Click below to read about our leadership.
Thomas Hammarberg (Honorary Chair)
Former Council of Europe High Commissioner for Human Rights
Thomas Hammarberg is a Swedish diplomat and human rights defender. From 2006-2012, he served as the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights; prior, he was the Secretary General of the Olof Palme International Center in Stockholm, a Swedish NGO that works with international development, cooperation and the forming of public opinion surrounding international political and security issues. Thomas has enjoyed a long career in human rights, having served as Regional Advisor for Europe, Central Asia and the Caucuses for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as Kofi Annan’s appointed representative for human rights in Cambodia, as Ambassador from the Swedish government on Humanitarian Affairs, and as Secretary General for both Save the Children Sweden and Amnesty International, among others. In 1977, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Amnesty International.
Hina Jilani (Honorary Chair)
Director, AGHS Legal Aid Clinic; Former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders
Hina Jilani has been at the forefront of the movement for peace, human rights and women’s rights in Pakistan for the last two decades. A founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Jilani currently serves as the Commission’s vice president. She is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and has steadfastly represented those whose human rights have been violated, including victims of domestic violence, fundamentalist violence, and so-called “honor killings,” as well as bonded workers. In 2001, Ms. Jilani was appointed Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders. In that same year, she was also awarded the Millennium Peace Prize, the first award of its kind to recognize women who have made outstanding contributions to building peace.
Mary Robinson (Honorary Chair)
President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice; Former President of Ireland; Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Mary Robinson has served in numerous positions from which she has worked to protect human rights. As President of Ireland from 1990-1997, she emphasized the needs of developing countries by drawing connections between the needs of today and the needs of countries in the past, such as with the Great Irish Famine. After her presidency, Ms. Robinson took the position of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. During her term, she focused on implementing Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reform proposal to integrate human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations. Ms. Robinson founded Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, an organization committed to multi-disciplinary thought and action aimed at integrating human rights standards into global governance and policy-making in order to serve as a bridge between the needs of the poorest communities and the global stage, in 2002 and served as president until 2010. Educated at Trinity College, Ms. Robinson also holds law degrees from the King’s Inns in Dublin and from Harvard University. In addition being the Fund for Global Human Rights’ honorary chair, Ms. Robinson serves as Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders, Vice President of the Club of Madrid, honorary President of Oxfam International, Member of the Vaccine Fund Board of Directors, and Member of the Leadership Council the UN Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. She is a Professor of Practice at Columbia University and member of the Advisory Board of the Earth Institute, and Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria.
Chris Canavan (Chair)
Director of Global Policy Development, Soros Fund Management
Chris Canavan is director, Global Policy Development, at Soros Fund Management, LLC. He joined Soros in July 2010, where he works on a variety of policy-related projects for the principals of the fund. Before that Chris worked for Goldman Sachs, serving in several capacities during his 13 years at the firm, including chief risk officer of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, credit trader in the commodities business, head of the Latin America Debt Capital Markets team, and head of the Latin America sovereign and credit risk management team. Chris has also been a professor of economics at Boston College. He received a Ph.D. in Economics and an M.I.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1984. He is a weekly columnist for El Diario / La Prensa, New York’s largest Spanish-speaking daily newspaper. He is equally fluent in English and Spanish, having spent many years in Latin America and Spain.
Lucia Nader (Vice Chair)
Open Society Foundations Fellow and Human Rights Activist
Lucia Nader is currently a fellow with the Open Society Foundations. Until December 2014, she was executive director of Conectas Human Rights, a Brazilian NGO that works to strengthen the work of human rights activists in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Previously, she served as the executive secretary of the Brazilian Foreign Policy and Human Rights Committee. In 2009, she was named a Social Entrepreneur by Ashoka, in recognition of her work to hold the Brazilian government accountable for its foreign policy regarding human rights violations. She received her master’s degree in development and international organizations from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences-Po).
Mary Ann Stein (Founding Chair)
President, The Moriah Fund
Mary Ann Stein is the President of the Moriah Fund, a private foundation seeking to promote human rights and democracy, help disadvantaged people gain self-sufficiency and control over their lives, foster sustainable development, promote women’s rights and reproductive health and protect and preserve the environment. In addition to the Fund for Global Human Rights, Ms. Stein serves on the boards of Americans for Peace Now and the New Israel Fund. A graduate of Wellesley College and George Washington University Law Center, Ms. Stein has chaired several committees, coalitions, and mayoral advisory commissions on family and children’s issues. She served on the D.C. Judicial Nominations Commission and has written and published papers on public assistance and child welfare.
Senior Fellow, Humanity United
Akwasi Aidoo has extensive experience in philanthropy in Africa. He is the founding Executive Director of TrustAfrica, a foundation dedicated to security democracy, human rights and equitable development in Africa. His previous positions include regional program officer for West and Central Africa at International Development center (IDRC), head of the Ford Foundation’s offices in Senegal and Nigeria, and director of the Ford Foundation’s Special Initiative for Africa. Mr. Aidoo serves as a director on boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Resource Alliance, International Beliefs and Values Institute, International Committee of the Council on Foundations, the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group, West Africa Rural Foundation, and Amandla Development. He has taught at universities in Ghana, Tanzania, and the United States. Mr. Aidoo was educated in Ghana and the United States and received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Connecticut in 1985. He writes poetry and short stories in his spare time.
