North America Regional Working Group

Yolanda Munoz Gonzalez

Canada, North America

Yolanda Muñoz is a wheelchair user and has been active in the disability movement since 1997. Her lived experience as a woman with a disability, together with her academic interests in Gender Studies, led her to participate in the Mexican movement to promote a human rights approach to disability. Among her contributions, she coordinated a national overview of the situation of women with disabilities in Mexico (2001-2003) for the National Institute for Women. She is currently based in Montreal and is Program Officer at the Disability Rights Fund, where she is responsible, since January 2012, for grants oversight and technical support to DPOs in Haiti, Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Lebanon. She also lectures on Gender and Disability at McGill University since 2006. Yolanda also worked at grassroots level in Montreal, to empower women with disabilities and to promote equal opportunities in education for postsecondary students with disabilities in Quebec. Yolanda Muñoz is originally from Mexico and holds a PhD in Japanese Studies from El Colegio de México, specialized in Gender and the Ainu People of Northern Japan.

Peg Hacskaylo

United States, North America

Peg Hacskaylo has worked singularly throughout her professional and personal life to support women, particularly those escaping violence, to be empowered and whole. Currently, she is the Founder and Executive Director of the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), where she oversees low-barrier, voluntary services and housing for hundreds of survivors escaping domestic and sexual violence in the District annually. Previously, she served as Program Manager for the Office on Violence Against Women and Project Director for OVC TTAC, a national clearinghouse for training and technical assistance to victim services. In all of her efforts, the goal has been to create effective and innovative means for women to live their lives with purpose and agency.

District Alliance for Safe Housing

The District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) was founded in 2006 to be an innovator in providing access to safe housing and services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Washington, DC as they rebuild their lives on their own terms. We seek to strengthen and expand the local safety net for survivors by providing high quality, voluntary services that are responsive to their individual needs and by engaging lawmakers, community members, service providers, and survivors in the movement to make safe housing more accessible in the short-term and less necessary in the long-term. Through our emergency and long-term safe housing programs, advocacy, training and technical assistance, DASH works to create a culture where safe housing is a right shared by everyone. The District Alliance for Safe Housing, Inc.

(DASH) is a proud supporter of the International Commission on Violence Against Women and Girls and their effort to develop a new, international norm on violence against women.

Denise Kindschi Gosselin

United States, North America

Denise Gosselin holds the position of Associate Professor at the Department of Criminal Justice & Sociology of Western New England University. Denise is a retired State Police Trooper from Massachusetts. During her police career she served as a detective, classroom and drill instructor at the academy, community service officer, and as a patrol officer. Denise Gosselin has been elected to the Executive Board of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences twice, as Trustee-at Large and as Representative of the Northeast Region. She represented ACJS (an NGO) in Brazil at the United Nations Congress on Crime and Criminal Justice and in Prague at the European Society of Criminology. Her major publications include Heavy Hands: An Introduction to the Crimes of Family Violence 5th edition and Smart Talk: Contemporary Interrogation and Interviewing. She is a contributing author to Women, Law, & Social Policy, 2nd ed, and Policing & Victims. Major invited presentations include the UN Congress on Crime and Criminal Justice in Brazil, at the Massachusetts State Police Academy, and the West Point Military Academy.

Cris Sullivan

United States, North America

Cris M. Sullivan is Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology and Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence at Michigan State University (MSU). She is also a Senior Fellow of MSU’s Office on Outreach and Engagement. In addition to her MSU appointments, Cris Sullivan is the Chair of the Michigan Domestic & Sexual Violence Prevention & Treatment Board, and Senior Research Advisor to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Cris Sullivan has been an advocate and researcher in the movement to end gender-based violence since 1982. Her areas of expertise include developing and evaluating community interventions for abuse survivors and their children, and examining the factors that lead to survivors’ well-being over time. In addition to consulting for local, state, federal and international organizations and initiatives, she also conducts workshops on effectively advocating in the community for abuse survivors and their children; understanding the effects of domestic abuse on survivors and their children over time; improving system responses to the problem of gender-based violence; and evaluating victim service agencies.

Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence

Organizational Bio: MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence (RCGV) is a multidisciplinary group of faculty, staff and students at Michigan State University engaging in community-based, collaborative research and evaluation about violence against women that is highly rigorous while also having significant practice and policy implications at local, state, national and international levels. A primary purpose of the initiative is to provide a vehicle for MSU faculty and students to effectively collaborate with each other and with community members to engage in a variety of research and outreach activities. RCGV faculty are also committed to training and mentoring the next generation of violence against women researchers. To that end we provide numerous and varied educational and employment opportunities to undergraduates, graduate students and new investigators.

The MSU Research Consortium on GBV endorses this effort and the development of a global binding norm on VAW.

Lindsay Robertson

United States, North America

Professor Lindsay G. Robertson joined the law faculty at the University of Oklahoma in 1997. He teaches courses in Federal Indian Law, Comparative Indigenous Peoples Law, Constitutional Law and Legal History and serves as Faculty Director of the Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy and Founding Director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Professor Robertson was Private Sector Advisor to the U.S. Department of State delegations to the Working Groups on the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2004-06) and the Inter-American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2004-07) and from 2010-12 was a member of the U.S Department of State Advisory Committee on International Law. In 2014, he served as advisor on indigenous people’s law to the Chair of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He has spoken widely on international and comparative indigenous people’s law issues in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia.
In 2014, he was the recipient of the first David L. Boren Award for Outstanding Global Engagement. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and serves as a justice on the Supreme Court of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Professor Robertson is the author of Conquest by Law (Oxford University Press 2005).

Eleanor Solo

United States, North America

Eleanor Solo (newly retired) worked between 1993 and 2014 in the United Nations, starting in Geneva
with the Centre for Human Rights (later to become the Office of the High Commissioner for Human
Rights)and ending in New York with UN Women. She specialized in human rights complaints procedures
– both political procedures of the (then) Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on the
Status of Women and quasi-judicial procedures (treaty-bodies). She also worked extensively with non-
governmental organizations. Eleanor has a law degree from Københavns Universitet (University of

“It has become harder and harder to live with the imperfect reality of the status of global work on violence against women and girls. Is the international community doing the best that it can? I think not. Why does the most prominent human rights treaty banning all forms of discrimination against women and girls still fail to mention violence? There are ways to remedy such omissions. Laws do not have to be kept on the books in their original form. My patience with talk and little action on this issue has run out. Happily, this initiative has stoked my desire for progress. Women and girls deserve nothing short of recognition and a lasting commitment by States members of the United Nations to ban (if not eradicate) violence against women and girls. I too deserve nothing less. I hope that enough States will be receptive to this innovative grassroots campaign to do what it will take.”

Judy Lear

United States, North America

Judy Lear has actively participated in the United Nations Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Committee on the Status of Women (CSW), serving as the Co-chair of the Sub Committee on Older Women (SCOW). She has been involved with the NGO CSW Consultation Day and the planning of the numerous parallel events during the CSW. She successfully worked with the Women’s Treaty (CEDAW) experts to establish General Recommendation #27 on Older Women.Her background includes National Chair of Gray Panthers, an inter-generational social and economic justice advocacy organization. She represented the Gray Panthers as the Main Representative at the UN and also acted as the Executive Director in Washington, DC. She received the Gray Panther “Speak Your Mind” award in 2004. She attended the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China under the auspices of the International Council of Jewish Women (ICJW) as the organization’s Status of Women Chair. Judy has traveled extensively attending UN Conferences and other meetings related to women and ageing issues. She is an ardent advocate, believing that “ageing is a woman’s issue because we live longer and take care of those who live longer.” Currently, she lives in Minneapolis, MN and has 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren.

