How Does Race Manifest in National Security?

Date: Wednesday, October 11th from 12:00 – 1:30 pm EST

Discussion Description:

This webinar will analyze and re-imagine the role of race in national security. Speakers will challenge national security orthodoxy and disrupts accepted truths. It will bring together in one session domestic, transnational, and comparative and international law perspectives on racial justice and national security.

*This Webinar was not Recorded


Catherine Powell is a full professor at Fordham Law School, where she is the Eunice Carter Distinguished Research Scholar Professor of Law. Powell previously worked in the Obama administration on the White House National Security Council and Secretary of State Policy Planning Staff. Earlier, she was on Columbia Law School’s faculty as founding director of the Human Rights Institute and Clinic. Before going into academia, she was a litigator at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and served on the Human Rights Watch board. Powell graduated from Yale College, Yale Law School, and Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs (graduate program). She was also a post-graduate fellow at Harvard Law School and SDNY law clerk.

Professor of Law, Fordham Law School (2017-present)

Social Innovation Award Fellow (2019-2020) for Digital Civil Rights and Civil Liberties project

  • Elected to the Board of Editors in 2015 for the American Journal of International Law
  • American Society of International (ASIL), Executive Council
  • Co-Chair, Blacks in ASIL (BASIL) (ASIL presidential appointment)
  • Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Women and Foreign Policy (January 2014- present)
  • Affiliated Faculty,  Center on Race, Justice and Law
  • Affiliated Faculty, Leitner Center for International Law & Justice
  • Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center (2012-2013) and Columbia Law (Spring 2007)
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff Member (2009-2011, 2012)
  • White House National Security Staff, Director for Human Rights (May-November 2011 detail from State Department)
  • Associate Clinical Professor and Founding Director, Human Rights Institute and Clinic, Columbia Law School (1998-02)
  • Assistant Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (1994-98)
  • Law Clerk, Judge Leonard Sand, SDNY (1993-94)
  • Ford Fellow in Public International Law, Harvard Law School (1992-93)
  • Senior Editor,Yale Law Journal
  • Principal Subjects: Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Comparative Constitutional Law, Digital Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, International Law


  • J.D. Yale Law School
  • M.P.A. Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School Of Public And International Affairs
  • B.A. Yale College


Aziz Rana, Provost’s Distinguished Fellow, J. Donald Monan, SJ, Professor in Law and Government, Boston College Law School

Aziz Rana is a Professor and Provost’s Distinguished Fellow at Boston College Law School and the incoming J. Donald Monan, S.J., University Professor of Law and Government (beginning 2024). He joins Boston College from Cornell Law School, where he was the Richard and Lois Cole Professor of Law.

His research and teaching center on American constitutional law and political development. In particular, Rana’s work focuses on how shifting notions of race, citizenship, and empire have shaped legal and political identity since the founding.

His first book, The Two Faces of American Freedom (Harvard University Press) situates the American experience within the global history of colonialism, examining the intertwined relationship in American constitutional practice between internal accounts of freedom and external projects of power and expansion. His forthcoming book, The Constitutional Bind: How Americans Came to Idolize a Document that Fails Them (University of Chicago Press, 2024), explores the modern emergence of constitutional veneration in the twentieth century — especially against the backdrop of growing American global authority — and how veneration has influenced the boundaries of popular politics.

Rana has written essays and op-eds for such venues as n+1DissentThe Boston ReviewThe Washington PostThe New York Times New Labor ForumJacobinThe GuardianThe Chronicle of Higher EducationThe NationJadaliyyaSalon, and The Law and Political Economy Blog. He has articles and chapter contributions published or forthcoming with Yale and Oxford University PressesThe University of Chicago Law ReviewCalifornia Law ReviewUCLA Law ReviewTexas Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal Forum, among others.

Rana is an editorial board member of DissentThe Law and Political Economy Blog, and Just Security. He is also a Life Member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

​He received his A.B. from Harvard College summa cum laude and his J.D. from Yale Law School. He earned a Ph.D. in political science at Harvard University, where his dissertation was awarded the University’s Charles Sumner Prize.


Matiangai Sirleaf, Nathan Patz Professor of Law, University of Maryland School of Law; Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Matiangai Sirleaf is the Nathan Patz Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She holds a secondary appointment as a professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Professor Sirleaf writes and teaches in the areas of global public health law, public international law, international human rights law, international criminal law, post-conflict and transitional justice, and criminal law.

Professor Sirleaf is the editor of the first thematic print volume on Race & National Security, which is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2023.

Professor Sirleaf’s work has been featured in leading law reviews such as the Cardozo Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Texas Law Review, and the UCLA Law Review. Professor Sirleaf’s writing appears in prominent textbooks like Foundations of Global Health & Human Rights (2020) and Global Health Law & Policy: Ensuring Justice for a Healthier World (2023), forthcoming from Oxford University Press. Her commentary and reflections also appear in several fora such as, AfronomicsLawAmerican Journal of International LawAmerican Journal of International Law UnboundAmerican Society of International Law InsightsBill of HealthJuristJust SecurityOpinio Juris, and Third World Approaches to International Law Review.

