Henna Pithia is Interim Director of the International Human Rights Clinic. Since joining the clinic in September 2021, Pithia has led students as they engage in human rights work around accountability for mass atrocities in Cameroon, trial monitoring in collaboration with the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative in Morocco and Kyrgyzstan, and individual client representation work for asylum seekers, trafficking survivors, and others fleeing harm or persecution. In February 2023, Pithia was the primary author of Best Practices and Resources for Representing Operation Allies Welcome Parolees and Afghan Nationals, a guide aimed at increasing legal representation for the many Afghan refugees and asylum seekers that are currently in the United States or seeking entry to the United States. Pithia has also led IHRC students on other projects including a fact-finding and data gathering project in Malawi focused on incarcerated women who have experienced gender-based violence, as well as assisting Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in Fremont, California, home to one of the largest Afghan communities in the United States.
Prior to serving as Interim Director and Co-Director of the IHRC, Pithia served as an Asylum Officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, conducting hundreds of in-depth interviews in California and near the U.S.-Mexico border, and making complex decisions that changed people’s lives forever. Pithia also served as the IHRC’s first Legal Fellow after she graduated from USC Gould. As a Legal Fellow, she helped teach the IHRC’s weekly seminar and focused much of her time on refugee rights, anti-human trafficking work, and advocacy efforts around accountability for human rights violations. Pithia has also spent time in Canada and the U.S. working with law firms focused on business immigration and global mobility.