Robin Phillips, The Advocates’ executive director and an attorney, has written about human rights, including trafficking in women, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. She has also led delegations to Ghana and Liberia as part of The Advocates’ work with Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and she has conducted fact-finding missions to document human rights violations in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Nepal, and Mexico.
Executive Administrative Assistant: Shannon McKeever 612-746-4680
Michele Garnett McKenzie
Deputy Director, Director of Advocacy
Michele Garnett McKenzie serves on the senior leadership team at The Advocates for Human Rights. She also leads the organization's research, education, and advocacy team and is responsible for The Advocates' domestic priority issues including migration and human trafficking.
Deputy Director, Director of International Justice Program
Attorney Jennifer Prestholdt directs organizational operations at The Advocates and supervises the development and administration of The Advocates’ International Justice Program. She also practiced asylum law for The Advocates as the director of its Refugee and Immigrant Program. Before teaming with The Advocates, Jennifer worked on refugee and asylum issues for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Staff Attorney, International Justice
Amy Bergquist coordinates advocacy at the UN and with regional human rights bodies. Focus areas include LGBTI rights, discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity, rights of minorities and non-citizens, and the death penalty. She collaborates with diaspora communities seeking to be more effective advocates for human rights in their countries of origin. She coordinates pro bono legal assistance to support non-governmental organizations based in Africa working on human rights and rule of law issues.
Director of Refugee & Immigrant Program
Sarah Brenes has experience working with nonprofit organizations and private immigration firms serving immigrant clients, including the Migrant Unit of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services in North Dakota and Minnesota, and the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota through a clerkship sponsored by the Minnesota Justice Foundation. She also clerked at Centro Legal, Inc. as an Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Program Fellow.
Program Assistant, Refugee and Immigrant Program
Sonja Carlson works as a Program Assistant for the Refugee and Immigrant Program. In this role, Sonja oversees the transmittal process for accepted clients, coordinates the volunteer interpreter panel, and helps manage the National Asylum Helpline. She recently graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Women’s and Gender Studies and Hispanic Studies, where much of her schooling focused on the intersections between women’s rights and migrant justice. Sonja looks forward to engaging with refugee service from a legal standpoint, and hopes to continue building a career in social service for immigrant and refugee communities.
Stefani Conyers is the Administrative Director at The Advocates for Human Rights. Prior to this position, Stefani served in a variety of operations and organizational management roles, including most recently as the Finance Office & Payroll Manager at the University of Minnesota Law School. She has experience in for-profit, non-profit, educational and small business arenas giving her a well-rounded capacity for seeing the big picture while focusing on the details to get the job done. As a volunteer in a variety of organizations, including a crisis phone counselor to serving meals to tutoring, she has learned the value of making connections in the community to help support their missions. She holds a BA degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and is finishing up her M.Ed. in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota.
Staff Attorney, Women’s Human Rights Program
Theresa Dykoschak has extensive experience in the implementation of domestic violence laws, especially in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, and specializes in the international and regional legal frameworks on violence against women. She regularly reports on and advocates to UN human rights mechanisms; co-authors reports on violence against women; conducts fact-finding missions; provides commentary on domestic violence laws; and develops curricula and trains professionals on best practices and responses to domestic violence. Learn more.
Staff Attorney, Refugee & Immigrant Program
Alison is a Staff Attorney for The Advocates for Human Rights' Refugee & Immigrant Program. In that capacity, she mentors and supports pro bono attorneys handling asylum cases before the asylum office and the Immigration Court, as well as other humanitarian immigration matters. Alison also handles a caseload of asylum cases and other matters for The Advocates. Before joining The Advocates, she represented unaccompanied minors at Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), where she represented unaccompanied children seeking asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, U Visas, and other forms of humanitarian relief from deportation. Prior to her work with KIND, she represented asylum seekers with complex claims during law school at the University of St. Thomas Legal Clinic.
Program Assistant, Refugee & Immigrant Program
James is one of our Program Assistants for the Refugee and Immigrant Program. He works on client intake by responding to our client line, scheduling interviews and doing follow up with potential clients. He graduated with a BA in Political Science from the University of Portland in Portland, OR.
Human Trafficking Legal Fellow, Refugee and Immigrant Program
Caitlin Hughes-Parry is the Human Trafficking Legal Fellow working in the Refugee and Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights. Her work is focused on building The Advocates’ capacity to serve survivors of human trafficking. In this role, she coordinates and provides support to pro bono attorneys assisting clients with their applications for T non-immigrant status. She also provides direct legal services to youth labor trafficking survivors. Before joining The Advocates, Caitlin served as an attorney in the federal government and as a legal intern with Human Rights Watch and with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to law school Caitlin worked as a research assistant for the Human Trafficking Foundation in the United Kingdom helping to establish the Foundation as a multiplier of anti-trafficking efforts across the UK and Europe. Caitlin also has experience as a pro bono attorney representing clients seeking asylum.
Liz Kelleher assists both the development and administrative teams at The Advocates, managing the donor and volunteer database and supporting fundraising efforts. She graduated summa cum laude from Macalester College with a B.A. in International Studies and a minor in history. While at Macalester, she was also the chair of Rising Minds and captain of the varsity women’s water polo team. Before joining The Advocates as a staff member, she was an intern with the Women’s Human Rights program. She has also worked in legal services and as a web manager.
