Interview with Madeline Lohman

New member Madeline Lohman brings rich experience in human rights education, advocacy, and policy at the international, national, and local levels to HRE USA’s Steering Committee.

Madeline’s career has continually combined theory and practice, the academic and the practical. After college she served as a foreign policy intern for Senator Paul Wellstone, working to focus attention on human rights issues. Seeking more concrete and sustained human rights work, she then held positions at a variety of nonprofits including Freedom House, International Relief Teams, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), and PACT Bolivia. Among her many assignments as an executive assistant at Freedom House in Washington, DC, she designed a program to train international members of the media and democracy advocates in non-violent resistance.

The same interest in human rights from both an academic and applied perspective informed her graduate work at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. A special interest in Latin America led her to research the impact of indigenous genocides in Peru and Guatemala on indigenous organizing.

For the last nine years Madeline has been with The Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis, where she is currently a Senior Researcher. She conducts research, community education and outreach, and legislative advocacy on immigrant rights in Minnesota. She also specializes in trainings and technical assistance on human rights advocacy for social justice organizations, as well as international monitoring and reporting, primarily on the death penalty.

She recently published Asking the Right Questions: A Human Rights Approach to Ending Trafficking and Exploitation in the Workplace, a report on labor trafficking and exploitation in Minnesota and serves on The Advocates’ team on combating human trafficking in Minnesota. Previous work with The Advocates included researching and writing a report on immigrant rights in Minnesota, building on several years of organizing and managing partnerships with community organizations through Minnesota to combat anti-immigrant bias. She regularly presents at local and national conferences, organizes a yearly training series, and has helped train Ugandan parliamentarians establishing a human rights commission.

Madeline has co-authored several widely used curriculums that are considered the “gold standard” in HRE and included in HRE USA’s Resource Library:

Madeline began her work with the Advocates in their expansive education program and human rights education remains a major concern: “So many people don’t know they are doing human rights work. And they would support it if they only knew!” She firmly believes in the power of international law to address US issues.

Although she initially came to Advocates hoping to transition rapidly into an international facing role, “where I thought the action was,” Madeline now says,
“I’ve grown more engaged in the domestic work in the USA, especially addressing egregious government policies and systems that are punitively designed to dehumanize and exploit immigrants.” She believes that people who would potentially be supportive of immigrants are held back by ignorance and unquestioned assumptions about how society works. “Putting issues in a human rights context and breaking down those false assumptions is a critical part of human rights education.”