A member of a family split up by the largest migration of modern history (The 1947 Partition of India), Zaid has always maintained a keen interest in human mobility. He volunteered informally with his mother to assist resettled refugees from Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq during his adolescence in Houston, TX.
Zaid received a B.A. in History and Government from the University of Texas at Austin, and a law degree from Fordham University School of Law in New York. During law school he worked on civil rights and employment discrimination with the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) and the plaintiffs-side employment law firm Outten & Golden. He was an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he contributed to government misconduct, international human rights, and corporate accountability cases. While at Fordham he was also a student in the Community Economic Development Clinic and the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic (Leitner Clinic), which took him to Malawi to carry out interviews in prisons with detainees experiencing prolonged pre-trial detention and to deliver training to prison and police officials from across the country. Following graduation, Zaid co-directed a Leitner Clinic project that addressed the human rights implications of U.S. immigration law, particularly deportation of Cambodian-Americans previously admitted to the U.S. as refugees.
As a recipient of a 2010 James E. Tolan Human Rights Fellowship, Zaid served as a legal adviser with Turkey’s primary refugee legal aid provider, the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly – Refugee Advocacy and Support Program (HCA). From 2011 until 2014, he served as the co-coordinator of the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) Legal Assistance Unit at HCA. He primarily represented individuals at the appeals stage of UNHCR RSD, but also contributed to litigation before the European Court of Human Rights, know-your-rights trainings for refugee communities, and policy advocacy at UNHCR HQ in Geneva.
Zaid is a co-founder of RSN and was the Chair of the founding Board. He led RSN through the start-up process, from incorporation to tax-exemption. In August 2014 he transitioned to the RSN Executive Director position.
Zaid is licensed to practice law in New York State, has served as pro bono counsel on cases before the BIA, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Compliance Officer
Kamyar’s educational and professional career has focused on his passion for understanding migration and refugee issues. He received his B.A. in the interdisciplinary study of migration from the University of California Berkeley, and went on to complete the MSc in Migration Studies at the University of Oxford. In and out of the field for years, his main research has been on the experiences of Afghan refugees in Turkey from a socio-legal perspective.
Before joining the RSN team, Kamyar contributed to the Afghan refugee civil society movement in Turkey, and has offered various organizations analyses of migration issues to support refugee aid and policy. His previous professional experience includes work in the global health and development sphere, along with an ongoing editorship at an online regional studies platform: Ajam Media Collective.
His interest in migration is largely rooted in his family’s transnational experiences, particularly their experiences fleeing the Iran-Iraq war. After committing his educational and professional career to working with refugee and migrant communities, he is proud to contribute his knowledge and expertise to the RSN mission.
Violeta was born in Bulgaria but grew up and attended high school in the Czech Republic. In August 2005, she and her family moved to Norwood, Massachusetts after winning a permanent resident card (“Green Card”) in the U.S. Diversity Lottery. Violeta graduated from Norwood High School in 2006, and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in 2011 from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she majored in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Spanish. Violeta worked as an academic writing tutor at Cambridge College from 2011 to 2013. She began her studies at Boston University School of Law in September 2013. There, she specialized in immigration and refugee law, and was a member of the International Human Rights Clinic during her second year, under the tutelage of Professor Susan Akram. During her time in law school, Violeta interned with the Irish International Immigrant Center and the Political Asylum/Immigration Representation ("PAIR”) Project in Boston, assisting with naturalization and asylum cases, respectively. During the last semester of her third year, she completed a full-time externship with McHaffey Law in Boston, where she worked on asylum and family law cases. Violeta earned her Juris Doctor degree in May 2016, and is awaiting admission to the Bar in Massachusetts.
Asli holds a B.A. in law from Marmara University School of Law (Istanbul, Turkey) and an LL.M. degree from Cardozo School of Law (New York, NY, USA). She was admitted to the Istanbul Bar (Turkey) in 2014 and has practiced in various human rights issues including freedom of speech, minority rights, and enforced disappearances through both private law firms and NGOs. While at Cardozo Law School she conducted independent research on the Turkish asylum system and its barriers in providing sufficient protection for refugees. She was also a member of the Human Rights and Atrocity Prevention Clinic, which provides legal aid for refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Now based in New York City, she has ongoing interest and involvement in public international law, particularly refugee and asylum law.
Melanie serves as financial controller for over 30 nonprofits and small businesses. Prior to starting her own financial consulting business, Melanie served as the manager of operations and finance for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission Melanie is also the managing director of Fault Line Theatre, with whom she has produced the GLAAD award winning “From White Plains” and “Breathing Time” by Beau Willimon (House of Cards) among others.
Maya has worked in international development for the last decade and has worn hats ranging from Volunteer Manager to Managing Director at various organizations. Currently, Maya works as a consultant, primarily supporting organizations pursuing grant funding. She brings to the organization intimate knowledge of the grants process from prospecting through reporting, as well as a strong ability to transform seemingly dry financial and programmatic data into compelling narratives. Maya holds a Master’s Degree in International Development, and is currently based in New Zealand by way of New York and Colorado. Outside of international development and humanitarian assistance, Maya is driven by a love for photography, reading, and being outdoors.