Who We Are

Leadership

Aparna Polavarapu

Executive Director and Founder

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Professor Aparna Polavarapu founded SCRJI in 2020. She has over a decade of experience working in human rights, especially focusing on how women’s rights can be promoted and inhibited by informal justice systems. Through her work in sub-Saharan Africa, Aparna came to understand and respect the contributions of community-driven justice practices. More recently, she has worked with local partners to promote and develop restorative justice practices in South Carolina. She has conducted webinars and other trainings with local and national audiences on the use of restorative justice to address harms, including intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Aparna is also a tenured, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Her scholarship focuses on informal, community-driven justice systems and how they work together with formal, state-centered systems. Her research has covered a wide range of topics, including the use of restorative justice mechanisms to combat domestic violence in Uganda and how customary and statutory law interact to govern land rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a full-time professor, she also teaches courses in Restorative and Transformative Justice, Comparative Law, Rule of Law, Transnational Law, and International Human Rights Skills. She received an LLM and JD from Georgetown University Law Center, an MA in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Picture of Aparna Polavarapu wearing a blue sweater, standing in front of trees

Georgia Higgins ("George")

Program Associate

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Georgia Higgins began working with SCRJI as a part-time program associate in Fall 2020. Born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina, she graduated from the Honors College at the University of South Carolina in 2017 with a B.A. in History focusing on the American South. She went on to attend law school at the University of South Carolina, graduating in 2020. During law school, George interned with the Richland County Public Defender’s Office and the Capital Division of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense. She also served on the student boards of the Carolina Equality Alliance, Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, and Moot Court Bar.

Headsho

Advisory Committee

Vivian Anderson

Vivian Anderson

Executive Director and Founder,
EveryBlackGirl, Inc.

Sara Barber

Sara Barber

Executive Director, SCCADVASA

Omme-Salma Rahemtullah

Omme-Salma Rahemtullah

Film Impact Producer

Robbie Kopp

Robbie Kopp

Naomi Simmons-Thorne

Naomi Simmons-Thorne

Scholar-Activist

Bingo Gunter, PhD

Bingo Gunter, PhD

Director, Collaborative on Race