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Michele Wucker: A Woman Making History

March 27, 2010

In recognition of the 30th anniversary of Women’s History Month, Women’s Media Center is profiling 30 extraordinary women making history. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to support WMC Exclusives — every dollar raised will go directly toward hiring women writers to comment on major news stories and report topics often neglected by the mainstream media. Will you contribute $30? Click here to donate: or text WOMEN to 50555 to make a $10 donation. Michele Wucker: A Woman Making History by Catherine Epstein As Director of the World Policy Institute, Michele Wucker is in high demand as a commentator on a range of international issues. A speaker on immigration, cross-cultural conflict and conciliation, Wucker was also the recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on changing views of citizenship, exclusion, and belonging. But following the earthquake in Haiti this January, Wucker saw her daily schedule transform into a nearly 24-hour cycle of media appearances and interviews. Her deep knowledge not only of Haiti but the neighboring Dominican Republic was needed by a public shaken by the devastation of a country they barely knew. Her 1999 book Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispanola was hailed by the New York Times as a "complex exploration of the cultural divide between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Wucker...weaves together five centuries of tragic conflict with a subtle picture of the island today." In an interview on "The Rachel Maddow Show" just two days after the earthquake, Wucker illuminated how the crisis had brought the historically unfriendly nations together. The Dominican Republic's President has provided unprecedented support to his nation's neighbor, but Wucker noted that while this extension of services is a positive move, the United States should not expect the Dominican Republic to shoulder the huge burden of refugees and aid, particularly legal status – called temporary protected status – for Haitians in the U.S. This issue is central to Wucker's expertise and interest in immigration. She's a longtime proponent of policy reform, often highlighting issues rarely brought up in the national conversation. In an interview with Ethics in Business, Wucker discussed how migration is rarely treated as an allocation of resources in globalization, and that a renewed perspective might shift policy: "It goes back to the question of human potential," she said. "There are many people, particularly the world's best and brightest, who are in developing countries where they can't do what they really want to do." Michele's work shedding light on the complex realities of the world not only means she's making history; she's also helping to shape it by creating a more nuanced – and accurate – depiction of our era.