Our Advisors

Helen Benedict
Professor, Columbia University School of Journalism

Helen Benedict is a professor of journalism at Colombia University and a writer specializing in the Iraq war, women’s issues, race, and literature. Her most recent nonfiction book is The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (2009), which has also been adapted into a play. In May 2008, she had an Op-Ed in the New York Times on the subject, and her piece in Salon magazine on the sexual assault of women soldiers won the 2008 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Her other nonfiction books include Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes (1992), an analysis of the way sex, race and class bias affect the coverage of rape; Portraits in Print (1991), a collection of profiles; and Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault (1985, 1994). Her novels are the forthcoming The Edge of Eden (Soho Press, 2009), The Opposite of Love (2007), The Sailor’s Wife (2000), Bad Angel (1996, 1997) and A World Like This (1990). Ms. Benedict’s articles and essays have appeared The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, Poets & Writers, In These Times, Ms., Huffington Post, and Women’s Review of Books. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Virginia Center of the Arts, and the Freedom Forum.

Kathi Austin
Arms-Trafficking Expert

Kathi Austin is an internationally recognized expert on arms trafficking, peace and security, and human rights. For 18 years, she has carried out original and in-depth field investigations pertaining to the illegal trade in weapons, illicit trafficking operations, illegal resource exploitation, transnational crime and terrorism. She has documented conflicts spanning Africa, Latin America, East and Central Europe, and South Asia. Ms. Austin has served the United Nations and worked as a consultant and advisor to various multi-lateral institutions, non-governmental organizations and governments, including the World Bank, the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Department of State. She has also served as visiting scholar at Stanford and University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Austin served as Chief of the Joint Mission Analysis Centre in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions in Timor-Leste (2007/2008) and Burundi (2006/2007). Prior to these U.N. posts, Ms. Austin was a Senior Anti-Corruption Policy Advisor for the Anti-Corruption Program at the Open Society Justice Initiative from 2004-2005. Her independently produced documentaries include: Killing Tradition: The Arming of Africa (2002); Forsaken Cries: The Story of Rwanda (1997); and Africa: Environmental Degradation, Human Deprivation (1994).

Stephen Lewis
Co-Director, AIDS-Free World

Mr. Stephen Lewis is Co-Director of AIDS-Free World, a new international advocacy organization that works to promote more urgent and more effective global responses to HIV/AIDS (www.aids-freeworld.org). Among several senior U.N. roles that spanned over two decades, Mr. Lewis was the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. From 1984 through 1988, Stephen Lewis was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations. In addition to his work with AIDS-Free World, Mr. Lewis is a Professor in Global Health, Faculty of Social Sciences, at McMaster University. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and is the chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada. Mr. Lewis holds 28 honorary degrees from Canadian universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honor for lifetime achievement. In 2007, the Kingdom of Lesotho invested Mr. Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe. The order, named for the founder of Lesotho, is the country’s highest honor.

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini
Research Affiliate, MIT Center for International Studies; Co-founder, International Civil Activism Network

Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini has been a leading international advocate, researcher, trainer and writer on conflict and peace-building for over a decade, focusing on women’s protection and participation. Since 2005, she has trained key personnel at U.N. agencies, the U.K. government and NGOs worldwide. As a Senior Policy Advisor to the UK-based NGO International Alert from 1999-2000, she was a leading advocate and drafter of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325. Between 2002-2005, as Director of the Women Waging Peace Policy Commission, Ms. Anderlini led ground-breaking field research on women’s contributions to peace processes, governance, transitional justice and post-conflict disarmament and reintegration issues in 12 countries. Ms. Anderlini is also co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), a U.S.-based NGO dedicated to supporting civil activism and women’s peace-building in conflict affected countries. She was a convener of the Iran Experts’ Group that in November 2008 generated a Joint Experts Statement on U.S.-Iran policies. She has taught at Georgetown University, advises the Brandeis University Coexistence Initiative and is a Research Affiliate at the MIT Center for International Studies. Her latest book, Women Building Peace: What they do, Why it Matters was published in 2007.

