Executive Director and Founder
Isabelle founded Grata Fund to unlock the power of the law to fight systemic injustice. Based at UNSW, Grata has supported communities to bring litigation to force corporate accountability on climate change, expose abuse in offshore refugee detention centres, and establish legal rights to humane housing in remote First Nations communities; and has facilitated over $1M in philanthropic case funding.
Isabelle is a Churchill Fellow and the 2021 Women's Leadership Institute of Australia Fellow, awarded to women "who are leaders in their respective fields, women who have innovative approaches and the courage, conviction and capacity to create real change". Previously Isabelle was Legal & Governance Director, GetUp and Solicitor, Clayton Utz.
Head of Strategic Litigation
Lou Dargan is a human rights lawyer and advocate with experience working for reproductive justice in the US, transitional justice and victims' rights in Sri Lanka, and exposing child abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia.
Before joining the Grata Fund, Lou worked for the South Asian Centre for Legal Studies (SACLS) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where she worked to ensure victims of the Sri Lankan civil war receive reparations for human rights abuses suffered during the conflict. Before moving to Sri Lanka, Lou completed an LLM at NYU, on a scholarship awarded by the University. At NYU, Lou received the Jerome Lipper Award for Distinction in International Legal Studies and was an International Law and Human Rights Fellow. Lou was also a member of NYU's Reproductive Justice Clinic, where she advocated for the rights of pregnant and parenting women.
Previously, Lou was a senior lawyer at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, working on cases which exposed repeated failures by Catholic Church leaders to deal with abuse. Lou is also an experienced commercial lawyer, having worked for Clayton Utz in their litigation and international arbitration practice, before turning her focus to human rights work.
Lou was tipstaff to Chief Justice Allsop in 2011 and holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with a politics major from Macquarie University. She received the University Medal in law and was ranked first in her graduating law class.
Co-Head of Strategic Litigation
Maria Nawaz is a human rights lawyer with expertise in human rights, discrimination law and women’s rights.
Maria is an experienced public interest advocate, having advocated for stronger human rights protections with individual clients and the community at the NSW, Commonwealth and international levels. She was previously a Lecturer at UNSW Law, where she co-taught the UNSW Human Rights Clinic.
Maria was previously the Law Reform and Policy Solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre, where she led the centre’s law reform work on human rights, discrimination law, women’s rights, employment rights, and housing rights. Maria has experience leading civil society engagement with United Nations review processes, including at the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Prior to this, Maria was KLC’s Employment Solicitor where she ran many discrimination cases focussing on sexual harassment, disability discrimination and race discrimination. She has also worked in the Human Rights Team at Legal Aid NSW where she focussed on police torts and visa cancellations, and as a Legal Officer at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
Maria is the Deputy Chair of the Law Society of NSW’s Human Rights Committee, and an Executive Councillor of NSW Young Lawyers. She was previously a co-convenor of the Community Legal Centres NSW Law Reform and Policy Network, and Chair of the NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee.
Head of Strategic Communication
Belinda is a human rights specialist with over 10 years experience building and winning human rights campaigns. She has worked across a variety of human rights issues including Indigenous justice, LGBTQI rights, death penalty, people seeking asylum, freedom of association and assembly and workers rights.
Before joining the Grata Fund, Belinda worked at Amnesty International Australia as an Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Media Adviser and activism and mobilisation specialist. During this time she led a campaign to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in Australian prisons with a particular focus on alternatives to prison, conditions of detention raising the age of criminal responsibility. This work included human rights investigations that exposed abuses against children in the Western Australia Banksia Hill prison which garnered national attention and led to changes in prison and departmental practices.
Belinda has also worked on the campaign to prevent the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia, the 2017 marriage equality postal vote and the campaign to prevent the lashing of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.
Belinda initiated Amnesty International Australia’s Human Rights Observer program, built an online rapid response network, led the development of the global nonviolent direct action guide and pioneered direct networking between human rights activists in the Asia Pacific.
Prior to her work at Amnesty, Belinda worked in the union movement for the Community and Public Sector Union and a range of other human rights, environmental and public health campaigns.
Belinda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies. She is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Political Economy.
Elena has recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University, where she specialised in environmental law & policy. Elena is keenly interested in reducing institutional disadvantage and supporting communities subject to environmental injustice.
Before joining Grata Fund, Elena worked at Marrickville Legal Centre as a client intake officer where she helped connect historically underserved communities to justice. She has also interned at the Community Empowerment Fund where she worked with residents of Durham, North Carolina to end the racial wealth gap.
Prior to her work at community legal centres, Elena was an intern to the executive vice president of Duke University to design and implement policies to help the community achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. She also assisted local government and school districts in Florida to reduce municipal carbon footprints and ensure all communities had a voice in drafting policies.
Elena has recently collaborated with the Humanities Action Lab to create a museum exhibit that explores racial injustice through the lens of African-American gardeners in North Carolina. The exhibit, titled Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice, is currently traveling the globe.