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.
Karen is a photographer, filmmaker, and human rights advocate based in New York City. She graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. with honors and the Glynn Isaac Prize for best thesis in Anthropology. An avid traveller and inquisitive explorer, Karen has conducted research and photographic work in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, and Peru. As a Harvard Museums fellow, Karen curated a multimedia exhibit in Copan, Honduras. She has also worked for the science and art museum, the Exploratorium, and a media tech start-up in San Francisco. At N-Map, she produces short documentaries and other media to support human rights advocacy. All of these experiences have taught her how influential storytelling and media can be to encourage reflection and inspire change.
Danielle moved to New York in 2015 from her native New Orleans, where she served as Incubator Manager at Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, a non-profit that helps launch businesses solving social and environmental challenges in the Greater New Orleans area. At Propeller, Danielle led operations for the Propeller Incubator, a shared office, event space and local hub for social entrepreneurship, home to 60+ inspiring organizations. Danielle graduated from Tulane University with a BA in International Development and Anthropology and spent her summers traveling, both abroad and across the US by bicycle.
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.
Jessie Landerman is a documentary filmmaker and human rights specialist with a passion for using technology and storytelling to promote empowerment and human rights. Prior to joining N-Map, Jessie worked as a Video Advocacy Instructor with the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies, a Women and Public Policy Research Fellow for Harvard University at the Colombian National Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies, and an international development specialist in Argentina, Mexico and Nicaragua. She received her Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut (2006), and her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2015).
Stephen serves a dual role at the New Media Advocacy Project as a multimedia producer and director of the organization’s development work. Stephen joined N-Map after nearly a decade at Human Rights Watch, where he established the organization’s Chicago office and served in a number of roles in development and multimedia at HRW’s New York headquarters. Previously, he was a public affairs consultant in Chicago, where he served a range of clients including the 2004 Obama for US Senate Campaign, the AFL-CIO and the United States Library of Congress, among many others. He holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from St. John’s College and a master’s in digital media from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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.
Kim Keller is the Executive Director of the David & Anita Keller Foundation, a San Francisco-based family foundation committed to human rights as the cornerstone to peace and justice. In addition to serving on the board of N-MAP, Last Mile Health, Accountability Counsel and UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, she is an active member of The Philanthropy Workshop and the International Human Rights Funders Group. She holds degrees from Wellesley College and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Matthew Collins-Gibson is a Managing Director in Development and Outreach at Human Rights Watch. He is primarily responsible for designing and overseeing Human Rights Watch’s next fundraising campaign and expanding the pool of leadership gift donors. Matthew recently rejoined Human Rights Watch from J.P. Morgan Chase, where he spent the past two years as a Business Manager in Risk Reporting. He oversaw global operations, governance, and communication for a staff of over 200 people. Before his time in the private sector, Matthew worked briefly as the Development Director at Physicians for Human Rights and prior to that spent 11 years at Human Rights Watch in the Development & Outreach department. He holds a bachelor's degree in international service from American University and a master's degree in international politics from New York University.
Rebecca is an Emmy Award nominated documentary filmmaker and, since 2011, a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Her directorial debut, WAR DON DON (HBO), won the special jury prize at the SXSW film festival. Salon called her second feature, CODE OF THE WEST (America ReFramed), “one of the best movies about America’s drug war.” She recently produced UNTOUCHABLE about the sex offender registry, which won the Albert Maysles New Director Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. 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.” She is the founder and principal at Racing Horse Productions. In addition to Harvard, she has taught classes at RISD, American University’s Human Rights Institute, and Columbia University. She was a 2012 Soros Justice Fellow and a 2015 Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Rebecca graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center