I was drawn to sociology for the license to practice social change it promised! In 1980, I traveled to the Middle East to see what I could do with an M.A. from the University of Michigan. After six years of work with a community-based organization, research and teaching, I returned to graduate school to prepare for a teaching career. I chose Berkeley, which I imagined to be teeming with Marxist sociologists. Of course quality is better than quantity, so I did not regret my choice, but midway through the program I realized that academia was not where I belonged. I managed to resist leaving the program by launching into a dissertation that was personally meaningful to me: a comparative study of the South African and Palestinian national liberation movements.
The job search was extremely difficult; human rights jobs were few and the chasm between the worlds of academia and non-profits difficult to bridge. After nearly a year, I landed in philanthropy another world altogether but one that, fortunately, values the other two. The Mertz Gilmore Foundation, a leading human rights funder, provided me with an extraordinary window into the field -- a veritable gold mine for a sociologist! From Berkeley, I brought methodological and analytical questions to the evaluation of funding proposals and programs, and I'm making a modest contribution to social change through the International Human Rights Funders Group an international network of funders committed to the realization of the full spectrum of human rights globally, including in the U.S.