A Lifetime of Commitment
Updated: May 31, 2019
Mia’s career spans several decades in New York and abroad during which she was professionally engaged with a wide range of progressive issues.
At Human Rights Watch, Mia was involved with individual case advocacy and worked to support the efforts of dissidents throughout the Soviet bloc, including Andrei Sakharov and Vaclav Havel.
As a Program Officer for Public Health at the Soros Foundation, Mia was responsible for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of public health projects throughout the former Soviet bloc countries, disbursing more than $30 million annually. She served as the Soros Foundation liaison to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) working group on multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis and worked closely with the Harvard School of Public Health, the WHO, USAID, and World Bank, on the Global Investment Plan for Tuberculosis, and the World Bank’s first multi-million dollar TB/HIV AIDs loan to Russia. (link to related Soros Foundation article)
Subsequently, Mia was part of the senior communications team at the national office of the ACLU during the Bush and early Obama years.
The many ACLU reports she wrote, edited or co-edited, include Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: U.S. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Human Rights Begin at Home: Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the UDHR; Race and Ethnicity in America: Turning a Blind Eye to Injustice; and Breaking Barriers to the Ballot Box: Felon Enfranchisement.
Mia also worked with educational consultants and law professors to create the Freedom Files Teachers' Guide, a companion to the ACLU TV series designed to help high school students delve more deeply into critical civil liberties issues.
In 2010, Mia oversaw the ACLU’s year-long 90th Anniversary celebration and curated an
historical exhibit, No Victory Ever Stays Won: 90 Years of Protecting Liberty, that opened on Ellis Island, was subsequently shown in state capitol buildings across the country, and finally closed in 2014, at the Woodrow Wilson School’s Bernstein Gallery. Prior to the opening of the exhibit, Mia spent months supervising legal research in the ACLU archives housed in Princeton’s Mudd Library to create a 130-page companion piece highlighting the crucial work of the ACLU in defending constitutional freedoms.
Ten years ago Mia returned to Princeton to raise a family and has focused on local issues within the nexus of sustainability, health and wellness.
She served on the Princeton Environmental Commission, as PEC liaison to the Board of Health, on Princeton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC), and on the Complete Streets Traffic Calming Committee.
Mia currently is Board Secretary for Sustainable Princeton, a member of the Resiliency Working Group for Princeton’s Climate Action Plan, and a member of Princeton’s Municipal Green Team.
In 2014, Mia received a grant from the Dodge Foundation to participate in a nine-month “NJ Leaders Educating for Sustainability” Certification program, which trains advocates to use MIT Systems Theory to circumvent obstacles to progress within communities.
She was selected to serve on the Sustainable Jersey Health and Wellness Steering Committee as well as the New Jersey School Boards Association Health and Wellness Task Force, whose report for incorporating best practices is currently used by school districts across the country. Mia was Co-Chair and subsequently Chair of the Princeton Green Schools Coalition and Princeton Public Schools’ (PPS) liaison to OASIS, the Central Jersey consortium of sustainability educators. [related report: New Jersey School Health: Challenges and Opportunities in Promoting the Health and Wellness of Youth in New Jersey]
Mia introduced the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program into Princeton Public Schools and has continued to coordinate the program with PPS Science Supervisor, Dr. Edward Cohen. She has written numerous grants to support sustainability, health and wellness programs within PPS.
Mia is a founding member and on the steering committee of the Princeton Progressive Action Group (PPAG), which seeks to educate local residents about the connection between progressive values and municipal planning. In recent years, she has attended the NJ Planners, NJ Future, and the League of Municipalities conferences and serves on the Princeton Planning Board.
Currently, Mia is Vice Chair of the Princeton Municipal Democratic Committee and is serving her second term as elected County Rep for Princeton’s District 13. She has been involved with numerous local campaigns, most recently as Chair of Dwaine Williamson’s campaign for Princeton Council and as Co-Chair for Dwaine and Eve Niedergang’s joint campaign. Mia handled the communications for the joint campaign of David Cohen and Leticia Fraga and for Liz Lempert’s second campaign for mayor.
Since returning to Princeton, Mia (PHS ‘83) has also enjoyed her work in founding the Princeton High School Alumni Association which connects alumni in various fields to current students for mentoring, internships, and college and career advice.
“The launch of the initiative is particularly meaningful for me having just attended my mother’s 60th PHS reunion,” said Sacks. “It is my hope that PHS alumni can help convey to current students that it’s not just about test scores, grades, and getting into college — but what you do with that learning, after you graduate, to make a difference in the world.” (PHS Alumni Association, Town Topics Princeton)
Mia continues to work as a consultant for a variety of social justice non-profits in New York City.
Mia received her BA and MA in Political Science with a focus on Russian Studies and international human rights from Barnard College and Columbia University.