Erin Phelps | Sociology

Current: New York City, NY; From: Bellevue, WA

Pomona Days: Class of 2012 | Sociology

Current Employment: Strategic Partnerships Manager at The Freedom Fund

Past Employment:

  • Fulbright Research Grant to Nepal
  • Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service
  • GoodWeave International


I'm originally from Seattle, but currently work in New York at an anti-slavery organization called the Freedom Fund. We are a the world's first private philanthropic fund expressly dedicated to ending slavery, and we focus on generating research and partnering with grassroots anti-slavery organizations in countries with high prevalence of slavery. My role involves developing partnerships and fundraising, which in practice looks like a lot of events, networking, writing, and researching.

At Pomona, my interests were in immigration, transnational families, and critical development theory. After a semester in Nepal and summer internships working with immigrant communities in both Seattle and New York, I ended up returning to Nepal on a Fulbright Student Research Grant. I spent about a year conducting qualitative research with Nepali children and teens whose parents had migrated abroad for work. I also contributed to migration-related publications and projects through the Nepal Institute of Development Studies and IOM Nepal, and presented my work at Tribhuvan University and the Nepal National Conference on Migration.

After Nepal, I worked with GoodWeave International, a non-profit working to end child labor in the carpet industry and other sectors, and with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service doing advocacy and grassroots mobilization of faith communities. I have also been a regular contributor to The Migrationist, a collaborative international migration blog. 

I've navigated the non-profit scenes in both DC and NY and am happy to help pass on some of my thoughts about working on international issues, human rights or labor exploitation. I'm also eager to talk to anyone who is interested in pursuing a fellowship or living abroad. My career advice: networking is miserable but necessary, so figure out how to do it without going insane! (It's possible, I promise.)