David Richards

United States, North America

David Richards is an Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut, with appointments in both the Department of Political Science and the Human Rights Institute. His work focuses on human rights and has appeared in a variety of journals and books. These published works include studies of gender-violence law, the measurement of government respect for human rights, public support for torture, economic globalization, and national elections, among others. David is the co-founder of the CIRI Human Rights Data Project, which provided information on the level of government respect for 16 human rights in 202 countries from 1981 to 2011.

Denise Scotto

United States, North America

Denise Scotto is an attorney-at-law, policy advisor, international speaker and educator. She worked in the United Nations Office of the Panel of Counsel and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs including in the Division for the Advancement of Women. Denise’s responsibilities included among many things servicing the Commission on the Status of Women, organizing parallel events and side events, liaisoning with UN system-wide entities and the CEDAW Monitoring Body when it was located in New York Headquarters. She also served for four years as Vice Chair of the UN NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Special Advisor to the UN NGO Committee on Mental Health and Coordinating Council Member of the Values Caucus at the UN. She is currently Chair of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN. Denise is a Founding Chair of the NY State Bar Association International Section’s Women’s Rights Committee, former Board Secretary of the NY Women’s Bar Association and former Chair of the International Women’s Rights Committee, Children’s Rights Committee and Health Law Committee. She was responsible for organizing the first program with CEDAW Committee experts and UN staff during the American Bar Association International Law Section Spring Meeting, Together with the NY County Lawyers Association, she was responsible for organizing the first continuing legal education program concerning human trafficking.

Jo-Anne Dusel

Canada, North America

Jo-Anne is a long-time social activist who has spent 20 years working front line with women who have experienced abuse. As coordinator of PATHS, an association of 21 member agencies including women’s shelters, second stage housing and family violence counseling services, she is responsible for public education on violence against women, maintaining connections between members and providing access to current research and promising practices to build capacity among member agencies to better service women whose lives have been touched by violence. Jo-Anne developed an interest in policy development and board governance while serving as a board member on the Moose Jaw Thunder Creek District and Five Hills Health Region Boards for a total of 14 years. Jo-Anne developed her public speaking and media relations skills while running as a candidate for parliament in the Canadian federal election of 2006. She studied visual art at the University of Regina and continues to create and exhibit paintings and mosaics. Jo-Anne is a member of the board for the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses.

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS)

PATHS ( has 21 member agencies, that run Emergency Shelters, Second Stage Shelters, and Counselling & Support Centres across Saskatchewan, with a vision of a society free from violence against women and their children. PATHS mission is to collaborate with PATHS members, and to provide research, program development, awareness, and education on interpersonal violence to all.

The Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS) supports the development of a global treaty on VAW.

Laurie Tannous

Canada, North America

Laurie Tannous is a requested speaker at many trade and industry forums globally. Ms. Tannous has significant hands on experience assisting small, medium and large multinational corporations, foreign governments and industry associations with their border security, business immigration, trade and regulatory compliance matters. She presently holds several concurrent strategic positions including: Vice President Government and Industry Relations at Farrow (Canada’s largest independently owned customs broker Farrow is a billion dollar organization handling over one million transactions each year); Special Advisor on Human Trafficking University of Windsor’s Cross Border (dedicated to research, education and public outreach related to the movement of people, goods and services across the Canada-US border); Senior Canadian Attorney of the Kitch Immigration Practice Law Group; Senior Advisor/Michigan Liaison Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority. Ms. Tannous worked for seven years for the Canada Border Services Agency as a Customs and Immigration Officer bringing an in-depth experience to her understanding of immigration and customs laws and regulations.

Jeanne Sarson

Canada, North America

Jeanne Sarson, as a human rights feminist activist, independent scholar, has since 1993, concentrated on supporting women who survived non-State torture (NST) victimization, sexualized human trafficking, and exploitation organized within family relationships with connections to likeminded others locally, nationally, or internationally. She received an Excellence in Nursing Practice award, and as a member of the NGO Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) shared with her colleague, Linda MacDonald, the first CFUW International Relations Award for advocacy that led to a NST national policy statement which later became an international policy of the NGO Graduate Women International (GWI). Since 2004, she and Linda have presented on panels during UN Commissions in New York, Vienna, and Geneva sharing knowledge on NST victimization. Focused on NST as a human right violation of women and girls at international conferences and in publications such as Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly, Sexual Assault Report, Peace Studies Journal, Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, the Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence, and a chapter in Women, Law and Culture Conformity, Contradiction and Conflict (2016). In Canada, their advocacy efforts are to have NST included in the Criminal Code of Canada. Persons Against Non-State Torture (NST) is their website.

