Dr. Vickie Casanova-Willis



Co-Executive Director

Dr. Vickie Casanova-Willis, MBA, MAT, and PhD in Global and Comparative Education, is a non-profit administrator and educator, splitting her time between direct service and writing to advance the growing human rights movement in the US. She is a teaching artist and cultural worker with decades of activism, working with children and families in the Black and Latino communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Her focus is on building capacity for historically marginalized individuals and communities to participate in the decisions that impact their lives and futures.
Dr. Casanova-Willis's current work includes board roles (Executive Committee for the US Human Rights Network, Steering Committee of the US Human Rights Cities Alliance, and Westside Justice Center) as well as direct engagement with underserved youth and families across ethnicities and nationalities. She has spent over a decade collaborating with friends in the legal and activist community utilizing her skills and relationships in business, performing arts, interdisciplinary education, organizing and administration, to bear on a problem that hits very close to home. As a woman of color and teacher/employer to hundreds of primarily African American/African descendant youth over the last few years, she views the need for transformative action to dismantle structural racism as critically urgent. This is truly life or death, and requires a totally new approach.

Dr. Casanova-Willis is a founding member of Black People Against Police Torture, the grassroots organization that helped lead a broad based coalition to internationalize Chicago’s police torture issue, while creating the Torture Inquiry Relief Commission - a state legislative remedy for Torture victims. She has performed, published articles, and presented papers at national and international conferences, speaking on race and ethnicity from an arts, education, and media perspective. Dr. Casanova-Willis serves on the Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team as African Diaspora Solidarity Chair, and human rights catalyst, and is a frequent liaison with the African and Caribbean communities through her work as a community organizer and youth worker. She is a proud member of the US Human Rights Network, a former FIHRE Fellow, co-author of several stakeholder reports, co-hosted the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and served on its 2014 USHRN CAT Taskforce selection committee. She is a past President of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and is happily married to civil and human rights legal legend Attorney Standish E. Willis (retired).