CAMBRIDGE, MA — Sharon Stanton Russell, 68, died peacefully on February 27, 2013, after a prolonged illness. A prominent and pioneering academic in the field of international migration who advised governments around the world, she was a senior research scholar at the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Russell also served as director of the Mellon-MIT Inter-University Program on Non-Governmental Organizations and Forced Migration from 1997 to 2005 and as chair of the Steering Group of the Inter-University Committee on International Migration (IUCM) from 1999 to 2005. Her research and publications focused on global migration trends and policies, the relationship of migration to development, and forced migration. Her publications include "International Migration: Global Trends and National Responses;" "Migration Patterns of US Foreign Policy Interest;" "Migrant Remittances and Development;" International Migration and International Trade; International Migration and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Demography and National Security, co-edited with the late Myron Weiner. Russell had been a member of two United Nations Expert Groups on international migration and had consulted extensively on migration policy issues with private foundations and UN organizations. She was a member of the Centre Advisory & Review Group (CARG) of the Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalization and Poverty, University of Sussex. She served on the Expert Panel on Global Population Projections (1998-2000) and the Roundtable on the Demography of Forced Migration (1999-2004), both convened by the Committee on Population of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Her early engagement in political causes led to a lifetime of strong advocacy for progressive policies. Her dedication to the advancement of opportunities for women and her belief in sisterhood were evident in her devotion to friendships, and her boundless enthusiasm for mentoring many young women whom she nurtured professionally. The importance of family and community was a value that Sharon held deeply. A loving wife, mother and grandmother, she possessed an inspiring generosity of spirit, always seeking to forge connections and embrace friends both new and old.
“Without Sharon's constantly reaching out and advising on research, many people within the IUCIM context and outside - academics and practitioners alike - including myself would not have felt as welcome and supported in the migration, refugee and human rights research work at MIT and in the greater Boston area," said Luise Druke, currently a fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and a former human rights fellow at CIS.
A memorial service is planned for March 23, 2013.