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Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies

Meet the Staff

Victoria Sanford, Director

Headshot of Victoria Sanford Dr. Victoria Sanford received her Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University. There she also received training in International Human Rights Law and Immigration Law at Stanford Law School.  She received a certificate in Human Rights Law from the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica.  She has worked with Central American refugees since 1986 when she founded and directed a non-profit refugee legal services project representing Central American asylum-seekers.  As a human rights activist and scholar, she has conducted extensive field research with Maya communities in Guatemala, Afro-Colombian and indigenous peace communities in Colombia, and Colombian refugee communities in Ecuador. Her research focuses on genocide, feminicide, collective memory, community reconstruction, equality, human rights and international humanitarian law during internal armed conflicts and in post-conflict countries in Latin America and Africa. 

She is the author of Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), Guatemala:  Del Genocidio al Feminicidio (FyG Editores, 2008), Violencia y Genocidio en Guatemala (FyG Editores, 2003), La Masacre de Panzós:  Etnicidad, tierra y violencia en Guatemala (FyG Editores, 2009), Guatemalan Non-Governmental Organizations:  A Funder’s Directory to 145 Local, Regional and National NGOs (Shaler Adams Foundation, 1996), co-editor with Asale Angel-Ajani of Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy and Activism (Rutgers University Press, 2006) and co-author of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation's report to the Commission for Historical Clarification [the Guatemalan truth commission] (FAFG 2000). She is currently completing Morality and Survival: Child Soldiers and Displacement in Guatemala and Colombia.  Her current book project is The Land of Pale Hands—A Study of Feminicide, Social Cleansing and Impunity in Guatemala.   

A 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, Dr. Sanford is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including a Bunting Peace Fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a United States Institute for Peace grant, a Fulbright Teaching/Research Award, a Rockefeller Fellowship for research on violence, a MacArthur Consortium Fellowship, an Inter-American Foundation fellowship, a Mellon fellowship, and the Early Career Award of the Peace Society of the American Psychological Association, among others.  She was recently appointed to the Australia Research Council of Experts as an Expert of International Standing.  She is a Research Associate at Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution and an Affiliate Scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights.  She has served as a consultant and provided invited expert briefings on human rights to private foundations as well as to governmental, nongovernmental, and United Nations entities, including the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Development Program.  She has published and presented her work in England, Spain, Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Slovenia, Austria, South Korea, Puerto Rico, and the United States.

Dr. Sanford is Professor of Anthropology at Lehman College and The Gradute Center, City University of New York.  She is the founding director of the Lehman Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies. She was a Visiting Scholar (2009-2010) at Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution and is an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University.  She chaired the American Anthropological Association’s Committee for Human Rights (2008-2009) and serves as a member of the Committee on the Prevention of Genocide for the International Association of Genocide Scholars. She serves as a pro bono expert to the Office of the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman.  She has served as Senior Research Fellow at the Institute on Violence and Survival, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  She has also taught in the Department of Rural and Regional Development at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, at Stanford University, and was a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame where she was also appointed Faculty Fellow at the Kroc Peace Studies Institute and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Cecilia María Salvi, Research Associate

Cecilia Mara Salvi Cecilia is a doctoral student in Anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She holds Master's degrees in Spanish and Anthropology from California State University, Los Angeles, where she received Excellence in Graduate Studies from both departments.

Her research focuses on the intersection of human rights and international law, investigating the influence of NGOs on anti-trafficking legislation in the United States and Argentina. As a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar, she interned in the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, tracking the ratification and implementation of international domestic workers' rights. She has presented her work on human trafficking at various national conferences and co-organized panels at the American Anthropological Association and Society for Applied Anthropology on topics ranging from human rights law to gender representations.

In 2013, she became the recipient of a Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program award, a scholarship given to doctoral students who will pursue careers as university professors. She an adjunct lecturer in the Anthropology Department at Lehman College, CUNY.

Nyssa Wagner, Program Assistant

Nyssa Wagner, Program Assistant Nyssa Wagner is a Senior at Lehman College. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry (ABC). She hopes to work in the field of Anthropology after obtaining her degree.