Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellowship 2020-2021

Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Legal Fellowship

Partners of Human Rights Department

Full-Time; 12-month position

Location: Washington, D.C. 

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 2020.

About the Donald M. and Susan N. Wilson Fellowship Program:

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 M. and Susan N. Wilson 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. This fellowship has historically provided invaluable training and experience for a recent law school graduate preparing for a career in human rights. 

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

•  Conduct factual research and draft memoranda on the human rights situation in countries of interest to the organization 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.


  • Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree (or foreign equivalent) is required;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • Innovative thinking, an unwillingness to accept things as they are, and a strong work ethic are essential;
  • Teamwork, you are able to build positive relationships with your colleagues and are willing to help others;
  • Inclusive, you’re excited to work with colleagues with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from your own;
  • Fluency in Spanish, French, and/or Arabic is helpful but not required. 


  • Annual salary of $60,000 (gross);
  • 37.5 hour workweek (7.5 hour days);
  • Medical & Dental, RFK Human Rights covers 100% of individual only medical and dental costs;
  • Immediate eligibility to contribute towards employee pre-tax 403(b) pension plan
  • College Saveup/Loan PayDown, automatic $100/monthly contribution for any current loans or future loans;
  • Other fun perks include, but are not limited to, staff summer outings, domestic and international staff retreats, galas, and award ceremonies.

How to Apply:

Please e-mail a cover letter, resume, brief writing sample (preferably related to international human rights law), and a list of 3 professional references by November 11th, 2019 to

Subject line: [Your Name + Wilson Fellowship]

Addressed to Hiring Manager

No phone calls please. Please note that due to the high volume of applications received, RFK Human Rights will only contact the top list of qualified candidates directly.

You are welcomed here...

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is an equal opportunity employer and believes we are stronger and more effective by working internally and externally with people of all abilities, diverse backgrounds, and a range of perspectives, particularly those who have historically been marginalized or underrepresented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. We do not discriminate in our hiring practices and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seek a diverse applicant pool.

About Donald M. Wilson:

This fellowship carries the name of the prominent magazine journalist who developed a close friendship with Robert Kennedy during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. A LIFE magazine correspondent for twelve years, Donald M. Wilson covered the Korean and Vietnam wars for the magazine and afterward led LIFE’s Washington, D.C., bureau, where he met Robert Kennedy. Following the campaign, Donald M. 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.

About RFK Human Rights:

Led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has advocated for a more just and peaceful world since 1968. We work alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations. Our team includes leading attorneys, advocates, and leaders in business and government united by a commitment to social justice.