Peter Mack (top image) and Jamie Mayerfeld (bottom image) take to heart the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” They are enthusiastic supporters of the Center for Human Rights, and are proud to assist and encourage its mission to promote human rights through education, research, and civic engagement.

Born in Ireland, Peter Mack is Professor of Piano at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. He has performed throughout the United States and Europe, as well as Australia and the former Soviet Union. His prizes include first place in the New Orleans, Young Keyboard Artists and Pacific International piano competitions. His students are frequent winners of local, national, and international competitions.

Jamie Mayerfeld is Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. He is the author most recently of The Promise of Human Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). In this book, he develops an account of constitutional democracy as a cooperative project enlisting both domestic and international guardians to strengthen the protection of human rights.

The Peter Mack and Jamie Mayerfeld Endowed Fund for Human Rights provides financial resources to benefit graduate students to study and/or conduct research about human rights.

Make a gift today:

Contribute to this fund today using this link. To give by check, please designate “University of Washington Foundation” as the payee with “Mack and Mayerfeld Fund” in the memo line. Please mail check to UW Center for Human Rights, Box 353650, Seattle, WA 98195.

Thank you!

Fellowship Eligibility

This fund for UW graduate students will open for applications in February 2017!

The Peter Mack and Jamie Mayerfeld Fund provides financial resources to benefit graduate students to study and/or conduct research about human rights. In 2016, we anticipate having approximately $2800 available to distribute; the entire amount may be issued in a single award or split between multiple awardees. The number of awards and amounts will vary depending on the number and quality of applications. The committee may combine this fellowship with the Lisa Sable Brown fellowship to make a more substantial award.

  • Any graduate student who is currently enrolled and will be enrolled in the upcoming academic year is eligible to apply.
  • This award is open to graduate students at all three branches of the University of Washington (Seattle, Bothell, or Tacoma).
  • The award could be used towards tuition, research, travel, books, materials, equipment.
  • US citizenship or permanent resident status is NOT REQUIRED.

Application Materials

To be considered, apply between February 20, 2017 and March 30, 2017 via the Jackson School Fellowship and Scholarship Application System at

You will be asked to provide the following information:

  1. Biographic information, status as student, contact information, GPA, etc.
  2. CV/Resume with current contact information
  3. Proposal that answers the following questions (approx. 1000 words)
    • A description of the research/study and the goals of the travel, if any travel is included
    • What experiences do you have (if any) in the field of human rights?
    • Outline the purpose of your research/study and its relevance to the study of (or practice of promoting) human rights
  4. A detailed budget describing how the funds would be used and, if applicable, how this support would supplement other funds, fellowships, and grants.
  5. Unofficial transcripts
  6. A letter of recommendation from the student’s primary advisor or committee member. (Incoming students may provide letter of recommendation from most recent faculty member who is familiar with the student’s work)
  7. The names and full contact information (campus address, phone, and email) of two University of Washington (or past non-UW) faculty members who are familiar with your work.

If you have any questions about the application process, please do not hesitate to contact us at


2016 (Inaugural) Award Recipients

Oded Oron

Oded Oron

Oded is a second year student pursuing a PhD in International Studies in the Jackson School; his advisor described him as among the top 1% of all graduate students she has ever taught at the University of Washington. His dissertation offers a comparative analysis of the mobilization strategies of African migrants in Israel and those of Central American migrants in the United States. As he explains, irregular migrants to both countries face multiple inequalities arising from their racial and class status; yet despite the risk of deportation, they mobilize, in some cases successfully, to claim rights. Theorists of mobilization predict that access to NGOs can provide migrants key opportunities in this process. Oded hopes to push this work forward by examining the interplay between migrants’ lived experiences and interpretation of their situation and the structural opportunities that enable or constrain their advocacy. By interviewing leaders in the movement for immigrant rights in these two national contexts, he hopes to illuminate underlying factors shaping migrant mobilization. Oded will conduct research in Isreal on the above topic.

Read a report from Oded’s research activities below:


International refugee day celebration

This past summer I conducted nearly 40 in-depth interviews in Israel with asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. I study the political organizing of migrants who are without permanent legal status, comparing between mobilization efforts led by African migrants in Israel with similar endeavors led by Latino migrants in the state of Washington. Thanks to the generous contribution of the Mack and Mayerfeld award from the Center for Human Rights I was able to carry out my fieldwork in Israel concentrating on three primary sites: South Tel-Aviv, where the vast majority of migrants reside; Eilat, a border resort town where many migrants arrive after crossing from Egypt; and the Holot Detention Facility, where approximately 3,000 migrants are detained by state order; the legality of this order is currently being debated in the Israeli High Court of Justice.

My fieldwork enabled me to hear firsthand about the polarized experiences of African migrants when encountering Israelis–those who embraced them wholeheartedly and tried to help them, and those who expressed racist and xenophobic slurs about and towards them for being black and not Jewish. The Israeli government for its part has branded these asylum seekers as “illegal job seekers” and “infiltrators,” and led a public campaign to force them to leave.

