Andersen, who will lead the ABA’s $48.3 million international development assistance program, will bring extensive experience in international law, rule of law assistance and human rights advocacy to her new position. The move also represents a homecoming of sorts: From 2003 to 2006, Andersen served as executive director of the ABA Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, the predecessor of
ABA ROLI. Among her many board memberships is the ROLI Board of Directors.
“We are extremely pleased and excited that Betsy Andersen is returning home,” ABA President James R. Silkenat said. “Betsy is a seasoned global development leader who brings a wealth of skills and knowledge to ABA ROLI. She understands the work we’ve done for more than a quarter of a century to strengthen legal institutions, to support legal professionals, to foster respect for human rights and to advance public understanding of the law and of citizen rights throughout the world.”
Andersen will replace Rob Boone, who has headed ABA ROLI since 2007 and has resigned to pursue other opportunities.
Since its founding as CEELI in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ABA ROLI has grown from a budget of $450,000 and two staff members to one of the nation’s largest international development programs that promote the rule of law. It now offers legal technical assistance and other programs in about 60 countries and has some 650 personnel at its Washington office and throughout the world, including in-country contractors and consultants. ABA ROLI receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, foundations and foreign governments. Its programs are concentrated in seven thematic areas, including access to justice and human rights, public integrity, women’s rights, legal and civic education, and judicial, legal profession and criminal law reforms.
“On behalf of the ABA ROLI board, we could not be happier to have Betsy back,” Chair Stephen N. Zack said. “During her career, she has demonstrated a record of passion and purpose and a unique ability to build on collaborative and sustainable efforts. Her qualifications make her the perfect fit for the job, and they will be essential as we work with funders and local partners to continue to grow our programs.”
The ABA formally established the Rule of Law Initiative in 2007 to consolidate its regional law programs. It is managed by a 21-member board.
“I’m delighted to learn that Betsy will return to direct the ABA Rule of Law Initiative,” said former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who serves as a special adviser to the ROLI board. “She has invaluable knowledge, networks and experience and will bring strong leadership to ROLI’s efforts to realize the promise of the rule of law throughout the world.”
At ASIL, Andersen has led a 3,800-member global society and think tank with responsibility for all aspects of its research, education, publishing and conference programming. Prior to her earlier work for the ABA, she served as executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia Division, as legal assistant to Judge Georges Abi-Saab of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and as a law clerk to Judge Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.
Andersen is a graduate of Yale Law School and received a master in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a bachelor of arts degree from Williams College, from which she received the college’s Bicentennial Medal in 2006.
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