B.A., Duke University; J.D., Columbia Law School
Karen Stauss is currently the Director of Programs for Free the Slaves, an international anti-slavery organization dedicated to combating the systems that allow slavery to persist around the world. She is responsible for overseeing the organization’s policy advocacy work and its partnerships with community-based anti-slavery organizations in six countries. Previously, Professor Stauss was Managing Policy and Legal Counsel at Polaris Project, a national organization dedicated to combating human trafficking in the United States, where she managed the organization’s policy and legal department from 2006 to 2010.
Professor Stauss was closely involved in the drafting and advocacy for the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, and has worked with state policymakers on anti-trafficking legislation in dozens of states. She also represented survivors of modern slavery in their immigration-related applications and advocated for victim witnesses within the criminal justice system. She has trained many audiences on human trafficking, including law enforcement, state policymakers, service providers and community members. Before joining Polaris Project, Professor Stauss opened the Human Rights Watch field office in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where she spent two and a half years. Her work there included investigating war crimes and other human rights abuses in DRC, conducting advocacy, and strengthening the network of Congolese human rights groups.