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Home / Blog / Human Rights First Celebrates our 2022 Pro Bono Star Award Winners
June 21, 2022

Human Rights First Celebrates our 2022 Pro Bono Star Award Winners

Human Rights First is proud to announce our 2022 Pro Bono Star Award winners.  Following is a little background about these excellent pro bono attorneys and the work they have done with Human Rights First and clients seeking asylum protections in the United States.  

Sarah Tishler, a senior associate at Williams Simmons & Landis PLLC, took on the case of Ms. D as a first year associate back in 2016. Ms. D, an asylum seeker from Haiti, had suffered grave persecution due to her political opinion and was dealing with trauma and loss. Sarah’s advocacy helped Ms. D secure asylum in September 2018. Sarah continued her representation of Ms. D in a pregnancy discrimination complaint against her employer and filed her adjustment application, which was granted in March 2022. Sarah represented Ms. D and went on to represent Ms. D’s parents and husband through Sarah’s transitions from Shearman & Sterling to Vinson & Elkins and then to Williams Simons & Landis PLLC. 

“My pro bono work with Human Rights First has been some of the most rewarding work that I have done in my career as an attorney.  I firmly believe in Human Right First’s mission, and it is an honor to serve that mission and our clients through high-quality advocacy. I’ll never forget when the Immigration Judge granted my client asylum from the bench – seeing the joy and relief on her face (through my tears!) is something that I will always hold close to my heart.”

Timothy “Tim” Harris, a partner at Morrison & Foerster, has gone above and beyond in his continued dedication to his client, A.B., a man who served American troops in Kabul. After A.B. was evacuated from Afghanistan along with his mother and three adult siblings, Tim and his team helped A.B. obtain his green card, a new Social Security Number, and register for the Selective Service. Beyond legal representation, Tim helped A.B. submit job applications, navigate Refugee Medical Assistance, schedule and find transportation to medical appointments, locate accessible grocery stores, and identify a nearby mosque. The Morrison & Foerster team not only continues to help A.B. and his family through the asylum process, but they also send them “small tokens of love” including Afghan meals and house plants. 

“Through the efforts of Human Rights First, I got connected to a wonderful family whose lives were interrupted and threatened because of their sons’ support of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  By helping this family, I am helping our country make good on its promise to those who helped protect our sons and daughters, I am honoring the U.S. veterans who did not want to leave our allies behind, and I am injecting love into a world that sorely needs more love.  As a country, we will never be able to repay this family what it did for us.”

Ryan Munitz, an associate at Sheppard Mullin, has worked countless hours as an advocate and friend to her client Ms. D since October 2017. Ms. D, a mother from Ethiopia, was very hesitant to share the details of her case given the trauma she endured. Ryan built trust with Ms. D and her daughter and learned their stories by having dinners with them. Her work included an expedited request to get Ms. D out of the affirmative asylum interview backlog and another expedited request to ensure Ms. D would not have a lapse in her employment authorization. Ms. D would not have been granted asylum without Ryan's supplemental application, additional country condition research, and countless hours preparing Ms. D for her asylum interview. Beyond representation, Ryan provided additional mentorship by helping Ms. D with career advice, her resume, job interviews, suggested job postings, research on paralegal programs, and English writing courses at community colleges. Ryan successfully helped Ms. D file a claim with the Maryland Department of Labor to receive wages owed to her. 

“Human Rights First gives me—and all of the attorneys that it works with—the tools, support, and confidence to help refugees achieve their dreams of living a life in America free from the persecution and harm that they would otherwise face in their home countries. I am so thankful for the long-standing partnership between Human Rights First and Sheppard Mullin for providing attorneys the opportunity to have a direct impact on the lives of those who have come to our country seeking safety and freedom, but who would not be able to attain this without pro bono legal assistance.”

Cody Kermanian, an associate at Latham & Watkins LLC, has over the course of several years, worked with Mr. L, who experienced violence, threats against his life, and abuse in Honduras due to his sexual orientation. Cody and the team at Latham & Watkins helped Mr. L prepare his asylum application, supporting declaration, supplemental evidence, and country conditions materials. He worked with multiple experts on supporting declarations and testimony preparation for Mr. L’s individual hearing. The dedicated team spent several days preparing Mr. L for the individual hearing and persisted when the hearing was cancelled twice before it occurred in early 2022. Without this tireless preparation and representation during his two-day individual hearing, Mr. L would not have obtained asylum. 

"After receiving his grant of asylum, my client told me that he felt as if he received a second chance at life. He endured immense personal trauma before reaching this country, and together we overcame significant legal obstacles in his case. Knowing that I was able to make a lasting positive impact in his life made this case profoundly rewarding.”