Forging Justice in Fragile Contexts .

Event | May 8, 2024

Join us on May 8 for an interactive discussion about how rule of law programming contributes to a more peaceful, just world.

At a time when instability is on the rise worldwide, strong rule of law is essential to protecting and promoting economic security, sustainable livelihoods, and safe and equal opportunities for under-represented groups. Adapting rule of law strategies to fragile contexts is vital to promoting stability and preventing conflict. Stronger justice systems advance and protect local rightsholders, disrupt and prevent conflict, and provide security by way of remedy, corrections, and enforcement. Join us on Wednesday, May 8 for an interactive, half-day discussion, where local and international organizations, USAID, and implementing partners will highlight strategies for preventing injustices, strengthening weak institutions, and providing alternative routes to justice in fragile contexts.

Wednesday, May 8
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST

Register here before May 1 to join us for this exciting event.

Opening Remarks

Melissa GasmiMelissa Gasmi
Senior Vice President, Middle East and North Africa
Chemonics International

Melissa (Scudo) Gasmi joined Chemonics in 2007 and brings more than 20 years of experience managing complex international development programs to her role as senior vice president of the Middle East and North Africa business unit. Melissa served as team leader for the Tunisia Tax and Customs Reform Activity, chief of party on the Asia and the Middle East Economic Growth Best Practices project, and program manager and deputy program manager of the global USAID Financial Sector Knowledge Sharing project. She began her career at Corporate Executive Board as a senior manager of a financial sector program providing strategic research for executives of more than 150 financial institutions worldwide. Melissa also served as a program officer with Grameen Foundation USA, and as Philippines country representative for Innovations for Poverty Action. Her expertise includes mobilizing finance for development and forging public private sector partnerships. Melissa received her M.A. in international development with a specialization in developmental economics from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and a B.A. in International Studies, Spanish, and History from Dickinson College.

Panel: Leading Locally with People-Centered Justice

Because it inherently centers local communities, people-centered justice is an effective way of spurring data-driven decisions, building solution-oriented partnerships, and promoting user-friendly processes. It prepares practitioners to focus on preventing, rather than simply responding to, injustices. During this panel, project leaders and technical experts will examine how people-centered justice can be used to strengthen local solutions by, sometimes, engaging unexpected actors to forge justice in unexpected places.


A professional headshot of Kelly BrooksKelly Brooks
Senior Director, Program Management, Latin America and the Caribbean
Chemonics International

Kelly Brooks is an expert in human rights, rule of law, and good governance, with more than 20 years of experience leading and managing development programs around the world. She formerly served as chief of party for the USAID/Colombia Human Rights Activity (HRA) and as deputy chief of party for the predecessor project, both of which supported the Government of Colombia and civil society to promote a culture of human rights, prevent violations of human rights, and respond effectively to violations that occur. In addition to her extensive work with USAID, she has also worked with Oxfam, the World Bank, the Colombian government, and the Pan-American Development Foundation. She has a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in international relations from Tufts University.


Professional headshotCecilia Barraza
Deputy Chief of Party
USAID/Colombia Inclusive Justice Activity, implemented by Chemonics International

Cecilia Barraza is the deputy chief of party for the USAID/Colombia Inclusive Justice Program, having previously served as the deputy chief of party on the preceding USAID/Colombia Justice for Sustainable Peace program. She has extensive experience managing non-governmental organizations, cooperation programs and government institutions, as well as designing and implementing public policies at the local and national level to overcome inequality and discrimination impacting women and the LGBTIQ population. In addition to more than 20 years of experience leading professional and technical teams, Cecilia is also a professor and researcher on human rights and gender issues.

Professional headshot of Miranda JolicoeurMiranda Jolicoeur
Director, Office of Justice, Rights, and Security
USAID Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

Miranda Jolicoeur has more than 20 years of experience working on democracy, governance, human rights, and rule of law. She is the director of the Office for Justice, Rights, and Security in the USAID Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. Previously, as the director of USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance Office in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she led efforts to re-engage the justice sector. She has also worked with USAID in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. Miranda has served as an attorney on international human rights and U.S. domestic immigration and civil cases. She holds a JD and MA in international politics from American University and is a member of the New York State Bar.

professional headshotThemba Mahleka
Senior Program Officer
Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies

Themba Mahleka is a senior program officer with the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. With more than a decade of experience working in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the United States, Themba specializes in people-centered justice, rule of law, good governance, and legal tech and innovation. Themba previously led the HiiL Innovation Hub – Southern Africa, where he played a pivotal role in running the Justice Accelerator program which partnered with public officials, entrepreneurs, and investors to build solutions which allow people to resolve or prevent justice problems.

Professional headshotTiernan Mennen
Chief of Party
Transparency and Accountability in the Public Sector Project

Tiernan Mennen is chief of party for Counterpart International’s El Salvador Transparency and Accountability in the Public Sector (TAPS) project, which aims to support civil society and government-led efforts to promote integrity and improve national systems for preventing and combatting corruption. He is a democracy, governance, and rights expert with senior management experience in over 40 countries around the world. Previously, he led the global democracy and governance divisions for Tetra Tech and Abt Associates and was chief of party on a decentralization project in Nepal, a civil society and rule of law project in Sri Lanka, and a criminal justice reform project in Bolivia. Tiernan is a regular researcher and author on human rights, anti-corruption, land tenure, access to justice, and rule of law.

