Ugonna Ukaigwe is the Programme Manager for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) UK. She is a development professional with 15 years experience in the field of human rights and sustainable development. Ugonna has worked in two continents where she has implemented several human rights programmes, including spearheading policy reform projects across countries and managing national and international civil society networks/coalitions. She has a legal background and has contributed to regional policy development research on open governance, access to information and media freedoms. She can be contacted at ugonna@
Malvika Rangta joined the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) team in March 2022. As a Programmes Assistant, she supports the design and delivery of projects and programs, specifically CHRI's program on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking. Her responsibilities include compiling and disseminating the daily CHRI Human Rights Update, member bulletin, and The 8.7 Quarterly newsletter.
Prior to joining CHRI, Malvika interned with organizations such as Human Rights Now in Tokyo and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights in India. She holds a BA LL.B. (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School and an LL.M. in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights from the Geneva Academy.
Leor Chechik is currently working as a Research & Advocacy Intern at CHRI. She assists on a variety of research projects including on the topics of modern slavery, and media principles, as well as preparing the Human Rights Update. Leor is based in California and is a rising 3rd year law student at Santa Clara University where she is the founder and president of the Affirmed Law Students Organisation, a community for non-traditional law students from diverse backgrounds.
Mihika Poddar works on research and advocacy initiatives at CHRI. Mihika is also a full-time doctoral student at the University of Oxford, pursuing research in the field of human rights law. Her work focuses on legal recognition of personal identities, including race, sex/gender and caste. Mihika completed the MPhil in Law in 2021 working on the right to self-identification of gender identity, and obtained the Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) with Distinction on a Rhodes Scholarship. Mihika is also a qualified Indian lawyer and university medallist from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, India, where she completed her B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) in 2019. She has done research and advocacy work in the field of citizenship rights, discrimination law, feminist jurisprudence, LGBTQIA+ rights, and several related themes.
Jason Yasin Cowan is a Legal Intern at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). He is a Juris Doctor Candidate at Santa Clara University School of Law, expected to graduate in May 2024. Jason's work is underpinned by a passion for international criminal, humanitarian, and human rights law. Jason has a notable record of service and leadership in various roles. He holds the positions of Vice President of External Affairs at the Student Bar Association, Vice President at the Public Interest & Social Justice Coalition, Co-Director of Diversity & Inclusion at ACLU, and Treasurer at the American Constitution Society. Additionally, he is a Research Assistant at the Center for Social Justice and Public Service and a Clinic Student at the Advanced International Human Rights Clinic.
Before joining CHRI, Jason was a Policy Research Fellow at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, working under the guidance of Secretary Leon Panetta to address public policy issues. He has also served as a Law Clerk for the Felony Trial Team at the County of Santa Clara Public Defender Office, and he has previously worked with U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the Office of U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy. Jason earned a Master of Liberal Arts in Government from Harvard University's Extension School, Division of Continuing Education, and a Bachelor of Science in Economics with Financial Applications from Southern Methodist University. His dedication to social justice, policy development, and public service, combined with his academic and professional experiences, make him a valuable asset to the CHRI team. He continues to work diligently towards promoting and protecting human rights within the Commonwealth countries.