Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellowship



Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights seeks a Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellow to work with its international human rights litigation and advocacy programs. The 12-month position begins in September 2018.

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In 2011, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights established the Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellowship program to provide a position to one outstanding recent law school graduate each year. Donald and Susan Wilson and their family recognized the need for greater support for recent graduates who wish to devote their professional lives to public service and generously endowed the Fellowship program at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Donald and Susan Wilson met during their time working at LIFE Magazine, where Donald was a correspondent for twelve years covering the Korean and Vietnam wars for the magazine and afterward led LIFE’s Washington, D.C., bureau. Donald was a prominent magazine journalist who developed a close friendship with Robert Kennedy during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. Following the campaign, Donald Wilson was appointed deputy director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) and served under presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1989, he retired as Corporate Vice President-Public Affairs at Time Inc. In 1991, with James L. Greenfield, a former assistant managing editor at The New York Times, he founded the Independent Journalism Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to promoting free and independent media in Eastern and Central Europe and Southeast Asia. Susan began as a researcher and writer, first at Time then at LIFE Magazine, and grew to become a nationally recognized sexuality educator activist. Susan was appointed to the New Jersey State Board of Education in 1978, and devoted 23 years to the Network for Family Life Education, now Answer, as the executive coordinator, and remains involved in their work promoting sexual education in the United States. Susan’s passion extends far beyond sexuality education to women’s health and rights, and she continues to lobby legislators actively at the local, state and federal levels for their support. Additionally, Susan is on the board of the Fistula Foundation, funding surgical help for childbirth injuries affecting poor women in Asia and Africa.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellowship provides invaluable training and experience for a recent law school graduate preparing for a career in human rights.


Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights was founded as a living memorial to Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Ever since, it has honored journalists, authors, and human rights activists who, often at great personal risk and sacrifice, are on the frontlines of the international movement for human rights and social justice. Partnering with these courageous and innovative human rights defenders, RFK Partners for Human Rights is the litigation, advocacy, and capacity-building arm of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. Combining a rights-based approach and extended multi-year partnerships with the RFK Human Rights Award laureates and other human rights activists, RFK Partners for Human Rights leverages its legal expertise, resources, and prestige to advance social justice goals around the world.

For more information about Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, please visit:


Duties include, but are not limited to:


  • Conduct factual research and draft memoranda on the human rights situation in countries of interest to the Center and on thematic issues (e.g., the right to freedom of expression, right to nationality);

  • Conduct research on the application of international human rights norms to country conditions, developments in the domestic legal systems of specific countries and their implications for human rights, and other questions;

  • Prepare documents in support of litigation before international tribunals (e.g. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, UN Treaty Bodies), and in support of advocacy before governments, international organizations, and U.N. special procedures;

  • Help maintain and manage communication with clients, human rights defenders, and civil society partners around the world in support of joint litigation and advocacy;

  • Participate in and contribute to litigation and advocacy strategy.

  • Attend and report on briefings, Congressional hearings, symposia and other meetings;

  • Monitor sources of information on countries and issues of concern to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; and collect, organize and analyze relevant information;

  • Work closely with the RFK Partners for Human Rights Director and programmatic staff to develop long-term strategies, legal actions, and advocacy campaigns to support the RFK Laureates.

  • Provide administrative support to Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights staff on an as-needed basis.

  • Limited travel (domestic and/or international) may also be required.



The ideal candidate will have experience with regional and international human rights law and norms; working knowledge of the United Nations system and/or the regional human rights mechanisms (e.g. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, etc.); working knowledge of domestic legislative and human rights systems; an ability to maintain active contacts with civil society as well as key stakeholders in the aforementioned systems; an ability to master complex human rights issues under tight deadlines; and excellent written and verbal communication skills.  A Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree (or foreign equivalent) is required. Valid authorization to work in the U.S. is required. Fluency in Spanish, French, and/or Arabic is helpful but not required.  

Location: Washington, D.C.
Annual Salary: $55,000 + excellent benefits package




If interested please e-mail a cover letter, resume, brief writing sample (preferably related to international human rights law), and list of 3 references by October 15thth, 2017 to:

Hiring Manager

Subject line: Wilson Fellow

Please note, due to the high volume of applications received, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights will only be able to contact shortlisted candidates with regard to the interview process. No calls or emails, please.