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Human Rights Program Staff

Laura M. Olson, LL.M., J.D., M.A.
Director, Human Rights Program

Laura M. Olson serves as the director of the Human Rights Program at The Carter Center. She assumed her duties in July 2017. Olson joined The Carter Center from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, where she had been immigration section chief since 2010, focusing on immigration and human rights matters. During her federal service, Olson also served as acting director of the CRCL Programs Branch, as well as senior policy advisor to the Department of State Special Envoy for Guantánamo Closure.

Earlier in her career, Olson worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross. As legal advisor to the ICRC Regional Delegation in Washington, D.C. (2005-2007), she was responsible for legal support to the organization’s activities in the United States and Canada, including visits to the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. Previously, she was legal advisor at the ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland (2001-2005), as well as the delegate responsible for the program to academic circles and universities at the ICRC Moscow Regional Delegation (1998-2001). During her studies, Ms. Olson spent time as a volunteer with Defense for Children International/Palestine Section, a church in Bethlehem, and on a kibbutz near Haifa, Israel.

Her publications address international humanitarian law, including its relationship with international human rights law, international criminal law, and transitional justice. Olson holds an LL.M. in international legal studies from New York University School of Law and a J.D. and M.A. in philosophy from the University of Iowa.

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

As senior policy adviser, 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.

Jason Parker
Web Communications Specialist

Jason Parker specializes in creating and fostering online communities dedicated to real-world action. He joined The Carter Center in April 2016 to lead development and ongoing content creation for the Forum on Women, Religion, Violence, & Power.

Parker has spent his career in journalism and higher education, most recently working as the digital strategist for Public Broadcasting Atlanta. His work and leadership have won awards from the Newspaper Association of America, Associated Press, Atlanta Press Club, and the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, among others. He earned a bachelor’s degree in photography from the University of Georgia, a Master of Education in Instructional Technology from Georgia Southern University, and a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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