Justice in Mexico's Staff

Meet our team

Committed to excellence in research, impartial analysis, and professional quality of service, the expert staff of Justice in Mexico benefits from extensive training in the fields of academia, law, and public policy. Our team is bi-lingual and has over two decades of experience working in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region. Based at the University of San Diego, we also draw tremendous support from our academic colleagues, student interns, and volunteers who contribute to the work of building Justice in Mexico.

Dr. David Shirk


Dr. Shirk is Director of Justice in Mexico, Associate Professor and Director of the M.A. program in Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego. He is also a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Mexico Institute. Dr. Shirk conducts research and publishes on topics related to Mexican politics and U-S.-Mexican relations. He frequently serves as policy advisor, consultant, and expert witness on matters concerning crime and violence, judicial reform, and human rights issues in Mexico. In 2016, Dr. Shirk received USD's prestigious International Impact Award for his contributions to USD’s international education goals to promote global education and understanding.

Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

Program Coordinator

Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira is the Program Coordinator of Justice in Mexico, in the Department of Political Science & International Relations at the University of San Diego. He received his J.D. and M.A. in Juridical Science from the School of Law at Universidad Panamericana in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He received his graduate degrees in Human Rights at Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha in Spain and in Procedural Law at Universidad Panamericana. He is currently a doctoral candidate of Juridical Science at the Universidad Panamericana. Mr. Rodríguez has written and co-authored several studies on Mexican policing, judicial reform, human rights, organized crime, violence, and corruption.

Janice Deaton

Training Director

Ms. Deaton has served as Training Director for Justice in Mexico since 2013. She has previously worked to advance oral advocacy skills and advanced litigation techniques in Mexico and other Latin American countries with various organizations, including the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and Acceso Capacitación (Cal Western School of Law) since 2006. In addition to her work with Justice in Mexico, Ms. Deaton works in private practice as a criminal defense attorney, handling cases including immigration violations and narcotics trafficking. In 2016, Janice Deaton received the distinguished Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award from the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies for her exceptional legal representation and advocacy for the underserved communities within the region.

Rita Kuckertz

Operations Coordinator

Rita Kuckertz is Operations Coordinator for Justice in Mexico. She received her B.A. in Spanish and Psychology from the University of San Diego in 2015. As an undergraduate, she completed several independent research projects on border literature and legal challenges facing asylum-seekers. She is a former intern of USD’s Trans-Border Institute and studied abroad in Spain and Argentina.

Laura Calderón

Field Coordinator

Laura Calderón is Field Coordinator for Justice in Mexico and also responsible for maintaining the Memoria database - a database that seeks to identify, report and geolocate victims of violence and organized crime in Mexico. She received her B.A. in International Relations from the University of San Diego (2015) and is currently enrolled in the M.A. program in International Relations at the same university.

Ashley Ahrens-Víquez

Program Assistant

Ashley Ahrens-Víquez graduated from the University of San Diego in 2017 with a B.A. in International Relations. As Program Assistant Ashley is responsible for all media outreach, event planning, and intern coordination. She is passionate about human rights and foreign policy. In the future, she hopes to earn a graduate degree in International Relations.

Michelle Lara

Program Assistant

Michelle Lara graduated with a B.A. in International Relations and a Sociology minor at the University of San Diego in 2017. As a first generation college student herself, she has been a mentor to first generation and underrepresented students on campus since 2015. Her future plans include going to law school to focus on immigration law and human rights.

Zulia Orozco

Research Associate

Zulia Orozco Reynoso is a doctoral candidate in Urban Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM). She has a B.Sc in Sociology and a Master degree in Law - both Cum Laude- also from UNAM. She has collaborated for UNAM’s Attorney General's Office and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Her areas of specialty are accountability, citizen security and criminal economy with special emphases on prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.

  • Contact us
  • University of San Diego
  • Justice in Mexico
  • 5998 Alcalá Park,
  • San Diego, CA. 92110
  • United States
  • 619-260-2299

  • Justice in Mexico is possible thanks to the generous financial support of:
  • Macarthur Foundation

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