Advocates and activists think in issues, causes, struggles, and demographics. We have messages we seek to convey, audiences we hope to persuade. But as humans, we use stories, not arguments, to understand the world around us. Every first year law student hears, “the lawyer that tells the best story wins.” In today’s world, however, telling the best story involves more than just a well-reasoned argument and personal charisma. A good advocacy story needs drama. It needs relatable characters and struggle. It includes a call to arms and the possibility of future success.
The first decade of the 21st century has given defenders of human rights and social justice a remarkable array of new technological tools. Digital video, social media, and mobile phones have the power to make advocacy more effective and less expensive, and can help influence results in particularly tough cases or campaigns where traditional advocacy tools alone may not be enough. The New Media Advocacy Project works with human rights and social justice advocates, social ventures, and political movements, to produce storytelling media and craft strategies that show the human side of issues. We tell stories that are designed to achieve results. We tell stories that help our clients win. To start a conversation with us about your stories, click here.
The New Media Advocacy Project was founded upon the idea that the combination of excellent legal advocacy with the visual and social power of new media can be a potent force in even the most challenging human rights and social justice campaigns. The organization developed as a result of a number of unintentional experiments in using video to win legal cases and campaigns. Adam Stofsky started using a video in his legal practice early in his years as a student at Harvard Law School.
After some exciting but fairly limited successes using video to pressure and persuade legislators in various cases, the real galvanizing moment happened in the midst of litigation. As a young lawyer in 2003, Adam was part of a team representing a group of African American workers at a processing plant in Alabama who had been subjected to severe racial harassment, including a segregated bathroom and a “Whites Only” sign on the door. Despite these disturbing facts, when the legal team entered settlement negotiations, the mediator advised us to take the $10,000 that the defendant was offering our 13 clients. The conventional tools of legal advocacy had failed us. Looking for a new approach to salvage the case, we made a short movie out of deposition video clips. The video told the mediator and the defendant our clients’ stories in their own voices, and illustrated how the case would look if it went to trial. A week later we settled for almost $1 million, including attorneys’ fees, and won major reforms at the processing plant.
The New Media Advocacy Project was created to replicate that success in all areas of public interest and legal advocacy, and has since expended to serve clients in a variety of sectors—human rights, campaigns, social enterprise—that involve fighting against tough odds and using great storytelling to tip the balance.
Adam is the founder and executive director of the N-Map. Adam is a graduate of Amherst College (1998) and Harvard Law School (2004). After finishing law school, he served as a law clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and then received a Skadden Fellowship to work as a litigator at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. After his fellowship, he joined the law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, as a litigation associate, where he worked for two years, after which he left to found N-Map. Adam experimented with using video to support legal advocacy during his first summer in law school, working for a small, local NGO in Nigeria, where he made a movie to pressure the government to stop obstructing litigation seeking a remedy for a massive forced eviction that had left 300,000 people homeless. The strategy was a success, and Adam continued his video and new media experiments at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Working with hundreds of videographers around the country, Adam successfully used new media techniques to favorably settle race discrimination cases, pressure state legislatures to allocate money to low income communities after Hurricane Katrina, and document voting rights violations. Adam received an Echoing Green Fellowship to support N-Map in the spring of 2009.
Abby is a social innovator with a passion for advancing human rights and gender equality. At N-Map she produces documentary films for human rights advocacy. Previously, Abby was a founder of the Global Justice Center, where she raised millions of dollars and led global campaigns and grassroots trainings in Latin America, Asia, and Europe on women’s empowerment and justice. Prior to that, as Principal of Gender and Latin America/Caribbean at Digital Democracy, she developed the first mobile-based tool for coordinating responses to gender based violence in Haiti. Abby co-founded All Day Buffet, consulted for UN Women, Women Donors Network, and Global Citizen Year. She speaks and writes widely on the enforcement of international law and women’s equality, and the use of media and technology in engaging civil society in the promotion of human rights and social justice. In 2010, Abby was named by GovFresh as one of the Top 100 Women in Politics & Technology. She holds a degree in International Relations from American University and School of International Service and serves on the boards of the Nuru Project and A Human Right.
