Speaker Profiles

Elizabeth BernsteinElizabeth Bernstein, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. She is co-editor of Regulating Sex: the Politics of Intimacy and Identity (Routledge 2005) and the author of Temporarily Yours: Intimacy, Authenticity, and the Commerce of Sex (University of Chicago Press 2007), which received two Distinguished Book Awards from the American Sociological Association as well as the 2009 Norbert Elias Prize, awarded internationally every two years for a first book in the social sciences. Her current research explores the convergence of feminist, neoliberal, and evangelical Christian interests in the shaping of contemporary U.S. policies around the traffic in women. This project has received support from the Social Science Research Council, the AAUW, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. Her most recent article based upon this research, “Militarized Humanitarianism Meets Carceral Feminism: the Politics of Sex, Rights, and Freedom in Contemporary Anti-Trafficking Campaigns” was published in the journal Signs. At Barnard and Columbia, she teaches courses on the sociology of gender and sexuality; trafficking, migration, and sexual labor; and contemporary social theory.

Robert BullardRobert D. Bullard, Ph.D., is the Edmund Asa Ware Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. He is often called the “father of environmental justice.” Professor Bullard is the author of 15 books. His most recent books include Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World (MIT Press, 2003), Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism and New Routes to Equity (South End Press, 2004), The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights and the Politics of Pollution (Sierra Club Books, 2005), Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity (MIT Press, 2007), The Black Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century: Race, Power, and the Politics of Place (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007), and  Race, Place and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina: Struggles to Reclaim, Rebuild, and Revitalize New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (Westview Press, 2009).

Sofia GruskinSofia Gruskin, J.D., M.I.A., is the Director of the Program on International Health and Human Rights and an Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her work emphasizes the conceptual, methodological, policy and practice implications of linking health to human rights, with particular attention to HIV/AIDS, women, children, gender issues, sexuality and vulnerable populations. She has extensive experience in research, training and programmatic work with nongovernmental, governmental and intergovernmental organizations working in the fields of health and human rights around the world. Professor Gruskin is the principal investigator for several UNAIDS, WHO and UNFPA sponsored projects intended to strengthen the health and human rights research and policy agenda – particularly in the areas of HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, child and adolescent health and gender-based violence. At a programmatic level, current efforts include clarifying the value of human rights for making public health work more effective through the design and testing of models and tools in a range of countries and documenting the effects of legal and policy environments on people living with HIV and other key populations.

Natalie HolbrookNatalie Holbrook, Program Director, is a prisoner rights advocate and activist. She has worked for the American Friends Service Committee’s Michigan Criminal Justice program for the last seven years advocating for people held Michigan’s prisons around a myriad of issues including access to adequate health care and mental health care, conditions of confinement, parole related issues, abuse and neglect, solitary confinement and other problems and concerns. Through her work with people in prison, she has been fortunate to work with some of the most creative, smart, and kind people she’s ever met. The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization. Committed to the principles of nonviolence and justice, it seeks in its work and witness to draw on the transforming power of love, human and divine.

Josiah RichJosiah D. Rich, M.D., M.P.H., is Professor of Medicine and Community Health at Brown Medical School and Attending Physician at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a practicing internist and an infectious disease specialist. He completed medical school at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Internship and Residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He subsequently received his M.P.H. from Harvard School of Public Health, and completed HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases fellowships at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He provides medical care both at The Miriam Hospital Immunology Center and at the Rhode Island State Correctional Facility where he provides infectious disease sub-specialty care. He also serves as Medical Director for the Whitmarsh House, the State of Rhode Island's only STD Clinic. Dr. Rich's research is on the overlap between infectious diseases and illicit substance use. He is the Principal or Co-investigator on several research grants involving the treatment and prevention of HIV infection. Dr. Rich has advocated for public health policy changes to improve the health of people with addiction, including improving legal access to sterile syringes and increasing drug treatment for incarcerated populations. He is director and co-founder, along with Dr. Scott Allen, of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital Immunology Center.

Fritz ScheurenFritz Scheuren, Ph.D., is a past-president of the American Statistical Association and a Fellow of the ASA, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He works on sampling issues in applied settings. In recent years, these applications have largely involved human rights matters, both overseas and in the United States. He has conducted work in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Peru, Guatemala, East Timor and Columbia. As part of an interdisciplinary team, he advises the countries of Georgia and Benin about the impact of their work under grants from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. He also monitors voting problems and voter behavior in the United States. He has received the Harry Roberts Statistical Advocate Award from the American Statistical Association’s Chicago Chapter and the Shiskin Award for Contributions to Economic Statistics from the National Association of Business Economists and the Washington Statistical Society. Dr. Scheuren was the 100th President of the American Statistical Association.

Peggy M. ShepardPeggy M. Shepard, is executive director and co-founder of West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT). Founded in 1988, WE ACT was New York’s first environmental justice organization created to build community power to improve environmental health, policy and protection in communities of color. She is a recipient of the Jane Jacobs Medal from the Rockefeller Foundation in 2008, the 10th Annual Heinz Award For the Environment, and the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award from the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in 2004. A former Democratic District Leader, she represented West Harlem from 1985 to April 1993, and served as President of the National Women’s Political Caucus-Manhattan from 1993-1997. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on America’s Climate Choices which is drafting a report of recommendations to Congress. A former journalist, she was a reporter for The Indianapolis News, a copy editor for The San Juan Star, and a researcher for Time-Life Books. She has served as an editor at Redbook, Essence, and Black Enterprise magazines. Ms. Shepard began a career in government as a speechwriter for the New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal and Director of Public Information for Rent Administration. She served as the Women’s Outreach Coordinator for the New York City Comptroller’s Office. Ms. Shepard is a board member of the national and NYS Leagues of Conservation Voters, Environmental Defense, NY Earth Day, Audubon NY, the Children’s Environmental Health Network, and the Public Health Association of New York. She is an advisory board member of Mt. Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center.

Eric StoverEric Stover is Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. He is also an Open Society Fellow. Stover was a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, which received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. In the early 1990s, he served on several mass graves investigations as an “Expert on Mission” to the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. He is the author or editor of seven books that explore the nexus of war, law, and public health. His most recent books are The Witnesses: War Crimes and the Promise of Justice in The Hague and The Guantánamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices (with Laurel Fletcher).

Monika Kalra VarmaMonika Kalra Varma, J.D., Director of the RFK Center for Human Rights has been a member of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights team since 2002. Ms. Varma has spearheaded the Center's extensive and innovative economic and social rights advocacy, including efforts to hold international actors accountable for extra-territorial economic rights violations. She has led advocacy campaigns targeting the United Nations and Member states, U.S. Administration and Congress, OAS Member states, International Financial Institutions, corporations, and regional bodies. Ms. Varma currently serves on the Editorial Board of the Harvard-based Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Health and Human Rights Journal and is a Steering Committee member of the Lawyers Emergency Response Network for Haiti. She also serves on the Board of Governors of the Women’s National Democratic Club and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Global India Fund. Prior to joining the RFK Center, Ms. Varma worked for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Hague, Netherlands as a legal officer with the Office of the Prosecutor.