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.

Dr. Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira

Executive Director

Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira is the Executive Director 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 Coordinator

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 the Operations Coordinator for Justice in Mexico. She graduated from the University of San Diego with her B.A. in Spanish and Psychology (2015) and her M.A. in International Relations (2020). Her research examines human rights in Mexico and the impact of Mexico’s criminal justice reform on the incidence of certain human rights violations, such as torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Laura Calderón

Program Coordinator

Laura Calderón is Program 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 her M.A. program in International Relations at the same university in 2018. Her research focuses in political violence and organized crime violence in Mexico.

Ashley Ahrens-Víquez

Outreach Coordinator

Ashley Ahrens-Víquez graduated from the University of San Diego in 2017 with a B.A. in International Relations. As Outreach Coordinator, Ashley is responsible for media outreach, event planning, and intern coordination. She is especially fond of creating graphics and video content for Justice in Mexico's various projects and editing the blog posts for the Justice in Mexico Monitor. She is especially passionate about international human rights and U.S.-Latin American foreign policy.

Mauricio Villaseñor Herrera

Program Associate for Operations and Transactions

Mauricio Villaseñor Herrera graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2015 with a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies and Italian Studies. As an intern for the Justice in Mexico during Fall 2016, he was responsible for reporting on the current public security situation in Michoacán. Focusing on arrests, organized crime, public security, and politics, he gained a special interest in social justice; on a local and international level. Mauricio hopes to further explore this field at the graduate level.

Teagan McGinnis

Program Assistant

Teagan McGinnis is the Program Assistant for Justice in Mexico. She is a combined degree student, pursuing both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international relations at the University of San Diego. Her research examines the diversification of violence leveraged by organized crime groups as a result of COVID-19, patterns of gender violence, and the nexus between organized crime and democracy.

Kimberly Heinle

Chief Research Associate

Kimberly Heinle is Research Associate and Editor for Justice in Mexico. In 2011, she graduated from the University of San Diego with a Master's in International Relations. As part of her graduate studies, Heinle traveled to Washington, D.C. to present her research on human rights abuses in Mexico's unfolding security situation to the National Defense Intelligence College. Kimberly Heinle is a regular contributor to Justice in Mexico's news monitor as well as co-author to the last three "Drug Violence in Mexico" publications (2016, 2015, 2014).

Jorge Lison

Research Associate (Data Specialist)

Jorge is a self-taught computer programmer from Spain who obtained his M.A. in International Relations at the University of San Diego and his B.S. in Economics at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He is passionate about data-mining, learning new programming languages, and solving day-to-day problems with technology. Jorge is currently working on creating automatized programs that extract information about weapons trade, and human violations from various web pages on the Internet. Jorge manages the Justice in Mexico website, and provides technical support to the rest of the team.