Susan Gzesh is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Program and a Senior Lecturer in the College, appointed in 2001 after service as a part-time Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School (1992 – 2001). She teaches courses on contemporary issues in human rights, the comparative human rights of aliens and citizens, human rights in Mexico and Latin America, and the use of international human rights norms in the United States. She supervises students on B.A. and M.A. theses and advises on PhD dissertation projects. Her research interests include the inter-relationship between human rights and migration policy, the domestic application of international human rights norms, and Mexico-U.S. relations. In addition to teaching, she directs a broad range of activities in the Human Rights Program including an internship program, public events, and faculty initiatives on topics including Human Rights at Home and Health & Human Rights. She serves on the Institutional Review Board (Social Sciences Division) and the faculty committees of the Center for Latin American Studies and the International Studies program in the College.
Starting in 1978, Gzesh practiced law in a variety of settings: in private practice, federally-funded legal services, and with the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. She is currently of counsel to the Chicago firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym. From 1996-2001, Gzesh was Director of the Mexico-U.S. Advocates Network and co-founded the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration, two innovative civil society coalitions spanning North America, Mexico, and Central America. From 1997- 1999, Gzesh was the legal adviser to the Mexican Foreign Ministry on U.S. immigration law and policy. She was a Fulbright Lecturer in Mexico (1990) and served on the Clinton-Gore Transition Team for the Department of Justice (1992-93). She was appointed to the Illinois New Americans Immigrant Policy Council (2005-2008) and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Task Force on ICE Misconduct (2008). She served on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Task Force on Immigration Policy in the Midwest (2012-2013). She has consulted with the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation on migration policy and human rights and has served as an expert for the Illinois Supreme Court Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
She is currently a non-resident Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. She serves on the Board of Directors of Kartemquin Films (Chicago) and is an active member of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights and the Chicago Committee for Human Rights Watch. She has been a member of civil society delegations to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Migration & Development (2013) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (2009, 2010) and was a keynote speaker at the 2010 meeting of the Peoples’ Global Alliance on Migration. She collaborates with the National Association of Latin American & Caribbean Communities and is a frequent speaker at seminars, conferences, and events in the U.S. and Mexico on topics related to human rights and migration.
Susan Gzesh received an A.B. from the University of Chicago in 1972 and a J.D. in 1977 from the University of Michigan. She is fluent in Spanish and the mother of Max Rothstein.
“Latino Immigrant Leadership in Chicago,” in Xochitl Bada, Jonathan Fox, Andrew Selee, ed\s., Latino Immigrants in the Windy City; New Trends in Civic Engagement, Woodrow Wilson Institute, 2010
“Redefining Forced Migration Using Human Rights,” in Migracion y Desarrollo, Vol 10, bilingual special edition on migration and human rights, 2008
“Central American Asylum Policy in the Reagan Era,” Migration Information Source, Migration Policy Institute, April 2006
America’s Human Rights Challenge, Migration Policy Institute, 2006
“Mexico-U.S. Migration and Cross-Border Organizing," in David Brooks & Jonathan Fox, eds., Cross Border Dialogues: U.S.- Mexico Social Movement Networking, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD, 2002