Lutz, Ellen L., 1950-2010


Ellen Louise Lutz (1955-2010) devoted her life to the defense and advocacy of human rights as a prolific lawyer, teacher, writer, world traveler and activist. She worked in several positions at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1995 through 2004, eventually serving as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law and as Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (2000-2003).

History of Lutz, Ellen L.

Ellen Louise Lutz (1955-2010) devoted her life to the defense and advocacy of human rights as a prolific lawyer, teacher, writer, world traveler and activist. She worked in several positions at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from 1995 through 2004, eventually serving as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law and as Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (2000-2003).

Lutz’s interest in human rights began in 1971-1972, when she traveled to Uruguay as a high school exchange student and witnessed the turbulent months preceding the military dictatorship. “The experience profoundly altered my life and laid the foundation of my career as a human rights lawyer and law professor,” she wrote in her 1999 Fulbright application. “The military’s response a year later forever altered my perception that democracy and the protection of human rights could be assumed. If such repression were possible in tiny, historically democratic Uruguay, it could happen anywhere.” She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Temple University in 1976 and a Master’s in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr in 1978. From 1979 to 1981 she worked for Amnesty International, first as a Campaign Assistant for Latin America in Washington, D.C., and then as their Western Regional Organizer in San Francisco, CA. She earned her law degree from UC Berkeley in 1985. In 1986 and 1987 she worked as an Associate Attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. During this period, she and her first husband, Glenn Randall, advocated for legal, medical and psychological assistance for victims of torture. From 1989 to 1994, Lutz served as the California Office Director for Human Rights Watch, where she researched and publicized human and civil rights violations in Mexico and represented clients in groundbreaking human rights cases against former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Argentine General Carlos Guillermo Suárez-Mason.

In 1994 she moved with her husband and two children to Westborough, Massachusetts, where she became involved in community initiatives, founding the Westborough Community Land Trust in 1997, serving as Chair of the Westborough Open Space Preservation Committee, and facilitating Worcester’s Middle East Dialogue Group. In 1999 she partnered with Timothy Buckalew to establish Buckalew & Lutz, a Westborough firm specializing in labor and employment law, public policy, and international arbitration and mediation. Meanwhile, she continued her work in human rights as a Visiting Fellow to Harvard’s Human Rights Program in 1994 and 1995. She began teaching at Tufts University in 1995, when she joined the Fletcher School as Adjunct Associate Professor of Law. In 2000 she helped establish Fletcher’s Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, with the mission of teaching the application of negotiation and mediation skills in human rights advocacy. While working and teaching at Tufts, she pursued other professional projects. In September of 1997, she traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia as an International Election Supervisor for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Working again for Human Rights Watch, Lutz served as Delegate to the Diplomatic Conference to establish an International Criminal Court in 1998. In the summer of 1999 she traveled back to Uruguay as a Fulbright Fellow at the Universidad de la Republica Law School in Montevideo. In 2003 she joined Congressman James O. McGovern’s Mission to Colombia to evaluate the impact of U.S. policy and armed conflict on Colombian civil society.

In 2004 Lutz left Tufts University for the position of Executive Director at Cultural Survival (CS). Through her work at CS, she met her future husband, Theodore (Ted) Macdonald. She worked for CS until just a few weeks before her death in 2010. In a memoriam written for Lutz on behalf of CS, the author describes her accomplishments for the organization: “She led Cultural Survival into Native American language revitalization; she started a program to submit Indigenous rights reports to the UN Human Rights Council; she launched our first on-the-ground human rights investigation in Kenya; she oversaw Cultural Survival’s merger with Global Response; she helped organize congressional hearings on Indigenous rights[…] And that’s the short list.” Throughout her career, Lutz collaborated with other human rights advocates to publish dozens of articles and books, including the two most recent volumes, Prosecuting Heads of State (2009) and Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Context (2009). Colleagues in the human rights community she has worked closely with include Eileen F. Babbitt, Hurst Hannum, Paul Hoffman, Caitlin Reiger, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and Kathryn Sikkink.

Ellen Lutz passed away on November 4, 2010 at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Member of:
  • Center of Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (2000-2004)
  • Cultural Survival (2004-2010)