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2017 Iscol Lecture, Sunday, September 15, 2019

Rebecca Heller speaking at a podium View Media

2017 Iscol Lecture

Get on a Plane! Fighting for Refugees in the Age of Trump
Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 7:30 PM

Rebecca Heller
International Refugee Assistance Project

Get on a Plane! Fighting for Refugees in the Age of Trump
Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 7:30 PM

Rebecca Heller
International Refugee Assistance Project

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Iscol lecturer takes on Trump immigration policies

Rebecca Heller speaking

Rebecca Heller speaking

By Stephen D'Angelo for the Cornell Chronicle

Rebecca Heller, co-founder and director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), urges advocating for the rights of refugees against the waves of right-wing populist xenophobia sweeping through the U.S. and Europe. She was on campus Oct. 18 to deliver the College of Human Ecology’s Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecture.

Heller said her interest in the legal challenges facing refugees began on a trip to Jordan the summer after her first year in law school when met with six refugee families from Iraq. Each of the families independently identified their primary problem as a legal one, due to both the United Nation’s and U.S.’s complex bureaucratic asylum process.

In 2008, while still in law school, she founded IRAP with several peers with a mission to organize law students and lawyers to develop and enforce a set of legal and human rights for refugees and displaced persons.

“When [President] Trump was elected, we realized that the fundamental nature of our work was about to really significantly shift, where we were going to go from arguing that the refugee process should be improved and working with the government to find technical ways to make things more efficient, to defending the very existence of a refugee system or admissions at all,” Heller said.

After launching IRAP chapters at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Columbia, Stanford and New York University law schools, Heller began to think how best to mobilize and deploy her “army of a couple thousand lawyers” who wanted to fight for the rights of refugees.

The Monday after the president’s inauguration, a version of the travel ban was leaked to Heller. She fired off messages to her vast network of law students and pro bono lawyers, urging them to call their clients who had travel documents and say, “Get on a plane, right now. The doors to the U.S. are closing.”

Shortly after, Heller had the realization that whenever the travel ban order was signed, there would be thousands of people in the sky who had legal permission to enter the U.S. when they took off but would land as undocumented aliens – and no one knew what would happen to them.

“The travel ban was signed at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7. We had clients coming in that day, and we had lawyers waiting for them,” she said. After a client was detained upon landing, Heller worked with other organizations to file a civil action against the state agent who holds the defendant in custody.

“We stayed up all night and we drafted a nationwide class-action habeas petition … and we filed it at 5:30 in the morning because wanted to make sure it was on file with the court before any international flights could depart so that no one could be deported. We got a hearing for that night in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. … at 8:30 p.m. we won, and they released 2,100 people from airports all over the country.”

Rebecca Heller speaking with lecture attendees

Rebecca Heller speaking with lecture attendees

Heller and IRAP have taken legal action against all three travel bans. Their most recent filing, “International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump,” was won by IRAP. The 91-page decision was issued in the early hours of Oct. 18.

Heller, who lost family in the Holocaust, thinks often about the ship The St. Louis, which carried Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States. The ship traveled from U.S. port to U.S. port but was not allowed to dock. It eventually had to return to Europe.

“They’ve actually traced the fate of a lot of people from The St. Louis, and most of them ended up dying in concentration camps. … and I think – what if every single port The St. Louis docked at, there were 5,000 Americans standing there chanting, ‘Let them in.’ Maybe history would have been a little bit different.”

Quoting Dr. Seuss, Heller told the audience in conclusion: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.”

Iscol lecturer takes on Trump immigration policies - Cornell Chronicle




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Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities

By Shashank Vura for the Cornell Chronicle

glenn e martin

Glenn E. Martin

When Glenn E. Martin went to the White House last year along with 40 other experts in the field of criminal justice, his colleagues were all accorded green passes. Martin, a former prison inmate, was given a pink pass reading “needs escort.”

Despite the 21 years that had elapsed since his conviction, Martin said he was held back at one point by a Secret Service agent and prevented from going further.

“This moment speaks to barriers Americans face with turning their lives around,” he said, lamenting the “lack of second chances” in U.S. society. “Every sentence, even one day in jail, is a life sentence,” Martin said, noting the “stigma stays with you forever.”

Martin, founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Martin is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York state prisons. He shared his experiences in the Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lecture, “Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans,” Sept. 27 on campus. The lecture is hosted annually by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research in the College of Human Ecology.

