Supervisors & Clients
Iain Levine, RN & LL.M
Senior Human Rights Advisor, Facebook
James combines a broad and impressive range of skills and experiences that allow him to provide high-level, analytical skills to various businesses and organizations. He has a strong and expert commitment to human rights and a clear understanding of human rights concepts, global priorities, and the landscape of the movement.
At the same time, he has - rarely for human rights activists - exceptionally strong methodological and analytical skills. His expertise in public opinion polling and quantitative analysis was particularly important for Human Rights Watch, where I worked as head of programs for many years. James led a groundbreaking initiative for HRW that addressed a profound need: to better understand attitudes to human rights in the US so as to better promote more positive and accepting attitudes.
James listens carefully and looks for ways to bring his expertise in research, political analysis, data analysis, and more to serve the needs of partners and collaborators.
Kenneth Roth, JD
Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
I began working with James as he was doing difficult on-the-ground research in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. I joined him for part of it and helped to release the resulting report. Already, at a young age, he showed unusual attention to detail, thoroughness and professionalism in his work, and a drive to make a difference. Since then, I have worked with James repeatedly as he emerged as the leading pollster on global attitudes toward human rights.
James' sophisticated polling in pivotal countries worldwide, coupled with his deeply analytic assessment of the findings, repeatedly provided enormously helpful insights into how people think about human rights and how best to engage them in the human rights cause. James also was the founder and editor of the leading online forum for the human rights movement to evaluate and improve its work, which became a go-to source to learn about creative new approaches to human rights and to discuss the movement's future.
Through this all, James has maintained a close, valued working relationship with Human Rights Watch, gaining much esteem among the staff for his skills and contributions. He combines the best empirically based academic rigor with a passion for improving the defense of human rights. He is an enormous asset to the human rights cause.
Patti Engel, RN
CEO and President of Engage Health
James is our 'go to' for social research. He possesses strong skills in the development methodology, statistics the pragmatic knowledge to implement social research projects in a thoughtful but efficient way.
Graham Ogle, MD
General Manager, Life for a Child Program, Australia. Adjunct Professor, University of Sydney
James has provided valuable support to the Life for a Child Program. He was instrumental in building the connections that led the Program to start in Mexico, and he has visited a number of countries to monitor and evaluate the work. These include some less-traveled countries in Central Asia. These visits require rapid adaptation to numerous very different medical and social situations, as well as diplomacy, insight, background knowledge, and warmth. He conducted these visits with great skill. Furthermore, he has also established research connections in the USA, Canada, and India which have resulted in various peer-reviewed publications that contribute to the knowledge of diabetes care of young people in less-resourced settings.
Eric Schwartz, JD
President of Refugees International. Former Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and Former Assistant Secretary of State, Refugees, Population, and Migration
Jim is a dedicated scholar and analyst whose research and published works have made important contributions to the field of human rights. His writing is thoughtful, clear, and creative. His empirical work has made a genuine and valuable difference to a norm-based discipline that has not often enough been rigorously subjected to qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Raymond Duval, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Political Science; former Special Assistant to the Provost; former Dean of the College of Liberal Arts: former Chair of the Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota
James Ron was my valued colleague at the University of Minnesota. We recruited him for the Harold E. Stassen Chair in International Affairs, a highly prestigious professorship with joint appointment in the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science.
As Chair of the Political Science Department at the time, I was thrilled that he accepted our offer of the position, because he had emerged as our clear top choice after a thorough and extensive international search in which we considered scores of the best scholars in the field.
He is an outstanding colleague, fully meeting our hopes and expectations for the holder of the Stassen Chair, in exemplifying scholarly commitment to innovative and top-notch research on crucially important topics in global affairs, and leading creative initiatives to translate such cutting-edge scholarship into practical action to enhance human rights worldwide. One of the especially admirable and distinguishing qualities of James' work is his sensitivity to and ability in bridging cultural differences, as beautifully evidenced by the multi-language and cross-national collaborations he has led.
Rachel Denber, MA
Deputy Director, Europe and Central Asia, Human Rights Watch.