Professor Sirleaf’s scholarly agenda seeks to make visible the extant hierarchies in international law and to remedy the inequities reflected in it. Her work elucidates how seemingly neutral laws further global inequities. Her current research agenda sits at the crossroads between international human rights law and global public health law, where she analyzes the disproportionate distribution of highly infectious diseases and the role of international law in facilitating this result. Another branch of her scholarship sits at the intersection of international criminal law and transitional justice. This area of Professor Sirleaf’s scholarship proposes context-specific and locally informed approaches to providing redress to survivors of human rights violations and theorizes avenues for greater involvement of historically subordinated peoples in the making of international law. The common thread through all her scholarship whether examining issues of racial justice, civil and political violations, or socio-economic violations, is responsibility. International law conceives of responsibility in narrow ways and her scholarships seeks to render it more emancipatory.

Professor Sirleaf serves in several leadership positions. She is an executive editor at Just Security and is a member of the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law.

Professor Sirleaf has received a number of prestigious grants, awards, fellowships, and other honors. These include the University of Pittsburgh’s Teaming Grant (2020), the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award (2019), the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics Health Law Scholar Selection (2019), the University Center for International Studies Faculty Fellowship (2018-2019), the Ford Institute for Human Security Research Grant (2016-2018), the New York University Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award (2014), and a Fulbright Fellowship (2004).

Professor Sirleaf previously served as an associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, as an assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, as well as a Sharswood Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She held attorney and fellow roles prior to entering academia. These roles include Human Rights Fellow at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll (2010-2012); law clerk, Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, Constitutional Court of South Africa (2009-2010); and Bernstein Fellow at the International Center for Transitional Justice (2008-2009).



Darin Johnson, Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law

Darin Johnson is Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law. Professor Johnson received his B.A. from Yale College and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. At Harvard Law School, he was an Executive Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

Professor Johnson was recognized by Harvard Law School with the Irving R. Kaufman Public Interest Fellowship, the Samuel Heyman Fellowship for Public Service, and the Wasserstein Public Interest Fellowship. During his final year of law school, Professor Johnson was selected as one of only two commissioned U.S. Army officers to serve in the Secretary of the Army General Counsel’s Office Honors Program at the Pentagon. He served as an Assistant General Counsel to the Army Secretariat for four years, completing his military service with the rank of Captain.

After leaving the Pentagon, Professor Johnson continued to practice law as an attorney-adviser in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser. During his tenure with the Office of the Legal Adviser, Professor Johnson advised on a wide range of international legal issues, involving Middle Eastern, political-military, United Nations, and other multilateral matters. He served as the Legal Adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Professor Johnson also served on detail to the Office of the White House Counsel during the Obama Administration. Professor Johnson served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions, which was tasked with coordinating U.S. assistance to politically transitioning countries in the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab Spring uprisings. He received several Departmental honors for his work.

Professor Johnson’s research interests include constitutional reform, reconciliation, and the rule of law in post-conflict and transitioning states.  Professor Johnson provides legal advice on matters of public international law and the rule of law in post-conflict, transitioning, and developing countries through his work as a Senior Peace Fellow with the Public International Law and Policy Group and his consultancy work.

Professor Johnson has also served as a visiting professor, an adjunct professor and a lecturer at George Washington University Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, the Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and the American University Washington College of Law. He has been honored to receive the Faculty Member of the Year Award from the Howard Law Student Bar Association. Professor Johnson is a member of the Illinois Bar, the D.C. Bar and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.



Amy Gaudion, Associate Professor of Law, Penn State Dickinson Law

Amy C. Gaudion is an associate professor of law and the founder of Dickinson Law’s annual cyberspace simulation with the U.S. Army War College. Her scholarship sits at the intersection of constitutional law, national security and homeland security law, and civil-military relations. Professor Gaudion’s current projects explore flaws in the structural provisions of the U.S. Constitution relating to the exercise of national security powers and propose alternatives to the conventional checking and oversight mechanisms. Another thread of her scholarship focuses on the homeland security threats posed by low civic education and civic engagement levels and considers the role to be played by law schools and legal educators in countering such threats through the development of educational partnerships and curricular innovations. Professor Gaudion’s recent publications include The Homeland Security Legal Architecture Before 9/11, in Foundations of Homeland Security and Emergency Management: Law and Policy (Martin J. Alperen ed., 3d ed. forthcoming 2023) (Wiley), Exploring Race and Racism in the Law School Curriculum: An Administrator’s View on Adopting an Antiracist Curriculum, 23 Rutgers Race & the Law Review 131 (2022), and Answering the Cyber Oversight Call, 54 Loyola University Chicago Law Journal 139 (2022)

Professor Gaudion teaches courses in the areas of national security law, cyberspace law and policy, legal analysis and writing, and legislation and statutory interpretation. She is the faculty advisor for the law school’s Military Law Caucus and National Security Law Association as well as for its certificate programs in Government Affairs/National Security Law and Cyber, Privacy and Data Security. She served as the law school’s associate dean for academic affairs from 2017-2023. Prior to joining Dickinson Law, she clerked in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and worked as an associate at Hanley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin. She earned a J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law, receiving summa cum laude and Order of the Coif honors, and a B.A. from the University of Virginia, graduating with distinction.