Biography: Benya Kraus began her involvement with Amnesty International in Thailand at age 14, where she served as the president of her high school chapter and launched her community’s first Write for Rights campaign addressing issues of sexual and reproductive health rights, corporate accountability, and torture abolition.
Since then, she has served as the Massachusetts State Legislative Coordinator for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), organizing lobby strategies and education on human rights legislation at the state and federal level. She was the AIUSA Youth Delegate to the 2017 International Council Meeting in Rome, where she successfully led an effort to amend the organization’s International Statute and institutionalize youth representation in global governance. Benya also served as a member of the AIUSA 2016-19 National Strategic Planning Committee, as well as the AIUSA Board’s Priorities Subcommittee, where she led member-wide consultations and shaped Amnesty International’s policies on drug decriminalization and the human rights of climate change. For the past four years, she has also been a student activist leader with the Tufts University Amnesty International chapter.
Benya graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts University in 2018 with a B.A. in International Relations and minors in Urban Studies and Colonialism Studies. She served as President of the Tufts Community Union Senate, realizing a platform to tackle spatial inequity on campus. She spoke on these themes as a TEDx Tufts speaker, drawing parallels to her directed research on urban design as a peace-building tool in conflicted cities. As a Minneapolis Urban Scholar with the city’s Community Planning & Economic Development department, she researched new planning tools to guide the city’s affordable housing programs. As an Oslo Scholar with the Human Rights Foundation, Benya conducted research and wrote speeches on the intersection of gender, health, and security presented before the UN General Assembly and White House for Dr. Alaa Murabit, a UN High Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. Benya also spent one summer as a Public Policy Analyst at the Constitution Project, researching the constitutionality of police militarization and the death penalty in Oklahoma.
Benya is a member of a two-year project analyst program at Mintz Levin, where she rotates across the firm’s various legal sections with a focus on pro bono work and community service, particularly related to domestic violence and asylum immigration. She is also co-founding Lead for America, a fellowship program that aims to recruit, train, and place young and diverse leaders into underserved local governments across the country.