Rez Gardi is an international lawyer and human rights activist of Kurdish descent. Rez sought to use her difficult start in life as motivation to help others, becoming New Zealand’s first female Kurdish lawyer. She also became the first Kurd to graduate from Harvard Law School, where she received an LLM as part of a Fulbright Scholarship.
Prior to joining R-SEAT, Rez worked in Iraq as a Harvard Human Rights Fellow in support of cases prosecuting ISIS for its genocidal campaign against the Yezidis. Rez is the founder of ‘Empower’ – a refugee-led organization which aims to address the underrepresentation of refugee youth in higher education. Rez represented New Zealand at the first ever Global Refugee Youth Consultations in 2016, helped establish the Global Youth Advisory Council to the UNHCR, and is a co-founding member of the Refugee Steering Group to the UNHCR Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) and currently leads as one of its representatives.
Rez has received an array of awards including: 2017 Young New Zealander of the Year, 2018 Women of Influence Finalist, 2018 NEXT Woman of the Year Finalist, 2019 Outstanding Youth Delegate Award at the UN Youth Assembly, 2019 Eisenhower Youth Fellow, 2020 Global Impact Award, and 2021 Peace Ambassador for the One Young World Summit.