HRC welcomes Co-Executive Director Betsy Popken!

November 9, 2022

Betsy PopkenAnnouncing Betsy Popken as Co-Executive Director of Berkeley's Human Rights Center

The Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law announced today that Betsy Popken, an international human rights and public international law attorney, will be its Co-Executive Director. Popken will serve as Co-Executive Director with current Executive Director Alexa Koenig, who will be moving into a dual appointment as Co-Faculty Director with Eric Stover.

“We are thrilled to welcome Betsy to the Human Rights Center team,” said Koenig. “Her breadth of experience and diverse perspectives on human rights is truly stunning–ranging from frontline to government to legal practice–making her an ideal person to lead our multi-disciplinary team into its next decade.” 

Before joining Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, Popken co-founded and co-led the Business & Human Rights practice at the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and helped launch the firm’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practice. While Popken’s practice as Sustainability & Human Rights Counsel at Orrick spanned sectors, she had a particular passion for helping clients tackle human rights issues raised by emerging technologies. She served on the World Economic Forum’s Steering Committee for the Responsible Use of Technology and has published articles in Corporate Counsel, Bloomberg Law, and Chief Executive related to the intersection of human rights and technology. 

“The Human Rights Center’s leadership and expertise in the area of human rights and technology excites me,” said Popken. “In addition to the Center’s existing work on the open-source digital investigation and prosecution of war crimes and other human rights abuses, I can’t wait to see where else we can build a bridge with technology—in our existing work on health and human rights, and in new areas like the environment and business and human rights. We have such a knowledgeable and passionate team that I am inspired to work with.”

Popken worked on United Nations-mediated peace and ceasefire negotiations in Darfur, Syria, and Yemen through the Public International Law & Policy Group. She led PILPG’s work with the Syrian opposition negotiation team, funded by the U.S. State Department, U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Global Affairs Canada. Popken also founded and led PILPG’s Istanbul office in 2015-2016, and worked at this time throughout the Middle East and at the Palace of Nations in Geneva. She currently serves as a Senior Peace Fellow for PILPG. Popken previously taught negotiations at Stanford Law School, drawing from her experience in these real-world negotiations. Popken is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and previously worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Popken is one of three sisters, all living in the Bay Area. She shares her home in San Francisco with her dog, Sunny. And when she is not with family and friends in the Bay Area, she is enjoying time with them in the High Sierra hiking or snowshoeing. 

For a high resolution photo of Betsy Popken, or an interview request, please contact: Maggie Andresen [mandresen@berkeley.edu] [845-608-4997]