Biographies

Ligia De Jesús, Director of Section on Inter-American System on Human Rights

Ligia De Jesús Castaldi is an Associate Professor at Ave Maria School of Law. Her scholarship focuses on the unborn child’s right to life in international human rights law, particularly, in Latin America and the Caribbean. Professor Castaldi received LL.M. degrees from the University of Groningen and Harvard Law School.

Roger Kiska, Co-Director of the European System

Roger Kiska has championed religious liberty in Europe for the past decade. Kiska has successfully litigated before the European Court of Human Rights. He has also provided expert briefings to various committees and inter-groups before the European Parliament and European national parliaments on numerous occasions. Kiska serves as senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom in Vienna, Austria, specializing in international litigation with a focus on European law.  Under Kiska’s leadership, Alliance Defending Freedom’s global influence has grown considerably. Alliance Defending Freedom has obtained Special Consultative status with the United Nations and is now accredited with the European Parliament, the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (where he served as an elected member of the Advisory Panel), the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Before joining Alliance Defending Freedom, Kiska served as legal counsel at the European Center for Law and Justice. He began his legal career in the Slovak Republic as an attorney with the firm of former Slovak Prime Minister Jan Carnogursky. Kiska earned his J.D. in 2003 at Ave Maria School of Law. He has a B.A. in Religion with a minor in History from the University of Manitoba in Canada in 1997. He also received an M.A. in History of Christian Thought at Vanderbilt University in 1999. Kiska is admitted to the State Bar of Michigan and also passed the Solicitor’s Bar examinations for the United Kingdom. He resides in Bratislava, the capital city of the Slovak Republic.

Grégor Puppinck, Co-Director of the European System

Grégor Puppinck, PhD, is the Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, a non-governmental organisation based in Strasbourg (France) with special Consultative Status with ECOSOC-UN. The ECLJ advocates in particular for the protection of religious and conscientious freedoms, family, life and subsidiarity within various human rights institutions. The ECLJ is involved in most of the important cases in the field of bioethics, religious freedom and state-church relationships before the European Court of Human Rights.
Grégor Puppinck also serves as an expert at the Council of Europe for the Holy See and as an adviser to several Member States of the Council of Europe. He frequently provides expert briefings before various national, European and International bodies.
He teaches human rights and advocacy at the Law Scholl of Strasbourg. From 2003 to 2009, he has taught human rights, international law and constitutional law.
After earning his Master of Law from the Law School of Pantheon-Assas (University Paris II), he graduated from the “Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales” (IHEI). He holds a Ph.D. in law with a dissertation on the elaboration of the norms in the field of bioethics. He is the author of numerous academic articles. He is Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great and Cavaliere della Repubblica of Italy.

Theresa Okafor, Director of the African Union  (AU) System

Theresa Okafor holds a PhD in Education from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She serves as a delegate of the Holy See Mission at the United Nations in New York (2013-till date).

Theresa is a promoter of pro-life and pro-family values at national and international levels. She also works closely with her government officials, United Nations delegates, pro-life and pro-family organisations to protect the dignity of the human person, faith, marriage, children, quality education and the family from all who seek to undermine them. She has lectured and presented at the Catholic University of America, the University of Wisconsin, Lagos State Conference on Education, Catholic Bishops Conference on Education and Seminaries in Enugu, Onitsha and Nsukka.

Theresa has been featured in EWTN, NTA, Voice of Africa and in documentaries such as Humanum.it and the Power of Mothers. She is the recipient of four awards: the Natural Family Award by the World Congress for Families 2014; Rhodes Youth Forum Award (Greece 2010) for active participation; the Flynet Award (Nigeria, 2009) for educational promotion and a merit award from the National Association of Catholic University Students (Nigeria, 2008).

Other positions held by Theresa include an international advisory board membership of the Integral Economic Development Management (IEDM) programme run by the Catholic University of America. She is a Director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), a Director of the Quality Assurance and Research Development Agency, Nigeria (QAARDAN) and the CEO of Life League Nigeria. She is a member of the Governing Council of Wavecrest College of Hospitality Management, Lagos Nigeria. and the African representative of the World Congress for Families.

