Debra Evenson

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Debra Evenson

Debra Evenson is a socialist-sympathizing lawyer who has been charting Communist-led Cuba's efforts to build a Soviet-modeled socialist legal system since as early as 1982. She is considered one of the United States's leading experts on the Cuban legal system. Evenson has stated that the problem facing the survival of a society is finding a way to make the ultimate goal "social betterment and not individual betterment."[1][2]

Early Life & Education

Evenson grew up in New Jersey. She received degrees at Barnard College (1964) and Rutgers law school (1976) before leaving to work for a Wall Street firm.[1]

Working at DePaul University

From 1980 - 1992 Evenson worked for the law faculty at DePaul University.[1] While at DePaul, Ms Evenson taught Intellectual Property as well as Comparative International Law.[2]

Supporting the Cuban Revolution

Evenson has been termed a "critical supporter of the Cuban revolution,". She has stated that she sees one of the world's last Communist societies not as a model of egalitarian success or as a repressive failure, but as something more complicated, as rich and complex as the island's own history. Evenson made her first trip to Cuba in 1982, shortly after joining DePaul University's law faculty.

While she makes her home Chicago, Illinois, Evenson maintains an apartment in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba.[1]

College Professors for Washington

In 1982 professor Debra Evenson was one of more than 100 Chicago academics, signing an open letter to the voters of Chicago endorsing the mayoral candidacy of Harold Washington.[3]

National Lawyers Guild

From 1988 - 1991, Evenson served as the president of the National Lawyers Guild.[1] She has been involved in the organization as late as 2009.[4]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

ON November 16, 1989, Debra Evenson served on the Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[5]

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Bicentennial Celebration

On November 10, 1991 Debra Evenson was listed as a member of the 1991 Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Bicentennial Celebration.[6]

Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman

In 1992 Evenson began working as counsel for the law firm Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman. In this capacity she represents the Cuban government in U.S. lawsuits, largely based around trade issues.[1]

The MacArthur Foundation

In 1993 Evenson was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for her work on the legal profession in Cuba.[1] The MacArthur Fellowship is a "no strings attached" award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $500,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.[7]

Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services

From 1996 - 2001, Evenson served as the president of the Latin American Institute for Legal Services, a Bogota, Columbia-based project aimed at providing legal services, particularly to the poor.[1] During her tenure as president, ILSA organized conferences related to legal services and human rights in Latin America, Asia and Africa and expanded its collaboration with human rights lawyers in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean.[2]

Cuban healthcare

On April 24 2007 at the School of The Art Institute Auditorium, Chicago, Dr. Peter Orris of Stroger Hospital, activist Mildred Williamson and author Debra Evenson held a discussion following the screening of "Salud" a documentary exploring Cuba’s healthcare system & global initiatives[8]

Working at Rutgers University

From 2007 - 2010, Evenson has taught a course at Rutgers University Law School (Camden) on the Cuban Legal System.[2]

"Support Bill Ayers"

In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.

In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.

Debra Evenson signed the statement.[9]


Debra Evenson has had the following books and papers published:[1][2]

  • Changing Role of Law in Revolutionary Cuba, Institute for Legal Studies, Working Paper Series, 1989, also published in CUBA IN THE 1990'S: TRANSFORMATION AND STRUGGLE (Sandor Halebsky and John Kirk, eds., Praeger, 1990, and in DROIT ET SOCIETÉ, 1992
  • Revolution in the Balance: Law and Contemporary Society in Cuba, 1994
American University law expert Philip Brenner stated the book offered "a penetrating analysis of how law and society intersect in a revolutionary setting." Felix Masud-Piloto, a fellow DePaul University professor, praised it as a "useful and balanced overview" of Cuba's legal system. Juan Mendoza Diaz, a vice dean in the University of Havana law school, where Evenson has taught classes on the U.S. judicial system and constitutional law, calls her book "a must read for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of law in Cuba over the last 40 years" and praises her "profound" vision.

Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center

As at Jan. 27, 2011, Debra Evenson served on the Board of Directors for the Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Chicago Tribune: From DePaul to Havana, lawyer charts Cuba's legal reawakening, Feb. 28, 2002 (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 RBSKL: Debra Evenson, Jan. 30, 2010 (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)
  3. Committee to Elect Harold Washington Camp Leaflet, 1982
  4. YouTube: Talk - What Difference Does a Revolution Make in a Global Economic Meltdown?, Oct. 16, 2009 (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)
  5. Tribute to Golub and Montgomery: Program, Nov. 16, 1989
  6. Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Bicentennial Celebration Program, Nov. 10, 1991
  7. MacArthur Foundation: About the MacArthur Fellows Program (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)
  8. Email: CHICAGO EVENTS CALENDAR APR 19 MAY 7, April 19, 2007 (accessed on Nov. 10, 2010)
  9. Liberal Education website: Bill Ayers supporters
  10. Maurice & Jane Sugar Law Center website: Board (accessed on Jan. 27, 2011)