February 28, 2009
Tom and Andi Bernstein Fund for Human Rights
Today’s human rights challenges demand not only brilliant minds, intimately familiar with cutting-edge scholarship and policy issues, but also inspired activists equipped with an understanding of the real-world applications of their theoretical knowledge.
When the Bernstein family had the idea, back in 1997, to launch the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship Program at YLS, the thought was to provide an opportunity for graduating students to spend a year in the field, working on innovative and creative approaches to international human rights advocacy. Since then, the Program has sent twenty-five Fellows out into the world, many of who continue their commitment to international human rights today.
Tom and Andi Bernstein have recently established a Fund for Human Rights that expands upon the mission begun by the Bernstein Fellowship Program named for Tom’s father. Where the Robert L. Bernstein Fellowship program has sought to send young human rights lawyers out into the world to gain practical experience, the Tom and Andi Bernstein Fund will bring frontline human rights practitioners and activists back to the Law School to participate in the life of the school as Bernstein Human Rights Fellows.
This spring, Michael Posner, president of Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights), will be in residence at the Law School as the first Bernstein Human Rights Fellow. Posner has been at the forefront of the international human rights movement for thirty years, testifying dozens of times before the U.S. Congress on a wide range of human rights and refugee topics. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences and events in the U.S. and abroad, and his opinion essays have appeared in newspapers around the country.
“With the new fund, Andi and I hope to complete the circle by providing support for leading human rights activists from the U.S. and around the world to spend time at the Law School, recharge their batteries, and share their practical experience with the Law School community,” Tom said of the Fund. “Our hope is to help foster and nurture a network of human rights practitioners and scholars that will grow exponentially over the years. Both personally and professionally, I can’t think of a more appropriate person with whom to launch the Program than Mike Posner—he is quite simply one of the country’s finest human rights lawyers.”