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Susan Gzesh


T. 312.580-0100
F. 312.580-1994

Susan Gzesh became of counsel to Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. in 2010. She focuses on the areas of civil rights, class actions, and labor and employment. Since 2001, Ms. Gzesh has been Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago.

She directs an interdisciplinary academic program and teaches courses on contemporary issues in human rights, the rights of aliens and citizens, and human rights in Mexico. Her research interests bridge human rights and migration policy. From 1977 until the mid-1990s, Ms. Gzesh practiced law in Chicago, working at the Legal Assistance Foundation, the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and at two law firms. She represented individual immigrants and refugees, as well as political candidates and religious organizations. In the 1980s, she was legal adviser to national and local religious organizations that participated in the Sanctuary movement. In 1983, Ms. Gzesh won political asylum in the U.S. for Dennis Brutus, a Northwestern University professor and prominent South African anti-apartheid activist. From 1996-2001, she co-directed the Regional Network of Civil Organizations for Migration, an international civil society coalition that advocated for the human rights of migrants with governments of the Regional Conference on Migration. From 1997–1999, she served as legal advisor to the Minister for Migration Affairs of the Embassy of Mexico. Ms. Gzesh was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico in 1990 and served on the Clinton-Gore Presidential Transition Team in 1992.


  • University of Michigan Law School (J.D. 1977)
  • University of Chicago (B.A. 1972)

Bar Admissions

U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois


  • English
  • Spanish

Memberships / Associations

  • Member, National Commission on ICE Misconduct for the United Food & Commercial Workers Union
  • Non-resident Research Fellow, Migration Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.
  • Board of Directors, Red Internacional de Migracion y Desarrollo
  • Member, Task force on the Midwest perspective on immigration policy, convened by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Board of Directors, Kartemquin Films
  • Public Square Advisory Board Member, Illinois Humanities Council
  • Advisory Board Member, PRODESC, Mexico City

Speeches and Presentations

“Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?: A Historical Perspective on Mexico-U.S. Migration” presentation at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd (April 12, 2012).

“Human rights, migration, and development,” Washington Office on Latin America/ Iniciativa Ciudadana (June 9, 2010).

“International human rights and migration policy: a challenge to sovereignty,” Immigration Law Professors Conference, DePaul Law School, Chicago (May 26, 2010).

“The right to not migrate,” Summit of the Great Plains, University of Nebraska-Omaha, International Network on Migration and Development (May 14, 2010).

“Understanding Refugee Rights,” United Nations Association, Model UN, Chicago Public Schools (Apr. 30, 2010).

Moderator, experts roundtable on U.S.-Mexico migration issues, MacArthur Foundation and Woodrow Wilson Institute, Washington, D.C. (Feb. 18, 2010).

“A human rights critique of the UNDP Report on Human Mobility,” Wesleyan University, Connecticut (Feb. 5, 2010).

“Using human rights to evaluate migration policy,” University of Chicago Human Rights Workshop (Jan. 12, 2010).

“Overview of civil rights issues for Mexican Migrants,” Embassy of Mexico, Washington, D.C. (Dec. 4, 2009).

“Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors: Looking at Mexico-U.S. Migration Relations,” University of Chicago Harper Lecture, San Francisco, CA (Nov. 2009).

Panelist, open discussion on teaching human rights, national roundtable on teaching human rights in the liberal arts, University of Chicago (Nov. 2009).

Panelist, open discussion on migration and human rights, Civil Society Days, Global Forum on Migration & Development, Athens, Greece (Nov. 2009).

“Cambios en la politica migratoria: de Bush a Obama,” Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (Mexico), Meeting of Heads of Protection Services (Aug. 24, 2009).

Keynote speaker, “Student activism at Michigan: a proud heritage,” University of Michigan Law School, Juan Luis Tienda Memorial Dinner (Mar. 7, 2009).

“Human Rights and U.S. advocacy,” Donor’s Forum, Chicago (Mar. 2009).

“Using human rights to push the US policy framework on migration,” Western Washington State University, Bellingham, Washington (Feb. 23, 2009).

“A human rights perspective on migration and development,” International Organization for Migration and Mexican Secretariat for Foreign Affairs, Mexico City (June 27, 2008).

Lecturer, “Human Rights and Migration: theoretical and practical perspectives,” (in Spanish) Latin American graduate student seminar, Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, B.C., Mexico (June 25, 2008).

“Forced migration: a human rights perspective,” talk at Symposium of Regional Network for Migration and Development and SELAH, Caracas, Venezuela (Apr. 25, 2008).

“Do good fences make good neighbors? A historical view of Mexican migration to the U.S.,” Harper Faculty Lecture, University of Chicago Alumni, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Apr. 13, 2008).

“Regarding the pain of others: film as a teaching tool in human rights courses,” Human Rights Curriculum Project, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota (Apr. 12, 2008).

“Mexican migration to the U.S.: policy and history,” Migration Policy Institute seminar, Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Mexico, D.F. (Apr. 8, 2008).

“Integrating the world into human rights teaching: the role of internships,” Human Rights Curriculum Project, University of Chicago (Feb. 15, 2008).

“Human rights & migration: a holistic view,” Iniciativa Ciudadana, Mexico, D.F., Mexico (Feb. 8, 2008).

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