Our Staff
Robin Phillips
Executive Director
Robin Phillips is the executive director of The Advocates for Human Rights. She has written extensively about human rights, including human trafficking, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. She has taught courses on human rights at the University of Minnesota Law School and the University of Saint Thomas School of Law. Before becoming The Advocates' executive director, she served as the organization's deputy director and director of its Women's Human Rights Program. Prior to her time at The Advocates, Phillips practiced law with Briggs and Morgan (now Taft).  
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.
Jennifer Prestholdt
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.
Maryam Ahmed
Program Associate, Refugee and Immigrant Program
Maryam is the Program Associate for the Refugee & Immigrant Program. She manages and supervises the interns. Supervises and assists in conducting client intake, including phone intake, interviews, case evaluation, and country conditions research. She assists clients with legal and social service referrals, including maintaining referral lists and maintains client files, including bi-annual case status updates. Maryam is a human rights graduate student from the Humphrey school of public affairs and College of Liberal Arts from the University of Minnesota. Maryam specialized in International Security and Law. She has a bachelor's degree in International Relations with a specialized focus on Diplomacy and Foreign Policy. Before joining The Advocates, Maryam interned at African Development Solutions (ADESO) in Kenya and with Amnesty International Kenya.
Amy Bergquist
Senior 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.
Sarah Brenes
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.
John Bruning
Staff Attorney
John is a Staff Attorney for the The Advocates for Human Rights' Refugee & Immigrant Program. His work focuses on advocating for detained noncitizens in immigration court, before the immigration agencies, and in U.S. District Court and the Court of Appeals. John provides direct client representation, mentors and supports volunteer attorneys, and assists practitioners. He also teaches part-time in the University of Minnesota Law School's immigration clinics. Before joining The Advocates, John worked for several years in private practice at a small immigration firm. During law school he worked at several criminal defense organizations and spent a summer in New York, working on Alien Tort Statute litigation, cases before the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights, and litigation against the criminalization of human rights advocacy.  
Stefani Conyers
Administrative Director
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.
Theresa Dykoschak
Pro Bono Counsel
Theresa Dykoschak is Pro Bono Counsel for The Advocates for Human Rights. She promotes volunteer engagement and increases our capacity to leverage contributions from hundreds of volunteers on an annual basis. She is also a member of The Advocates’ Human Trafficking team and co-authored protocol guidelines on labor trafficking. Prior to Pro Bono Counsel, Theresa was a Staff Attorney in the Women’s Human Rights Program, reporting and advocating to UN human rights mechanisms; co-authoring reports on violence against women; conducting fact-finding missions; and training professionals on best practices and responses to domestic violence. 
Michelle Ewald
Communications and Outreach Director
Michelle Ewald leads The Advocates' Communications and Outreach team seeking to reach, educate and mobilize advocates to raise voices, create accountability, bring transparency and strengthen protections in the fight for human rights around the globe. Michelle earned her BBA from The University of North Texas where she also competed on the women's varsity golf team.
Ashley Sukhu
Communications & Outreach Assistant
Ashley Sukhu serves as the Communications & Outreach Associate. In this role, she oversees volunteers and interns by assisting with recruitment, tracking, communication, and recognition; produces print magazine and other promotional materials; monitors the social media accounts by tracking the performance of each account; and supports development and posting of content. Prior to joining The Advocates for Human Rights, Ashley worked at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as a Career Counselor and Lecturer in Communication & Journalism. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and volunteers her time in public television.
Lindsey Greising
Staff Attorney: Research, Education & Advocacy
Lindsey Greising is a Staff Attorney for The Advocates for Human Rights. In that capacity, Lindsey works on advocacy efforts, particularly involving immigration and trafficking policies. Lindsey also supports rural outreach efforts, special projects, and training for volunteer attorneys and others on the trafficking and immigration matters.   
Alison Griffith
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.
Liz Kelleher
Events and Individual Giving Coordinator
Liz Kelleher is a member of the Development team at The Advocates. Her main projects include coordinating events, planning and implementing individual giving fundraisers, and managing the donor database. 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 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 and has worked in legal services and as a web manager.
Elizabeth Lacy
Program Assistant, Women's and International Justice
Elizabeth is the Program Assistant for International Justice and Women’s Human Rights Program, serving as a volunteer with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps for the year. Her main projects in that capacity include monitoring United Nations deadlines, coordinating intern projects, monitoring court cases, and helping facilitate UN reporting. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Olaf College with a BA in French and Philosophy. While at St. Olaf, she sang in four different choirs and travelled to France. She has experience in both academic and legal research.
Madeline Lohman
Senior Researcher

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 and human trafficking in Minnesota. In 2019, she developed protocol guidelines on behalf of the MN Department of Health to improve the statewide response to youth victims of labor trafficking. 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. 


Elizabeth Montgomery
Staff Attorney, Women's Human Rights Program
Elizabeth Montgomery is a staff attorney with The Advocates’ Women’s Human Rights Program. In this role, Elizabeth is mainly responsible for overseeing volunteers and interns involved with the WATCH Program, along with organizing the data collected. Elizabeth also assists with other domestic and international advocacy work.  Elizabeth received a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and graduated from Concordia College Moorhead with a BA in Political Science and Global Studies and a minor in German.
Emily Olinger
Executive Administrative Associate
Emily Olinger works as the Executive Administrative Associate with The Advocates for Human Rights. In this role, she supports general operations at The Advocates by providing administrative support and working on special projects. Emily graduated summa cum laude from the College of St. Benedict with a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Hispanic Studies. Prior to joining The Advocates, she worked for Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc, where she managed a Head Start center for families of migrant and seasonal farm workers.
Kaarin Long
Staff Attorney, Women's Human Rights Program
Kaarin Long is a staff attorney in the Women’s Human Rights program.  Before joining The Advocates, Kaarin worked as a prosecutor in Minnesota for many years, focusing on cases involving violence against women.  She is a former assistant Ramsey County Attorney, and former staff attorney at The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault.  She brings to The Advocates her experience investigating and prosecuting sexual- and domestic-violence cases.
Rosalyn Park
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.
Anaid Plascencia
Development Assistant
Anaid Plascencia is the Development Assistant at The Advocates for Human Rights. Her role includes database management, supporting event coordination, and assisting in general fundraising. Anaid graduated from Hamline University where she completed a double major in Political Science and Global Studies and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate. She was also the commencement speaker for the 2019 Hamline Undergraduate ceremony. As a recent graduate, she is active in the Latino community by teaching English to adult students through the nonprofit Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio, CLUES. She has also joined the Speakers Bureau of the Islamic Resource Group, IRG.
Thekla Rura-Polley
Development Director
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.
Hanne Sandison
Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow, Refugee & Immigrant Program
Hanne is an Immigrant Justice Corps Legal Fellow with The Advocates for Human Rights' Refugee & Immigrant Program. Hanne’s work focuses on seeking justice for immigrants in ICE detention. In that capacity, she mentors and supports pro bono attorneys handling removal cases for detained immigrants while also handling a caseload of asylum and other detained removal cases.