Founders, Trustees & Changemakers

Adriana Ruiz-Restrepo

Adriana holds degrees equivalent to a JD from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, and to a Masters in political science from the University of Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, as well as postgraduate diplomas in administrative law and the constitutionalization of internal law from Paris and Tunis, respectively. She has a long and diverse experience working in the public sector of her country, Colombia, from the Constitutional Assembly of 1991, the Urban Development Institute (IDU) of Bogota, and the Ministry of Finances and Public Credit, to the Constitutional Court of Colombia where she clerked for Justice Cepeda in drafting decisions responding to petition of both abstract judicial review of the law and writs of protection of fundamental human rights.

She has also worked for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) consulting for the implementation of the Convention of Palermo and the Anti-Trafficking Protocol as the technical assistance coordinator to the the pilot project in the Americas, which was based in Colombia. Later in New York, she worked in the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor co-chaired by Madeleine Albright and Hernando de Soto and hosted by UNDP. Based at the Secretariat, Adriana was the public law and civil society advisor, and in that capacity, she was responsible of supporting and analyzing the national consultations on law and poverty conducted by the Commission in 22 countries around the world with the help of a team of volunteer professionals, and of building partnerships with non-governmental actors, such as universities, companies and civil society organizations. In New York, she enrolled in the study of NGOs and Development and Advocacy for Policy Reform at the New School.

From a young age, Ms. Ruiz-Restrepo has helped build social change organizations. At 12 she created an NGO with friends from different schools in Cali, with the objectives of offering Christmas presents to street kids and increasing social conscience among fellow members. While at university, the initiative evolved from a charity or benevolent perspective to one of change and development. Hence, she became more interested in studying law and public policies regarding CSOs than in social work only; her law school final dissertation was about Colombian State and NGOs legal interaction. Since then, she has served as a speaker of Third Sector law and theory at universities and governmental institutions, and as an international speaker and consultant on civil society organizations and the rule of law and in the use of law as a strategy for poverty reduction. She is the author of the theory of alterity, or of the positive distinction of the nonprofit subject, and works professionally in a law firm, of which she is the managing partner, where NPO law and strategy are a major area of practice.


Shailly Barnes

Shailly Barnes holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago, a J.D. from the University of California in Los Angeles, School of Law, and a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Ms. Barnes brings in-depth experience in rural development, women’s empowerment and gender, and monitoring and evaluating systems. She has lived and worked in Niger, India, Uganda, Colombia, and throughout the United States. She contributes important understandings of religion, political economy, collective action, and Martin Luther King’s teachings on non-violence.

Ms. Barnes worked as an attorney at a private litigation firm in Los Angeles, California, on several complex litigation disputes involving intellectual property rights, and contract and insurance law. In a deliberate effort to redefine her professional focus, she moved to Niger where she lived and worked for two years. After returning to the United States in 2006, Ms. Barnes joined Columbia University’s program at SIPA to connect her knowledge of law and economics with her field-based experiences in rural development. While there, she became engaged with the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, where she met and worked with Ms. Ruiz-Restrepo on the analysis of the 22 countries’ national consultations on access to justice, property, business and entrepreneurial rights of the poor. After the launch of the Commission’s report in June 2008 in the UNGA, she joined CIVISOL as a founding member at the planning and conceptualizing of CIVISOL in New York. Travelling several times to Colombia, Ms. Barnes played an important role in the understanding of social movements, and specifically, the organization of waste pickers around ARCA, and also in the litigation effort behind the case resulting in the Constitutional Court landmark decision T291-09.

In New York Ms. Barnes is the Program Manager at Kairos Center in New York City with a focus on Rights and Religions program areas.