D’Alemberte-Ellis Fellowship

Fellowship Purpose

Florida State’s D’Alemberte-Ellis Fellowship benefits students who have significant interest in human rights. This unique opportunity provides FSU Law students supplemental financial support for life-altering international practical experience in the human rights practice area. The fellowship helps students interested in human rights law gain practical experience through international legal work that will broaden their horizons and help them develop into future lawyers and global citizens.


During the summer of 2023, inaugural fellow Robin Rodriguez had the privilege of working with human rights advocates and lawyers at the Human Rights Advocacy Centre in Accra, Ghana. She created a project on voting rights awareness in Ghana, attended a disability rights conference, and drafted policy briefs advocating for better legal treatment for marginalized groups. At the centre, she interviewed clients seeking asylum, worked with other interns to research and track harmful legislation across sub-Saharan Africa, and collaborated with other human rights NGOs in Ghana. She describes it as a summer she will never forget, as she learned so much from the lawyers and activists in Accra that she will carry with her in her legal education and career.

"My summer in Accra, Ghana, taught me more than I could have ever imagined about the human rights legal field. I came to understand that human rights law is impacted by global organizations and multinational treaties, but the heart of the legal field is driven every day by small NGOs who fight for each and every victory they obtain."

Placement Sites

Students are encouraged to identify and seek out organizations/sites that resonate with their specific interests. See recordings below of our Sample Site Speaker Series. For a comprehensive list of possible placement sites, please reach out to Professor Darby Kerrigan Scott at dscott@law.fsu.edu.

Appleseed México

The Appleseed Foundation focuses on achieving systemic changes that achieve a high social impact. Appleseed México works on ensuring access to justice is equitable and universal, where its citizens have equal opportunities, and power is exercised in the public interest. Appleseed México identifies and researches social issues and their legal environments in order to provide technically feasible recommendations. It creates alliances with stakeholders in the public, private, and social sectors in order to create networks that implement such recommendations in areas including the promotion of pro bono culture, direct incidence, and immigration legal counseling. 

Maru Cortazar is the executive director of Appleseed México and has headed its efforts since 2005. She has specialized in projects on topics such as the protection of unaccompanied migrant children, child protection, and promotion of pro bono culture. She also heads the Civil Society + Pro Bono Program (CSPro) of the United States Agency for International Development to strengthen the capacities and sustainability of civil society organizations, and leads Appleseed México's Pro Bono Network.

View a recording of an info session about Appleseed México with Maru Cortazar.


BABSEACLE (Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative)

BABSEACLE's mission is to help establish, strengthen, and support access to justice and rule of law globally through justice education and training, including a core focus on legal ethics, professional responsibility, and pro bono awareness raising. BABSEACLE has worked with universities, law students, law faculties, lawyers, members of the legal community, justice-related organizational partners, government, and the private sector since 2003 to develop justice education, legal aid, and pro bono-related programs throughout Asia and globally. 

Bruce Lasky, J.D., LL.M. is the co-founder and co-director of BABSEACLE. He is also partner and pro bono head of a Thailand-based law firm which has a strong pro bono focus. He has more than 31 years of experience in assisting pro bono initiatives, legal aid, and clinical legal education and more than 23 years of experience working in developing countries and countries in transition, implementing education and community empowerment projects. Much of that work has focused on pro bono, clinical legal education (CLE), access to justice, and legal aid.

View a recording of an info session about BEABSEACLE with Bruce Lasky


HRAC (Human Rights Advocacy Center)

Situated in Accra, Ghana, the Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) is a not-for-profit, independent, non-partisan, research and advocacy organization set up to advance and protect human rights in Ghana. HRAC’s work focuses on three main areas: research, advocacy, and the provision of free legal services. As part of efforts to contribute to the development of the human rights landscape in Ghana, the Organization’s work revolves around the vulnerable and marginalized in society, including persons with disabilities, persons belonging to minority groups, refugees, women and children. Since its inception, HRAC has provided human rights services in thematic areas including access to health care (sexual and reproductive health rights, human rights protections for persons living with HIV, etc.); access to justice through the provision of pro bono legal services and public interest litigation; democratic policing monitoring and advocacy; prison advocacy to protect the rights of prisoners; monitoring compliance with international human rights standards; and educating and creating awareness on human rights.


