BK Bio

Brian Kennedy is a third year law student from Chevy Chase, MD. He received a bachelor’s degree in Government from Cornell University in 2008, and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 2009. Brian has studied, volunteered, and conducted research in several countries abroad, including Ghana, Sudan, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Tanzania. From 2009-2010, Brian served as the program coordinator and research associate for the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, DC, conducting research on U.S. foreign policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa. At the University of Virginia, Brian is a member of the Virginia Law Review, J.B. Moore Society of International Law. He serves as a peer advisor law students and mentors an elementary student with the organization Action for a Better Living Environment.


Melissa Reilly-Diakun is a 3L from northern Virginia. After graduating from the College of William and Mary, where she double-majored in Music and Linguistics, Melissa went on to work at a non-profit based in Washington, DC, that focuses on educating the whole child instead of getting lost in the need to “teach to the test.” She became deeply interested in the continent of Africa during this time and finally spent time volunteering in Tanzania with her husband. Melissa worked with a group of artists on their English skills and started teaching them French while her husband taught math to students at a nearby school. Feeling that legal skills would be the best avenue for making a difference, Melissa decided to attend law school. At the University of Virginia School of Law, Melissa has focused her studies on human rights, the rule of law, and national security. Summer of 2012 found Melissa in Liberia working on an access to justice project with the Justice and Peace Commission, in partnership with the Carter Center. She had the honor of competing in the Jean-Pictet Competition in International Humanitarian Law last year in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, with now-fellow HRSP participant Brian Kennedy and Catherine Moore, an L.L.M. student. That defining moment in her life turned out to be immensely useful to Melissa’s 2013 summer work, where she worked at the Open Society Foundations and Policy Center on immigration, national security, and U.S. human rights issues under Wendy Patten.

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Scott Phillips is a 3L from Seattle, Washington. After graduating summa cum laude from Seattle University with a B.A. in International Studies/Politics, Scott commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army. During nearly five years of service, including tours of duty in Iraq and South Korea, Scott led soldiers in a variety of scenarios. After separating from the Army, Scott enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he serves on the executive board of the Virginia Journal of International Law. Scott has additionally earned an MSc in Public Policy and Management from the University of London.

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Amy Herrera is a 2L from Quito, Ecuador. After finishing high school, Amy spent a year volunteering at the Banani International Secondary and Primary School in the Central Province of Zambia where she was a dorm mother and first and second grade teacher. Inspired by her year in Zambia and childhood in a politically unstable country, Amy decided to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Social Justice and Politics with a minor in Black and Hispanic Studies. She has also spent time studying at the Université Jean Moulin in Lyon, France where she took courses in International Human Rights and Comparative Constitutional Law. At the University of Virginia School of Law, Amy is on the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law and has done pro bono work on immigration and child advocacy issues.

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Ben Seel is a 2L from Belgrade, Maine. Before law school Ben earned a B.A. in History from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he also played varsity baseball. His interest in foreign affairs developed through his diplomatic history work, an experience that culminated with his undergraduate honors thesis on U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan during the 1960’s and 70’s. Following graduation from Clark he worked as a research intern for a D.C. think tank focused on arms control and nonproliferation issues. After returning to Maine, he worked as a political organizer for the Obama campaign and then for an environmental advocacy organization. Those experiences helped to crystalize his interest in the legal framework governing access to the political process. This past summer he worked on litigation under the Voting Rights Act at the Department of Justice in the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section, an experience that cemented his interest in election law issues.

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Juliet is a 2L from Newport News, Virginia.  Juliet graduated in 2010 with a degree in English and political science from Columbia University, where she also played varsity field hockey.  She spent two years overseas after college.  She taught English to fifth and sixth grade students in Gwangju, South Korea for a year, traveled Southeast Asia for a few months, and taught English at Orkeeswa Secondary School in Monduli, Tanzania before starting law school.  This past summer she worked in the Legislation and Policy and Global Health Bureaus in the General Counsel’s office at the United States Agency for International Development.  At University of Virginia, Juliet is on the Virginia Journal of International Law and is the symposium co-director for the JB Moore Society of International Law.

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