Senior Attorney & Director of Legal Services
Jennifer Duncan has worked in international development for more than 15 years, with an emphasis on land and housing rights. Her experience includes project management; drafting and analysis of law, policy and regulations; development of strategies for rule of law and advocacy around land and housing rights; situational assessment and design and sequencing of responsive interventions; and research, writing and publishing on land and housing-related issues. She has focused on gender issues and women’s rights to land and housing throughout her career. Ms. Duncan has worked intensively over the past eighteen months on a number of projects in support of Kenyan land sector reforms.
Duncan has previously conducted policy work and field research on land issues in China, Georgia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Tajikistan, and Thailand. She has also lived and worked in Costa Rica. In addition to her international experience, she has worked with socio-economic development and legal issues among minority groups within the US, including migrant farm worker communities in California and the Makah Nation in Washington State. Duncan earned her J.D. from the University of Washington and her B.A. with honors in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College.
Senior Attorney & Land Tenure Expert | Photographer
Deborah Espinosa is a land law and policy attorney with expertise in land tenure policy, legal and regulatory reform, land-related conflicts and dispute resolution, land titling and registration, and legal literacy. She also has broad expertise in environmental and natural resources law. Espinosa has performed rural fieldwork to understand land relations and customary law and institutions for purposes of designing new land policy, legislation, and interventions, with particular emphasis on women’s access and rights to land. She has assessed a variety of proposed and existing land laws and policies, land conflict and dispute resolution mechanisms, and government-sponsored land programs. She has managed projects related to land law reform, land dispute resolution, legal aid, and access to justice.
Espinosa is also Landesa’s in-house photographer. She is responsible for many of the powerful images on this website as well as many of the images in Landesa’s print material. Her international experience includes Burundi, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, and Rwanda. Espinosa earned her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and an M.A. in Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. She also holds a Certificate in Career Training from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and a B.A. in History from the University of California, Berkeley.
Senior Director of Research, Monitoring & Evaluation
Diana Fletschner is a development economist with over 15 years of experience teaching, conducting research, designing programs and tools, and monitoring and evaluating interventions with a special focus on rural women. Fletschner is currently involved in a broad range of projects on women’s access to and rights over land: leading quantitative research and field-informed desk research; assessing rural women’s access and rights to land; assessing the effectiveness of innovative approaches to secure women’s and girls’ rights to land; developing land and property rights tools that pay attention to women’s preferences and constraints; training government representatives; and directing the Women’s Land Rights Visiting Professionals Program. She has done research and worked with NGOs in fourteen countries and is the author of “Rural Women’s Access to Capital: Intrahousehold Bargaining and Social Effects.”
Fletschner holds a Ph.D. in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was a MacArthur-Global Studies Fellow and received the Taylor Hibbard Doctoral Dissertation Award. She also holds a summa cum laude B.A. in both economics and in computer science from the Universidad Nacional de Asunción-Paraguay.In addition, she has directed, evaluated, and collaborated with programs that bring mid-career professionals from developing countries and economies in transition for one-year fellowships at the University of Washington. She received the Evans Students’ Mentoring Award in 2008 and the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2001.
Attorney & Land Tenure Specialist
Deena Ledger brings experience in international human rights law and civil litigation, and post-graduate studies in international development law and policy. Prior to joining Landesa, Ledger led a collaborative international human rights project on immigration detention policy in the Seattle, Washington area. Working with Seattle University School of Law, she planned and conducted field research, using the results to publish a human rights report. She has also worked with various law firms and government agencies in the areas of civil rights, human rights, employment, and consumer protection.
After completing her legal studies, which focused on international law, development and land tenure, Ledger volunteered with an NGO in the Kyrgyz Republic. She conducted legal research and field interviews on community-based pasture management systems, as part of a larger World Bank-funded project. Deena has a B.A. from University of Colorado, and her J.D. from Seattle University Law School. She has professional experience in India and the Kyrgyz Republic and is conversational in French.
