American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages
Andrew first joined ISHR as an intern to assist with research projects, archival management, and database administration. Asked to come on board as part-time, salaried staff for HRAP in January 2010, he contributed to the Program's recent expansion by building the HRAP Alumni Network, publicizing HRAP around the globe, and preparing special projects for the upcoming 25th Anniversary of HRAP. He also contributed to the coordination of the 2010 HRAP including the Washington, D.C. networking trip. Many of the 2010 Advocates expressed their deep appreciation to Andrew for the thoughtful attention he gave to them throughout the course of the Program.
In April 2011, Andrew joined the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). He is facilitating ACTFL's professional development programs as well as assisting planning of ACTFL's On-site and Sponsored Workshops, held year-round throughout the US.
Andrew received his B.A. in French and International Studies from Manhattan College and is currently completing his M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations from the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. He speaks English, French, and Italian and understands a little bit of Russian.
African Studies Librarian, Columbia University
Yuusuf Caruso is African Studies Librarian at Columbia University. Yuusuf earned his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1993. Since then, he has served as the librarian for Africa at Columbia. Yuusuf is one of six full-time subject specialists in the Libraries' Area Studies Division which also includes: Jewish Studies; Latin American & Iberian Studies; Middle East & Islamic Studies; Russian, Eurasian, & East European Studies; and, South Asian Studies. For many years, Yuusuf has served as the principal library liaison for the Human Rights Advocates Program providing library orientation tours, in-class instruction, research consultations, and referrals.
For more information, see Area Studies; Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research; and, Human Rights Research Guide
Erik is the founder of Philantropia-an independent consultancy specialized in international fundraising and philanthropy. He has raised over $100 million in the non-profit field for numerous international projects from a wide variety of government agencies, foundations, and institutions. This professional experience gives him a wealth of first-hand knowledge and expertise on what it takes to successfully raise funds. For example, in April 2010, Erik led a successful training on Fundraising from US Foundations in the Netherlands. Over the years, Erik has lent his fundraising expertise to many international human rights organizations including UNICEF, The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), and Social Accountability International.
Erik has been a strong supporter of the Human Rights Advocates Program and the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability. He leads a six-session workshop to teach them about fundraising. He also works to fine-tune their organizations’ fundraising plans and grant proposals, many of which the Advocates submit to donors while still in New York for the duration of HRAP.
Reflecting on a workshop with HRAP, Erik spoke fondly of the participants saying, “Their passion for their work and strengthening human rights was consistently apparent during class discussion. There is no doubt that the Human Rights Advocates Program provides a fantastic opportunity for participants—especially the valuable networking meetings with prospective donor organizations based in the United States. At the same time, I learned a great deal from the advocates about human rights issues in the countries where they work. I’m confident that after four months in New York the advocates will have an even greater impact once back home.”
Emeritus Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University
Joan Ferrante [B.A., Barnard (1958); M.A., Columbia (1959); Ph.D., Columbia (1963)] is an emeritus Professor of Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Ms. Ferrante became involved in the Human Rights Advocates Program while on the board for ISHR (then the Center for the Study of Human Rights), which oversaw the Center's programs. She was on the committee that chose the advocates, and promoted the selection of women advocates and advocates for women's issues.
During the early stages of the program, she responded to advocates' wishes to have somewhere to go at the beginning of their semester at Columbia to get to know one another and share their experiences. She and her husband invited advocates to spend a weekend at her mother-in-law's house in the Berkshires when they first arrived. Ms. Ferrante with her husband, Carey McIntosh (a scholar of 18th century literature who taught at Harvard and Rochester and served as a dean at Brown University for ten years), and her mother-in-law, Millicent Carey McIntosh (the fourth head of Barnard College, widely regarded as one of the college's most successful presidents), gave the advocates a taste of New England.
She recalls: “My husband and I took the advocates on walks, sometimes energetic hikes in the woods, and while my mother-in-law, then in her nineties, was alive, she would take them on guided tours of the area in their van--having great respect for old age, they were quite taken with her. They also spent several hours describing their experiences and their aspirations to each other and, usually after dinner, they sang or danced, sharing parts of their culture. When they came in the winter, they played in the snow with great delight. They were able to, I think, because they came to feel comfortable with each other in that setting. It was touching beyond words to see people who had been imprisoned, tortured, were in danger of their lives, making snow angels, building a snow woman--it was a Palestinian man who insisted it be a woman.
“One year when my husband was teaching in Finland and his sister and son had come to help me entertain the advocates, my sister-in-law asked what they would like to do. A Burmese advocate said he would love to try skiing, so my sister-in-law gathered all the skis and ski boots she could find around the place, outfitted several of them, and showed them the basics. I looked down from a window to see a group of advocates from Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa earnestly pushing themselves around a field in the snow, falling, laughing, and getting up and going on.
