Honoring Leigh Swigart

On the Occasion of Her Retirement

Leigh Swigart Leigh Swigart joined the Ethics Center in 2002. As director of Programs in International Justice and Society, Leigh launched and managed the Language, Culture and Justice Hub and wrote and edited the monthly e-newsletter, International Justice in the News.

Leigh is the co-author, with Ethics Center Director Emeritus Daniel Terris and Cesare Romano, of "The International Judge: An Introduction to the Men and Women Who Decide the World’s Cases" (2007, Brandeis University Press and Oxford University Press).

Her academic work and publications have focused on the challenges of language diversity in international criminal courts and tribunals; language use in postcolonial Africa; and African immigration and refugee resettlement in the United States. Her recent research focuses on how the International Criminal Court is managing the challenges associated with accommodating African-language speakers in its investigations, in the courtroom and in its outreach programming to affected regions and victims; and on the experience of multilingual students on monolingual campuses.

Explore Leigh Swigart's work on her Scholarworks page.

To share your own tribute to Leigh Swigart, email ethics@brandeis.edu.

People posing in front of a gate in Israel

Leigh Swigart with participants in the 2012 Global Judicial Colloquium in Haifa, Israel, convened by the Ethics Center. Left to right: Chief Justice Bart Katureebe (Ugandan Supreme Court); Judge René Blattmann (International Criminal Court) and wife Marianne; Judge Glynnis Hill (Criminal Justice Center of Philadelphia); Leigh Swigart, Judge Erik Møse (European Court of Human Rights); and Justice Jacob Wit (Caribbean Court of Justice).

Shared Tributes for Leigh Swigart

John Shattuck

Chair of the Ethics Center's International Advisory Board

"International justice is about accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity. For more than two decades, Leigh Swigart has created multiple opportunities for Brandeis students and faculty to study the institutions of international justice and engage with judges, lawyers and practitioners. Working with Justice Richard Goldstone, one of the world's foremost experts on international justice, Leigh helped make Brandeis and the Ethics Center a leading convener of international judges and a global center for the exchange of innovative ideas and practices about international justice."

Melissa Stimell

Director of the Ethics Center

"Brandeis University, the global community, and I have benefited greatly from Leigh Swigart's work on international justice. Her work was an inspiration for the program Brandeis University in The Hague. Brandeis in The Hague was a 10-year adventure in which Emeritus Professor Richard Gaskins and I brought students to study international justice and its institutions in the City of Peace and Justice. Through her innovative work with international judges, attorneys and language personnel, Leigh Swigart connected students to key figures in the field. She continues to do so through my Brandeis course on global justice. I am forever grateful for her commitment to international justice and language and her generosity to the students."

Dan Terris

Founding Director and Director Emeritus of the Center

"Leigh Swigart built and led the programs in International Justice at the Ethics Center with wisdom, tact and relentless competence. She brought to her work an anthropologist's penetrating understanding of human interactions, relationships and meanings that permeated every gathering she organized, and galvanized the work of the Ethics Center as a whole.

"The Brandeis Institutes for International Judges were her crowning achievement, shining examples of engaging, productive conversations at the highest global level. Leigh understood that ALL of the arrangements mattered to the success of this endeavor — the intellectual framework, the communications, the details of logistics — and she excelled in balancing the academic and the practical.

"Leigh always has sharp and well-defined opinions, but also a remarkable ability to contribute to the give-and-take of collective decision-making. Always suspicious of hierarchy and the pretenses of status, Leigh brought a bracing spirit of democratic zest to the Ethics Center’'s work. I appreciated her as a loyal and supportive colleague, and I continue to treasure her as a loyal and supportive friend."

Cynthia Cohen

Co-Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts

"Leigh Swigart has brought her gracious, insightful and courageous intelligence to all that she has undertaken at Brandeis. She has led the Programs in International Justice and Society with creativity and commitment, leading the Brandeis Institute for International Judges and undertaking groundbreaking research into issues surrounding language justice in the International Criminal Court.

