Media Contact: Diana Quick
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212.551.3087


Director of Women's Refugee Commission’s Detention and Asylum Program Recognized for Cutting-edge Advocacy

For Immediate Release

New York City, January 7, 2011—The Women's Refugee Commission announced today that Michelle Brané, director of its detention and asylum program, has been named as one of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century.” Brané is widely acknowledged within the immigrant rights and human rights community for her cutting-edge work on protecting women and children asylum seekers and immigrants.


“This is a great honor,” says Brané. “I’m particularly pleased that it will shine a spotlight on the terrible plight of women and children who are caught up in our immigration system, and whose rights are often ignored or abused.”

As director of the detention and asylum program at the Women’s Refugee Commission since 2006, Brané focuses on the critical protection needs of women and children asylum seekers in the United States. She authored the 2007 Women's Refugee Commission landmark report on family detention, Locking Up Family Values: The Detention of Immigrant Families and the 2009 report Halfway Home: Unaccompanied Children in Immigration Custody. Currently she is leading the organization’s work on detention reform (including alternatives to detention) and parental rights. 

As an attorney advisor with the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals, Brané specialized in asylum cases and assisted in developing relevant regulations and training programs for new staff. She has extensive experience in program management and advocacy.

At Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service she developed and coordinated the Detained Torture Survivor Legal Support Network, the Legal Orientation Program and was the Director of the Access to Justice Unit. She has also worked internationally with human rights organizations in India and as a Human Rights Officer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Bosnia, where she also served as the Head of the Sarajevo Field Office.

“The Women's Refugee Commission couldn’t be prouder,” said Sarah Costa, executive director. “Michelle sets the standard for efforts to protect the rights of vulnerable women and children who are seeking asylum or held in immigration detention.”

Women’s eNews’ 10th anniversary awards gala will be held on May 3 in New York City. More here.

About the Women’s Refugee Commission:

Founded in 1989, the Women’s Refugee Commission advocates vigorously for laws, policies and programs to improve the lives and protect the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and young people, including those seeking asylum—bringing about lasting, measurable change.

Through research and fact-finding field missions, the Women’s Refugee Commission identifies critical problems that affect displaced women, children and young people, including gaps in lifesaving reproductive health care, lack of dignified livelihoods for refugees and, in the U.S., the treatment of asylum-seekers. It documents best practices and proposes solutions, and develops innovative tools to improve the way humanitarian assistance is delivered in refugee settings.

More at

Strategic Research into the Youth Education Pack (YEP) Model

A comparison of YEP programs across countries, focusing on gender outcomes, adaptations, and cost effectiveness.

Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies

The Call to Action is collaborative campaign to mobilize donors, UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders on protecting women and girls in humanitarian emergencies. It outlines concrete steps for all humanitarian stakeholders over the next five years.

Protection from gender-based violence for refugees

Gender-based violence does not start with the conflict, though it increases in incidence and, often, in savagery. This year, the Women's Refugee Commission helped launch the Call to Action on...

Women from Central America on the Run from Violence

Women fleeing Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have been subjected to a constant threat of violence, including threats, assault, murder and rape and their governments are unable to protect them. The...