The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice is delighted to announce the recipients of the James E. Tolan Fellowship in International Human Rights. Two Tolan Fellows were selected for 2012–2013: Allison Chandler (FLS ’11) and Steven Heller (FLS ’12).
The Tolan Fellowship is a post-graduate Fellowship that funds Fordham Law School graduates to work for an international human rights organization for one year. The Fellowship is awarded on an annual or bi-annual basis.
The Fellowship is named in honor of James Tolan, a long-time supporter of the Leitner Center’s Crowley Program. Mr. Tolan is a graduate of Fordham Law School (LL.B., 1962), where he was the Case-Notes Editor of the Fordham Law Review. He is a member of the Board of Fordham Law Alumni Association, a past President and recipient of its Medal of Achievement, as well as recipient of the Dean’s Medal of Recognition. Mr. Tolan is currently Senior Counsel at Dechert LLP and a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Allison Chandler ’11 will work with Defence for Children International – Sierra Leone’s Violence Against Children Program in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Using a child participation approach, DCI-SL works to promote and monitor implementation of the full range of children’s rights. Allison’s fellowship will focus on strengthening local responses to sexual and gender-based violence through engaging the customary legal system. In addition, Allison will support the Violence Against Children Program through monitoring, fact-finding, and human rights trainings with community members, law enforcement agencies, and health care providers. With the Leitner Center’s support, Allison previously worked with the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda), Open Society Justice Initiative, Centre for Safe Motherhood, Youth, and Child Outreach (Sierra Leone), and the PeaceWomen Project. At Fordham, Allison was a student in the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic, as well as a Dean’s Fellow at the Leitner Center. Allison received her B.A. in Latin American Studies from Vassar College in 2007.
Steven Heller ‘12 will work with the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration (ORAM) in San Francisco, California. ORAM is currently the only non-governmental organization in the country whose work focuses exclusively on LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. The organization supports refugees fleeing sexual and gender-based persecution through client services, educational outreach, and advocacy. Steven will provide direct representation to clients as they navigate asylum and refugee status determination processes. He will also help to develop an interactive map and database which compiles research on country conditions, establishes an understanding of the varying levels of persecution suffered by LGBTI individuals worldwide, and makes this information easily accessible to advocates, adjudicators, and other international stakeholders. At Fordham, Steven conducted human rights fieldwork through the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic and the student organization Universal Justice, and was a staff member of the International Law Journal. Steven is returning to ORAM as a Tolan Fellow, having spent a summer there as an intern. He has also previously interned for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Justice Program, the United Nations Global Compact, and the Human Rights Court of Ghana. Steven received his B.A. in English from Boston College in 2008.