2017 Winner

Becca Heller

for her tireless efforts to provide competent legal support for refugees who must cope with complicated legal systems as they seek refuge from war, genocide, economic collapse and other factors;


Becca Heller is a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and the director and co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project, or IRAP. IRAP is an innovative non-profit virtual public interest law firm that works to save refugees’ lives, assure their passage to safe destination countries, shape thought and practice in the United States and around the globe, and train the next generation of international human rights advocates.

New thinking, new actions

During law school at Yale, Heller participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, the Immigration Legal Services Clinic, and the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic. But her interest in the legal challenges facing refugees began on a trip to Jordan during the summer after her first year in law school. During her stay, she visited with six different refugee families. Each family identified legal assistance as their most urgent need. Having just completed her first semester in Yale Law School’s Immigration Legal Services clinic doing asylum work, Heller believed that law students could assist refugees applying for resettlement. She returned to Yale, and with fellow classmates, founded IRAP in 2008. Learn more

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