Michelle Karshan


Michelle Karshan has worked on Haiti issues for the past thirty years in a variety of contexts, including as a New York City radio journalist, a US-based solidarity activist, and based in Haiti’s National Palace from 1995 to 2004 Karshan served as the Foreign Press Liaison for Presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Rene Preval. 

In 2001, Karshan co-founded Health through Walls, an NGO assisting prisons in resource poor countries to increase their capacity to deliver quality health care to prisoners. From 2009-2011, Karshan served as Health through Walls' Haiti Coordinator implementing a large-scale medical program inside Haiti’s National Penitentiary to prevent, identify, and treat contagious and infectious disease. Karshan serves as Health through Walls' Vice President.

In 1989-90, Karshan worked as a Program Planner Analyst for the Quality Assurance department of NYC's Woodhull Hospital where she played a key role in writing and coordinating hospital-wide quality assurance reports for continuing Joint Commission certification.

Karshan and her daughters founded Li, Li, Li! Read, a reading out loud storybook program in Creole for internally displaced children following the 2010 earthquake. Li, Li, Li! Read also conducted cholera information training for children in tent camps as well as teacher training in reading out loud in a disaster and recovery environment.

Also following the earthquake, at the request of attorney Jayne Fleming, Karshan coordinated a campaign for the international law firm Reed Smith to develop new protocols for media covering gender-based sexual violence in Haiti. 

In 1996 Karshan founded Alternative Chance, a self-help, advocacy program for criminal deportees in Haiti and serves as its Executive Director. Karshan sits on the Advisory Board of Boston College’s Center for Human Rights and International Justice, participated in the 2012 and 2016 Post Deportation Human Rights Project’s (PDHRP) working meetings for the development and implementation of a Declaration on the Rights of Expelled and Deported Persons, and is currently engaged in wrongful deportation screening in Haiti in partnership with PDHRP. 

Karshan testifies as an expert witness before immigration court, co-authored several human rights reports, is widely cited in articles, reports and court decisions and has presented at key forums on deportation and Haiti. Alternative Chance is a co-petitioner before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stop deportations to Haiti and collaborated with the University of Miami School of Law, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and others on the report Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti. Karshan served as Adjunct Law Professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 2008-2009. 

In addition to an extensive background working with persons in conflict with the law in New York and Haiti, in 2005 Karshan served as the Director of Communications for the Osbsorne Association, a leading progressive, innovative criminal justice program in New York state.