The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

Partners for change at the intersection of academics and advocacy.


Spring 2016 Speaker Biographies

José Aylwin is a Chilean human rights lawyer who specializes in indigenous peoples’ and citizens’ rights in Latin America. He is Co-Director of the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizens’ Watch), a human rights NGO based in Temuco and Santiago, Chile. He is Adjunct Professor in the School of Law at the Universidad Austral de Chile (Valdivia, Chile), where he teaches a course on the rights of indigenous peoples. He has also been a visiting professor at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), the Universidad de Deusto (Bilbao, Spain), and the University of Auckland (Auckland, New Zealand). His research focuses on indigenous rights, natural resources and resource extraction, land rights, globalization, and human rights in Chile and Latin America. His work has been published by various organizations including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, and the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs. He is currently a member of the National Council of the Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Institute for Human Rights), a member of the Assembly of the Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos (Inter American Institute for Human Rights), and on the Board of Directors of the North South Institute and of ACCION, a Chilean association of NGOs. Aylwin received a degree in legal and social studies from the Faculty of Law at the University of Chile (Santiago, Chile) and a Master in Laws from the School of Law at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada).

Jessica Champagne is the Director of Research and Advocacy for the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring organization. She coordinates investigations in apparel factories around the world and engages with international apparel brands and retailers to correct violations. Advocacy by Ms. Champagne and her team has resulted in millions of dollars being paid to garment workers who were denied legally-required compensation.

Dr. Michael E. Conroy is Co-founder of Colibrí Consulting–Certification for Sustainable Development, a firm dedicated to the intersection of certification systems, corporate accountability, and global sustainable development. For the past twenty years he has been at the forefront of the movement to build systems that encourage and reward higher standards of corporate accountability in a wide range of industries. Building on a 25-year academic career as a Professor of Economics at the University of Texas at Austin and later as a Senior Research Scholar and Senior Lecturer at Yale University, Dr. Conroy has taught, researched, and written about the “certification revolution” that has created unprecedented transformation of global corporate practices on social and environmental fronts over the past fifteen years. He has also spent a dozen years outside academia in the philanthropic world, first at the Ford Foundation and then with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, building new modes of corporate accountability through support for these same certification systems. Dr. Conroy serves as Board Chair of Equitable Origin, Inc., an NGO that has developed the only certification process for social and environmental accountability for all of the global energy development industry. He is also a member of the international board of directors of the Forest Stewardship Council, where he served as Board Chair from 2011 to 2014, and a UT Research Fellow associated with the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies.

Scott Hendler is an Attorney and Counselor at Law at Hendler Lyons Flores. As a young lawyer he represented injured victims while practicing with a nationally recognized asbestos disease and toxic injury law firm in Dallas, Texas. The next step in his pursuit of justice was to establish Hendler Lyons Flores in 1993 in order to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable. Before he entered law school, Hendler studied international human rights law and policy at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a court of international law of the Organization of American States. Later, he served as Senior Investigator for the Texas Commission on Human Rights. After he graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Hendler was appointed to serve as Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Robert Porter, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Prior to that appointment he served a three-month term as Judicial Clerk Intern with Federal Judge John R. Brown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He is licensed by both the State Bars of Texas and Pennsylvania and is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA). He was previously on the Board of Directors of the Rothko Chapel.

Hina Jilani is a prominent lawyer and has been a civil society activist in Pakistan for the past three decades. She founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and is an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. She has served as a UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008, and most recently served as a member of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Gaza in 2009. Over her long and impressive career as an activist, Jilani established Pakistan’s first all-women’s law firm in 1980, Pakistan’s first legal aid center in 1986, and Dastak – a housing facility for women who are targets of honor killings. She has conducted many landmark cases setting new standards for human rights in Pakistan, focusing particularly on the most vulnerable populations in society including women, minorities, children, and prisoners. She has repeatedly called for the democratization of the political system in Pakistan and amendments to the Constitution to increase the representation of women in its legislature. Jilani’s work has made her a target of hostile propaganda, arrests, and abuse. Despite this, she continues to live in Lahore and pursue her work. Her publications include Human Rights and Democratic Development in Pakistan (1998) and Hadood Laws: A Divine Sanction? (1988). She was awarded the Millennium Peace Prize for Women in 2001 in recognition of her life-long contribution to peace-building and human rights. In 2013, The Elders – a group of independent leaders working for peace, justice, and human rights founded by Nelson Mandela – appointed Jilani as an Elder.

Sean Sellers is the co-founder and a senior investigator at the Fair Food Standards Council and a staff member of the newly created Worker-driven Social Responsibility Collaborative (WSRC). Founding groups of the WSRC include the Fair Food Standards Council, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (architects of the Fair Food Program), the Workers Rights Consortium (architects of the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord), and Migrant Justice (architects of the Milk with Dignity Program), among others. The Collaborative aims to draw a sharp distinction between traditional corporate social responsibility and multi-stakeholder initiatives, on the one hand, and worker-driven social responsibility, on the other.