David Wofford

United States, North America

David Wofford is the VP for Public-Private Partnerships and has helped lead Meridian’s engagement with corporate and civil society partners. He currently implements the RAISE Health Initiative for Workers, Companies and Communities, which improves the health of women and men factory and agriculture workers in developing countries through changes in global and corporate policies and workplace practices. RAISE Health is a major activity under the USAID-funded Evidence Project, led by the Population Council. He has negotiated partnerships to advance worker health with such organizations as Business for Social Responsibility, Levi Strauss & Co., Bayer Pharmaceuticals, HRA Pharma, and the ILO’s Better Work program as well as developed collaborations with the UN Global Compact and the UN Foundation. Previously, David worked at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank, where he provided strategic and communications support on the Doing Business report and the launch of its revised Social and Environmental Performance Standards. He has also served in senior positions in the U.S. Government, including the White House and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, an agency that supports investments by American companies in developing countries.

Stephanie Kennedy

United States, North America

Stephanie Kennedy is an Assistant Professor in the UConn School of Social Work. Her scholarship is broadly focused on understanding the relationships between childhood trauma and a range of behavioral and interpersonal challenges for institutionalized populations, with particular attention to incarcerated women. Related to this general theme, Stephanie has pursued research in three areas: 1) the examination of the behavioral health effects of trauma across the life course; 2) the evaluation of the effectiveness of empirically-supported interventions offered to individuals and families affected by violence; and 3) the assessment of service provider attitudes and behaviors towards clients in crisis. Overlapping themes in her approach include the use of a trauma-informed, strengths-based, social-ecological orientation and a focus on how victimized individuals and families intersect with institutional systems.

Heather Ibraham-Leathers

United States, North America
Ms. Ibrahim Leathers founded Global Fund for Widows following the passing of her grandmother in 2009. Since then, she has endeavored to expand the reach of the Global Fund for Widows to 4 countries, and in doing so, has enabled more than 8,000 widows to become economically empowered and self-sustained. Ms. Ibrahim Leathers has advocated for widows’ rights at the United Nations, as well as in academia including the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Fordham University. Prior to her career in non-profit, Ms. Ibrahim Leathers served as a Vice President, in Credit Suisse’s Leveraged Investment Group, where she was directly responsible for over $1 billion in high yield and leveraged loan assets. Prior to Credit Suisse, Ms. Ibrahim Leathers worked at JPMorgan where she was an Emerging Markets Fixed Income analyst responsible for over $4 billion worth of debt issuance. Ms. Ibrahim Leathers earned her Bachelors in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Manisha Desai

United States, North America

Manisha Desai is the Head of the Sociology Department and a Professor of Sociology and Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut. Committed to decolonizing knowledge and social justice, her research and teaching interests include Gender and Globalization, Transnational Feminisms and women’s movements, Human Rights movements, and Contemporary Indian Society. Her most recent book is Subaltern Movements in India: The Gendered Geography of struggle Against Neoliberal Development (Routledge 2016). Her other books include: Gender, Family, and Law in a Globalizing Middle East and South Asia (co-edited with Ken Cuno, 2010, Syracuse University Press); Gender and the Politics of Possibilities: Rethinking Globalization (2008, Rowman and Littlefield) and Women’s Activism and Globalization: Linking Local Struggles to Transnational Politics (co-edited with Nancy Naples, 2002, Routledge). She received the 2015 Sociologist for Women in Society’s (SWS) Distinguished Feminist Lecturer Award, that recognizes a body of feminist scholarship that has made important  contributions to further our understanding of Gender. She has held several elected offices in the International Sociological Association, American Sociological Association and SWS, including President of SWS in 2007, and serves on numerous editorial boards including American Sociological Review and the International Feminist Journal of Politic .