Jim stepped in to research the situation for civilians during the second war in Chechnya, in the Russian Federation. This was during the very early phases of the armed conflict, in 1999, before it received widespread attention, before most human rights groups and foreign journalist were traveling there, at a time when certain aspects of the armed conflict itself were still inchoate. He very quickly and capably mapped out how to get himself and another HRW colleague close to the conflict as safely as possible and interview civilians.
James established a strong relationship of trust with both interviewees and HRW's Russia-based colleagues. With the civilians he interviewed, he worked with tremendous empathy. He quickly and with great integrity conveyed information, accurately outlining the problems fleeing civilians were facing and constructing from disparate information a cohesive picture of the situation inside Chechnya.
James puts the interests and well-being of survivors of human rights abuses first and foremost, together with substantive accuracy and integrity. He is a top-rate, deeply skilled investigator with a big heart.
Eric Goldstein, MA
Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Human Rights Watch
When I first worked with James at Human Rights Watch in the early 1990s he was bold, dedicated, and enterprising. He was self-motivated while always consultative. When he finished his first research and writing project, we published it and immediately hired him to carry out a second one, which he did successfully. James and I have remained friends ever since. In every conversation, James questions the conventional wisdom and welcomes alternative theories. His work is guided by passion, professionalism, and rigor."
Former Head of Global Human Rights Giving for the Ford Foundation:
"I loved working with Jim on the conceptualization and founding of OpenGlobalRights. When I was just launching a $50M initiative to support the global human rights movement at the Ford Foundation, Jim came to me with an idea to create a forum for the international movement. In the perfect example of donor/grantee collaboration, we discussed it at length and collaborated to develop the idea, which I then took with me as a proposal to a key grantee meeting in Sao Paulo. The grantees assembled then made further suggestions and endorsed the idea with enthusiasm. I then took the proposal, with these tweaks, back to Jim, who continued to work on the idea. What emerged from this highly collaborative process was OpenGlobalRights, with Jim as the Founding Editor, which is now one of the most important forums and resources for exchanging ideas within the international human rights movement. This could not have happened without Jim's spirit of dialogue, openness, resourcefulness, and good-natured willingness to work together to create the best possible outcome. I am very grateful for that, and consider Jim to be among the best partners that I have worked with as a donor!"
Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former senior health advisor
When I worked with the Government of Canada, I funded a project by James to explore the feasibility of using epidemiological data to understand the dynamics of violent conflict.
James' exceptional research and project management skills ensured the success of this complex, multi-disciplinary project. James demonstrated an ability to quickly master new subject areas and network quickly with key experts. He and his team worked to consolidate the existing evidence on the topic, and then convened and consulted a network of practitioners and policy-makers. James ensured the consultations were thorough and wide-ranging.
Project deliverables included a report and a conference, and James completed both on time and within budget.
This project illustrated James' ability to deftly manage complex projects with multiple deliverables and diverse teams in different countries. He is very organized and demonstrated his commitment to excellence throughout the process.
One of James' key strengths is his ability to master diverse subjects, using his strong foundation of quantitative and qualitative project management skills. This, combined with his excellent oral and written presentation skill, make him a good candidate for feasibility and analytic studies.
Mexican Diabetes Federation, executive director
After closely working with the Mexican Diabetes Federation, James proved to be a professional and sensitive advisor. He was deeply involved in the details of our collaboration with the Australian group, Life for a Child, and displayed a deep understanding of Mexico's particular situation, and its complex health system.
James' work has helped us do a better job in caring for young people in Mexico with type 1 diabetes.
Colleagues and Collaborators
Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Jim is a leading expert on human rights and humanitarian affairs who has pioneered the study of human rights public opinion in the Global South. He is a wide-ranging thinker, a versatile analyst, an eclectic methodologist, who moves easily between the academic and practitioner worlds. A terrific listener who resolves conflicts with ease, he is also a delightful colleague with high interpersonal intelligence.
We first worked together on a study of the human security network funded by a major NSF grant. Jim brought to the table an entire network of global south data and an innovative methodology for sampling transnational networks through distinct nodes. He also brought to the project a level of quantitative sophistication and experiential knowledge from his practitioner days and consulting work in the NGO world that had us all thinking more deeply, and he kept the team laughing. He was indispensable in the development of my third book, and we published an article together as well.