“One of the things that changed over the years they came to us was the acceptance of certain customs in the house. In the early years, most of the advocates helped clear the table and wash dishes after meals, but when asked why they did not help, the Africans said that was woman's work and they did not do it. In later years, I noticed that, without any urging, there were African males at the pantry sink, washing and drying the dishes.”
Since Ms. Ferrante retired from Columbia, she has continued to work on a database of medieval women's letters, called Epistolae, which is administered through the Columbia CCNMTL, and available online worldwide. As a scholar, she has served on the boards of Speculum, Lectura Dantis Americana, and Dante Studies, on the Executive Councils of the Medieval Academy and MLA, and as President of the Dante Society, the national Phi Beta Kappa Society, and the Medieval Academy. She has published many articles and several books, including Woman as Image in Medieval Literature, To the Glory of Her Sex: Women's Roles in the Composition of Medieval Texts, and The Political Vision of the Divine Comedy. Ms. Ferrante's interest in human rights continues now through signing petitions and making donations. She follows the careers of several of the advocates with great enthusiasm, attending some of their lectures and supporting their projects. Her concern and support have contributed to the development of the HRAP program over the years.
Professor of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration
Dr. Zelma Henriques is a professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, C.U.N.Y. A former post-doctoral fellow at Columbia, Dr. Henriques’s earliest affiliation with the Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP) was as a fellow at the Center for the Study Human Rights. Out of a pool of 135 applicants representing individuals from 32 countries, she was the recipient of one of five fellowships awarded by the Rockefeller Foundation. She earned her BA at Morgan State University, her MA, MSW and PhD at Columbia University. Her early research focused on the impact of maternal incarceration on the lives of children.
Invited to become a board member for the Center for the Study of Human Rights (now Institute) soon after completing her fellowship, she began the annual tradition of hosting the advocates at her home north of the city, for dinner, discussion, and debate.
Recalling her favorite memories of the advocates, she shares, “I am impressed with the willingness of young people to take on issues which are challenging –their commitment to taking a stand for human rights. “Dr. Henriques recounts that many advocates hosted by the Institute in the past have come from countries experiencing political turmoil and have themselves been jailed for taking a stand against human rights atrocities. She states, “There are all kinds of people, people working at the grassroots level facing risks, but who care enough to go out and find out what peoples’ issues are and place them in a context where people are seen as people of value. It’s difficult and challenging.” She highlights the value of the work of human rights advocates acknowledging the importance of their contribution to society.
Frequently, Dr. Henriques invites advocates to attend events in and around the community to share their experiences and educate others about the human rights work they are engaged in back in their home countries. Recounting a story of a trip she organized for advocates to Rikers Island, a prison facility in the city, she recalls one advocate’s observation of the disproportionate concentration of minorities in the prison system and the discussions on human rights which were sparked from such observations.
Sharing her thoughts about the advocates and their interactions with one another, she is impressed by the bond of friendship and family they establish. She fondly recalls, “It’s interesting to see a group of people from all over the world come together with love and joy—like a family, helping and supporting one another.”
About HRAP and its participants, she reflects warmly, “Here are people coming from many corners of the world--they come, they connect, they work together, they embrace each other and that’s another way we are helping to make this world a better place.” She continues, “We need to be doing those things to help create a better world. It begins in small ways, but it can have enormous impact. To me, this is what human rights is all about.”
When asked to speak about why her commitment to the advocates has remained so strong, she attributes her dedication to two factors. One is the human rights fellowship she received which allowed her the opportunity to travel and connect with other activists. The other is her upbringing, which taught her the importance of helping those less fortunate.
Her current work addresses the issues of inequality, race, class, and gender. Having observed the dramatic percentage increase in rates of women’s incarceration, Dr. Henriques’s research now focuses on the societal implications of the incarceration of mothers and aims to analyze and develop policies which will impact both rates of incarceration and rates of recidivism of children prone to entering the system. She sees this phenomenon unambiguously as a human rights issue. She states that as a result of, “the disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor, their children suffer, and the society suffers. We don’t benefit from what their contributions could have been, and it [continues] to the next generation, so we need to be doing something to address those kinds of issues.”
Further reflecting on the importance and relevance of the work of the advocates, she states, “We need to have people to stand up and ensure that rights are not disregarded, not trampled, not totally forgotten about as we try to balance budgets, as we downsize, because essentially it will impact on the rights of people to feed themselves, to take care of their families, to educate their children so that we will have another generation that will carry the torch forward—and all of this, speaks to the issue of human rights.”