Shawn MacDonald

United States, North America

Shawn MacDonald is CEO of Verité, a civil society organization that promotes workers’ rights in global supply chains through research, consulting, training, assessments, and policy advocacy. Shawn has broad experience in labor rights, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, workplace health, and multi-sector partnerships. Before joining Verité, he was Director of Accreditation at the Fair Labor Association, Vice President of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Senior Advisor at Meridian Group International, and co-founder of the Development and Employment Policy Project. Additionally, he worked for a variety of civil society organizations in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. He holds a Ph.D. from George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and an AB in History from Harvard University.

Lise Martin

Canada, North America – ADVISORY MEMBER

Lise Martin is fortunate to have worked within feminist environments for the entirety of her career, having held several positions in the pan-Canadian women’s movement. She is currently the Executive Director of the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses. The Network brings together 12 provincial and territorial shelter networks representing over 350 shelters across Canada. The Network works as a unified voice to collaborate, educate, and innovate for systemic change to bring an end to violence against women. Prior to this, she was the Executive Director of Women’s World 2011, an international feminist conference which hosted more than 2,000 participants from 92 countries in Ottawa in July 2011. For many years Lise was with the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), first as a Research Officer and then as Executive Director. As a geographer, her MA thesis dealt with the nature and location of women’s economic activities in the informal sector in Quito, Ecuador. Lise is a current Board member of the MATCH International Women’s Fund, an organization working with women in the Global South. She is the proud mother of three sons.

The Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses

The Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses brings together 12 provincial and territorial shelter networks representing over 350 shelters across Canada. The Network represents a unified voice that works to make violence against women a priority. Shelter workers across the country recognize that services alone will not put an end to violence against women. The Network, along with its member shelters, is committed to working towards long term systemic change. The Network’s main areas of activity are centered on 1) research and policy, 2) knowledge exchange, and 3) public education.

Conchita Sarnoff

United States, North America – ADVISORY MEMBER

Conchita Sarnoff is Executive Director of Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking (, a Washington D.C. non profit whose mission is to rescue and rehabilitate trafficked children. An author, activist and investigative reporter, her first book, “Sex Slaves in America,” will be published in 2015. (published works and interviews can be viewed on our website under BLOGS & LINKS).

The Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking ( is a Washington D.C. non profit whose mission is to open the first “safe house” for trafficked children in Washington D.C. and eventually across the country. ARVT helps to raise awareness through educational initiatives, “spread the word” campaigns and published articles.

ARVT is in favor of and endorses a global binding norm on VAW.

Ratchneewan Ross

United States, North America – ADVISORY MEMBER

Dr. Ratchneewan Ross, a Fulbright scholar, formerly an Associate Professor and Director of International Initiatives at Kent State’s College of Nursing and currently with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Ross worked in Thailand for over 10 years in different capacities, including serving as the Assistant President for Academics and Research and Associate Dean for International Affairs at Burapha University. She has conducted research among vulnerable women around the globe, including women experiencing HIV and violence/trauma. Her recent awards include the Giovanna Jackson Faculty Award for International Culture, J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship, Eminent Mentor Scholar of the College of Education & Human Services, and the International Distinguished Award in Teaching and Nursing Science Discovery for the Advancement of the Nursing Profession.

Mary Lou Hartman

United States, North America – ADVISORY MEMBER

Mary Lou Hartman is a Peabody Award-winning producer who has spent the last thirty years working in television news, documentary film making, human rights and education. She has worked with women human rights activists around the world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nicaragua, Colombia, and the United States. Her focus has been on women and children’s rights, violence against women during conflict, and peace and conflict resolution. At present she is pursuing a dual master’s degree in International Service with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Transformation, and Theological Studies. She serves on the board of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth, an organization dedicated to ending life without parole and extreme sentences for youth.