Beyond our collaborations I know known Jim as a dedicated humanitarian himself, highly engaged in the global health arena and always looking at issues from the perspective of the most vulnerable. He is simply a pleasure to work with.
Professor of Political Science, Barnard College, Columbia University; Director, The Harriman Institute at Columbia University
Jim is one of the world’s leading experts on global non-for-profit management and operations, including organizational dynamics, funding pressures, membership and public opinion. He has pioneered new methods that have revealed new insights into our understanding of NGOs across many different regional settings and his work is highly touted in academia and the policy world.
Experienced, ethical, and a great listener, Jim is unsurpassed in his ability to translate his groundbreaking research into practical recommendations for the needs of donors and organizations that seek to manage complex challenges and operational environments.”
New York Times Paris Bureau Chief; former NYT Diplomatic Columnist and Foreign Editor
“I’ve gotten to know Jim over the past decade and, in the course of wide-ranging discussions of American and Middle Eastern politics, have found him to be a man of remarkable intellect and absolute integrity, with a deep commitment to global human rights. Jim brings unusual lucidity and concision to his research, illuminating difficult subjects with his ability to see and express the essence of an issue.
He is a kind, gracious and generous man, whose friendship is important to me.”
Profesora Asociada, FLACSO-Mexico
“Jim and I worked together on a tri-national course on global development issues during his one-year Visiting Professor post at CIDE in Mexico City. We built a course across time and space with students from our home university programs in Mexico and the US, and students at an allied school in Israel.
Beyond his impeccable grasp of course content (non-state actors, international development, humanitarian intervention, international humanitarian law) and expertise on the cross-national case studies we used, I was continually struck by his ability to package content creatively, always looking for ways to push students to engage the material beyond the average classroom format.
Jim consistently came up with innovative solutions to problems of timing and calendars as they arose, met technological challenges with grace, and overall directed the class in a way that not only met all of the educational quality bars, but was also simply totally fun. In that year, Jim served as a sounding board for many of my pending research ideas, made himself available for conversations with me and many others on career choices and interests, and his visit overall strengthened our International Relations Division as an institution.
He is a solid academic, skilled researcher, a dependable and collaborative-minded colleague, and in my experience, our ongoing contact has only strengthened my own work.”
Lawyer at the Open Society Justice Initiative, Nigeria
“Jim was editor of Open Global Rights when a friend introduced the platform to me in 2013. He edited most of the articles I wrote for them. His thoughtful, probing, and engaging approach to contributors’ writings was as refreshing as it was revealing of the kind of thorough, deeply passionate, and exceptionally gifted researcher and academic he is. When Jim commits to a project, you can be sure he will give it undivided attention.”
JD, LLM Country Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria
“Jim is a visionary and aspirational leader. In the years we worked closely together on Open Global Rights (a platform he created), I learned a lot from him about how to be patient, review after review, and to always keep an eye on the goal of making knowledge accessible to as many people as possible. He treated everyone with respect, was very professional, and dedicated to the editorial team and the contributors. Working with Jim was easy and enjoyable.”
Professor of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Former Senior Advisor on Global Affairs and Defense to the Prime Minister of Canada
“Jim is one of the brightest people I know. I had the pleasure of working with him on a joint project for the Canadian foreign ministry. He delivered an excellent report – concise, clear, well-researched, and relevant. Jim has a remarkable ability to think through research problems, dig up and analyze the evidence, and present the results in a clear and compelling way. I really enjoyed our collaboration.”
Founder and consultant, People in Action -International Development Consulting, Morocco
“I first had the opportunity to work with Jim as a freshly graduated masters student, in 2006. Hired as a research assistant to take part in an intensive field-based research project on south-based human rights organizations in Montreal, I was inspired by Jim’s passionate, dynamic, and positive leadership, as well as by his highly adaptive, problem-solving skills, hard work and competences as an outstanding researcher and team leader.