Robert G. Mitchell
Senior Attorney & Director of Program Quality and Learning
Robert Mitchell has 22 years legal experience and 16 years of research, consulting, and writing experience with land tenure reform, land market development, rural legal aid and other rural development issues in developing countries and transition economies. His technical assistance experience includes on-site assessment of land policy and legislation in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and South East Asia, as well as drafting and managing implementation of legislation and programs related to land rights legal aid, government allocation of micro-plots, tenancy liberalization, privatization of agricultural and non-agricultural land, subdivision of collectivized agricultural enterprises, land survey and delimitation, land titling and property rights registration, mortgage, sale and lease of land, land consolidation, eminent domain, women’s land rights and strengthening land tenure security.
Mitchell received his LL.M., Law of Sustainable International Development degree and J.D. degree from the University of Washington. He also holds a B.A. with honors in economics from the University of Utah.
Senior Attorney & Director of the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights
Elisa Scalise is a land law and policy attorney specializing in women’s land tenure. Ms. Scalise’s work has covered such things as analyzing formal and customary law on property rights, inheritance and marital property regimes, evaluating formal and informal dispute resolution mechanisms, and designing and implementing innovative projects which seek to address the gap between law and practice. She has conducted gender assessments for large land tenure reform projects in a number of countries. Ms. Scalise has experience in international and comparative law and both civil code and common law systems and has extensive project management, research, drafting and editing experience.
Ms. Scalise’s geographic experience includes Burundi, Burkina Faso, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Netherlands, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. She earned her JD, magna cum laude, from Seattle University School of Law and a Graduate Diploma in public policy and management from Melbourne University.
D. Hien Tran
Director of Global Advocacy
D. Hien Tran is an attorney and leads Landesa’s efforts to elevate, within the international development community, the issue of secure land rights for the poor as a key tool to help alleviate poverty and hunger. Tran was previously counsel at a law firm in Washington, D.C., where she focused on appellate and government/regulatory cases raising novel issues of constitutional law, criminal procedure, and statutory interpretation. She previously clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Previously, Tran worked with the USAID Asia and the Near East Bureau, Office of Strategic and Economic Analysis where she participated in and led assessment teams that evaluated opportunities and challenges for U.S. development assistance and created strategic frameworks with a focus on establishing cross-sector linkages.
Ms. Tran received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, M.P.A. from Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and B.A., magna cum laude,from Yale University.
Senior Attorney & Director of Special Initiatives
Darryl Vhugen is a senior attorney at Landesa. Prior to becoming a senior attorney, he was the state director for Andhra Pradesh (AP) in India where he led Landesa’s AP office in Hyderabad. Darryl led Landesa’s work in partnership with the state government and others to help secure land rights for landless women and families. The Landesa-designed Indira Kranti Patham program has already helped thousands of landless women purchase land, and provided legal aid to more than 70,000 poor families. In 2007, Vhugen consulted Landesa on land tenure security issues, working in the field in India. Before joining Landesa, Vhugen spent 25 years in the private practice as an international and domestic business lawyer and litigator. He advised foreign and domestic clients in a broad range of business matters involving the United States, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia the Philippines and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Vhugen earned his B.A. with highest honors in economics from Lewis & Clark College and his J.D. with honors from University of Washington.
By Swati Bhattacharjee – a chief reporter for the Bengali newspaper “Ananda Bazar Patrika.” This is an excerpt from her original article which was published as an Op-ed in Bengali on 14th April. Two women in West Bengal, India broke …
My name is Jen Duncan and I’m a senior attorney at Landesa. People often ask me, “I think I understand land rights but what exactly do you guys do at Landesa?”The words that I’m about to share will hopefully provide …
Nazgul, then 19, was refilling cups of tea at the roadside café where she worked when three young men arrived. She served them and returned to the kitchen. When she reemerged, the men grabbed and carried her to their car. …