Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is a founder and executive director of Fortify Rights and a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow. He previously worked with Human Rights Watch (2011-2013), where he authored several reports on critical rights issues in Myanmar and China. Matthew also served as a project coordinator and senior consultant at EarthRights International (2005-2011). His work has exposed wartime abuses and forced displacement, crimes against humanity, “ethnic cleansing,” multi-billion dollar corruption, "development"-induced abuses, and other human rights violations. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and other outlets. Before moving to Southeast Asia in 2005, Matthew worked with Kerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights on Speak Truth to Power. He also worked as a community organizer in New York City and as an emergency-services caseworker in Mobile, Alabama. He has an M.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Le Moyne College.

Amy A. Smith

Amy A. Smith is a founder and executive director of Fortify Rights. Previously, Amy worked as a consultant focusing on regional migration and refugee protection issues with the Labor Migration and Trafficking Unit of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Office for Southeast Asia. Amy served as the Myanmar and Thailand researcher for the International Secretariat of Amnesty International and worked with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Malaysia and Thailand, facilitating research and programming with urban and camp-based refugees from Myanmar. For several years, she worked with the Chin Human Rights Organization and remains on its board of directors. Amy authored numerous reports and publications on human rights and humanitarian issues, including for Human Rights Watch, and has experience providing legal representation and expert testimony for asylum seekers in the U.S. Amy is a licensed U.S. attorney with a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and a B.S. from Northeastern University.

Cathy Ayer

Cathy Ayer is the Development Specialist for Fortify Rights. Cathy has spent over ten years working in international aid in Thailand, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Uganda and Malaysia. For the past three and a half years, she served as the Program Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee's (IRC) office in Bangkok, Thailand, overseeing the development of their multi-million dollar regional portfolio for refugee programs in Thailand and Myanmar. Prior to the IRC, Cathy worked with the British Red Cross, Cafod and Trocaire supporting and coordinating emergency response and working with partners to develop programs to aid crisis affected people. She has worked with Women’s Human Rights organizations in the Asia-Pacific region and holds a Master's degree in Human Rights and International Law from the University of London.

OUR International Advisory Board

  • Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights
  • Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar
  • Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch
  • Victor Biak Lian, human rights and democracy activist, 2010 recipient of St. Stephen’s Prize from Norway’s Stefanus Alliance International
  • Tyler Giannini, Clinical Professor and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
  • Pillkyu Hwang, human rights lawyer with Gonggam Human Rights Law Foundation and Human Rights Committee Coordinator of the Korean Bar Association.

Our Board of Directors

  • Rob Kilpatrick, Chairman
  • Gerald Bourgeois
  • Oddny Gumaer
  • Brad Hazlett
  • Matthew Smith
  • Isabelle Bourgeois
  • Sidney J. Jansma III
  • Amy A. Smith