Know Your Hubber: Rebecca Shaeffer

For this month's Know Your Hubber, we wanted to introduce you all to Rebecca, who works at Fair Trials. But besides her work as the Senior Legal and Policy Officer at Fair Trials, Rebecca is a vital component of our Hub Collaboration team. Through brainstorming sessions planning out what collaboration activities would be beneficial for our members to leading the Working Group on working in difficult places, Rebecca has really helped make the Hub community what it is today. So cheers to Rebecca!

Rebecca Shaeffer

Job Title and Organization
Senior Legal and Policy Officer, Fair Trials International

Tell us what problems your organization is trying to solve and how they are doing that.
Fair Trials works internationally to improve protection of procedural rights for people accused of crimes.  We do our work in 3 ways:

  1. We help people to understand and exercise their rights

  2. We fight the underlying causes of unfair trials through advocacy and strategic litigation

  3. We are building a movement of fair trials defenders through our networks of lawyers, activists and academics.

How do you help in doing this?
After working primarily in Europe for six years out of our London headquarters, I am now based in Washington at the Open Gov Hub, where I work on growing our programs, networks and partnerships in the Americas, a new region for Fair Trials.

What are some new exciting projects your organization is working on?
As just one example among many — we recently published a major report and have launched a campaign on the due process and human rights implications of the growing global reliance on plea bargaining in lieu of fully guaranteed trials. We have data from 90 countries that demonstrate a 300% growth in adoption of plea bargaining worldwide in the past 25 years. But there is little international law or guidance on the just implementation of this practice, which can seriously undermine due process protection by evading the traditional guardian of those rights -- the trial. Now we are working on further research and advocacy with partners in countries where plea bargaining may soon be adopted, and working toward the establishment of international norms to help guide legal systems in effectively implementing these mechanisms.

What do you like most about being a part of the Hub community?
The Hub facilitates collaboration — to me, that means being able to link my work more easily with larger movements to effect greater change. I’m also a big fan of snacking on everyone’s leftover catering and the new yoga classes.

Where is the most fascinating place you’ve traveled?
El Salvador has had my heart since I first visited in order to monitor elections in 2003. I returned in 2012 to help observe a truce between the country’s major gangs and hope that work or friendships there bring me back again soon.

What keeps you motivated?
Rage and coffee. Seems sustainable, right?

What is the one book or article that inspires you?
“Always Running/La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA”, a memoir by my hero Luis Rodriguez, who I’ve had the honor of working with and who was recently the poet laureate of Los Angeles, is one of the first books I recommend people.  

If you could have another career—sky’s the limit—what would it be and why?
Maybe a theater director or playwright -- like many lawyers drawn to the drama of the courtroom and the personal stories and tragedies that play out there, I’m a frustrated theater person. Something about the immediacy and personal risk of the medium touches me like no other art form, but I’m too bossy to be an actor.

It may surprise you that:

  • I have backyard chickens, a cat and two hermit crabs

  • And 2 children constantly threatening to add more pets to the mix

  • I have probably profiled you based on your astrological sign

I can’t live without:

  • Wooden clogs

  • podcasts

  • Access to the full Prince catalogue