“Is mass incarceration an insurmountable problem?” Martin asked the audience. The U.S. has “five percent of the world’s population,” he said, but accounts for “25 percent of the world’s prison population.” More than 2 million Americans languish in prison, Martin said, and 40 percent of the prison population is composed of black people, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. Martin attributed this to a “justice system [which] is only the newest iteration of a system of oppression that has existed for hundreds of years” against racial minorities.

He shared the story of one of his current employees, Richard Simpson Bay. After a conviction for attempted murder of a police offer, the illiterate Bay appealed cases for 24 years before a federal court found him not guilty and that the “prosecutor broke rules” and “conjured up his own idea of what happened that night.” During his incarceration, Bay’s 19-year-old son was gunned down by a 14-year-old boy.

Bay became an advocate for his son’s murderer, making that case that he, too, was a “victim, not an offender.” The prosecutor capitulated and the culprit avoided adult prison. Martin said Bay showed “great compassion” and suggested society does not invest the resources necessary to help “high-crime, high incarceration communities high in victimization,” but punishes them instead.

“Everyone has chance to turn around and change their lives, but only if those in position of privilege create a space for that to happen and are willing to invest in people,” Martin said. Only then can we “get rid of a classist, homophobic, racist and xenophobic [criminal justice] system.”

Iscol lecturer: U.S. justice has always oppressed minorities - Cornell Chronicle

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2016 Iscol Lecture: Glenn Martin, Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Mass Incarceration: An Experience Shared by 65 Million Americans
Glenn Martin, JustLeadershipUSA

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
G10 Biotech Building

Is mass incarceration an "insurmountable problem"?  Glenn E. Martin, the founder and president of JustLeadershipUSA, will address this question in the 2016 Iscol Lecture. Mr. Martin is at the forefront of the effort to bring the voices of those directly impacted by mass incarceration into the criminal justice reform conversation. Hear about his goals to cut the U.S. correctional population in half by 2030, his organization's campaign to close Rikers Island Correctional Center, and how you can work on criminal justice reform next summer.

Glenn E. Martin is the founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in NYS prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as VP of Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center. Glenn is co-founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Million Hoodies, and the California Partnership for Safe Communities. Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo’s Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities, the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard University, and the Global Advisory Council (GAC) of Cornerstone Capital Group.

Glenn was named on the 2015 Root 100 list of most influential African Americans. In 2015, Glenn wrote an open letter to President Obama, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, after a visit as an invited guest to the White House when he was separated from his colleagues and given a special escort due to his criminal conviction. Glenn was later invited back to speak on a panel at the White House, getting the chance to meet with President Obama at an event focused on criminal justice reform. In 2016, Glenn was appointed to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal  Justice and Incarceration Reform; at the invitation of New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to look at the possibility of closing Rikers Island. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera, and CSPAN.

This talk is free and open to all.

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Girls Who Code CEO to deliver 2015 Iscol Lecture

Reshma SaujaniReshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs of the future, will deliver the 2015 Iscol Lecture on October 7. In her groundbreaking new book, Women Who Don't Wait in Line, Reshma advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting one's own course — personally and professionally.

After years of working as an attorney and supporting the Democratic party as an activist and fundraiser, Reshma left her private sector career behind and surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman in the country to run for U.S. Congress.

Following the highly publicized race, Reshma stayed true to her passion for public service, becoming Deputy Public Advocate of New York City and, most recently, running a spirited campaign for Public Advocate on a platform of creating educational and economic opportunities for women and girls, immigrants, and those who have been sidelined in the political process.

A true political entrepreneur, Reshma has been fearless in her efforts to disrupt both politics and technology to create positive change.

Reshma is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She was recently named a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC's Next List, Forbes's Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age's Creativity 50, Business Insider's 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State's Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

news-2015iscol-inpost2Girls Who Code programs work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. In 1984, 37% of all computer science graduates were women, but today that number is just 18%. Twenty percent of AP computer science test-takers are female, and 0.4% of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science, expressing a puzzling disconnect .  Girls Who Code believes to close the gender gap in technology, we have to inspire girls to pursue computer science by exposing them to real-life and on-screen role models. The organization engage engineers, developers, executives, and entrepreneurs to teach and motivate the next generation.

