Nick Hesterberg, Executive Director
Nick Hesterberg served as a Colombia-based staff attorney for EDLC in 2009-2010. Nick returned to EDLC in January 2020 after spending nine years litigating complex civil cases at the international law firm Perkins Coie LLP, where he focused on challenging illegal price fixing conspiracies and monopolization schemes. Among other victories, Nick was a core member of the trial team that secured a judgment of over $100 million in a case involving a conspiracy to fix the prices of consumer products. He also maintained an active pro bono practice focused on immigrant rights issues. Nick has significant experience in all aspects of the litigation process, including initial case assessment, development and execution of case strategy, and management of teams of attorneys, experts, and support staff. Nick is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law and currently resides in Seattle.
Lewis Gordon, Senior Counsel
Lewis Gordon is a Harvard graduate with nearly forty years of experience as a lawyer. Following a federal court clerkship, Lewis entered private practice in Alaska in 1982. He successfully defended environmentalists and environmental organizations from intimidation lawsuits, and represented them in environmental litigation as well. From 1989-94, while the managing partner of the Anchorage firm of Ashburn & Mason, Lewis served on the nine member plaintiffs’ steering committee that managed the massive litigation arising from the grounding of the Exxon Valdez. In 2003, Lewis was invited to be a Wallace Stegner Center Fellow for a year at the law school of the University of Utah, as well as an adjunct professor of law (Environment and Human Rights). He founded EDLC that same year, serving as EDLC’s Executive Director until January 2020. He has been invited to every continent to speak on human rights and corporate accountability issues before legal groups, NGOs, and foundations.
Fernanda Venzon, Staff Attorney
Fernanda Venzon joined EDLC as a full-time staff attorney in 2011, after two years of working with EDLC as an independent consultant. Her role includes helping local lawyers developing legal strategies, drafting amicus curiae briefs, and conducting research on the applicable national and international frameworks in a range of cases in Latin America in which local communities have been affected by natural resource development projects. Fernanda holds advanced degrees from Brazil and the United Kingdom in international law, environmental management, and development management, and has a wealth of experience in the human rights and environment area. Prior to joining EDLC, she served as the Executive Director of the Sierra Madre Alliance in Mexico, where she formulated land claims under international human rights frameworks for Tarahumara indigenous communities. She also worked in the Brazilian Amazon, providing legal advice and education on environmental law to traditional peoples living in protected areas.
EDLC Programs in Action
Leading Vietnamese Environmental Defender Freed
Dr. Cu Huy Ha Vu is a Vietnamese lawyer, environmentalist, and pro-democracy activist. He became nationally known for filing lawsuits challenging construction of a resort on a cultural heritage site; approval of a bauxite mining project; and a decree disallowing class action lawsuits.
He was arrested and his case quickly became a cause célèbre through the power of the internet, creating an unprecedented human rights challenge to the Vietnamese government. His family’s revolutionary credentials and his elite background made this Vietnam’s most high-profile political trial in decades. Nonetheless, at his 2011 trial, Dr. Vu was convicted of “anti-government propaganda” and sentenced to seven years in prison.
EDLC enlisted a team of lawyers at the prestigious WilmerHale law firm, who worked tirelessly on Dr. Vu’s behalf, pressing his case with the U.S. State Department and other policy makers. On April 7, 2014, Dr. Vu was finally released and arrived at the airport in Washington, D.C. where he was met by the legal team. He remains an outspoken critic of the anti-democratic policies of Vietnam.