PR for People Monthly MAY 2017 - Page 7

Pat Noonan and Ron Schiffman are lawyers who have been working in international law reform in countries in transition. Pat’s first assignment was working on a project in Cambodia shortly after the UN sponsored cease fire, in cooperation with the University of San Francisco School of Law. Since then, Pat and her husband Ron have worked as consultants for United States Agency for International Development (U.S.A.I.D) projects. After the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Pat worked with legal professionals and judges from the Supreme and Constitutional Courts, lawyers, law schools, and non-profit organizations in Central and Eastern Europe. In the past few years, she has been working with Kosovo, Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia on strategic planning, curriculum development, interactive teaching methods, gender equality, transparency, ethics and anti-corruption.

Pat and Ron have worked in about 40 different countries from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, and from Northern Europe to Sub-Saharan Africa. The short list includes Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Latvia, Bulgaria, South Sudan, Kenya and Rwanda. Their adventures in law, setting up legal systems and implementing judicial reform have not been without experiencing conflict first-hand. While battle was still raging in South Sudan, Pat’s “commute” from Nairobi meant boarding a small plane to Lokichokio (on the border between Kenya & South Sudan), then taking another old plane that landed on a dirt runway in the temporary capitol Rumbek. Pat describes the charm of Lokichokio as including rival militias, arms dealers, thieves, con-men, and spies. Setting up the new nation was not entirely a peaceful endeavor. In Rumbek, life was in a makeshift tent camp where only one U.N Soldier guarded the encampment.

Back home in Oregon, Pat and Ron live in the quiet coastal town of Arch Cape in a charming clapboard house built circa 1945 on land that is a quiet haven and a wildlife retreat filled with flowering fruit trees, berry bushes, and a vegetable garden that is marked by the natural boundary of woods and a creek. Their son Matthew just completed his Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy at St. Catherine’s University in Minneapolis. Pat and Ron are both community-minded activists on the home front too. Pat was part of the group that set up the Arch Cape sanitary and water systems. Ron has also served on the water-sanitary management boards. Both of them are proud of the water quality in their rural oceanside community!

PR4P: What led you to work in international law reform?

Pat Noonan: It was serendipitous and it came at a time when my son Matt was a little older. My professional work experience included being a lawyer, law professor and judge. I had also earned a post-graduate certification in educational administration which was helpful for my volunteer work in the schools setting up a community funded arts in the schools’ program. My work experience and education were the qualifications needed when I was asked by some colleagues from the University of San Francisco to participate in a project in Cambodia to set up a couple of legal education programs immediately after the UN brokered elections.

From Oregon

Building Democracy Around the World

by PR for People Team