Their unique pairing of high quality instruction in programming fundamentals, web development and design, mobile development, and robotics with exposure to technology companies is unmatched by any other program. Their vision is to reach gender parity in computing fields, believing this to be essential to the economic prosperity of women, families, and communities across the globe. Girls Who Code aims to provide computer science education and exposure to 1 million young women by 2020.

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2014 Iscol Lecture: Maria Pacheco, Monday, October 6, 2014


WAKAMI: A Value Chain that Connects and Transforms People and the Earth
Maria Pacheco, General Manager and Owner, Kiej de los Bosques

Monday, October 6, 2014
Statler Hotel Ballroom

In this talk, Maria Pacheco, co-founder of Wakami, will share how this value chain is transforming people and the environment. Wakami is a lifestyle brand of fashion accessories that invites people to Create, Design, Enjoy . . . Be their dream!

Wakami currently works in 17 villages in Guatemala, providing sources of income to 450 people (90% women), and exporting products to 20 countries in the world. With increased income, women invest in opportunities and make the purchases they need to improve the lives of their families and communities.

To enhance the quality of life and make the villagers’ dreams come to life, the Wakami Village Program partners with other social businesses and NGOs to improve education, health, nutrition, and the environment.

Maria Pacheco is the founder and CEO of Wakami Village Partners. Born in Guatemala City, Maria and her family moved to the United States at the age of 12, returning home at 16 when she began working at a refugee camp.

After completing her undergraduate studies in Guatemala, Maria studied Biological Agriculture and received her Master's degree in 1993 when she again returned to Guatemala determined to address her homeland's perpetual famine.

In 2004 Maria founded Kiej de los Bosques S.A., a business dedicated to connecting rural villages with local markets. The program’s success convinced Maria to expand into international markets, and eventually create opportunities for rural communities in other countries around the world. In 2006 Maria joined with her cousin Queta Rodriguez to create Wakami, and the dream was born.

“My dream is my destiny.  I dream of a world in which the sound of the wind against the trees, the songs of birds from their nests, the jump of a lizard from one twig to another, the footsteps of a tiger in the soil, the breeze of spring in the home, and peace between brothers and sisters are everyday events.”

Today, Maria Pacheco is the guiding inspiration behind the Wakami brand, the lifestyle it promotes, and the values by which it operates.

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2013 Iscol Lecture: Leila Janah, Monday, September 30, 2013


Samasource: A Sustainable Solution to Global Poverty
Leila Janah, Samasource

Monday, September 30, 2013
7:30 PM
Kennedy Hall, Call Auditorium

Samasource in Kenya

Come hear the story of how the award-winning  non-profit Samasource was founded and find out how Samasource survived during its most rapid and tumultuous period of growth: the start-up years. Learn from Leila Janah, Samasource Founder and CEO, who went from being a student of international development and budding travel writer to a world-renowned technology leader. Beyond the media hype and the awards Samasource has received in its relatively short existence for their global poverty solution, Leila will share with us her experiences of the fast and furious, iterative process of building a company with real revenue streams. Beyond inspiring to be driven by social mission, Leila will delve into the fundamental secret of social entrepreneurship: survival hinges on getting things done and never giving up. And because there is no road map, recognizing that getting lost along the way is usually when you end up finding yourself… and your product.

Leila Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource. She serves on the boards of CARE, OneLeap, and TechSoup Global and as an advisor to mobile shopping app RevelTouch.

Prior to Samasource, Janah was a Visiting Scholar with the Stanford Program on Global Justice and Australian National University’s Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics. She was a founding Director of Incentives for Global Health, an initiative to increase R&D spending on diseases of the poor, and a management consultant at Katzenbach Partners (now Booz & Co.). She has also worked at the World Bank and as a travel writer for Let’s Go in Mozambique, Brazil, and Borneo.

She is the recipient of a 2011 World Technology Award and a 2012 TechFellow Award. She received a BA from Harvard.

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10 Years of the Iscol Family Program, Sunday, September 15, 2019

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10 Years of the Iscol Family Program

10 Years of the Iscol Family Program
November, 2011

A brief video overview of the Iscol Family Program and the first 10 Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lectures

10 Years of the Iscol Family Program
November, 2011

A brief video overview of the Iscol Family Program and the first 10 Iscol Family Program for Leadership Development in Public Service Lectures

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