As the semester winds down and graduation gets near, we’re missing the calming presence of Katherine Young, until recently HRP’s Program Manager, whose expertise guided us through so many milestones for nearly four years.

Katherine Young, former Program Manager for HRP, at the “Humanitarian Disarmament: The Way Ahead” conference this spring.

She’s moved on to something particularly exciting—a job as a researcher with Control Arms, a coalition that works to end the flow of arms and ammunition that fuel conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. This seems only fitting. Even as she seamlessly coordinated the many moving parts of our program—including supporting dozens of students and managing HRP’s budget—Katherine also steeped herself in the field of human rights advocacy.

It was not her job to do it. She did it because it interested her. And she did it because she cared.

As the undisputed champion of proofreading at HRP, Katherine often found herself immersed in the language of human rights. But as she read, she spent an equal amount of time processing the substance of the reports and amicus curaie briefs and legal memorandums that crossed her desk. As a result, she developed a deep knowledge of many of the Clinic’s areas of focus, from business and human rights to accountability litigation to armed conflict and civilian protection.

It goes without saying that Control Arms will be tremendously lucky to have her. Curious and kind-hearted, with a sharp sense of humor and a warm and welcoming way, Katherine is a gift to any community. We wish her the best of luck on this new path, and send her off with an HRP tradition: a fake press release from Bonnie Docherty, who was a journalist in her previous life.


Human Rights Program Disarmed by Young’s Departure


(Cambridge, MA, April 5, 2018)—Katherine Talbot Young, the Human Rights Program’s center of sanity, is leaving Cambridge for the Catskills, the Human Rights Program (HRP) announced with dismay today.

After several years of wrangling both Harvard clinicians and herds of cattle, she is taking on the arguably easier task of monitoring the world’s trade in arms.

Young, who was promoted last year to program manager, has been an invaluable part of HRP. Her clear thinking, hard work, and creative planning have kept the program’s administration and finances running smoothly.

While HRP stored its extra alcohol in her office, Young’s level-headedness stopped her from bowing to temptation, despite the constant flow of “urgent” demands.

Colleagues remembered Young not only for her remarkable efficiency but also for her kindness and sense of humor.

“I’ll miss popping by her office to chat about animals, arms, and athletics,” said Bonnie Docherty, associate director of armed conflict and civilian protection. “No matter how stressed I was, Katherine always listened and cheered me up with a smile and a laugh.”

Docherty sometimes had ulterior motives for her visits, however. Spotting an easy target, Docherty indoctrinated Young into the cult of humanitarian disarmament. Soon Young couldn’t help reading the articles she compiled for Docherty’s seminars. She served as secretariat in the negotiations of an incendiary weapons treaty. Most recently, she was a crucial member of Team ACCPI.

These experiences contributed to Young’s decision to leave HRP to work as an arms trade researcher.

“With Katherine’s departure, we’ve lost our not-so-secret weapon. I suspect an illicit transfer was involved,” Docherty said. “Unfortunately, it’s hard to prove, and the Arms Trade Treaty doesn’t regulate the conduct of non-state actors like Harvard Law School or Control Arms.”

Young will be well suited to tracking the web of international arms sales given her remarkable patience and attention to detail. For example, she volunteered to proof all 633 footnotes in Docherty’s infamous report on gold mining in South Africa—and survived, offering to do more.

“Bonnie finally found someone as picky about commas as she is,” said Communications Manager Cara Solomon.

This summer, Young and her husband Connor will relocate from a farm outside of Boston to the rolling hills of the Catskills. The move should provide a welcome break from the bustle of the big city.

Her Great Dane Sturgill does have concerns, however.

“The Cat-skills???” Sturgill moaned. “Of all places! The ‘Bark-shires’ would have been much preferable.”

Her cat-loving colleagues, by contrast, thought the Catskills were an excellent choice. Program Assistant Dana Walters said, “I’m proud of Katherine for fully embracing felines. I knew the rest of us would rub off on her at some point.”

Despite being saddened by Young’s departure, HRP wishes Katherine all the best. We know that she is well armed for her new job and that the Catskills are a “purr-fect” place for her next adventures.