Gay McDougall is a distinguished scholar in residence at Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham University School of Law. She has recently been elected to serve a second term as a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. She served as the first UN independent expert on minority issues and for 14 years she was executive director of Global Rights, which worked with human rights advocates in 10 countries around the world to develop their strategies for justice. Prior to that she played a special role in securing the release of thousands of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia. She was appointed to the electoral commission that ran the first democratic elections in South Africa that ended apartheid and installed Nelson Mandela as president. She was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her innovative and highly effective work on behalf of international human rights.
McDougall earned a JD at Yale Law School, an LLM in public international law at the London School of Economics and Politics, and a BA in social science at Bennington College.