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.
Danielle moved from her native New Orleans to New York in 2015 to help launch Brooklyn FoodWorks, a commercial kitchen incubator and co-working space for early stage food startups. Prior to moving New York, Danielle was the Incubator Manager at Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, a New Orleans-based non-profit that helps launch businesses solving social and environmental challenges. 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. In her free time, Danielle loves spending as much time as possible outdoors, cooking for friends, and trying out new angles and lighting to capture the best photo of her cat, Leo. 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.
Nancy is an activist and human rights defender based in Mexico; she studied International Relations and received her masters in Human Rights at the Iberoamericana University. She has organized campaigns for Amnesty International in Mexico advocating for women’s rights, migrant’s rights, and human rights defenders. She is interested in digital media, video and photography as a tool for defending human rights–the reason she joined the N-Map team.
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. She is now N-Map’s Program Associate, working on domestic and international projects. All of these experiences have taught her how influential storytelling and media can be to encourage reflection and inspire change.
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.
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.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center