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Unsilenced: Empowering Human Rights Defenders in Exile

Please join us on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 10:30 a.m. ET for a hybrid event in Washington, D.C., “Unsilenced: Empowering Human Rights Defenders in Exile.”




The McCain Institute invites you to join the event, “Unsilenced: Empowering Human Rights Defenders in Exile” on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at the ASU Barrett & O’Connor Washington Center in Washington, D.C.

This event, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, pays tribute to the resilience and bravery of human rights defenders who continue their crucial work in the face of exile. It will highlight the challenges faced by Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in exile and explore the support mechanisms available to them. It aims to bridge the gap between defenders’ struggles and the organizations that offer support, fostering a collaborative dialogue for effective advocacy and policy influence, especially in Washington, D.C.

Join us to listen to the inspiring stories of the bravest women defenders and learn about the organizations that support them in their relentless pursuit of justice and human rights around the globe.

Register here to attend in person.

Register here to attend virtually.


Frontline Chronicles: Testimonies of Resilience and Defiance

Ginna Anderson
Associate Director, Center for Human Rights, American Bar Association

Jamila Afghani
Founder, Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization

Binalakshmi Nepram
Founder, India’s Control Arms Foundation and the Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network

Wai Wai Nu
Founder & Executive Director, Women Peace Network in Myanmar

United for the Cause: Strengthening the Support Network

Nadine Hoffman
Deputy Executive Director, International Women’s Media Foundation

Sarah Margon
Director of Foreign Policy, Open Society Foundations

Zerxes Spencer
Director of Fellowship Programs, National Endowment for Democracy

Gerardo Berthin
Vice President of International Programs, Freedom House

Navigating the Future: Laws, Policy, and Protective Measures

Elisa Massimino
Executive Director, Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center

Charlotte Oldham-Moore
Senior Staff Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee



Jamila Afghani is the founder of the local Afghan NGO, Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organization, which among other things supports girls’ education in Afghanistan. She founded the organization as a refugee in Pakistan but then established it in Afghanistan just months after the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001. For the last twenty years, her NGO has supported girls and women throughout Afghanistan — and even today, with the country back under the Taliban, the work continues.

Ginna Anderson, Associate Director, joined ABA CHR in 2012. She is responsible for supporting the Center’s work to advance the rights of human rights defenders and marginalized communities, including lawyers and journalists at risk, women and girls living with HIV, and LGBTI people. She is an expert in health and human rights, media freedom, freedom of expression, and fair trial rights.

Gerardo Berthin is Vice President of International Programs at Freedom House, overseeing the organization’s efforts to advance democracy and human rights across all regions. He has nearly three decades of experience working on democratic governance, anti-corruption, human rights, and civil society strengthening. He has worked in over 40 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Central & Eastern Europe. He was director of the Latin America and Caribbean Programs at Freedom House. Prior to joining Freedom House, he was a Senior Associate at Tetra Tech’s Democracy and Governance sector, where he managed large USAID-funded projects. Between 2009-2014, he was the Governance and Decentralization Policy Advisor at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Service Center for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama. He is the author of two books on political development and democracy, co-author of three books about democratic governance, political parties and institutional development respectively, and is the author of over 40 articles in specialized peer reviewed social science journals. Mr. Berthin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, he holds two Masters Degrees: one in Political Science from the University of Chicago, the other in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University. In addition, he has a Certificate from Harvard University’s J.F.K School of Government for Leaders in Development to manage political and economic reform.

Nadine Hoffman is the IWMF’s Deputy Executive Director, responsible for developing the organization’s programmatic priorities and initiatives. Since joining the IWMF in 2010, Nadine has spearheaded the organization’s expanding safety and security work, overseeing the creation of physical and digital safety training opportunities as well as growing emergency assistance efforts. As an expert in journalism safety, Nadine understands the unique challenges gender diverse journalists experience – and the resources needed to meet these challenges head-on.