"Leigh has lifted up issues of language justice on campus and throughout a global network. She has marshaled the Gittler Prize and Richman Fellowship processes at Brandeis with integrity, efficiency, tact and sensitivity, contributing to extraordinary opportunities for Brandeis students, faculty and staff. And she has been a committed, willing and consistent supporter of the interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation, serving on the advisory committee, attending and supporting events, and even hosting events at her home.

"I appreciate Leigh as a colleague and partner in thinking, reflecting and imagining. Her leaving the university is a loss the dimensions of which will only be appreciated over time."

Richard Goldstone

H’04, former Chair of the Center’s Advisory Board, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and leader in the development of international justice

"I worked with Leigh for some 15 years in organizing highly successful Institutes for International Judges. The Institutes provided a host of judges from around the world the opportunity to meet and share experiences. Leigh was the key administrator who made these meetings the great success they turned out to be. It was a delight and pleasure to work with Leigh. Her warmth and friendship remain my lasting memories of those times."

Barbara Strauss

Former Ethics Center Senior Department Coordinator

"Leigh always put mental and physical health above all else. Meaning, she was humane. She put people first. The workplace needs more of this. Leigh will be missed."

David Weinstein

Assistant Director of ENACT and Communications

"Leigh brought a nontraditional background to her work focused on international justice — and as a result has made unique contributions to the field. Her expertise as a linguistic anthropologist, and her thoughtfulness and ethical grounding, advanced the field of international justice and the thinking of the people in that field in ways that are significant and underappreciated. On a personal level, Leigh has been the kind of supportive colleague and friend, with high standards for excellence for herself and others — and a great sense of humor — that anyone would be fortunate to have."

Armine Avetisyan

IMPACT Program Coordinator, Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts administrator

A haiku for Leigh

with rigor and joy,

exploring language justice

for courts to deploy

Toni Shapiro-Phim

Co-Director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts

"Initiatives of individuals and institutions the world over reflect the constructive impact of Leigh's work. She has engaged for decades, after all, with issues and systems of justice across the globe. Through research, training and the exchange of knowledge, the programs under her care have enhanced possibilities for the pursuit and realization of justice in diverse contexts, and for the understanding of ways in which such efforts are often thwarted. How lucky I've been to work side-by-side with Leigh these past four years! She's added invaluable perspectives to my own undertakings and partnered with me to deliver discrete, innovative programs. Our Center has thrived, in part, because of such collaborations across areas of expertise. Thank you, Leigh."

Marci McPhee

Former Associate Director of the Ethics Center

"I don't know what I can add to the glowing remarks already online, except AMEN!! I will share this one anecdote.

"When it became clear that knowing Spanish would help her in her international justice work, Leigh said 'I'll just learn Spanish, then.' Already fluent in at least French and Wolof (maybe more), she just put her mind to learning a new language to support the work. Since I have studied Spanish for decades now, and only now feeling mildly capable at last, I'm astonished. This shows several things:

  • Leigh's can-do attitude
  • Her willingness to do whatever it takes to improve the work
  • The depth of her capacity and competence.

"In addition I found Leigh to be an always-supportive colleague, willing to be interrupted in the busiest times of her own work to help with whatever I needed, with her typical insightful wisdom. Leigh is a remarkable colleague and tremendous person."

Justice Florence Mumba

International Judge (from Zambia), Supreme Court Chamber, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; participant in the Brandeis Insitute for International Judges

Re: A wonderful friend!

"Leigh Swigart made a contribution to my successful career by giving me opportunities to make presentations on topics of international law and ethics. I am honoured to have known her. I wish her well."

Linda Carter

Professor of Law Emerita, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

"I had the great honor and pleasure to assist Leigh, Dan Terris, and Richard Goldstone from 2003-2015 in the Brandeis Institute for International Judges. I always enjoyed discussing the substantive themes and issues with Leigh,  as well as the format of the sessions.

"It was especially rewarding for me as a law professor to learn from Leigh's cultural anthropology perspective. As a result of Leigh's academic background, it was natural to have inter-disciplinary approaches to the issues, which enriched the dialogue involved. Leigh was also instrumental in ensuring that the Institutes were conducted with honesty, tolerance, and diplomacy. She always organized excursions for the groups that further cemented many lasting friendships.

"The Institutes and the published reports are a lasting legacy to Leigh's extraordinary efforts and work in international justice."