Panel: Navigating Rule of Law in Transitioning Countries

What does rule of law look like when countries are in transition? Because rule of law programs typically work within existing justice systems to improve accountability, ensure fairness, and protect rights, it is challenging when these organizations are corrupted by bad actors. Projects need to shift to meet the changing needs of citizens and other at-risk populations. This panel will discuss how rule of law programs can pivot to strengthen weakened institutions, identify and collaborate with new stakeholders to lay the foundation for future progress, and provide alternate routes to justice even as instability remains.


Professional headshot of Mario Kerby.Mario Kerby
Senior Director, Program Management, Middle East and North Africa
Chemonics International

Mario Kerby is a senior director at Chemonics International with over 40 years of experience in governance, agriculture, business development, water resources management, and recovery from conflict and natural disasters. He currently oversees the USAID-funded Iraq Durable Communities and Economic Opportunities program. A four-time chief of party on USAID programs, Mario led for the Fiscal Reform for a Strong Tunisia project, the Morocco Integrated Agriculture and Agribusiness project, the Morocco Watershed Protection and Management project, and the Morocco Water Resources Sustainability project. Mr. Kerby was also the deputy chief of party for the USAID-funded WINNER project in Haiti. Prior to working on USAID projects, Mr. Kerby was vice president of ICF International where he worked on environmental regulations and managed water and environment projects in Angola and Bulgaria. Mr. Kerby holds a master’s and a bachelor’s  in economics from American University.


Professional headshotDon Chisholm
Director, USAID Center for Conflict and Violence Prevention

With more than 20 years of international development experience, Don Chisholm is the director of USAID’s Center for Conflict and Violence Prevention. Previously, he was the deputy director of USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance. Since joining USAID in 2009, Don has managed rule of law, human rights, crime prevention, civil society, and elections programs. Prior to joining USAID, he supported rule of law programming for USAID implementing partners and worked for the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau. Don has lived and worked throughout Latin America, and in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

Jacques Miguel Sanon headshotJacques Miguel Sanon
Expert, Governance and Rule of Law

Jacques Miguel Sanon has over 20 years of experience implementing governance and rule of law projects in Haiti with USAID and the U.S. Department of State. He served as deputy chief of party and chief of party for the USAID/Haiti Justice Sector Strengthening Program. Previously, he was the deputy country director for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative, which aimed to combat corruption, money laundering, sexual and gender-based violence, and trafficking in persons through joint police-justice training. Jacques holds an MA in Human Rights from the University of Nantes, a Leadership and Management for Development Impact MiniMasters from Arizona State University, and a license in law from the State University of Gonaives. He was a Port-au-Prince Bar Association Board member and a certified arbitrator from the Chamber of Conciliation and Arbitration of Haiti.

Samuel Ngambo headshotSamuel Ngambo
Center for the Promotion of Human Rights and Development in Africa (CPHDA), C-Analytics

Samuel Ngambo has over a decade of experience managing governance and conflict programming and research activities for government clients and the international nongovernmental community. Most recently, he led a target audience analysis to understand Nigerian, Nigerien, and Cameroonian stakeholder perceptions of the International Coalition Against Daesh’s strategy for countering violent extremism. He also conducted a detailed landscape assessment to understand the operating environment of community resilience-focused civil society organizations in northern Cameroon. Samuel now provides technical direction, leadership, and oversight of all programming and administration for C-Analytics. He previously served as the executive director for CPHDA, providing in-depth contextual analysis and technical input into all activities. He is fluent in English, French, and American Sign Language.

Sitan Togo
Chief of Party
USAID/Mali Salam, implemented by Chemonics International

Sitan Togo is chief of party on the USAID/Mali Salam project. She is an expert in conflict resolution approaches and integrating conflict sensitivity into multisectoral programming with more than 20 years of experience in civic engagement, governance, social cohesion, decentralization, youth empowerment, and gender mainstreaming. Sitan has supported donor-funded programs in Mali, Guinea, Niger, Afghanistan, Georgia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam, and previously served as Mali’s head of program implementation for Plan International, deputy chief of party for the USAID/Mali Civic Engagement Program, and program coordinator for My Rights, My Voice Global. Sitan has a degree in public law from Gamal Abdel Nasser University.

Closing Remarks

Rebecca Brewington
Managing Program Director, West and Central Africa, Haiti
Chemonics International

Rebecca Brewington joined Chemonics in 1999 and brings more than twenty years of experience in civil society strengthening and good governance. She has served as senior director overseeing the USAID Cross-Border Community Resilience Activity, the Iraq Governance Strengthening program, the Rwanda Duteze Imbere Ubutabera (“Let’s Access Justice”), and the Tanzania Capacity Development for Partners of Accountability activity. She has trained civil society partners on good governance and developed a hands-on governance workbook outlining roles around governing institutions. She currently supports the USAID Climate Finance for Development Accelerator, which aims to mobilize private finance and private sector actions supporting the transition to an equitable and resilient net-zero economy. Rebecca holds a master’s certificate in government contracting from George Washington University and a master’s in business administration from Ellis College.