Rebecca Richman Cohen is an Emmy Award nominated documentary filmmaker with experience in international human rights, criminal defense, and drug policy reform. Rebecca was profiled in Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces in Independent Film as an “up-and-comer poised to shape the next generation of independent film.” Her films have been broadcast on HBO, Al Jazeera, and the the New York Times website. She has taught classes at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and at American University’s Human Rights Institute. Rebecca graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and with a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She is currently a 2012-2013 Soros Justice Fellow.
Meryl joined N-Map after interning with the organization for 6 months. Meryl is a recent graduate of Haverford College, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies. Meryl spent 6 months studying abroad in Mendoza, Argentina where she developed a particular interest in South American reconciliation. She has interned with Representative Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and the American Jewish World Service.
Amber graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University with dual-degrees in Journalism and International Relations. After graduation, she served with the AmeriCorp National Civilian Community Corp (NCCC) and worked with various non profit organizations throughout the American South. Her service with AmeriCorp NCCC and world travels cemented her commitment to advocacy and action on behalf of human rights. Now a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, she remains excited about the opportunity to combine her two foremost interests: narrative journalism and social justice.
Jesús Robles Maloof is a human rights lawyer living and working in Mexico City, Mexico. He is a graduate of the Iberoamericana University and a Professor of Humanities at the Autonomous Metropolitan University. Jesus was the executive director of the Mexican Academy of Human Rights, as well as advisor to many different civil organizations focusing on culture and peace, gender equality, and international law. He has also collaborated with Alianza Civica and La Coalicion Ciudadana Por la Educacion (Citizen Coalition for Education). He is involved in the collective of digital activists, Contingente Mx, and a columnist at Sin EmbargoMx.
Elizabeth is a human rights advocate based in Tbilisi, Georgia. She joined N-Map as a Project Manager in 2013. As a 2012-2013 Harvard Law School Henigson Human Rights Fellow, Elizabeth works with human rights organizations in Georgia to promote gender equality, social justice, the rule of law, and criminal justice reform. She also co-founded and serves on the board of the Institute for Multi-Stakeholder Initiative Integrity, an organization dedicated to ensuring that voluntary business and human rights initiatives protect and promote human rights globally. Elizabeth’s passion for human rights and social justice grew out of her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Georgia. She has a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Bill Thomas is a New York City based freelance videographer & still photographer with 22 years of experience. Focusing mainly on documentary work and current events, his editorial video clients have included: The New York Times, PBS/Frontline, Dan Rather Reports, BBC, TIME Magazine, Guardian Films and Brave New Films. His work has been seen in broadcast, web, and theatrical releases. In May of 2011, Bill was announced as one of the winners in Photo District News’ 2011 Photo Annual, for his video piece on the Afghan National Army that he filmed and field-produced for TIME Magazine’s website. His assignments have taken him to Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, South Korea, throughout most of western Europe and all of North America.
Alex Gibney is an award winning documentary film director and producer, As recently as 2010, Esquire Magazine said that Gibney “is becoming the most important documentarian of our time.” He has directed dozens of features for television and the big screen, including Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (nominated for an Oscar for best documentary feature), Taxi to the Dark Side (winner of an Oscar for best documentary feature), and Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson.