REWAC (Refugee Welfare Association Cameroon)

Situated in Tiko, Cameroon since 2009, REWAC is a small, indigenous NGO under Cameroon Law. REWAC is dedicated to defending the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and forcibly displaced persons. REWAC’s mission is to provide quality humanitarian assistance at the grassroots level to empower and achieve a sustainable livelihood amongst vulnerable migrants. REWAC trains lawyers on the rights of vulnerable migrants and conducts awareness campaigns and outreach activities for information dissemination and the promotion of the rights of vulnerable migrants. REWAC also provides vocational training for vulnerable migrants for immediate job acquisition and income generation and undertakes research. Finally, REWAC partners with major stakeholders for food distribution to enable vulnerable migrants to withstand the immediate physical challenges of their new environment.

Justice Mukete Tahle Itoe, PhD, the president and co-founder of REWAC, has over 25 years of legal experience in domains such as justice administration, the rule of law, human rights protection mechanisms, sexual and gender-based violence, and access to justice. As the high court judge of Mezam, Bamenda in the Human Rights Division, he adjudicates all cases of human rights abuses before the court. Itoe incorporates treaties into his judgements and works to engage civil society in access to justice initiatives. He also initiates a quarterly Human Rights Forum on topics such as the right to a fair trial, the rule of law, and effective case managements for all judges and prosecutors in the jurisdiction.


SALC (Southern Africa Litigation Centre)

Southern Africa Litigation Centre's vision is that the rule of law and human rights are respected, protected, promoted, and fulfilled throughout Southern Africa. Its mission is to promote and advance human rights, democratic governance, the rule of law, and access to justice in Southern Africa through strategic litigation, advocacy, and capacity strengthening. SALC focuses on marginalized communities that face challenges in accessing legal, social and environmental justice. SALC’s work is streamlined into five thematic clusters: international justice, socio-economic rights, equality rights, criminal justice, and civic rights. SALC works in 12 countries in the region, with staff based in 5 countries. 

Anneke Meerkotter is the executive director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. For the past two decades, she has specialized in public interest litigation. She joined SALC in 2012. She has experience in movement building, working with marginalized groups, supporting survivors of gender-based violence, training judges and lawyers throughout the region, organizational management, regional and international advocacy, and running child diversion programs.

View a recording of an info session about SALC with Anneke Meerkotter.


Global Refugee Leaders Forum

Global Refugee Leaders Forum is a community initiative that was founded in Kampala, Uganda, in 2014 by Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos. The organization is now based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and focuses on advocacy work and the promotion of peace, leadership, democracy, and good governance. Global Refugee Leaders Forum offers legal assistance to asylum seekers and refugees. These services include assisting refugees and asylum seekers with their status, fighting for criminal justice, and combatting inhumane treatment and torture. Besides providing legal services, Global Refugee Leaders Forum has education programs for children and adults as well as counseling and guidance services. In all its work, Global Refugee Leaders Forum seeks to empower those it serves.

Kuhiloshi Musikami Pecos is a human rights defender and founder of Global Refugee Leaders Forum. He is involved in research and analysis, advocacy, leadership, and conflict resolution. He is also an interpreter and translator. His specialty is in refugee rights and promotion of peace in the DRC and neighboring regions.


Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (iPeace)

Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (iPeace) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001. iPeace’s mission is to increase knowledge about human rights and good governance within Africa’s Great Lakes Region to promote sustainable community cooperation and peace. iPeace works with local leaders at a grassroots level to enhance a culture of peace through education coupled with socio-economic transformation. iPeace believes that widespread education and understanding of human rights will assist people in exercising those rights and accessing justice.

Elvis Mbembe Binda, PhD, is the chief executive officer of Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights. In this role, he is the legal representative of iPeace, in charge of general assembly and executive committee meetings for the organization, and he envisions its goals and the manner in which iPeace hopes to attain those goals. He also lends his legal education and expertise as a lecturer in iPeace’s regional training programs.


