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Human Rights Program Staff

  • Human Rights Programs Staff

Susan Marx, MSt., M.A.
Director, Human Rights Program

Susan Marx was appointed director of the Carter Center Human Rights Program in May 2022. Prior to that, she was project director for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative combating human trafficking in the Southern Africa Development Community and implementing women’s economic empowerment and gender-based violence reduction initiatives in Eswatini.

Previously, Marx spent 10 years with The Asia Foundation, most recently as the country representative in Timor-Leste, managing a diverse portfolio including gender-based violence, police reform, and sustainable economic development programs. She first joined the foundation as a program manager for women’s rights in Afghanistan. Marx started her career as a communications officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Iraq.

Marx is an expert in human rights, rule of law, access to justice, gender-based violence and combating human trafficking as well as strategic leadership, program design, implementation, and operational management. She has spent most of her career in the field and has experience in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States, with specific focus on conflict, post-conflict, and least-developed environments.

Marx holds a Master of Studies degree in international human rights law from Oxford University, a master’s in African studies from UCLA, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern California. She is also a graduate of the Yale School of Management Women’s Leadership Course.

Karin D. Ryan
Senior Policy Advisor on Human Rights and Special Representative on Women and Girls

As senior policy advisor, Ms. Ryan works with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter on a range of issues, including assisting their efforts on behalf of victims of human rights violations through personal interventions with heads of state.

She has represented the Center in many international negotiations, including the International Criminal Court, the human rights of women, the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and most recently on the establishment of a U.N. Human Rights Council and has worked closely with the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize expert consultations designed to strengthen the role of the OHCHR within the United Nations system.

Ryan earned bachelor's degrees in political science from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and in contemporary writing and production from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

She has participated in the Center's election observation missions to Haiti, Palestine, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria. She has also coordinated the Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum from 2003-2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2013 whose aim is to support those on the frontlines of the struggle for human rights and democracy all over the world.

Elizabeth Plachta, J.D.
Associate Director

Elizabeth Plachta works on the program's Democratic Election Standards project and elections-focused efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She has been with the Center since 2010 and has supported election observation missions in Libya, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sudan. Prior to joining the Carter Center, Plachta was a consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, where her work included assisting with programming efforts on prison reform in southern Sudan, supporting a counter-piracy program in Kenya, and participating in prison and security-sector assessment missions in southern Sudan and Ghana. While in law school, Plachta focused primarily on international and human rights law and was involved in international law practica on women's rights in Tanzania, rule of law in Liberia, and international criminal tribunals. Plachta earned a joint bachelor’s in international affairs and Spanish from Georgia Tech and a law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Erin Crysler, M.A.
Associate Director

Erin Crysler currently manages the Human Rights House and Mining Governance projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She joined The Carter Center as an intern in 2007. As an assistant program coordinator, she worked on the 2008 election observation mission in Ghana and a capacity-building initiative for African Union election observers. Prior to joining the Center, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin focused on secondary education, gender equality, and AIDS awareness. Crysler earned her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Georgia and her master’s in international affairs from Georgia Tech.

Nandi Vanka
Program Associate

Nandi Vanka joined The Carter Center in October of 2015. She currently works on the Center's Human Rights House project in Democratic Republic of Congo and previously contributed to the Center’s U.S. Elections project. Before coming to the Center, Vanka interned with the White House Council on Women and Girls and volunteered with victims of domestic minor sex trafficking in the metro Atlanta area. She holds bachelor’s degrees in international studies and French studies from Emory University.

Brandy Blue, J.D.
Program Associate

Brandy Blue joined The Carter Center in September of 2018 as a program associate for mining governance projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Previously, she was the in-country director for Midwives for Haiti, where she led program goal-setting, execution, and evaluation for eight maternal health programs. Prior to that, she served as a youth and women development facilitator with Peace Corps Morocco. Blue holds a Juris Doctor with a specialization in international law and human rights from Tulane University School of Law and bachelor’s degrees in speech communications and French from the University of Georgia.

Sarah Morton
Program Assistant

Sarah Morton joined The Carter Center in October of 2022. In May of 2022, she graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in human rights, concentrating in women and gender studies. She previously volunteered with Choose Love at their refugee center in Calais, France, AmeriCorps at a community center in Dallas, and Fort Worth Sister Cities International, where she both traveled as a student ambassador and worked with international students from Eswatini, Mexico, Italy, Indonesia, and Hungary. Through a New York University Liberal Studies Ambassadorship, she also worked with GO Project, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting children of underserved communities around New York City.

Abigail Stanga
Program Assistant

Abigail Stanga joined The Carter Center in October 2022. She primarily assists projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on extractive industries governance, Human Rights House, and citizen observation. She received a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and global affairs from Eckerd College and minored in Spanish. While at Eckerd, Stanga volunteered at the Pinellas County (Florida) Refugee Program and completed a senior practicum on international organizations in Geneva, Switzerland. She is trilingual, having learned French while living in France as a child and Spanish while studying and traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Prior to joining The Carter Center, Stanga worked on a U.S. congressional campaign, in administration at a law firm, and in sales and marketing at several businesses.


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