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ABF Research Professor Bernadette Atuahene Awarded 2019 Soros Equality Fellowship

September 23, 2019, Press releases

CHICAGO, Sept. 23, 2019 —  Bernadette Atuahene, American Bar Foundation (ABF) Research Professor and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, Professor of Law, has been awarded a 2019 Soros Equality Fellowship. The Open Society Foundations announced the 2019 Soros Equality Fellows on Thursday, September 19.

Founded in 2017, the Soros Equality Fellowship program supports innovators and risk-takers striving to create and develop new ways of tackling the systemic causes and symptoms of racial disparity and discrimination. Beyond nurturing their specific projects, the support aims to create new ideas in the racial justice movement.

The 2019 class of Soros Equality Fellows are a diverse group of artists, advocates, lawyers, and organizers whose work inspires advances in racial justice and equality in the United States. The 2019 class features 18 Fellows including Atuahene, all from different communities and regions of the country, who bring a wide range of tools to bear on the program’s core mission. Each of the Soros Equality Fellows will receive stipends of $100,000 over the course of 18 months.

Atuahene is a prominent scholar whose research deals with the confiscation and restitution of property. She plans to use the award to build on her academic research by creating a comprehensive guide and user-friendly, interactive information hub that communities can use to fight back against racially discriminatory property tax information.

I am honored that the Open Society Foundations decided to support my work on racially discriminatory property administration, which has been silently depleting the wealth of black and brown communities,” says Atuahene. “It must stop now!”

“We congratulate Bernadette on this well-deserved honor,” says ABF Executive Director Ajay K. Mehrotra. “She truly embodies all of the core ideals of the Soros Equality Fellowship, and we look forward to her continued contributions as she works to expand knowledge and advance justice."

Atuahene joined the Chicago-Kent faculty in 2005, where she teaches Law, Policy, and International Development; Property; Trusts and Estates; and International Business Transactions. She has been affiliated with the ABF for many years, and prior to becoming an ABF Research Professor she was an ABF Faculty Fellow from 2007-2016.

Her first book, We Want What’s Ours: Learning from South Africa’s Land Restitution Program, is based on 150 interviews she conducted with South Africans dispossessed of their land by the colonial and apartheid governments and who received some form of compensation post-apartheid. In conjunction with the book, she directed and produced an award-winning short documentary film about one South African family’s struggle to regain their land. Prior to becoming a professor, she was a former judicial clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa and an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York.

Throughout her career, Atuahene has been honored with the Fulbright Fellowship, the Council on Foreign Relation’s International Affairs Fellowship, and Princeton University’s Law and Public Affairs Fellowship. In 2015, she won a National Science Foundation grant for her current project on housing in Detroit and has published her findings in scholarly journals such as the Southern California Law Review, Northwestern University Law Review, and California Law Review, as well as media outlets such as the New York Times and Detroit Free Press. She currently co-convenes the Coalition to End Unconstitutional Tax Foreclosures, a grassroots campaign to end predatory property tax administration in Detroit. She has a BA from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MPA from Harvard University, and a JD from Yale Law School. 

About the American Bar Foundation

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world’s leading research institutes for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF is an independent, non-profit that seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.  The ABF produces timely, cutting-edge research to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and worldwide. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.


Find a PDF of this press release here 

Posted by Whitney Peterson

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