In 2010, I took part in a global research project, designed and led by Jim, on the sustainability of rights-based organizations, involving a multicultural research team across the globe between Canada, Mexico, India and Morocco. I was yet again inspired and driven by Jim’s unwavering passion and quest for high quality research to better understand and advance the rights-based field globally. I was inspired by and learned from his ease to navigate through his sophisticated and rigorous yet pragmatic methods and approaches to research, data analysis, results formulation and policy and field applications.
Jim’s natural, compassion-based and collaborative leadership skills, coupled with his passionate engagement and hard work, make for highly qualitative and conducive work dynamics, which transcend cultural boundaries and settings and inspire all to naturally contribute their best.”
Program Manager, ABC Start Right at Paul Partnership, Ireland
“Jim was instrumental in starting me off on my Ph.D. path. He taught my PhD-level ‘Applied Techniques for Policy Analysis’ course, as well as the ‘Qualitative Methods’ course. He subsequently became my first Ph.D. dissertation supervisor. I also worked for Jim as a Research Assistant as part of a multicultural team, on a research project that explored the sustainability of rights-based organizations in the developing world. Jim’s instruction, guidance, and patience as a professor and a supervisor were what enabled me to choose my Ph.D. dissertation topic.
His professionalism, intelligence, and competence shine through and mark everything he does. The course he delivered on Grounded Theory sparked my interest in qualitative research methods. I wholeheartedly recommend his services.”
Kendra Dupay, PhD
Affiliated Researcher, Peace Research Institute Oslo and Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway
“I have worked with Jim on research about restrictive civil society laws since 2009. Jim’s interest in this research topic, and his direct encouragement to engage in it, not only propelled my own research career, it also sparked an entirely new line of research on closing civil society space that many prominent researchers and institutions are now contributing to.
Jim also served as a core member of my dissertation committee, and he provided me with some of the best scholarly feedback in my career.
Jim has been a fantastic mentor for me and I have learned a tremendous amount from his strong intellect. He is patient and kind, but unafraid to push his students and colleagues to achieve and upholds the highest quality standards in everything he is involved with.
He won’t rest until he knows things are done right. He is dedicated, extremely professional, and highly competent.”
Gonxhe Kandri, MA
Project Manager, Economic and Social Rights Projects, Albania.
“I met Jim during my Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship year at the University of Minnesota. He encouraged and guided me in pursuing a master’s in Human Rights from the prestigious Humphrey School of Public Affairs. His mentorship was vital in leading to the start of my master’s program. My experience with him has led me to believe that he is a consummate scholar and a thorough professional. His in-depth knowledge of global issues, policy design, research, and human rights issues has inspired my continuing pursuit of global and human rights issues and mentored me in a way that broadened understanding in this field. In addition to his expertise, one of his best assets is the ability to utilize appropriate language and positive interaction with students and scholars coming from different cultures and academic backgrounds, creating inclusive learning environments while also offering extra instructional support. I would be grateful to be a colleague of his in the future.”
Rachel Schmidt, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, 2020-21
“Jim was my MA supervisor at Carleton University, my first PhD supervisor, and also my director when I started working as an editor for Open Global Rights – I have known him for 15 years. He has been one of the key mentors in my career, and I would not have embarked on my PhD journey if it were not for his encouragement. As an instructor, he was excellent and engaging, and he brought valuable fieldwork experience into the classroom. He has always been highly professional, and his feedback never failed to make my work better. He demands excellence from his students but also shows them how to achieve it, and he teaches with compassion – this is a rare combination. His research work is inspiring and groundbreaking, and he has incredible attention to detail and a keen ability to solve complex problems. I hope to be able to work with him again someday!”
JD, LLM Country Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria
“I got to know James Ron while he was teaching at the University of Minnesota, where I visited for a year a State Department-funded fellowship. We consulted a number of times in Minneapolis on my interests, and James was very helpful. Later, I helped him plan and execute a research trip to Palestine, which he conducted with a colleague. It was a pleasure to work with him in the field. He brings integrity and knowledge to his work, connects well with people from different backgrounds, and is able to conduct and guide cross-cultural conversations with ease. I highly recommend him to anyone considering him for work in an international context.”