—Article composed by Tiffany Wheatland, Program Coordinator, July 2010
2016-17 Program Assistant, Human Rights Advocates Program
Gabrielle Hernaiz-De Jesus joined HRAP as a program assistant during the 2016-2017 academic year. She is an incoming consultant at IBM and a member of the FlexMed program at Mt. Sinai, where she will be beginning medical school in August 2019. She graduated cum laude from Columbia College in May 2017 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and Business.
Former Director, ISHR
Since leaving his position as Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights, now Institute for the Study of Human Rights, J. Paul Martin has taught for and directed the human rights studies concentration at Barnard College, Columbia's undergraduate college for women. Without his past administrative duties, he is able to write more, especially about capacity building as an alternative to traditional patterns of economic and political development. His current research addresses human rights education in post-conflict zones, post-secularism, and human rights education, about which he plans to write a book. He has also become increasingly interested in human rights in the Caribbean, especially Haiti, where he helps develop a masters' program in human rights for young professionals in teaching, the military, the police, religious ministry, and the law.
Clinical Social Worker
Greetings to all HRAP alumni and participants. As many of you know, for the past several years I have had the pleasure of spending two days each autumn providing the workshop called Stress, Trauma and Resilience in Human Rights Work. Together, we explore how these issues affect individuals and organizations undertaking work that is often both physically and psychologically hazardous. The Advocates learn a great deal from each other and develop “Action Plans” to manage stress and support colleagues in their home organizations. As a group, HRAP participants are invariably sensitive, as well as resilient and resourceful.
Having worked internationally for many years to provide this sort of training for UN and NGO staff in complex emergency settings, I have become involved in China, a country experiencing severe societal stress along with rapid growth and change. The training is welcomed in Universities by student advisors who have heavy responsibilities for a volatile population with a high suicide rate, but little support. First responders to China’s many disasters also find the training useful.
Because of this experience and the fact that clinical mental health skills have generally not been taught in China, I have the privilege of taking part in an exciting initiative to address this need. Colleagues at a university-affiliated institute in Beijing, a school of social work in Washington DC, and my “home” NGO in the Philippines, Community and Family Services, known as CFSI, are developing a Master’s program in Mental Health Social Work that will be a first for China when it opens in 2012.
Like other HRAP affiliates, I have treasured the opportunity to work with Advocates representing so many countries, cultures and human rights communities. What a privilege!
Director of Programs & Resident Life, International House, New York City
Susan Storms is the Director of Programs & Resident Life at International House in New York City, an independent non-profit organization that is a residence and program center for 700 carefully selected graduate students and scholars from over 100 countries including the U.S. As Director of Programs, she oversees a wide range of social, cultural, educational and leadership training programs aimed to facilitate social interaction, foster global understanding and develop the intercultural leadership skills of its resident members. Susan previously served as Director of Admissions at I-House from 1996 to 2001, and 1989 to 1991. Information about International House is available at www.ihouse-nyc.org.
Each year International House is a “home away from home” in New York for hundreds of graduate students, interns and scholars from around the world, including the participants in Columbia University’s Human Rights Advocates Program. The Advocates’ participation in daily life, educational programs and cultural events at I-House enriches our global community and the I-House experience for all our members. We look forward each year to the opportunity to engage this inspiring group to share their experiences and diverse perspectives and expand their own understanding of the world and the important work they do in their home countries.
Executive Director, Global Information Network
Longtime HRAP supporter Lisa Vives is the Director and Editor at Global Information Network, a nonprofit independent news service that supplies community and ethnic media with global news. Many advocates have participated in Global Information Network’s informational roundtables on current news-making events in Africa, which are available on YouTube and on the website Africanspotlight.com. She says:
Thank you for giving me this chance to applaud the work of the Institute for the Study of Human Rights - a necessary and urgent program of scholarship and skills building at a time when civil liberties and pro-democracy movements are facing new and deadly pressures. Through our collaboration over several years, the Institute has helped strengthen our public programs on human rights struggles in some of the most under-reported countries in Africa. Institute advocates from the program have presented their work in full detail, directly to an audience of local activists, Africanists, scholars, journalists, members of the Diaspora, among others. With the Africa Roundtable series, a project of Global Information Network, I have seen person-to-person connections forged that will be a lasting support network for the advocates in their essential and courageous work. Such has been the case for several advocates from the Institute who have stayed in touch with Global, sending news story suggestions, announcing new book printings and films. Other advocates from the Institute have received visits from travelling journalists where the introduction was begun at a Roundtable. I see these Roundtable presentations by the advocates as an invaluable first step towards a new solidarity able to nourish pro-democracy efforts across continents. It has been an honor to collaborate with the Institute.