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Staff

From three, high-need locations across the United States, our staff provide holistic services to courageous immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. Located in Greater DC, our executive and national teams support the needs of our local offices and our policy advocacy. Our staff exhibit a high level of cultural competency, speak multiple languages, and, above all, are committed to the protection of our clients.

Layli Miller-Muro

Tahirih Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Layli Miller-Muro is the Founder and Executive Director of Tahirih Justice Center. She established Tahirih in 1997 following her involvement in a high-profile case that set national precedent and revolutionized asylum law in the United States. Fauziya Kassindja, a 17-year-old girl who had fled Togo in fear of a forced polygamous marriage and female genital mutilation, was granted asylum in 1996 by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. This decision opened the door to gender-based persecution as grounds for asylum. Using her portion of the proceeds from a book she and Ms. Kassindja co-authored about the case, “Do They Hear You When You Cry?,” Layli established Tahirih.

Since 2001, Layli has led Tahirih in its service to more than 17,000 women and children, growing the non-profit from a staff of 6 to over 50, and expanding its offices from Greater DC to Houston and Baltimore. In recognition of its sound management and innovative programs, under Layli’s leadership, Tahirih won the Washington Post Award for Management Excellence and gained recognition for its innovative use of pro bono services in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Prior to joining Tahirih as Executive Director, Layli was an attorney at the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where she practiced international litigation and maintained a substantial pro bono practice. Prior to joining Arnold & Porter, Layli was an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice, Board of Immigration Appeals.

Layli is frequent lecturer and has appeared in numerous news outlets including Fox News, CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and three children.

“We are making progress. Women and girls are standing up for justice. They are refusing the violence they’ve suffered. We are making a significant impact, not only in the lives of our clients, but on the legal system and, in turn, on the planet with regard to the status of women.”

Education

Layli received her JD and MA in International Relations from American University and B.A. from Agnes Scott College.

Awards and Recognition

Layli has been honored with many awards and accolades throughout her career, including:

In the Media

Anne Chandler

Executive Director, Houston

Anne Chandler is the Executive Director of Tahirih Justice Center’s Houston office. Tahirih Justice Center is a national, nonprofit organization that protects courageous immigrant women and children who refuse to be victims of violence. Since Tahirih opened its doors in Houston in 2009 Anne has provided the Houston office with strategic direction. With the goal of providing life-saving services to survivors of human trafficking, she serves as a member of the Houston Area Council on Human Trafficking and the Mayor’s anti-trafficking task force. Anne also serves on the Board of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and the Board of Houston’s Immigration Legal Services Collaborative. Her lifetime work of marshaling pro bono attorneys to represent human trafficking survivors and others fleeing horrific violence has been recognized by the State Bar of Texas and the Christian Science Monitor, “Help for Female Immigrants Fleeing Violence Is this Lawyer’s Calling.”

Prior to joining Tahirih in August of 2009, Anne was a Clinical Professor for the University of Houston Law Center where she served as the Interim Director of the Immigration Law Clinic. Prior to joining the University of Houston Law Center in 2003, she was the Director of Immigration Legal Services for the YMCA International Services of Greater Houston.

Anne is the proud mother of two high school boys.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s mission because I care deeply about working towards a society where violence against women is intolerable.”

Education

Anne is a cum laude graduate of the University of Houston Law Center where she received a Distinguished Service Award, and won the Joan Glantz Garfinkel Scholarship for civil liberties research, served on the Houston Law Review, and was the President of the Public Interest Law Organization, focusing on provision of services to children detained in Harlingen, Texas. As a strong believer in the legal profession’s ability to implement innovative approaches to eradicate human trafficking in Texas, Anne teaches Human Trafficking Law and Policy as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston Law Center.

Awards and Recognition

In the Media

Photo credit: Brandy Stoez

Justin Greene

Chief Development and Marketing Officer

Justin Greene originally joined Tahirih in 1997, and returned again in 2016. As Chief Development and Marketing Officer, she partners with the management team and Board to build understanding and inspire support of private donors for Tahirih’s work. She supervises and provides support to Tahirih’s staff working in major gifts, direct marketing, communications and development operations. Justin has worked on non-profit revenue management at the Nature Conservancy, the American Cancer Society, McKinsey and Company and other organizations.

“I am inspired by the courage of the women and children Tahirih serves to fight for a better life and stand up to violence. This is the foundation of self-respect, to recognize their innate self-worth, to know that they are each a treasure, and to each find a world in which their talents and capabilities can be unveiled.”

