.

Melissa Dineen is the attorney in charge at the Boston-based Youth Advocacy Department – Committee for Public Counsel Services, a nationally recognized model program that approaches legal representation by seeking to identify and meet the underlying issues — emotional, psychological and educational — that burden urban children growing up in poverty. Prior to that, Dineen worked as the directing attorney of the Office of the Public Defender in the Federated States of Micronesia. She started her career at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, an independent, non-profit corporation created in 1934 by a group of Philadelphia lawyers dedicated to the provision of high-quality legal services for indigent criminal defendants. Dineen is a graduate of Boston University and the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University.

Adam Heyman, a staff attorney in the Criminal Defense Division of The Legal Aid Society in New York, left his job as an associate in one of the largest law firms in New York City in 2005 to work as a public defender in Brooklyn. A fierce believer in the need to safeguard fundamental individual rights and ensure access to adequate representation, Heyman manages a 75-150 caseload dealing with everything from arraignments through trial. He also assists clients with issues relating to parole, probation, immigration, mental health, public housing, social services and infectious diseases. A frequent continuing legal education lecturer with Legal Aid, Heyman also travels frequently to laws schools in the region to educate students on the work of indigent defenders. Heyman is a graduate of Georgetown University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa as well as a Rhodes Scholar semi-finalist, and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Nicola Manning is a criminal attorney with significant experience in post-conflict countries, especially in the South Pacific. She comes to the ILF from the Public Defense Service (PDS) in Auckland, New Zealand, a project set up in 2004 to address the needs of and improve services to the indigent accused. At the PDS, Manning oversees the work of four lawyers, conducts training and development sessions for junior lawyers and carries a caseload of 40, as well as the overall responsibility for all the defendants assigned to her team. From 2006 to July 2009, Manning worked as a public defender and legal advisor for the provincial government and public solicitor of the Solomon Islands, helping to restore law and order to the province after nearly five years of insurgency and unrest. Manning is a graduate of the University of Auckland, where she received a  bachelor’s degree in Spanish and an LLB with honors.

Liyah Brown is an experienced criminal defense attorney from the Public Defender Service of Washington, D.C., where she has worked for nearly six years. Prior to becoming a public defender in Washington, D.C., Brown clerked in a U.S. federal district court. Brown received a J.D. from New York University School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Sol Davis is a lawyer from the Juvenile Rights Practice of the Legal Aid Society in New York.

Deborah Trevino • Roxanne Vachon


International Legal Fellows (West Bank 2011)

Stephen Lawrence, the ILF-West Bank’s Winter 2011 International Fellow, is an Australian criminal lawyer with a background in both prosecution and defense advocacy. He currently works as a trial advocate with the Aboriginal Legal Service in western New South Wales where he represents indigenous Australians in trials on indictment. Lawrence has previous international experience working as a public defender in post-conflict Solomon Islands between 2004 and 2007 where he mainly handled conflict-related trial matters. Lawrence graduated from the University of Sydney with a bachelor’s degree in government and public administration in 1996 and from the New South Wales College of Law with a graduate degree in legal practice in 2002. He recently completed a master’s degree in international law from Australian National University.

Gabby Brown is an Australian lawyer who has nearly 30 years of experience practicing as a criminal defense lawyer both in her home country and abroad. Brown has worked as a public defender in Australia since 1982 and currently works as a trial lawyer in Adelaide, Australia. Prior to that, Brown worked in the Solomon Islands from 2006 to 2010, where she provided criminal defense representation and helped to re-establish the public defender system after the conflict there. Brown is a member of a number of boards and committees of legal associations in Australia and the Solomon Islands. She also has a certificate in human rights law from the International Institute of Human Rights in France and a law certificate from the Law Society of South Australia.

Amber Baylor • Daniel Breger • Shama Farooq • Marie-Pierre Py • Theresa Ristenpart • Brian Roberts • Roxanne Vachon

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