Hired as Domestic Legal Program Director
The Center for Reproductive Rights today announced the appointment of Cynthia Soohoo, age 40, as the organization’s new director of the Domestic Legal Program, starting January 7, 2008. Since 2001, Soohoo has directed Bringing Human Rights Home, the domestic human rights program of Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute in New York City. In that role, she has focused on developing advocacy strategies that integrate human rights standards for a broad range of social justice issues in the U.S., including juvenile justice, the death penalty, women’s rights, and post-9/11 immigrant detentions.
“We are thrilled that one of the country’s top human rights experts will be joining us at the start of the new year,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental right that all governments are obligated to protect, respect and fulfill. “Cynthia’s rich mix of experience in litigation, advocacy, and legal education makes her ideally suited to lead our U.S. work at this critical time as we move to employ bold human rights strategies in our U.S. legal advocacy work.”
Soohoo has brought U.S. human rights issues before United Nations human rights bodies, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and U.S. courts. In addition to training and supervising law students in Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Clinic, she has developed numerous trainings for attorneys interested in applying human rights to domestic cases and has been a leader in recent advocacy encouraging U.S. compliance with its human rights obligations under international treaties. Soohoo is a frequent speaker and lecturer on U.S. human rights issues.
“The Center’s work in bringing human rights approaches to the defense of women’s reproductive rights has been groundbreaking,” said Soohoo. “I look forward to working with the incredibly talented and dedicated staff at the Center to redefine the current debate around reproductive rights, building on essential human rights concepts such as the right to dignity, equality, and access to health.”
The Center’s cutting-edge cases address access to accurate, unbiased information about reproductive health, the right to safe pregnancy and abortion, and the ability to obtain and use contraception.
Prior to joining the Human Rights Institute, Soohoo served a two-year clerkship with the Honorable Gerard L. Goettel, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and was a civil litigator at Covington & Burling for six years. In addition to undertaking other pro bono work while at the New York-based law firm, Soohoo was co-counsel in the landmark human rights case Doe v. Karadzic. The lawsuit was brought under the Alien Tort Statute on behalf of victims of human rights abuses in Bosnia and drew attention to the use of rape, forced pregnancy, and other forms of sexual violence as war tactics, genocide and crimes against humanity.
Soohoo serves on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Human Rights Network and is a co-chair of the American Constitution Society Working Group on International Law and the Constitution. She is the co-editor of a three-volume book on human rights work in the U.S., which will be released later this year. Soohoo is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was an editor of the Law Review. She is married with two children.
The Center’s nationwide search was led by Isaacson, Miller.