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Our Team

The Rules of War Blog is managed by the American Red Cross International Humanitarian Law team.

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Randy Bagwell, U.S. Army Colonel (Ret)
J.D., LL.M.

Senior Director, International Services, U.S. Programs

Colonel (retired) Randy Bagwell serves as the Senior Director of International Services, U.S. Programs at the American Red Cross. This includes International Humanitarian Law, the IHL Youth Action Campaign, Restoring Family Links, and Missing Maps. at the American Red Cross. In this role, he supervises the IHL Team in the execution of their mission to educate and inform the American public on IHL. Prior to joining the American Red Cross, Randy was a career U.S. Army officer serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.


Randy last served in the army as Dean at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School in Charlottesville, Virginia. The U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School is the only American Bar Association accredited law school within the U.S. government and is authorized to award a Masters in Laws degree in Military Law. In addition to his duties as Dean, Randy also taught classes in IHL and leadership. He has also taught IHL at the U.S. Naval War College, the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo, Italy. Additionally, he has taught IHL as an officer in the U.S. Army in over twenty countries.  


​As a Judge Advocate, Randy advised senior military commanders on a wide variety of legal issues serving as the senior legal advisor (known as a Staff Judge Advocate) for U.S. Army Alaska, 3rd Infantry Division, and I Corps. In these positions, he participated in numerous operational exercises where he advised on IHL.


Randy’s operational deployments include Hungary in support of operations in Bosnia in 1996. With the 82nd Airborne Division as the Staff Judge Advocate for Coalition Task Force – 82 in Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002-2003. In Bagdad, Iraq as the Chief of Operational Law for Multinational Forces – Iraq, 2006-2007. Finally, with 3rd Infantry Division to Kandahar, Afghanistan as the U.S. Staff Judge Advocate and Senior NATO Legal Advisor to NATO Regional Command – South, 2012-2013. During these deployments in addition to leading legal teams addressing a variety of legal issues, Randy personally advised senior commanders on issues such as targeting, detention, and rule of law.  


A frequent speaker and writer in IHL, Randy’s primary focus has been in the area of self-defense in IHL.  


Randy retired in June 2018 with 29 years of active duty service and over 36 years of combined Active Duty, Army Reserve and National Guard service. He has four times been awarded the Legion of Merit and three times the Bronze Star for meritorious service.

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Roberta Brown

Volunteer Executive Partner to the Senior Director, IS/US Programs

Central Atlantic Division International Programs Lead

Roberta Brown began her volunteer service to the American Red Cross over twenty years ago with the Delaware Chapter, serving in a variety of roles including Chair of Volunteers and Board Chair.  She is currently an Expert International Humanitarian Law Instructor and Tiffany Circle member, serving as the Volunteer Executive Partner to the Senior Director, IS/US Programs, and Central Atlantic Division International Programs Lead. 


Mrs. Brown is registered professional engineer and retired President of Sassafras River Associates. A former electric utility executive, she served on the Board of Directors of companies in the United States and Canada.  Her consulting clients have included regional electric grid operators, an electric reliability council, an engineering and construction firm, and a major auditing/consulting firm.  She has been involved with numerous professional and community organizations, serving as Board Chair of Public Allies-Delaware and as a Trustee of the Nature Conservancy-Delaware. 


Thomas Harper

Senior Legal Advisor, International Humanitarian Law

Thomas Harper serves as a Senior Legal Advisor in International Humanitarian Law for the American Red Cross. Thomas has spent his adult life in uniform, having originally enlisted in the Army Reserve upon graduating high school.  He later commissioned as an Army officer via the ROTC program at North Carolina State University. Following law school at Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh, NC, Thomas served on active duty as a Judge Advocate for more than 7 years before transitioning to the Army Reserve, where he currently holds the rank of Major.  He has served in a variety of capacities, including as a prosecutor, defense counsel, Special Victim Counsel, and as an Operational Law attorney in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. 


Thomas writes and podcasts for The Legal Geeks, an American Bar Association Top 100 legal blog, where he uses Star Wars to teach about a wide variety of legal topics, including International Humanitarian Law. Thomas also co-hosts The Joint Geeks of Staff, a podcast featuring national security professionals who explore military and diplomatic lessons learned in science fiction. Thomas regularly shares his passion for the intersection between Star Wars and the IHL, having presented at San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration (Disney’s official Star Wars convention), WonderCon, Dragon Con, and more.


