Human Rights Project



Shani Jamila, Director

Shani Jamila is the Director of the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center.  She comes to the Urban Justice Center from the non profit organization Justice for DC Youth (JDCY), where she served as director and coordinated a cutting edge, culturally grounded mentorship program to support the education and empowerment of incarcerated teens. Over the course of her leadership, JDCY recruited and trained a corps of collegiate volunteers who joined her in tutoring and leading arts based workshops inside a juvenile detention facility. Prior to accepting this position, she designed and directed The Art of Activism seminar series at Howard University—building a model that utilized cultural work to examine domestic social justice issues in an international human rights frame.

An avid supporter of initiatives that work to merge culture and social justice, Shani chaired a committee of esteemed professors and global experts consulted about effective arts education models for the National Cares Mentoring Movement. She played a senior role in developing the organization's training materials and was the lead writer of the chapter on culture in the NCMM publication, A New Way Forward: Healing What's Hurting Black America. Further, she worked in an advisory capacity with the District of Columbia's Commission on the Arts and Humanities and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. Jamila was the first alumni member to sit on the national selection committee for the New Voices fellowship, which allocates resources to rebuild the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.

Shani has spoken at global gatherings like the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Switzerland, the Association for Women's Rights in Development in Turkey and the World Social Forum in India.  Additionally, she served as the host and producer of a weekly talk radio show on the Pacifica network (WPFW) for six years. Her cosmopolitan perspective and eclectic experiences  also inform her artistry, which includes making collage and fiber art, training in dance and creative writing.

Shani is a proud Spelman graduate who holds a Masters degree in Africana Cultural Studies from UCLA. She has been awarded multiple grants for post-graduate study at institutions including Cornell University and the University of the West Indies-- where she spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow. She also received certification from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Her work has received recognition in publications such as the Trinidad Guardian and Express newspapers, the London based literary magazine Sable and ESSENCE-- as "One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World."

Erin Markman, Policy and Research Coordinator

Erin Markman joined the Human Rights Project as Policy and Research Coordinator in 2011.  Erin moved to policy work after several years in direct social services, and her commitment to fighting for systemic reforms is deeply informed by her experiences in the social services field.  She is dedicated to examining issues of oppression, discrimination, and exclusion in New York City and nationally and to working with grassroots groups to hold governments accountable to resolve those issues.   She finds great hope and strength in the human rights framework, which allows for strong comprehensive demands from activists and calls for proactive solution from governments. 

Erin graduated Cum Laude from Columbia University and earned a Masters of Social Work at Hunter College School of Social Work, where she focused on community organizing.   As a political social worker, Erin is dedicated to furthering anti-oppressive social work practice.  She co-developed and led workshops on issues of white privilege, cisgender privilege, and ally identity development in the social work field. Her article entitled “Gender identity disorder, the gender binary, and transgender oppression: implications for ethical social work” appeared in 2011 in Smith College Studies in Social Work.  She is also the author of the 2011 New York City Council Human Rights Report Card and a Women’s History Month spotlight report entitled The Universal Periodic Review and Gender Equity: A look at the Recommendations.

Nicole Bramstedt, Policy and Research Consultant

Nicole Bramstedt contributes to the drafting and dissemination for the New York City Council Human Rights Report Card.  Previously, she worked as a Senior Policy Analyst at Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, an Agency Attorney at New York City Department of Homeless Services, and a Superior Court law clerk with the State of Connecticut.  She holds a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA and a J.D. from CUNY School of Law where she received the CUNY Public Interest Fellowship and the Angelo Papa Fellowship.

Teena Brooks, Supervising Social Worker

Teena Brooks is Social Work Supervisor at the Human Rights Project. She is also an Advisor at the Columbia University School of Social Work, and previously was Director of Social Work at the Mental Health Project of the Urban Justice Center. She is a consultant to the National Association of Social Workers and New York's Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. She is currently a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center. She holds a Master of Social Work from Fordham University School of Social Service.

Kelsey Adolphs, Organizing Intern

Kelsey Adolphs is an intern at the Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center as well as an MSW Candidate at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City, where she specializes in Community Organization, Planning, and Development. She is also an associate member of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), an organization based in Michigan. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she received the Ginsberg Center Service Award for her undergraduate work toward social justice.



Urban Justice Center Board of Directors

Chairman Mitchell A. Lowenthal, Esq. | Partner Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Secretary Arnold B. Peinado III, Esq. | Partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Treasurer Jeffrey D. Haroldson, Esq. | President, HDG Mansur Capital Group, LLC

Felipe Aransaenz | Managing Director, York Stockbrokers

Michael A. Barasch, Esq. | President, Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson

Pat Budziak | Board of Trustees, Newark Academy

Marc Falcone, Esq. | Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Beth L. Golden | General Counsel, Retail Operations, Chase Bank, N.A.

Jyotin Hamid, Esq.| Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Helen Hershkoff, Esq. | Professor, New York University School of Law

Raquiba LaBrie, Esq. | Program Director, Open Society Institute

Maggie Lear | President, Frances Lear Foundation

Stephen Loffredo, Esq. | Professor, CUNY School of Law

David A. Singleton, Esq.| Executive Director, Ohio Justice & Policy Center

Howard Sontag | Founder & Managing Member, Sontag Advisory LLC

David Tobis, Ph.D. | Executive Director, Fund for Social Change


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Human Rights Project | 123 William Street, 16th Fl. | New York, NY 10038
phone: 646-602-5600 | fax: 212-533-4598