Atrocities Watch Africa

Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA) is a civil society NGO that was created in Uganda in 2016. AWA was founded in part because it believes that international justice efforts in Africa have historically not been focused on efficacy, effectiveness, or efficiency in addressing and preventing atrocities on the continent. AWA seeks to bridge national and regional human rights frameworks with international ones. It also develops new, innovative approaches to preventing, deterring, and punishing mass atrocities and human rights violations. AWA engages in research, litigation and advocacy, and education about mass atrocities. It takes full and powerful advantage of social media and digital tracking to monitor potential and ongoing atrocities. AWA’s efforts target women and children especially as highly vulnerable populations.

Dismas Nkunda is co-founder and chief executive officer of Atrocities Watch Africa. He initially gained recognition as a journalist of humanitarianism before attaining his law degree and becoming an expert in human rights, international criminal, and international humanitarian law. He is a regular speaker before the UN and African Union, as well as a speaker on social media with the ability to reach and educate people of all sorts.


International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)

International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) was founded in 2004. IRRI is a non-profit organization based in Africa’s Great Lakes Region that uses a holistic approach to promoting and protecting human rights in conflict and displacement. IRRI conducts and uses research to inform its advocacy work, which centers responding to and sustainably disrupting cycles of violence and displacement. The IRRI vision is one of “a peaceful world where every person enjoys rights, security, and dignity,” and the organization works at multiple levels to serve this vision, including community advocacy, litigation, research, and national and international policy work.

Djibril Balde is the West Africa focal point at International Refugee Rights Initiative. He is a lawyer who works to raise awareness about refugee issues through press conferences, publications, and a radio interview show in which he interviews asylum seekers and refugees.


Legal Resources Foundation (LRF)

The Legal Resources Foundation was founded in Zimbabwe in 1985, just five years after the nation gained independence. The Legal Resources Foundation was created by a group of lawyers whose initial goal was to take on legal projects and test cases to assist in establishing Zimbabwe’s legal system early on and facilitating access to justice for all. Now, the Legal Resources Foundation has expanded to include five provincial centers and thirteen Legal Advice Centres spread throughout the country. The Legal Resources Foundation aims to bring the law to the people, to provide legal education and advocacy, and to strengthen the justice delivery system of Zimbabwe.

Valerie Zviuya is the executive director of the Legal Resources Foundation. She is a former public prosecutor who has been working for the Legal Resources Foundation since 2009. She is passionate about human rights advocacy, research, and litigation, and has extensive experience in both civil and criminal litigation.

Application Process

The online application opened on October 1, 2022 and will remain open through January 20, 2023. The application includes work placement details, academic or professional references, resume, and proposed budget. Applicants will also provide a written or video response to prompts about how the international experience will impact them and how international experiences foster human rights at home and globally.


  • Applicants must have completed their 1L year at time of participation.
  • Applicants must identify unpaid/minimally paid full-time work in the human rights field.
  • Proposed work experience must be outside of the U.S. and for a minimum of four weeks.



If you have any questions about the application or the fellowship program, please contact Dean Nancy Benavides at nbenavid@law.fsu.edu or Professor Darby Kerrigan Scott at dscott@law.fsu.edu

2023 Fellowship Committee

Chair - Darby Kerrigan Scott
Donor and Committee Member - Patsy Palmer
Committee Member - Bethany Ann Tarpley
Committee Member - Melina Milazzo
Committee Member - Elizabeth R. Dewey
Committee Member - John Thrasher
Past Committee Member - Charles C. Jalloh
Donor - Mark Ellis
FSU Law Committee Member - Nancy Benavides

D'Alemberte & Ellis

The fellowship is dedicated to the 35+ year friendship of Sandy D'Alemberte and Mark Ellis. Sandy D'Alemberte is remembered as an accomplished lawyer and leader, dedicated to the promotion of human rights both at home and around the world. D'Alemberte and Ellis shared a passion for the promotion of human rights and co-taught an innovative learning course in international human rights, geared to FSU and International Bar Association (IBA) students.

(L-R) Mark Ellis, Sandy D'Alemberte, and FSU President Emeritus John Thrasher

(L-R) Mark Ellis, Sandy D'Alemberte, and Ellis's son, Andrew