Emily Nagisa Keehn is a consultant in the Policy Development and Advocacy Unit. Keehn manages Sonke’s prisons program, which seeks to protect the health and human rights of prisoners. This work focuses on addressing sexual abuse and HIV, as well as advocating for systemic prisons reform and strengthened independent oversight of detention. She co-founded and serves on the coordinating committee of the Detention Justice Forum, a civil society coalition that promotes and protects the rights and well-being of detainees in South Africa. Keehn also spearheads the policy team’s resource mobilisation, and supervises the UCLA Law – Sonke Health & Human Rights Fellows.
Keehn is a long-time affiliate of Sonke, having first worked as a summer public interest law fellow in 2009. Upon earning her juris doctor for UCLA School of Law, she developed and launched the UCLA Law – Sonke Health & Human Rights Law Fellowship in 2010. She was then awarded the National Institutes of Health-funded UCGHI Women’s Health & Empowerment Fellowship, which affiliated her with Sonke, UCLA School of Law, and the Law, Race and Gender Unit at UCT’s Faculty of Law (now called the Centre for Law and Society). Keehn then joined Sonke’s staff as the founding member of the Policy Development and Advocacy Unit, and launched the organisation’s prisons health and human rights programming. Keehn re-joins Sonke after working at mothers2mothers, where she was a program technical specialist in their head office. She also previously worked for Legal Aid of Cambodia, the Annenberg Foundation, Relief International, and Kav La’Oved (Worker’s Hotline).