Education: PhD, University of Cambridge; MBA, University of Pennsylvania; BA, College of William and Mary

Hometown: Alexandria, VA

Maeve O’Higgins

Special Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer

Maeve O’Higgins joined Tahirih in 2007. As Special Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, she supports Layli Miller-Muro and Tahirih’s executive team in addressing complex human resource, budgetary, and development issues. Maeve also leads strategic projects for the organization. Prior to assuming her role as special advisor, Maeve served Tahirih as Deputy Director. Prior to that, she was the Director of Customer Experience Management at Nextel Communications. Maeve is originally from Ireland and has spent time working in Germany and Switzerland.

“I am inspired by the commitment of everyone at Tahirih to empower immigrant women and girls to reach their full potential.”

Education: University of Michigan, MBA; Trinity College in Dublin, BA

Languages: French and German

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Archi Pyati

Chief of Policy and Programs

Archi Pyati joined Tahirih Justice Center in 2014. In her position as Chief of Policy and Programs, she spearheads national and local policy and programmatic initiatives, overseeing direct services to immigrant women and girls and forging and mobilizing diverse, bipartisan coalitions to press for laws, regulations, and policies to better protect them from violence.

Archi is a dedicated advocate for immigrant women and girls with more than a decade of experience in immigration law practice, women’s rights, and public policy advocacy. Prior to joining Tahirih, Archi was the Deputy Director of the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families in New York, where she served hundreds of women and girls fleeing gender-based violence, directed an attorney volunteer program, and worked with survivors to stop female genital mutilation in the United States.

Before joining Sanctuary, from 2004 to 2007, Archi was a senior associate with the Human Rights Defenders Program of Human Rights First where she contributed to the development of a project focusing on the rights safety of women human rights defenders. She joined Human Rights First in 2002 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow with the Asylum Program, counseling detained immigrants and advocating for changes in national detention practices.

“I am inspired by Tahirih’s bold vision for a society in which women and men are truly equal.”

Education

Archi is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School, where she received two competitive human rights fellowships for work overseas.

Awards and Recognition

Archi is currently a participant in the NoVo Foundation’s “Move to End Violence” initiative, a two-year highly competitive and selective leadership training experience for leaders in women’s rights. In 2002, she was named Outstanding Woman Law Student of the Year by the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.

In the Media

Virginia St. John

Chief Operating Officer

Virginia St. John joined Tahirih in 2014. She manages the administration of Tahirih by ensuring that it uses its financial and operational resources efficiently while serving women and girls. Prior to joining Tahirih, she was Chief of Staff for Deloitte’s global governance, risk, and compliance services. Before that, she was Chief Financial Officer of Legal Aid Justice Center. Virginia is on the planning committee for Management Information Exchange’s National Administrators Conference. She is also a member of the advisory boards of Legal Aid Justice Center and Training Futures. She has traveled throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, including visits to Japan, India, and China.

“Tahirih is at the forefront of gender violence issues nationally and internationally, both helping women and girls individually and raising awareness globally in order to promote positive change for all, regardless of gender.”

Education: University of Maryland, MA; University of Virginia, BA

Hometown: Charlottesville, VA

Kristen Strain

Executive Director, Baltimore

Kristen Strain is the Executive Director of the Tahirih Justice Center’s Baltimore office. Kristen, a native of Baltimore, has had a long relationship with the Tahirih Justice Center as a dedicated pro bono attorney, Bighearted Attorney Fundraising Campaign Coordinator, and Baltimore Advisory Council member.

Prior to joining Tahirih in 2016, she practiced law at Baltimore’s largest firm, Venable LLP, for almost 15 years, representing clients in multi-jurisdictional civil litigation, mediation and arbitration, construction law and corporate law, and engaged in extensive pro bono legal representation in matters of women and children’s rights.

Kristen also maintained a substantial Tahirih pro bono practice, advocating for clients before the United States Immigration Court and in administrative proceedings of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Immigration Service for grants of humanitarian Asylum, assisting clients with grants of Asylum in obtaining derivative Asylum status for family members abroad and permanent residence, and representing women seeking temporary and permanent protective orders in domestic violence cases in Maryland state court.

“Tahirih inspires me because our clients are survivors who refuse to be victims of violence. I am honored to work with them to secure the human rights they are entitled to by law and to elevate their voices for the world to hear.”

Education

Kristen is a graduate of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, where she was also a member of the Moot Court Team.

Awards and Recognition

  • Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2014 – Recipient of the Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award from the Tahirih Justice Center.
  • Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year 2013 – Recipient of the Benjamin R. Civiletti Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award.

