In 2017, the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice will host two legal luminaries as scholars-in-residence, Senator George J. Mitchell and Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald .
Senator George J. Mitchell is a former U.S. Senate majority leader and famed peace negotiator. In the U.S. Senate, he championed landmark legislation on clean air and water, income tax, and healthcare reform. Later, Senator Mitchell was tapped to forge peace treaties and navigate sensitive international conflicts. He worked to achieve the Good Friday Agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland, appointed by President Clinton, and as U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East under President Obama. Respected for his commitment to fairness, Senator Mitchell chaired commissions on questions facing the Olympic bidding processes and the doping scandal surrounding Major League Baseball.
“Given Senator Mitchell’s impressive career in law and politics – and wonderful wit and frank style – he is an ideal scholar-in-residence,” said Camille Massey (’95), founding executive director of the Sorensen Center. “As a young man, he worked a full-time job, while studying law at night, and will be an inspiration to aspiring social justice lawyers interested in working from local to global.”
Senator Mitchell, who is currently a partner and chairman emeritus at the law firm DLA Piper, will begin his tenure at the Sorensen Center on January 18, 2017. He will engage in intimate conversations with students, faculty, and staff on a wide range of issues, including peace negotiations, sustainability issues, ethics, and the U.S. political climate.
Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald was among the first eleven judges elected to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She was selected by the United Nations with the highest number of votes, and later elected president of the Tribunal. She presided over the Tribunal’s first trial in the Tadić case, which resulted in a conviction for crimes against humanity. Judge McDonald also served as a judge on the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.
Before her international judicial work, Judge McDonald was a United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, only the third African-American woman to be selected for the federal judiciary. Judge McDonald began her legal career as a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City and continued as a civil rights attorney with firms in Texas.
“We are delighted to welcome globally renowned jurist Judge Gabrielle McDonald, starting in early 2017,” said Massey. “Judge McDonald is a stellar role model for our students and will provide important and highly relevant context to our work on civil rights and international criminal justice.”
Previous scholars-in-residence at the Sorensen Center include Judge Rosemary Barkett and Justice Richard Goldstone.