Caroline Bettinger-Lopez

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy

About the Expert

Expert Bio

Caroline Bettinger-Lopez is an adjunct senior fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where she teaches and directs the Human Rights Clinic. She is an expert on violence against women and international human rights. She regularly appears before the United Nations and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as well as U.S. courts and policymakers, to advocate for the rights of women, immigrants, and ethnic minorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. 

From 2015 to 2017, Bettinger-Lopez served as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, a senior advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Her responsibilities included co-chairing the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, chairing the U.S. Government Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence Against Women, and coordinating the inaugural meeting of the cabinet-level North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls (with the participation of all attorneys general and indigenous affairs cabinet members from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico).

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bettinger-Lopez was the founding director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law (2010-2015), and deputy director of the Human Rights Institute and lecturer-in-law and acting director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School (2006-2010). She was a visiting associate clinical professor at the University of Chicago Law School in fall 2014, where she taught and directed the International Human Rights Clinic. Earlier, she was a Skadden Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project, where she focused on housing and employment rights of domestic violence survivors.

Bettinger-Lopez served as lead counsel on Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2011), the first international human rights case brought by a domestic violence victim against the U.S. She has worked extensively with advocates and government officials in Canada on issues of violence against Indigenous women and girls, challenged U.S. deportations to post-earthquake Haiti, and litigated against the Dominican Republic for its mass expulsions of Haitian nationals and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Her commentary and research have appeared in numerous journals, law reviews, and online and traditional media, including: Harvard Human Rights Law Journal, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, American Journal of International Law, the New York Times, the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, National Law Journal, and Huffington Post.

Bettinger-Lopez earned a JD from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar, and a BA from the University of Michigan, where she studied cultural anthropology and earned highest honors for her senior thesis, which was later published as a book, Cuban-Jewish Journeys: Searching for Identity, Home, and History in Miami (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2000). 


  • University of Miami School of Law, professor of law and director, human rights clinic
  • International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) Board of Managerial Trustees, board member
  • Casa de Esperanza/National [email protected] Network for Healthy Families and Communities, board member