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Economic Crisis and Human Rights

Maria Foscarinis

Executive Director
National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty

Maria Foscarinis is founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Maria has advocated for solutions to homelessness at the national level since 1985. She was a primary architect of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the first major federal legislation addressing homelessness, and she has litigated to secure the legal rights of homeless persons. Maria writes and speaks widely on legal and policy issues affecting homeless persons and is frequently quoted in the media.


Maria is a 1977 graduate of Barnard College and a 1981 graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review.  She also holds a Masters of Arts degree in Philosophy. After clerking for the Honorable Amalya L. Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, she was a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell where she volunteered to take a pro bono case representing homeless families. In 1985, she left the firm to establish and direct a Washington office for the National Coalition for the Homeless before she founded the Law Center in 1989.

Ellen Dorsey

Executive Director
Wallace Global Fund

Ellen Dorsey assumed the role of executive director of the Wallace Global Fund March 2008, having come from the Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she was serving as senior program officer for the Environment Program. She was previously also the chair of the board of Amnesty International USA.

Radhika Balakrishnan

Executive Director
Rutgers Center for Women's Global Leadership 

Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership, and Professor, Women's and Gender Studies, has a Ph.D. in Economics from Rutgers University. Previously, she was Professor of Economics and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. She has worked at the Ford Foundation as a program officer in the Asia Regional Program. She is currently the Chair of the Board of the US Human Rights Network and on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. She is the author of Why MES with Human Rights: Integrating Macro Economic Strategies with Human Rights (Marymount Manhattan College, New York, 2005). She edited The Hidden Assembly Line: Gender Dynamics of Subcontracted Work in a Global Economy (Kumarian Press, 2001) and co-edited Good Sex: Feminist Perspectives from the Worlds Religions, with Patricia Jung and Mary Hunt (Rutgers University Press, 2000). She has also authored numerous articles that have appeared in books and journals. Professor Balakrishnan's work focuses on gender and development, gender and the global economy, human rights and economic and social rights. Her research and advocacy work has sought to change the lens through which macroeconomic policy is interpreted and critiqued by applying international human rights norms to assess macroeconomic policy.

Mary Gray


Department Chair
Mathematics and Statistics
American University College of Arts and Sciences

A statistician and lawyer, Professor Gray’s areas of research include applications of statistics to human rights, economic equity, and education. She is the founder of the Association for Women in Mathematics, a fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring as well as honorary degrees for from three institutions. The author of two books and over seventy articles, she has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Professor Gray is currently engaged in helping to establish a human rights commission in Iraq; she serves as the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Middle East Education and on the board of the Universal Education Foundation.

M. Thandabantu Iverson

Assistant Professor
Labor Studies Program
School of Social Work
Indiana University Northwest

M. Thandabantu Iverson earned his doctorate from the Dept. of Political Science at Clark Atlanta University in 2007.  His dissertation, "Serving in the Shadows: African-American Women Health Care Workers in Gary, Indiana, 1980-2000," is an examination of workplace and union conditions and resistance strategies of African American women.  His areas of scholarly interest are Feminist Theory, African-American Political Thought, Labor Studies, and Human Rights.  Prof. Iverson has been a faculty member in Labor Studies since 1996.

Prior to joining the Labor Studies faculty at IUN, Thandabantu worked in a number of  occupations in different industries, including: health & safety organizer on the international staff of the Service Employees' International Union (SEIU).; stage hand and decorator with the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE); coal miner and mine safety activist with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA); auto worker with the United Auto Workers (UAW); steel worker with the United Steel Workers of America (USWA); furniture worker, shipyard worker, cook and butcher, elementary and middle school teacher, taxi-cab driver, and college adjunct instructor.

Dr. Iverson has participated in various social movements within the United States, including the Civil Rights, Black Student, Black Power, African Liberation Support, Vietnam Anti-War, New Left, and Human Rights Movements.

Prof. Iverson's principal teaching and research interests are: the intersections of multiple forms of oppression and discrimination in U.S. social structures and institutions, social representations, and social processes; the relationships between hierarchical social locations, hegemonic and dominated group relations of power, identity, agency, democratic political activism and critical political theory; the development of political alliances and coalitions across boundaries of domination and difference; and the building, maintenance, and reproduction of social movements as vehicles of human rights resistance and liberation.