News About Ford Foundation Staff, Spring-Summer 2020
Sushma Raman, executive director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, has co-written a new book that examines the nature of human rights now and asserts that “as the world changes around us, rights hardly imaginable today will come into being.”
In The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights, Raman and her co-author, William F. Schulz, raise several questions: “What new rights, for example, are needed if we understand gender to be nonbinary? Does living in a corrupt state violate our rights? And emerging technologies demand that we think about rights in a new way: When biotechnology is used to change genetic code, whose rights might be violated? What rights, if any, protect our privacy from the intrusions of sophisticated surveillance techniques?”
They argue that “rights must adapt to new realities or risk being assigned to irrelevance”.
The former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, says the authors “outline brilliantly where…growth may take rights in the generations to come. Whether you agree with them in every instance is less important than that you take their questions seriously. This book makes it impossible not to do that.”
Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, says the book is “an accessible primer for anyone who wishes to understand the current limitations in our notions of rights and the future challenges for which we must prepare.”
Raman was a program officer at the Ford Foundation from 2001 to 2006, managing a grantmaking portfolio in South Asia focused on social justice, philanthropy and strengthening civil society. She helped start foundations devoted to gender justice and human rights and social justice, and was co-chair of Ford’s Philanthropy Learning Group.
Schulz, a senior fellow at the Carr Center, formerly was president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and executive director of Amnesty International USA.
Gerry Salole is retiring after 15 years as Chief Executive of the European Foundation Centre, an association of more than 200 public-benefit foundations and corporate funders active in philanthropy in 30 countries in Europe and elsewhere.
Based in Brussels, the center promotes the concept that “institutional philanthropy has a unique, crucial and timely role to play in meeting the critical challenges societies face...from eradicating deadly diseases and making the world’s populations healthier to combating climate change and fighting for global human rights and equality.”
Dr. Salole joined the center after working for the Ford Foundation in Johannesburg from 1999 to 2005 as its representative for Southern Africa.
Before that, he was director of the Department of Programme Documentation and Communication for the Bernard van Leer Foundation in The Hague, and worked for Save the Children Federation in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, for OXFAM and for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
He studied social anthropology and African history at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, and earned a master’s degree in economics and a doctorate from the University of Manchester.
He is the founding chair of TrustAfrica; chair of the Global Fund for Community Foundations, in Johannesburg; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations, of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the European Venture Philanthropy Association and of the board of Assifero, the Italian Association of Grant Making Foundations.
Gigi Sohn, a former project specialist in the Ford Foundation’s Media, Arts and Culture unit, has been named to the board of directors of Locast, a nonprofit “public service” that streams local TV channels for free in 17 cities, reaching more than 41 million viewers with local news, weather, emergency information, sports and entertainment broadcasting.
“I’m honored to join the Locast board,” Sohn said. “I’m inspired by small nonprofits like Locast overcoming enormous challenges to give consumers greater choice in how they watch their local TV channels.”
The organization noted that Sohn “has worked for more than 30 years to defend and preserve competition and innovation policies that have made broadband internet access more ubiquitous, competitive and affordable across the country.”
She is a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate.
From 2013 to 2016 she was counselor to the former head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler. Prior to that post she was the co-founder and CEO of Public Knowledge, a telecommunications, media and technology policy advocacy organization, and executive director of the Media Access Project, a public interest law firm.
She is a member of the board of directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and of the Advisory Board of the Open Markets Institute.