Growth and change continue at the Vance Center. After nine years of dedication and achievement, Elise Colomer Grimaldi will be taking a four-month sabbatical. As sole program officer for many years and lately as senior program director, Elise has contributed mightily to the Vance Center's successes, notably the Pro Bono Declaration of the Americas, with now more than 500 law firm signatories, representing over 10,000 lawyers and 200,000 annual hours of pro bono service, and the inter-American pro bono network of a dozen clearinghouses serving thousands of clients each year. Elise's experience and contacts range throughout the hemisphere in law firms, law schools, NGOs and media. All involved with the Vance Center appreciate her effort and accomplishment, on which we all continue to build.
Two new professionals have just joined the Vance Center. Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste, a George Washington Law School graduate, joins as Latin America program director after four years in a similar role at the International Senior Lawyers Project. She brings experience, contacts and commitment in the region, with special attention to Haiti, her country of birth, the Caribbean region and nations overcoming discrimination against minorities. Dina Stukanow, a Venezuela-trained lawyer with an LLM from Harvard Law School, joins as clearinghouse program manager, a new position at the Vance Center. With several years as an associate of an international law firm and as assistant general counsel at Accion International, she brings a full range of experience to the vital role that the Vance Center plays in engaging international law firms in significant pro bono matters on behalf of NGOs.
The Vance Center this year has launched two major initiatives, with vital foundation support: the Hemispheric Pro Bono Lawyers Partnership for Rule of Law and Access to Justice, supported by the Tinker Foundation; and the Inter-American Pro Bono Human Rights Representation Project, supported by the ACE Rule of Law Fund. These initiatives already are engaging U.S. and Latin American lawyers in a range of pro bono collaboration, including projects promoting disability rights and coral reef protection, as well as supporting the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. These initiatives are the fruit of Elise Colomer Grimaldi's invaluable contributions and the opportunities for Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste and Dina Stukanow to advance the Vance Center mission even further.