Heather L. Taylor

Executive Director, Greater DC

Heather L. Taylor is a human rights and development professional with 15 years of international experience in the NGO and corporate sectors spanning immigration, women’s rights, capacity building, and non-profit management. As the Executive Director of Tahirih’s Greater DC Office, she ensures the delivery of high-quality legal and social services case management, engages regional stakeholders, and oversees the local office’s financial and operational integrity.

Prior to joining Tahirih in 2014, Heather was a Fellow with International Justice Mission in Zambia, where she co-designed, organized, and facilitated training workshops for the judiciary, police officials, and community leaders addressing capacity gaps in the justice system on behalf of indigent women.

In the corporate sector, Heather practiced as a global finance and business immigration attorney at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP and then at Miller Mayer LLP in New York. She also served as pro bono attorney for the Legal Aid Society Haitian Temporary Protected Status Project and received the MFY Legal Services, Inc. Partner in Justice Award. Before law school, Heather worked for several years at the Centre for Development and Population Activities and was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve on delegations promoting women’s participation in democracy and governance in Eastern Europe.

“At Tahirih, I am afforded an opportunity to work with an amazing staff to achieve an honorable mission with global impact, while also realizing my dream to transform lives—one courageous woman at a time.”

Education

Heather is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and University of Iowa College of Law, where she received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Achievement Award and Equal Justice Foundation and Ella Baker Scholarship as a legal intern at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

Awards and Recognition

  • MFY Legal Services Partner in Justice Award
  • Pro Bono Attorney, Legal Aid Society Haitian Temporary Protected Status Project
  • Former member of U.S. Department of State delegations headed by the Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, representing the U.S. in Women & Democracy Conferences in Eastern Europe

In the Media

Kristen Uhler-McKeown

Director of Legal and Social Services

Kristen Uhler-McKeown has over a decade of non-profit management experience in public interest law and international development organizations. She joined Tahirih in 2013 as Director of Greater DC and Baltimore area offices, and is now the Director of Legal and Social Services, supporting Tahirih’s legal and social services programs nationwide; overseeing program standards; monitoring, evaluation and learning; facilitating best practices, programmatic consistency and quality; and overseeing program metrics tracking and reporting.

Prior to joining Tahirih, Kristen worked abroad for five years in senior management roles with the international non-governmental organization Oxfam, including working on a high-profile global advocacy and campaign on economic and social justice, with women’s rights at the core. Kristen is also the former Executive Director of Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC), a non-profit organization providing free legal services to particularly vulnerable detained immigrants facing removal from the US, including unaccompanied children, torture survivors and asylum seekers. Kristen is a dual citizen of the U.S. and UK, and is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

“Our clients and their incredible stories of courage and success inspire me every day.”

Education

Kristen is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with honors and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law, where she was President of the Public Interest Law Fund and recognized as a Miller Center for Public Interest Law Advocate for her work representing a detained juvenile asylum seeker.

Awards and Recognition

Kristen received the Excellence in Public Service Award from Dickinson School of Law in 2014 in recognition of her exceptional commitment to public service.

Morgan Weibel

Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area

Morgan Weibel joined Tahirih in 2010. As Executive Director of Tahirih’s San Francisco Bay Area Office, she ensures the delivery of high-quality legal and social services case management, engages regional stakeholders, and oversees the local office’s financial and operational integrity. Morgan previously served as Tahirih’s Director of the Baltimore office, and as a Supervising Immigration Attorney. She also worked for three years as a paralegal at the Law Offices of Robert B. Jobe, a San Francisco-based firm focusing on asylum and deportation defense. She interned with the Immigration and Refugee Services Department of the Spanish Red Cross in Granada, Spain, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Washington, DC, and at a Swiss Refugee Transit Center.

“I am inspired by the strength and courage of the women and girls that I have the privilege of serving at Tahirih. Their unwavering commitment to breaking century-old cycles of violence against women and the courage that it takes to stand up against their families and traditions is remarkable.”

Education

Morgan is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with high honors and the University of California Hastings College of Law, where she served as the Scholarly Publications Editor on the Hastings International and Comparative Law Review and was awarded the Judith Stronach Women’s Rights Fellowship to work with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS). Morgan also served as a Graduate Research Fellow at CGRS where she drafted a protocol for the investigation of femicides and assisted Professor Karen Musalo in updating sections of her course book related to asylum based on membership in a particular social group. During law school, she interned in the Trial Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Her undergraduate honors thesis compared the United States and Canadian applications of gender-based guidelines in asylum law.

Awards and Recognition

Morgan was named Leader of the Year by AILA’s DC Chapter Liaison Division in 2013, and in 2008, she won National Championship and First Place Speaker Awards at the UC Davis Asylum Law Moot Court Competition.

In the Media