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December: Human Rights Symposium

2017 Human Rights Symposium Speakers

Day 1 Keynote Speaker: Jane R Wettach

Jane Wettach

Jane Wettach directs the Children’s Law Clinic and teaches Education Law at Duke Law School. She is a frequent speaker on issues involving the educational rights of children, especially children with disabilities. She was honored by the North Carolina Justice Center with its 2010 “Defender of Justice Award” in the area of litigation.

Wettach joined the Duke Law faculty in 1994 after practicing poverty law for 13 years with legal aid offices in Raleigh and Winston-Salem, N.C., developing particular expertise in the law of government benefits. She has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court, as well as other appellate courts.

Prior to establishing the Children’s Law Clinic in 2002, she served as supervising attorney in Duke’s AIDS Legal Project and as an instructor in the Legal Analysis, Research and Writing Program. Wettach is the author of The Advocate's Guide to Assistance Programs in North Carolina, co-author of A Consumer's Guide to Heath Insurance and Health Programs in North Carolina, and a contributing author to Special Education Advocacy (LexisNexis, 2011). Wettach received her BA in 1976 and her JD in 1981 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Day 2 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Algernon Austin

Algernon Austin Dr. Austin authored “Uneven Pain – Unemployment by metropolitan area and race” in June, 2010 in his former position as the director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE). The Uneven Pain Report identified Minneapolis as a metropolitan area with significant disparities in unemployment following the great recession. “The black-white unemployment ratio was highest in Minneapolis and Memphis. In these metropolitan areas, the black unemployment rate was three times the white rate. 

Austin’s research influenced Minnesota’s Criminal Rehabilitation Act, also known as Ban the Box. Ban the Box prohibits employers from requesting criminal history until they’ve reached the conditional offer stage. The act aims to make the employment process smoother for citizens returning to employment after an arrest or criminal conviction.

Presently, Dr. Austin conducts economic policy research for the Dēmos think tank. He has been Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Global Policy Solution. As the first director of the PREE, Dr. Austin built the program into a nationally recognized source for expert reports and policy analyses on the economic condition of America’s people of color. A nationally-recognized source for information on race and economy, Algernon has discussed racial inequality on PBS, CNN, NPR, as well as other national television and radio networks.

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