Sarah Margon is the director of the foreign policy at Open Society-U.S. Prior to joining the Open Society Foundations, Margon was the Washington director for Human Rights Watch. She was also an associate director at the Center for American Progress and served as senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Russ Feingold, and as staff director to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. Margon received an MS from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and a BA from Wesleyan University.

Elisa Massimino directs the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center and is a senior fellow on National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. She spent 27 years—the last decade as President and CEO—at Human Rights First, one of the nation’s leading human rights advocacy organizations. From 2019-2021 Massimino was the Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights at Georgetown. She also recently served as a senior fellow with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a practitioner-in-residence at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Massimino has a distinguished record of human rights advocacy in Washington. She has testified before Congress dozens of times, writes frequently for mainstream publications and specialized journals, appears regularly in major media outlets, and speaks to audiences around the country. During her leadership at Human Rights First, the influential Washington newspaper The Hill consistently named her one of the most effective public advocates in the country. The daughter of a nuclear submarine commander, Massimino was instrumental in Human Rights First’s effort to assemble a group of retired generals and admirals to speak publicly against policies authorizing the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. This coalition of military leaders played a pivotal role in restoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Massimino is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity University where she has been recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Binalakshmi Nepram born in Manipur in the Northeast Region is an indigenous scholar, published author and women’s human rights defender spearheading work on making women-led peace, and disarmament meaningful to our lives. She is an author and editor of five books. In 2004, Bina co-founded India’s first civil society organization for conventional disarmament issues, Control Arms Foundation of India. In 2007, Binalakshmi to help over 20,000 women widowed in Manipur due to the armed conflict, Bina launched the Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network. Bina has represented Indian civil society in many peace and disarmament meetings of the United Nations in both Geneva and New York. Bina has lectured widely in several universities in India as well as abroad. She is also currently a board member of the International Peace Bureau, a historic 1910 Nobel Peace winning organization and Co-commissioner on Lancet Commission on Global Gun Violence.

Wai Wai Nu is a human rights and democracy activist, a former political prisoner and the founder and executive director of the Women’s Peace Network in Myanmar. She spent seven years as a political prisoner in Burma. Since her release from prison in 2012, Nu has dedicated herself to working for democracy and human rights.

Charlotte Oldham-Moore is a Senior Professional Staff Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She handles the Civilian Security portfolio, which includes the United Nations, humanitarian assistance, migration, conflict, democracy and human rights.  Prior to joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Charlotte Oldham-Moore was Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State. She was also Staff Director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. She was Senior Policy Advisor—Children in Emergencies and Crisis, Save the Children; Director of Central and Eastern European Initiative, Disability Rights International; and Legal Advisor (based in Cambodia) for the International Human Rights Law Group.  Oldham-Moore is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

Zerxes Spencer is Director of Fellowship Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy. In this role, he oversees the , an international exchange program based at NED’s , which seeks to expand the knowledge, broaden the perspectives, build the capacity, and boost the morale of some of the world’s most committed and courageous democracy advocates. He also manages the International Forum’s Visiting Fellows Program and collaborates with the World Movement for Democracy in co-sponsoring the Hurford Youth Fellows Program. In addition, Mr. Spencer oversees efforts in support of democrats at risk, working with journalists, democracy activists, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, scholars, and others under attack around the world and spearheading the implementation of strategic initiatives in support of their work. He has delivered presentations, led briefings, and conducted workshops at a number of venues, including the Department of State, Harvard University, the Human Rights Funders Network, IREX, the Scholars at Risk Network, Civil Rights Defenders, and the World Movement for Democracy. Mr. Spencer is a member of the coordinating committee of the Human Rights Defenders Working Group, based at the Human Rights Funders Network. Prior to becoming Director, he served as Senior Manager of Fellowship Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy and as Associate Editor of the Journal of Democracy. He graduated summa cum laude (with highest honors) from Clark University, with a double major in Government and French, and earned an M.A.

ASU Barrett & O'Connor Center
1800 I St NW, 8th Floor, Washington, DC, 20006
Dec 13, 2023
10:30am ET