Kavita N. Ramdas,
Former President & CEO, Global Fund for Women

Kavita N. Ramdas is a former president & CEO of the Global Fund for Women, the world’s largest grantmaking foundation focused exclusively on supporting international women’s human rights. For three decades, Kavita has worked to empower women worldwide with the financial resources to increase girls’ access to education, defend women’s right to health and reproductive rights, prevent violence against women and advance women’s political participation and economic empowerment. Since 1996, she has provided leadership and direction to the Global Fund, growing its assets from $6 to $21 million. Kavita has served on the boards of the Women’s Funding Network, the Women’s Rights Prize of the Gruber Foundation and the Ethical Globalization Initiative, and is currently serving on the Global Development Advisory Panel of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Advisory Panel of the Asian University for Women, and the board of trustees of Princeton University. Kavita has written for Foreign Affairs, Huffington Post, The Nation, and numerous other publications, and she has appeared on Bill Moyers, NPR and other media. She is the recipient of several philanthropic and leadership awards, including most recently, the Haridas and Bina Chaudhuri Award for Distinguished Service presented by the California Institute of Integrated Studies (CIIS). Kavita received her master’s degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College. Kavita is fluent in Hindi/Urdu, English and German, and conversational Tamil, Spanish and French.

Mary Robinson
President, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative; former President of Ireland and former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mary Robinson is the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. She served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002 and as President of Ireland from 1990-1997. She is a member of the Elders. She is Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders and Vice President of the Club of Madrid. She chairs the Fund for Global Human Rights and is Honorary President of Oxfam International and is Patron of the International Community of Women Living with AIDS (ICW). She is chair of the GAVI Fund Executive Committee and Vice-chair of the GAVI Fund Board. She is a professor of practice at Columbia University and member of the Advisory Board of the Earth Institute and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She serves as Chancellor of Dublin University.

Patricia Viseur Sellers, Esq.
Independent Legal Expert, International Criminal Law and Humanitarian Law; Visiting Fellow, Kellogg College, University of Oxford

From 1994 until 2007, Patricia Sellers was the Legal Advisor for Gender and a prosecutor at the Yugoslav and the Rwanda Tribunals for the United Nations. In 2007 Ms. Sellers was a Special Legal Consultant to the Gender and Woman’s Rights Division of the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. As the Legal Advisor for Gender related crimes, Ms. Sellers developed the legal strategies that led to the successful prosecutions of rape as a war crime, sexual violence as an act of genocide and rape as torture. At present she is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College of Oxford University and a consultant in international criminal and humanitarian law, in particular, gender-based crimes, torture and genocide. Ms. Sellers was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law from the City University of New York in 2006. She is the recipient of the the Prominent Women in International Law Award given by the American Society of International Law, the Ron Brown Memorial Award for International Law given by the National Bar Association, and the Martin Luther King Award from the University of Rutgers Law School. Ms. Sellers has lectured widely on the law of armed conflict, as well as authoring over twenty articles on international criminal law.

Paul van Zyl
CEO, Peace Ventures

Paul van Zyl is the CEO of Peace Ventures, an organization that identifies and provides market access to businesses that are both profitable and have a significant positive social impact on their communities. He is also a co-founder and former Executive Vice-President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an organization which assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse. Mr. van Zyl has acted as an adviser and consultant to human-rights organizations, governments, international organizations, and foundations on transitional justice issues in numerous countries. From 1995 to 1998, he served as executive secretary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Throughout his career, Mr. van Zyl has received a number of academic and professional honors. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008 and a TED Fellow in 2007, and was named as one of New York’s “Top 15 Lawyers Under 40” by New York Lawyer Magazine. In tandem with his work at the ICTJ, Mr. van Zyl serves as director of New York University School of Law’s Transitional Justice Program, and teaches law both in New York and Singapore.