Risa Kaufman

  • Lecturer in Law

Risa Kaufman is the director of U.S. Human Rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights, a nonprofit organization that uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to respect, protect and fulfill.  She is responsible for leading the Center’s U.S. human rights team in developing and implementing human rights advocacy strategies to advance the Center’s work on maternal and reproductive health and reproductive justice in the United States.

From 2008-2017, Kaufman was the Executive Director of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, where she developed and advanced international human rights norms and strategies in the United States through research, advocacy, network building, and training, in addition to providing overall management for the Institute’s activities and operations. The co-author of Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (West 2014) (with Martha F. Davis and Johanna Kalb), Kaufman also supervised students in the law school’s Human Rights Clinic.

Kaufman has extensive experience in public interest litigation, advocacy, and legal education, with a special focus on women’s rights, poverty law, and access to justice. Prior to joining Columbia’s Human Rights Institute, she engaged in impact litigation and policy initiatives as associate counsel at the Community Service Society of New York, as a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at the law firm of Gibbons, P.C., and as a Skadden Fellow at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum). Immediately prior to joining the Human Rights Institute, Kaufman was an acting assistant professor of lawyering at New York University School of Law. She is a co-founder and board member of A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center.

She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Snow scholar. She clerked for Judge Ira DeMent in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, and holds a B.A. from Tulane University.