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Our People

Cheryl Thomas

Founder and Executive Director

Since 1993, Cheryl has worked with partners around the world to promote women’s human rights and achieve effective legal reform on violence against women. She has provided consultation and training on best practices in legal reform on violence against women to government officials, legal professionals and civil society groups in Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Morocco, Serbia, Tajikistan, Tonga and other countries.

Cheryl is the former Director of the Women’s Human Rights Program at The Advocates for Human Rights in Minnesota, a program shefounded as a volunteer in 1993. She led the development of the website and managed it for 12 years. She worked with UN Women to create the Legislation and Access to Justice sections of the website

In 2008, Cheryl was selected as one of 15 experts from around the world to participate in a United Nations Expert Group Meeting and publish a report on good practices in legislation on violence against women. In 2009, she participated in a second UN Expert Group Meeting in Ethiopia. The expert group published a report in 2010 focused on harmful practices against women. She has published numerous articles and reports on violence against women as a human rights abuse. In March, 2011, she was recognized by Newsweek magazine as one of 150 “Women Who Shake the World.”

Cheryl graduated from Simpson College in Iowa in 1979. After receiving her law degree from the University of Minnesota in 1983, she practiced law at the Minnesota Attorney General’s office and was a partner at the law firm Briggs & Morgan. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School where she taught Women’s International Human Rights from 1996 to 2002. From 1999 to 2001 she served as Executive Director of WATCH, a court monitoring organization focused on cases of violence against women and children.

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