Madeline Lohman is a Senior Researcher with The Advocates for Human Rights. She conducts research, community education and outreach, and legislative advocacy on immigrant rights in Minnesota. She also specializes in trainings and technical assistance on human rights advocacy for social justice organizations, as well as international monitoring and reporting, primarily on the death penalty. She recently published a report on labor trafficking and exploitation and is part of The Advocates’ team on combating human trafficking in Minnesota.
Human Trafficking Legal Case Manager
Andrea Martinez is the Human Trafficking Legal Case Manager for The Advocates for Human Rights. She helps with the coordination of legal services for clients. Additionally, she gathers data related to legal casework and assists with the training of volunteer attorneys. Before joining The Advocates, Andrea was a research assistant at the University of Minnesota in the Human Rights Organizations Project. She also worked at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs on projects aimed to help migrants under vulnerable conditions. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master of Human Rights, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and International Relations from the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), in Mexico City.
Executive Administrative Assistant
Shannon works with both the Administrative Director and the Executive Director to assist in many aspects of the operations of The Advocates, including development and volunteer coordination. Before joining The Advocates, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Catherine University. While at St. Kate’s, she was a member of the Student Senate for three years, and part of the leadership team for two of those years. Shannon served as the student body president her senior year. She focused her term on supporting students and bringing social justice to the forefront of the community. She was also an intern for The Advocates in the Human Rights in the U.S. program before joining as a staff member.
Robina Legal Fellow, Women’s Human Rights Program
Bailey Metzger is the Robina Legal Fellow with the Advocate’s for Human Rights Women’s Human Rights Program. In this role, Bailey is responsible for reviewing and maintaining the Women’s Human Rights Program website, StopVAW.org, overseeing volunteer and intern contributions to StopVAW, and assisting with other domestic and international advocacy work. Bailey received a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School with concentrations in human rights and international law, and graduated from Miami University with B.A.s in History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies.
Legal Fellow, Refugee & Immigrant Program
Kailey is a Robert F. Kennedy Public Service Legal Fellow in The Advocates for Human Rights’ Refugee and Immigrant Program. As an attorney, she represents asylum seekers before the asylum office and immigration court. She also provides technical and material support to the program’s volunteer attorneys throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas. Prior to joining The Advocates, Kailey investigated tax injustice and employment discrimination practices in the private sector at Oxfam America; she submitted expert reports to UN bodies and foreign governments on rights-based land tenure policy at Landesa; and she advocated for global communities who have suffered human rights and environmental abuses by multination corporations at EarthRights International. Kailey received a J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law, and a B.A. in Global Studies from University of Minnesota.
Director, Women's Human Rights Program
Rosalyn Park is the director of The Advocates’ Women’s Human Rights Program, and has participated in fact-finding missions throughout the world. Prior to being appointed director of The Advocates' Women's Human Rights Program, Rosalyn Park was a staff attorney in the Women’s Human Rights Program and on special projects addressing transitional justice and the death penalty.
Thekla Rura-Polley serves The Advocates for Human Rights as Development Director. When you meet her you may detect a slight accent. She grew up in Germany, received her Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and taught management classes at the University of Western Sydney Macathur and at the University of Technology, Sydney. Prior to joining The Advocates for Human Rights, Thekla worked as Associate Director of Development at Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul and as Development Director at St. Paul’s Monastery. Thekla is excited to advance the Advocates’ mission to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law by working with individuals, corporations, and foundations that support this crucial work.
Robina Legal Fellow, Refugee & Immigrant Program
Eric Ryu is a Legal Fellow working in the Refugee & Immigrant Program. In this role, he is involved in the advocacy of detained clients through legal research, evaluating intakes, and assisting attorneys with their pro bono representation. He is also responsible helping coordinate the bond project, detention project, and the immigration court observation project. Eric received a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School with concentrations in immigration law and human rights and was involved with the Binger Center of New Americans as a Student Director and Certified Student Attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology.
Communications and Outreach Director
Kathy Schoen combines strategic planning and communications to bring a heightened awareness of the important initiatives The Advocates for Human Rights pursues. She has a M.S. in management from Cardinal Stritch University and holds bachelor degrees in marketing and in management from Minnesota State University, Moorhead. Prior to joining the Advocates for Human Rights, Kathy held communications and marketing leadership roles in the legal, telecommunications and cooperative industries.
Ellen van Iwaarden
Individual and Major Gifts Officer
Ellen van Iwaarden, Individual and Major Gifts Officer, is a member of The Advocates for Human Rights development team charged with helping The Advocates engage individual donors in the organization’s work and secure the resources necessary to execute its mission.
Program Assistant, International Justice and Women's Human Rights Programs
Elshaday Yeshitila Yilma serves as the Program Assistant for the International Justice and Women’s Human Rights Program. In this role, Elshaday supports the research, publication and dissemination of human rights reports, submissions to the UN, and workshop and training around women’s human rights, death penalty abolition, LGBTI rights, human trafficking, and other priority issues. She is also involved in planning and logistics for international missions including UN advocacy, fact-finding, and training workshops. Before joining The Advocates, Elshaday was a research intern at the Public Defender of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County and a case-intake intern at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. She graduated cum laude from Berea College with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.