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Executive Director
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Alexander Papachristou joined the Vance Center as Executive Director in January 2012. He directs the organization's overall operations and focuses on its programmatic and institutional initiatives, as well as fundraising.

Mr. Papachristou previously was president of the Near East Foundation, a participatory, community-based economic and social development organization working in Arab and African countries. For the preceding 18 years, Mr. Papachristou engaged in cross-border corporate finance in advisory and proprietary roles: he served as managing director and general counsel at NCH Capital, Inc, which invests in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; he lived in Russia from 1989 to 1993, where he opened and ran the Moscow office of White & Case. Mr. Papachristou also worked in the law firm of Clifford & Warnke in Washington, DC and was policy assistant to New York Governor Mario C. Cuomo. He served as law clerk to US District Judge Myron H. Thompson in the Middle District of Alabama. Mr. Papachristou is a member of the board of the Media Development Investment Fund, as well as the advisory councils of Princeton University's Near East Studies Program and Bard College's Center for Civic Engagement. In late 2011, The New Press published Blind Goddess: A Race and Justice Reader, which Mr. Papachristou edited.

Mr. Papachristou received an LLM and JD from Harvard Law School and an AB from Princeton University, as well as Arabic language training at the American University in Cairo.




Staff Attorney,
Environment Program
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Clea Bowdery began working on the Vance Center's Environmental Sustainability Program in the fall of 2011. She develops projects addressing environmental issues in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere in the world, and is responsible for coordinating law firm pro bono engagement and performing legal work on such projects. She also cultivates and manages relationships with environmental organizations and other partners.

Prior to joining the Vance Center, Ms. Bowdery was an associate at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP where she worked on litigation, taxation, bankruptcy, and insurance matters, as well as pro bono projects relating to voting rights, LGBT rights, and advice to domestic violence shelters. She has also served as a volunteer attorney at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, where she handled enforcement actions relating to violations of New York's environmental laws and regulations. During law school, she participated in a semester-long honors externship program at the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the General Counsel (International Affairs Division), where she provided legal support to a U.S. government program that provides technical assistance to other nations to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Ms. Bowdery holds a J.D. from UCLA School of Law and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She speaks French.




Program Director
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Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste joined the Vance Center in October 2012. She leads the Human Rights and Access to Justice Program at the Vance Center. In this role, Ms. Jean-Baptiste, with support from pro-bono counsels at law firms in the United States and abroad, advises clients on projects related to violence against women, housing rights, transitional justice, prevention of mass atrocities, accountability for grave human rights violations, rights of LGBTI persons, disability rights, and racial discrimination, among others. She engages alongside pro bono counsel in legal research and analysis to support international litigation and advocacy, legal reform, and capacity building in these areas. Ms. Jean-Baptiste works with local and international NGOs and international organizations such as the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Prior to joining the Vance Center, Ms. Jean-Baptiste worked for four years with the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP) in New York where, as the Human Rights Program Officer, she developed and managed ISLP's program in Latin America and the Caribbean. At ISLP, Ms. Jean-Baptiste worked with governments, international organizations, and NGOs worldwide providing legal support on human rights and Equitable Economic Development projects. These projects included, among others, capacity building of local lawyers and government officials, international human rights litigation, human rights monitoring, and legislative reform and advocacy.

Ms. Jean-Baptiste earned a law degree from the George Washington University and degrees in International Studies and Political Science from the City College of New York. While in Law School, Ms. Jean-Baptiste worked with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).

Born and raised in Haiti, Ms. Jean-Baptiste is fluent in Haitian Creole, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.




Environment Program
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Susan M. Kath became Director of the Environment Program in February 2013. She directs the program in its work with international and regional environmental NGOs to incubate and develop cross-jurisdictional pro bono projects in the areas of land, marine, and biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, toxic waste remediation, and sustainable infrastructure development.

Ms. Kath served as the Chief of the New York City Law Department Environmental Law Division from 1997 to 2010 and as Deputy Chief from 1994 to 1997. Ms. Kath managed and directed the division in its representation of the Mayor of the City of New York and its agencies with respect to all federal, state and local environmental laws and served as a senior advisor to the Corporation Counsel, Deputy Mayors and City Agency Commissioners. Ms. Kath managed complex environmental policy and litigation matters in the areas of climate change and climate resilience, environmental sustainability and public health, transportation, energy and wastewater infrastructure projects, and major New York City economic development initiatives. Ms. Kath participated in the creation of the City’s first sustainability plan, PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York and in the design and creation of the City’s long term solid waste management plan. Ms. Kath co-taught a seminar class at Harvard Law School on PlaNYC and the legal issues related to sustainability planning.

Ms. Kath is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York Committee for Human Rights Watch, a member of the Advisory Committee for Health and Human Rights at Human Rights Watch, and a member of the Board of Directors of Prospect Park Alliance. She is a graduate of Fordham Law School and Northwestern University.



Adriana Ospina

Director of Pro Bono Partnerships

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Adriana Ospina joined the Vance Center in May 2015 as Director of Pro Bono Partnerships. She is responsible for developing and managing relationships with law firms and other legal institutions that collaborate on pro bono legal representation with Vance Center lawyers. In addition, she manages the Center’s relationship with pro bono clearinghouse organizations, including those in the Pro Bono Network of the Americas, to promote pro bono practice in Latin America and elsewhere.

Ms. Ospina currently serves as a member of the Greenwich Board of Education in Greenwich, CT and has been active in supporting initiatives to narrow the achievement gap between minority students and their non-minority counterparts in Greenwich’s fifteen schools. She is also an active volunteer for Abilis, a non-for-profit organization that serves children and adults with disabilities. As the director of Abilis’ Hispanic parent network, Ms. Ospina was responsible for planning and teaching a bi-annual course on special needs law to low-income, Hispanic parents of children with special needs. The objective of the course was to empower parents to be effective advocates for the rights of their children.

Ms. Ospina received a JD from Harvard Law School and an AB in German Studies from Harvard University. After receiving her JD, Ms. Ospina worked as an associate with the law firm Shearman & Sterling in the New York office and subsequently as Of Counsel while living in Brazil and then Colombia. During her time at Shearman & Sterling, Ms. Ospina worked on general corporate and banking finance transactions.

Ms. Ospina was born in Colombia and has lived in the United States, Austria and Brazil. She speaks Spanish, English, Portuguese, French, and German.



Programs Associate
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Janet Mejia joined the Vance Center as an Administrative Assistant in October 2013, and is now a Programs Associate.

She previously worked as a paralegal for private law firms, working primarily on bankruptcy law and workers compensation cases.

Ms. Mejia holds a BA in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Binghamton University. She was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, and is bilingual in English and Spanish.