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Featured Experts

Our featured experts are available for interviews with the media about issues that impact the safety of immigrant women and girls.

Layli Miller-Muro

Tahirih Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Expertise:
  • Bahá’í values
  • female genital mutilation/cutting
  • gender-based asylum
  • international marriage broker regulation
  • non-profit management

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
Expertise:
  • child migrants
  • domestic and sexual violence
  • fair immigration laws
  • human trafficking
  • unjust detention

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

Archi Pyati

Chief of Policy and Programs
Expertise:
  • domestic and sexual violence
  • fair immigration laws
  • female genital mutilation/cutting
  • gender-based asylum
  • unjust detention

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

Jeanne Smoot

Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy
Expertise:
  • domestic and sexual violence
  • fair immigration laws
  • forced marriage
  • gender-based asylum
  • international marriage broker regulation

As Senior Counsel for Policy and Strategy, Jeanne is principally focused on leading the development of legal and policy proposals to address forced marriage in the United States. Prior to moving into to her role as senior counsel, Jeanne led Tahirih’s public policy team for over a decade, fighting to reduce vulnerabilities of immigrant women and girls and to empower them as survivors.

Among other achievements, Jeanne helped draft and secure enactment of the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) to prevent the abuse and exploitation of so-called “mail-order brides,” helped galvanize recognition of forced marriage as a domestic human rights problem in the United States with a groundbreaking national survey and the launch of a new Tahirih initiative, helped draft legislation to fix aspects of the broken asylum system that harm women and girls fleeing gender-based persecution and co-wrote a report to bring attention to the steep path that women face to receive asylum protection in the United States.

Jeanne most recently helped lead successful efforts to defend and expand protections for immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and in the passage of a Senate bill to reform immigration laws.

“I am inspired by how extraordinary the women and girls we serve are, who rise above and move beyond a relationship, family, or community that has hindered and hurt them, seeking instead the love and respect that—despite all they’ve been told and shown to the contrary—they somehow know in their hearts that they deserve.”

Education

Jeanne is a graduate of Harvard University Law School and Harvard-Radcliffe College. She obtained her master’s degree from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. From 2011 to 2012, she served as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School.

In the Media

Heather L. Taylor

Executive Director, Greater DC
Expertise:
  • domestic and sexual violence
  • capacity building and non-profit management
  • democracy and governance
  • fair immigration laws
  • women's rights

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

Morgan Weibel

Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area
Expertise:
  • domestic and sexual violence
  • fair immigration laws
  • femicide
  • gender-based asylum
  • human trafficking

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