She served as the Board member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) from 2009-2011 and she is a founding member of the African Quality Assurance Network (AFRIQAN).

Stefano Gennarini, Director of the United Nations (UN) System

Stefano Gennarini earned a Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School and during his studies, he was awarded a Blackstone Legal Fellow. He is also the Director of the Center for Legal Studies at Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in New York and oversees C-FAM’s Edmund Burke Fellowship program. Before attending law school, Stefano attended the Redemptoris House of Formation in London and Heythrop College, University of London where he obtained a Bachelor in Theology. While in the United Kingdom, Stefano worked as editor and translator for the Catholic Truth Society (CTS). He has lived and worked in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy and participated in missionary work in Nigeria, the West Indies, and Israel. He is fluent in Italian and Spanish. Stefano lives in New Jersey with his wife and child.

D. Brian Scarnecchia, Director of the Association of the Southeastern Assocication of Nations (ASEAN) System

Brian Scarnecchia, M.Div., J.D. is an Associate Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida where he has taught Property law, Origin of the United States Constitution, Criminal law and Bioethics. He is the author of Bioethics, Law and Human Life Issues: A Catholic Perspective on Marriage, Family, Contraception, Abortion, Reproductive Technology, and Death and Dying (Lanham, MD, Scarecrow Press, 2010) and co-author of The Millennium Development Goals in Light of Catholic Social Teaching (New York, C-Fam, 2009). Brian has also worked as the Director of the Legal Studies program and of the Human Life Studies program at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville and as an Assistant County Prosecutor for Jefferson County, Ohio. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS) and is their main NGO representative to the United Nations. He is also the founding president of International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute (ISHRI), a non-governmental organization (NGO) in consultative status with the United Nations. Brian has also served as an expert on life and family issues for the Catholic Inspired NGO Forum (CINGO), which works in close association with the Pontifical Council for the Family and Secretariat of the Holy See.

Geoffrey Bedford Strickland, Director of the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) System

Geoffrey Bedford Strickland, J.D., J.C.L., serves as International Associate and Rome Office Director for Priests for Life/Gospel of Life Ministries and as collaborator with the Pontifical Council for the Family. His research and publications pertain to the state of the family in the modern world and the dignity of human life in all periods of its existence.  In his role as Rome Office Director and International Associate, he provides research and analysis of canonical and international legal themes pertaining to family and life issues. In his role as collaborator with the Pontifical Council for the Family, he has provided research and analysis regarding legal issues pertaining to the family and human dignity in the modern world, compiling an international legal database (organized by topic, region, and law), focusing upon areas pertaining to the family, human life in all periods of its existence, demographics, and gender ideologies. He assists in language related work (translation and interpretation) of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Arabic, as well as in English language media efforts.

Michael Aurthur Vacca, Managing Editor of ICOLF

Michael Arthur Vacca holds a J.D. from Ave Maria School of Law in 2010 where he concentrated on laws and policies affecting the human person and the family as well as Catholic social teaching. He holds a B.A. from Hillsdale College in Political Science and English literature. From October 2010 Through October 2012, he worked for the Holy See in Rome, Italy defending human life and the family. He is the author of an article published in an Italian bioethics journal Medicina e Morale entitled, “A Reexamination of Conscience Protections in Healthcare,” the co-author of an article published in the Ave Maria School of Law International Law Journal entitled, “Best Practices: Laws Protecting Human Life and the Family Around the Globe” and the co-editor of a book entitled “St. Paul, the Natural Law, and Contemporary Legal Theory” published by Lexington Books. He has appeared as a guest speaker on various Catholic programs discussing the topic of natural law and Catholic social teaching. Currently, he promotes the New Evangelization by doing membership development for Christ Medicus Foundation (CMF) CURO, a Catholic health sharing ministry, and serves as the intercessory prayer advocate for Sidewalk Advocates for Life, a 501(c)(3) non profit.

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