Jennifer Mason McAward
Director and Associate Professor of Law
Jennifer Mason McAward received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from Notre Dame in 1994, majoring in Government and International Relations and minoring in Theology. Following law school, Professor Mason McAward served as a law clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then for United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She remained in Washington, D.C. to practice law, focused on litigating federal civil rights cases, representing children in abuse, and neglect proceedings. She returned to Notre Dame in 2005 to teach at Notre Dame Law School, and was named Distinguished Professor of the Year in 2007. She was appointed Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in 2016.
Professor Mason McAward currently teaches courses on civil rights, constitutional law, and habeas corpus. At a general level, her research considers how government institutions and actors promote individual constitutional rights. Her scholarship has explored the history of the Reconstruction Amendments and the power of Congress to pass legislation to enforce the rights created by those provisions. She has studied the role of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and of Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., in particular, in advancing civil rights reforms. Her current research focuses on how judicial and executive actors can incentivize police and prosecutors to respect the pretrial due process rights of criminal defendants.
Associate Director and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Law
Christine Cervenak has experience in international law, conflict resolution, and human rights. She served in the Office of the Legal Advisor of the U.S. Department of State, as Legal Officer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s West Bank Operations, and with the UN’s peace operation in El Salvador. She worked extensively in conflict resolution, consulting to such clients as The Asia Foundation, Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, and USAID. Before joining the University in 2010, she was a director at the University of Chile Law School’s Human Rights Center. A Notre Dame graduate, she studied at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, earned a J.D. from UCLA, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. In 2001, she was honored by Notre Dame with the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, CSC, Award.
Assistant Director and Concurrent Assistant Professor of Law
Sean O’Brien joined the Center in 2005, bringing with him his experience in international and domestic human rights work. He holds three degrees from the University of Notre Dame, most recently graduating summa cum laude from the Center’s LL.M. program in 2002. His experience includes work with the Belfast law firm of Madden & Finucane before the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry, Northern Ireland and litigation with the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights. Immediately prior to his return to Notre Dame, he served as Chief Counsel for Immigration and Human Rights at the Center for Multicultural Human Services (CMHS) in Falls Church, VA, directing a legal services program for survivors of torture and war trauma.
Catholic Social Thought and International Human Rights Law
Christina Leblang joins the Center for Civil and Human Rights to develop an online research tool for scholars and practitioners that will facilitate identifying convergences between documents of Catholic social teaching and human rights. Christina holds a Masters of Engineering from Cornell University and a Master of Theological Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Previously working for Indiana University School of Medicine investigating the budding mechanism of Ebola virus, Christina brings her experience in project management to developing interests in human rights.
Communications Program Manager
Kevin coordinates communications for CCHR and its academic program including news, web and print content, and event-related materials. He also serves as a designer for the Dean’s Office of the Keough School of Global Affairs.
Kevin’s experience includes fifteen years as a designer and animator with WNDU and Golden Dome Productions. In 2001 he co-founded Imagine, a visual marketing firm in South Bend, delivering communications across print, web, and video media. He earned his M.A. in Art History from the University of Notre Dame in 2000 and has taught courses in art history, design, and visual literacy at Indiana University South Bend.
Ms. Ruszkowski is at the core of administration of all aspects of the work of the CCHR, including budgeting, financial transactions and records, communications with applicants for degree programs and with admitted students, and compliance with University requirements for privacy of personal data. Prior to joining the CCHR in February 2009, she worked for the Notre Dame Law School administration for more than seven years. She also has several years of experience working as a legal assistant in a small, local firm. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University.