Rinku Sen


Rinku Sen is the President and Executive Director of the Applied Research Center (ARC) and the publisher of Colorlines.com. A leading figure in the racial justice movement, Rinku has positioned ARC as a national home for media, research and activism on these issues. 

She started her organizing career as a student activist at Brown University, fighting race, gender and class discrimination on campuses. She received a B.A. in Women's Studies in 1988 and an M.S. in Journalism at Columbia University in 2005.  A native of India, Rinku grew up in the northeastern factory towns, and learned to speak English in a two-room schoolhouse. 

Over the course of her career, she has combined journalism and activism to make social change. Rinku is the author of Stir It Up, a primer on best practices in community organizing, and The Accidental American,Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization, a book about Moroccan immigrant Fekkak Mamdouh, who co-founded the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York in the aftermath of September 11. 

Previously, Rinku served as the Communications Director and the Director of the Transnational Racial Justice Initiative at ARC. Prior to that, Rinku held various leadership roles at the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO), a national network of organizations of color, where she trained new organizers and crafted public policy campaigns from 1988-2000. Rinku is the Vice Chair of the Schott Foundation for Public Education and a Boardmember of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity. She sits on the boards of the Alliance for a Just Society and Working America.  She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards for activists and journalists, including being named a Prime Movers Fellow and one of Ms. Magazine’s “21 Feminists to Watch.” Her work on immigration has recently been featured on ABC and MSNBC.



  • NorthStar Fund - News Prize (2009)
  • Nautilus Book Award - Silver Medal (2009)
  • Utne Reader -"50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" (2008)
  • Citizen Action of New York - Progressive Leadership Award (2008)
  • The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership - Victoria Award (2006)
  • The Asian American Journalists Association - Dr. Suzanne J. Ahn Award (2004)
  • Ms. Magazine - 21 Feminists to Watch in the 21st Century (1996)
  • Ms. Foundation for Women - Gloria Steinem Women of Vision Award (1996)


  • Rockwood Leadership Institute - National Yearlong Fellowship (2010)
  • Hunt Alternative Fund - Prime Mover Fellowship (2009)
  • Women's Media Center - Progressive Women's Voices Fellowship (2007)
  • Mesa Refuge Residency (2006)
  • Future of the City of New York - Charles H. Revson Fellowship (2004)
  • Windcall Institute Residency (2000)
  • The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation - Gerbode Fellowship (1999)

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