Oded with refugees in Isreal

Oded (center) with refugees in Isreal

Some of the most inspirational encounters this summer occurred when I did my weekly visit to the detention center and met with dozens of asylum seekers fighting for their rights. My first visit however, on June 18, 2016, left a special memory with me for its combination of resistance, justice and the meaning of community. I took the bus with the Freedom March, a grassroots volunteer-based organization dedicated to maintaining contact between Israelis and African migrants held in detention. The communal drive to Holot has been ongoing for the past five months. The origin of the communal drive was a march that took place in June 2015, where nearly 700 out of the 3,360 migrants held in Holot left the facility, through the front gate, and started marching towards the Israel-Egypt border in protest. After three days of resistance and clash with local police and army forces, the asylum seekers returned to Holot. The event received a lot of media coverage and inspired a group of Israeli activists to begin the Freedom March project, which takes Israelis to Holot.

The event on June 18 was unique; it marked the annual international refugee day, which included a movie screening of the documentary Between Fences, as well as a theater performance by the troupe Theater of the Oppressed – reenacting scenes from African asylum seekers’ lived experiences in Israel. After arriving at Holot around 5:00 pm, I encountered thousands of Sudanese and Eritreans sitting outside the facility. They were playing games and chatting; they appeared to be excited by the fact that an event is about to happen, and some even approached us as we exited the bus. Groups of young men were sitting in the shade, on the public benches outside the facility and under improvised shade covers. They had set up stands with goods that may have been brought to them from the city, including items such as personal hygiene products, small electronics, shoes, shirts and even some food and drinks, some of which were donated. Around 5:30 pm a group of volunteers and I started organizing mats on the ground in preparation for a theater performance and movie screening that were especially organized for the occasion. As the event began, the host called Africans and Israelis to sit together–“black and white,” in his own words–directly engaging with the racial tension accompanying the issue of asylum seekers in Israel. I was fortunate to speak with Billie, an Eritrean who has been incarcerated in Holot for the past nine months. He told me briefly about life in the prison; and he gave me his number and promised to meet me every time I come to visit in the future.



Emily Willard

Emily Willard

Emily is a first-year student in the PhD program in International Studies at UW. She came to UW this fall with an illustrious background in human rights research and advocacy, having served as a Rotary Peace Fellow, a Board Member of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and a longtime researcher at the National Security Archive, where among other things, she spearheaded the declassification, analysis, and broad dissemination of US government documents shedding light on the Rwanda genocide. The Caldwell Fellowship took her to Guatemala this summer to begin her dissertation research, which will examine women’s rights in Guatemala.

See below for a summary report from Emily:

With the funds provided by the Mack-Mayerfield and Caldwell Fellowships, I completed my preliminary dissertation research this past summer in Guatemala. I learned the basics of K’iche’, a native language in Guatemala, built relationships with new and old friends, and revised and strengthened my dissertation topic, which seeks to understand why, and under what conditions, some Guatemalan women chose to join the guerrillas during their country’s 36-year long armed conflict that lasted from 1960-1996.

Emily Willard Story in K'iche'

My short children’s story with draft edits in K’iche’

I spent one week improving conversational Spanish and learning about politics/history of Guatemala and three weeks learning K’iche’ language and culture from a native speaker – building and strengthening important relationships. I wrote a short children’s story in K’iche’ drawing on cultural details that I learned with my teacher. I was learning K’iche’ in Spanish, and found myself thinking in Spanish the first day of K’iche’ class. I shared my short story with native speakers and spoke with them about my language learning, enabling relationship growth and more inter-cultural understanding and connection. My learning more about Mayan culture through language helps me understand different perspectives and viewpoints of the war, history, and politics.

Through connections at the school, I was had dozens of informal conversations about my research to get different perspectives on the topic, on current politics in Guatemala, and on the history of the conflict. I was building relationships and gaining the trust of community members, where I heard un-common and personal narratives about the war and began getting answers to burning questions. The language school proved to be an excellent resource and starting point. I was able to identify various leads of communities and people that I want to talk to and interview next summer.

Emily Willard

Me outside of Zunil, a predominantly Maya K’iche’ city near Xela.

After the completion of my courses at the language school, I continued to nurture previous relationships established years ago. I met with a few Guatemalan academics, and gained more academic contacts. I was identified a few ways in which I might give back by providing access to declassified US documents about Guatemala’s history of human rights violations, and working to support communities’ efforts to preserve their own history of the conflict.

On this research trip, I gained more information, which allowed me to adjust and refine my research question, test out methodological approaches of listening and conversation, so that changes can be made accordingly. I found myself being with people as opposed to being an outside researcher studying my “subjects.” This experience led to new ideas to a clearer, stronger, better, and I believe, more ethical approach to my research.

Emily Willard Caldwell Fellow

Visit to a community during anniversary celebration

One of the highlights of my trip included a conversation with a guide and former guerrilla member who shared the story of his time fighting in the mountains, and the history of his comrades’ sacrifices on the volcano. He told us how important it is that we are asking questions, listening, and learning about the history of struggle in his country. Although it wasn’t a highlight, I experienced a memorable moment when I was struck by the realities of current-day racism in Guatemala. A colleague from the US arranged for me to meet with her friend, a doctor, who is also an indigenous leader in her community, working on women’s health issues; she wears traje (traditional Mayan dress). She was refused entrance to the hotel where we were meeting. My colleague had to exit the building and argue with the guard so that she could be let in. It was only an hour earlier where I had no trouble entering the hotel. I heard stories from friends about children who are specifically NOT taught to speak indigenous languages because of discrimination against native language speakers.

In conclusion, I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to conduct my preliminary dissertation work, which would not have been possible without the support of the Mack-Mayerfield and Caldwell Fellowships through the UW Center for Human Rights.