Dreisen Heath is a researcher and advocate in Human Rights Watch’s United States Program focusing on racial justice issues. She is a Tulsa-born reparations activist, compassionate collaborator, conscious facilitator, relentless organizer, and nimble strategist, with an expertise in reparatory justice. Through movement and coalition building, Heath seeks to mobilize and support individuals impacted by systemic racism to enact transformative and structural change. Heath has authored research reports and publications, including The Case for Reparations in Tulsa, Oklahoma: A Human Rights Argument, highlighting victims’ right to seek full and effective reparations that are proportional to the gravity of the human rights violations, as dictated by international human rights law. She is actively advising and providing counsel to community-led reparations processes including within private industries and at the city and state levels. She’s testified as an expert witness before the United States Congress and has provided testimony and commentary to municipal governments to advance reparations. Heath’s writings and thought leadership on the ongoing impacts of settler colonialism, structural racism, and the necessity of comprehensive reparations have been widely quoted and published. Her expertise has been featured and referenced in numerous local, national, and international publications, on radio, and in documentaries and podcasts, including The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, PBS, ABC, The Guardian, The Independent, The Nation, Politico, Newsweek, NowThis, Blavity, Public Radio Tulsa, The Oklahoma Eagle, among others. Heath also serves on the Advisory Council of The Truth Telling Project.
Before joining Human Rights Watch, Heath worked as the Special Assistant to the Director and Counsel of the Brennan Center’s Washington DC Office and was a researcher at the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) at the University of Delaware examining emerging community health and education policy, with a particular focus on access to food in segregated communities.
Outside of work, she spends her time in her community supporting people without stable housing, organizing against police violence, enjoying nature, watching and playing sports, and finding joy in the struggle.