Felix Morka is the executive director of the Lagos-based NGO, SERAC (Social and Economic Rights Action Cebter). Before founding SERAC, Mr. Morka served as the Legal Officer for Africa of the Washington, D.C.-based International Human Rights Law Group. After earning his LL.M degree from Harvard Law School, Mr. Morka traveled widely in India and South Africa studying housing rights groups engaged in the defense of the country’s slum-dwellers, squatters, and the urban poor. Morka has presented testimonies before the United States Congress and the Senate of the State of New Jersey, and meets regularly with policymakers to raise human rights concerns. He is the immediate past chairman of the Body Shop International Human Rights Award jury, and serves on the advisory boards of the International Network for the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), the International Human Rights Internship Program, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), and the Center on Economic and Social Rights (CESR). Mr. Morka is presently a Senior Juris Doctor (SJD) candidate at the Harvard Law School, focusing on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Question of Democratic Participation in Africa.
James A. Goldston is the founding executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, which promotes rights-based law reform and the development of legal capacity worldwide. A leading practitioner of international human rights and criminal law, Goldston has litigated several groundbreaking cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations treaty bodies, and has served as Coordinator of Prosecutions and Senior Trial Attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Prior to his tenure with OSI, Goldston served as legal director of the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center; director general for Human Rights of the Mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and prosecutor in the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he specialized in the prosecution of organized crime. He previously worked for Human Rights Watch. A graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School, Goldston has engaged in law reform fieldwork and investigated rights abuses in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. He has taught at Columbia Law School and Central European University.
Donald Glascoff is a former Co-Chairman and Partner of the international law firm of Cadwalader. He was also Chairman of the firm’s Real Estate Group. Don represented multinational corporations, governmental entities and other clients such as Freddie Mac, Unilever, MacMillan Publishing, Bank of America, and RHM in a variety of real estate transactions. After his legal career, Don engaged as a principal and investor in several real estate and banking ventures. Don served as Chairman of the Park Avenue Bank. He also served on the Boards of Renco Metals and Magnesium Corporation of America when they were controlled by Ira Rennert. Don is Founder and was Chairman of the External Advisory Board of Oxford University’s Programme in Public Interest Law and Policy. His interest in human rights and the arts led Don to produce an Academy Award winning Documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” in 2007. Don served as Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Delaware Law School. Don earned his J.D. degree at Cornell Law School where he was Editor of the Cornell Law Review. He is a graduate of Yale College. He also served on active duty as a Captain in the United States Army.
Jorge Soto has been involved in the design and implementation of projects that uses technology to empower citizens and institutions in Mexico, Latinamerica and Africa. In 2010 he founded CitiVox, a start-up that uses technology to enhance the communication between citizens and their institutions. From helping NGOs in Benin, Yemen or Venezuela track elections to enabling policemen in Honduras or citizens in the north of Mexico to build a state-of-the-art real time crime database, CitiVox empowers citizens, community leaders and government officials to turn citizen reports into actionable information. He is an Endeavor global entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow and was selected as one of the top 10 Mexican entrepreneurs by Time-Warner magazine. In late 2011 he was selected Young Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and invited, together with other 30 Global Shapers in the Americas, to represent the millennial generation in Davos during the World Economic Forum in 2012. In May 2012 he received the TR35 recognition from MIT and Technology Review as one of the top 10 innovators under 35 years old in Mexico.
Angela Deane is the Director of the New York Committee at Human Rights Watch, where she focuses on building major gift support in the tri-state area and beyond and oversees Committee fundraising, outreach and advocacy activities. Previously, Angie served as the Development Director with the Genocide Intervention Network in Washington, D.C., an advocacy organization working to implement structural change in the way governments prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities. She recently completed her Master's Degree in International Law and Human Rights at New York University.
May Liu is an investment associate at The Carlyle Group, where she focuses on growth capital and middle market buyout investments in the U.S. Equity Opportunities Fund. Prior to joining Carlyle, May was an investment banking analyst at Barclays Capital in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications group, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. May grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and graduated cum laude from Yale College with a B.A. degree in Economics and a B.S. degree in Computer Science. Outside of work, May serves on the Social Investment Council of Echoing Green, volunteers with the NY+acumen chapter of the Acumen Fund, and leads local volunteer projects as a Team Leader for New York Cares.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center