Kristine Herman ’94 has worked in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault for nearly 15 years. She is currently the director of global gender initiatives at the Center for Court Innovation in New York. She has worked as the gender/human rights specialist at the American Bar Association’s Central Eurasian and European Law Initiative in Azerbaijan, where she trained on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, gender equality and capacity and coalition building. Herman has also served as the associate director of sex offense programs at the Center for Court Innovation, where she worked with the Office of Court Administration to research and develop specialized courts and emerging practice models on sex offenses in New York. Herman earned a law degree from Northeastern University and a master's in social work from Tulane University.
She took a few moments out of her busy schedule to talk to us about love at first sight, Div dances and living up to potential.
What brought you to Antioch College? What was your major? I wound up at Antioch out of sheer luck. I tagged along with my best friend and her parents when they visited the campus, and I fell in love. I may have considered one or two other schools, but I knew right away that Antioch College was where I wanted to be. It just felt like it was most me. I majored in psychology right from the beginning, but I seemed to befriend mostly theater and art folks. I also am convinced that my emerging focus on women's studies and violence against women issues began and took root there.
What's your favorite memory of being at Antioch College? There is absolutely no way to pick just one favorite memory. Without question there are many Div dances that come to mind as being memorable—very memorable. Stoop parties. The swing outside North. Each one of my co-ops was memorable and ridiculously impactful in their own ways. The entire SOPP saga, from its beginnings in 1990/91 through to the media explosion several years later was quite memorable.
I can't pick a favorite. The Antioch College years were, for me, rich with memorable, outrageous, meaningful, fun and insane moments, and I am just deeply thankful to have had them all.
Was there a professor that made a huge impact on your life? There were many professors who made an impact on my life, I think over my time at Antioch College I had different influences, depending on where I was at with my learning. The one professor who comes immediately to mind is Melinda Kanner. She pushed me and challenged me and inspired me. Ultimately I think I disappointed her at the time—but hopefully in the last 15 years I've lived up to the potential she may have seen back then.
Words of wisdom on the independence of Antioch College: This is a tough one. I wish I did. I will say that the process of independence was not the smoothest to me, and in fact, there was a point at which I was no longer engaged in what was going to happen, and I started to disregard the e-mail (particularly after attending several of the local New York chapter meetings on the issue). I think that has to do with what is the perpetual challenge for us Antiochians—how to effect great change, support radical ideas and critical thinking, without alienating certain constituencies by the dynamics of the group process. Ultimately, I think the independence of the College is a good thing, but it will require a substantial amount of work to be able to overcome the numerous obstacles still remaining in order to become the kind of institution worthy of its legacy.
If you could bring one thing to the future of Antioch College, what would it be? To keep inspiring. It should still embody our glorious Horace Mann quote: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” And above all, it should aim for high quality academics and quality co-ops, while still maintaining the laboratory feel and supporting new ways of thinking, learning and being. Oh, and community governance was a critical element when I was there and that should definitely continue.
On her current role: Right now I am working as the director of global gender initiatives at the Center for Court Innovation in New York. We're a not-for-profit think tank that helps courts and criminal justice agencies aid victims, reduce crime and improve public trust in justice. I specialize in gender justice and I work on gender-related projects in New York, across the U.S. and internationally, with an expertise in gender-based violence (GBV). I work with communities and provide them with short and long-term assistance and expertise, including judicial education and training, access to justice and building constituencies for reform (particularly court-community partnerships and bridging system and civil society groups). We infuse problem-solving approaches with the latest social science literature and build on local partnerships to enhance coordination and improve system responses to GBV. For me, the most fun comes in the form of international challenges—working within the local context to try to problem-solve human rights issues pertaining to gender. I simply love it; the more difficult it is the more rewarding. I spent this past fall in Afghanistan working on a violence against women project there and I can say with certainty that it was the most difficult and meaningful thing I have ever done—both personally and professionally.
Why do you donate to Antioch College? When I donate to Antioch College, it is with the intent to keep alive a place that I believe has the ability to transform and assist people in becoming wholly who they want to be. It is because I want other people to have the opportunity to experience what I had the good fortune to fall into, and because I have hope that it can offer that again someday. Plus there is no other place like it.