Lois Whitman is the founder and former director (1994-2012) of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division, which investigates and seeks to end human rights abuses against children, including the use of child soldiers, the worst forms of child labor, torture of children, attacks on students, teachers, and schools, and also addresses issues involving juvenile justice and migrant children. Whitman has been associated with Human Rights Watch since 1985, and has conducted human rights investigations and written reports on abuses in numerous countries, including Bulgaria, Cuba, Greece, Jamaica, Liberia, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Romania, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Newsday, Kathimerini (Athens), and Africa Report. She has testified before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and U.S. Congressional committees on several occasions. Whitman has taught Women and the Law at Hunter College, Law and Social Work at Stony Brook School of Social Work, and Human Rights of Children at the School for International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.
A lawyer and a social worker, Whitman holds a BA from Smith College, an MS in social work from Columbia University, and a JD from Rutgers University. She received the Smith College Medal in 2002 and the Dean’s Medal from CUNY Law School in 2009. She is currently on the board of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Board of Visitors of the CUNY Law School.