November 15, 2013

Chantal Pasquarello ’02 Defends Human Rights

By Kate Helm

No risk, no reward. That’s what Chantal Pasquarello ’02 has learned working to promote freedom and social justice around the world.

Chantal Pasquarello ’02 in front of a mural by David Siqueiros at la Escuela de Bellas Artes de Guanajuato in San Miguel de Allende.

Chantal Pasquarello ’02 in front of a mural by David Siqueiros at la Escuela de Bellas Artes de Guanajuato in San Miguel de Allende.

“I try to remain open to opportunities that arise. They may seem terrifying or risky at the time, but generally, nothing worth doing is easy,” says Pasquarello, deputy director of Freedom House, Mexico City. The independent watchdog organization empowers citizens worldwide to analyze challenges to freedom, advocate for greater political and civil liberties, and support frontline human rights activists and journalists.

Pasquarello launched the journalist protection program, opened a new field office, and designed and implemented security program strategy for at-risk human rights defenders and journalists. She manages the office and represents Freedom House to counterpart organizations and donors both in-country and abroad.

“I have wanted to work on these issues since before I can recall,” she says. “My parents are very socially conscious, so they certainly instilled in me a sense of social responsibility. But I found opportunities at Lafayette which allowed me to grow and explore and define what I wanted to do with my career. My professors were integral to my experience and development, particularly my adviser, Ilan Peleg.”

Extensive global studies

An international affairs graduate and EXCEL Scholar, she assisted Peleg, Dana Professor of Government and Law, in completing his book Democratizing the Hegemonic State: Political Transformation in the Age of Identity. She also studied prejudice against Albanian immigrants in Italy during a semester abroad in Florence. She presented the independent study research, guided by Katalin Fabian, associate professor of government and law, at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

She participated in an archaeological excavation of Maya ruins in Belize, studied in Peru, Argentina, and Brazil and Russia and Poland through faculty-led short-term study abroad courses, and spent a semester at American University, Washington, D.C. These experiences gave her the confidence to realize her dream of serving in the Peace Corps. After graduation, she was an education and empowerment volunteer in Togo, encouraging girls in a rural village to attend and stay in school.

After earning a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University in 2008, she became grants coordinator for International Rescue Committee in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a year before joining Freedom House as a senior program officer for the global human rights program. She was promoted to senior program manager of global human rights and NGO assistance programs in Washington, D.C.

One of her proudest career achievements is assisting Freedom House in securing funding for, and then launching and managing, a project that provides emergency assistance to at-risk civil society organizations around the world.

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