Larissa Hatch

Program Officer, International Humanitarian Law: Youth Programs

Larissa joined the IHL Red Cross team in the Summer of 2020 after nearly 4 years of service with the American Red Cross in Volunteer Services both on a regional and national level. Prior to her service with the Red Cross, Larissa worked abroad and domestically, for organizations including Habitat for Humanity, serving marginalized communities, and managing youth development programs for over a decade. She holds a Bachelors in Nonprofit Management and Peace and Conflict Studies and MPA with a concentration in Nonprofit and Organizational Leadership.  Outside her academic career, Larissa volunteers on the board and as a trip leader of YES, a youth service organization that teaches young adults about the poverty in their own cities and how to implement their skills in the healing of their communities.


Christian Jorgensen

Legal Advisor, International Humanitarian Law

Christian Jorgensen is an IHL Legal Advisor for the American Red Cross-National Headquarters. His early professional and academic work focused on public international law, emphasizing International Human Rights Law and Refugee Law. Before pursuing his law degree, Christian assisted in asylum cases in the UK under Dr. Barbara Harrel-Bond, OBE in Oxford, UK. Following his time in Oxford, he worked as a political and legal analyst for a Berlin-based media-startup, focusing much of his reporting on the 2017 French presidential candidates' immigration policies. He later worked in Nicosia, Cyprus as a researcher on the topic of nationality rights and statelessness and coauthored a pedological guide for the European Union's NICeR Project (Nouvelles Approches pour l'Intégration Culturelle des Jeunes Réfugiés). Additionally, he is a past international legal fellow for Dejusticia, a legal think-tank based in Bogotá, Colombia. He has also been an invited panelist on news networks worldwide to speak on migration and law. Outside his work with the American Red Cross, Christian serves as co-editor of the monthly refugee legal newsletter, Rights in Exile.


Christian holds a BA in Political Science (University of Iowa), an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (DePaul University), a JD (University of New Mexico School of Law). He is a licensed attorney in the State of Iowa.


Eric Schmitz

Henry P. Davison International Humanitarian Law Fellow

Eric is a public interest lawyer who has been interested in international law and international humanitarian law since declaring his undergraduate major at University of Colorado at Boulder to be international affairs. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at University of Miami School of Law where he served as Executive Editor and was published in the International and Comparative Law Review. After law school, he became a member of the New York State Bar.


Once a licensed attorney, Eric took a position as a staff attorney with the National Veterans Legal Services Program, where he practiced for nearly four years. At NVLSP, he provided effective pro bono legal representation to service-members, veterans and their family members in front of the administrative boards of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, as well as in a multibillion dollar class action lawsuit. He also assisted senior staff in development of new ideas for impact litigation and advocacy to benefit veterans and their families. During this time, he took classes in International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law and National Security Law to maintain substantive knowledge in those fields.


Samantha Shyam

Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Fellow

Samantha recently earned her JD from The University of Baltimore School of Law. Her interest in international humanitarian law was sparked during her in international law course. She competed in the 2021 Clara Barton IHL Competition, with her team winning the Best Application award.

This past spring, Samantha interned with the United States Coast Guard, Office of the Judge Advocate General in the International and Maritime Law Prevention Division. There, Samantha worked on several projects - interpreting the new provisions of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, researching policy directives, and editing the second version of the Commander’s Handbook.

Before law school, Samantha earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Towson University. She then worked in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University, assisting students from enrollment through program completion.


During her time with the American Red Cross, Samantha hopes to broaden her knowledge of the principles of IHL and its application to issues of national security. She will be working on planning the 2022 Clara Barton IHL Competition and other relevant projects.

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Vinita Banthia

Francis K. Lieber International Humanitarian Law Fellow

Vinita Banthia is an Associate Attorney at the law firm Archer & Greiner in New Jersey, and serves as a Legal Consultant to the American Red Cross’s Humanitarian Law Division. Vinita works in a diverse range of legal matters, ranging from civil litigation, environmental issues, and international humanitarian law. Vinita obtained her JD from the University of Minnesota Law School and spent the first three years of her legal career practicing civil litigation at Blackwell Burke P.A. in Minnesota. She currently practices environmental litigation, with a focus on large-scale multi-party matters relating to MTBE, CERCLA liability, remediation and restoration. When she’s not practicing law or recording episodes of Cross Conflict, Vinita enjoys running, creating craft cocktails, and visiting art museums. Vinita lives in Philadelphia, PA, but enjoys travelling locally, domestically, and internationally. Vinita is also the host of the Cross Conflict Podcast.

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