Co-chair, NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice; United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
Philip Alston co-chairs the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and is the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. His official missions included Colombia, Kenya, the United States, Afghanistan, and Brazil. He was a member of the Group of Experts on Darfur appointed in 2007 by the UN Human Rights Council. Mr. Alston has been Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals since 2002. He chaired the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights for eight years until 1998, and at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights he was elected to chair the first meeting of the Presidents and Chairs of all of the international human rights courts and committees (including the European and American Human Rights Courts and the African Commission). Mr. Alston was UNICEF’s legal adviser throughout the period of the drafting of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and directed a major project funded by the European Commission, which resulted in the publication of a Human Rights Agenda for the European Union for the Year 2000 and a volume of essays on that theme.
Former Director, Ariadne
Jo is currently starting up a new foundation called Equileap—a social and business venture that enables investors to use gender lens investing as a tool to help transform the workplace for women and contribute to a more equitable world for all. Between 2009 and 2016, she was the Director of Ariadne, which she set up with the ultimate aim of increasing the effectiveness of social change and human rights funding in Europe. In 2002, Jo became the first Director of the Sigrid Rausing Trust, a role she held until 2006. She later worked at the Institute for Philanthropy in London. Jo is particularly interested in the rights of women and minorities. From 2013-2016 Jo served on the board of Mama Cash – the world’s oldest sub-granting fund for women – and was also a trustee of Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) between 2007 and 2012. In a previous life, Jo was a Senior Correspondent for Independent Television News and reported extensively from Northern Ireland, Kosovo, the US, China, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and Brussels.
Former Chair of the Board, KQED Public Media
Anne recently completed her tenure as Chair of the board of directors of KQED Public Media. She now chairs KQED’s campaign to raise funds for digital transformation, regional news, and media for education. She serves on the boards of StoryCorps, recording and preserving stories of our lives, and MASS MoCA, a contemporary art museum in restored mill buildings in North Adams MA. She is a former trustee of the NPR Foundation. Anne has a special interest in local independent media around the world, its economic viability and role in building stronger societies. She is an informal advisor to the Irrawaddy News Group, based in Myanmar and Thailand. Anne lives in Palo Alto CA with her husband Greg. They have three grown children. She was raised in Massachusetts and is a graduate of Williams College.
Fellow, Global Freedom of Expression and Information, Columbia University; Co-Founder, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Hossam Bahgat is the founding director of the Law and Society Research Unit at the American University of Cairo. From 2002-2013, Bahgat was the founding executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, where he still remains as chairman. His investigative stories appear in the independent news service Mada Masr. A journalist and human rights defender with a background in political science and international human rights law, Hossam is based in Cairo. He serves as board chair of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net), a member of the board of directors of the Fund for Global Human Rights, and an advisory board member of the Open Society Foundation’s Arab Regional Office and its Justice Initiative. In 2010, Human Rights Watch awarded Hossam the Allison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism and in 2014 he received the Catherine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University.
Tahir Basheer is a Partner in the Digital Media, Music, Fashion and Brands Groups at Sheridans. Tahir’s commercial legal practice replicates the ever-growing convergence of the media industry and includes areas such as music, computer games, e-commerce, sport, fashion, merchandising, trade marks and intellectual property. He advises a range of corporate and individual clients both within the UK and abroad. His clients range from corporate entities, entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals, up and coming artistes, musicians, designers and creative industry management teams. Tahir founded the firm’s Technology practice and has a particular specialism in digital media issues. He is a registered lawyer with the Football Association, a member of the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers and a guest lecturer at Kings College London University for Creative Business Entrepreneur students. He is also a pro bono adviser for various international charities and trusts and has spoken at a number of conferences and seminars both within the UK and overseas.
Co-Founder and Vice President, International, The Orchard
Scott Cohen began his music career in the late 1980s in independent and major label artist management. Over the years, Scott has earned a reputation as a well-recognized public speaker and lecturer, traveling the world sharing his experience and insight into the digital age and its new business models. In addition to building The Orchard’s distribution business, Scott oversees Orchard Management, which manages the careers of The Raveonettes, Dum Dum Girls, Deer Tracks, and Queen Kwong, and advises a host of other established and emerging artists. He is also a visiting professor at London Metropolitan University, and sits on the BPI Council. Scott is a minimalist and strict vegan. That means no meat, fish, cheese, milk, honey, leather, wool, or anything else derived from an animal.
Vrinda Grover is a lawyer, researcher and human rights activist based in New Delhi, India. Vrinda, practices in the Supreme Court of India and has appeared in landmark human rights cases, representing victims and survivors of, communal massacre, extrajudicial killings, custodial torture, domestic and sexual violence, sexual minorities, trade unions and political activists. Vrinda’s research and writing probes impunity of the State for human rights violations. She has contributed to the drafting of laws relating to human rights and social justice. Vrinda is presently a Research Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Delhi. She is a prominent commentator in the media and a frequent speaker on jurisprudential issues relating to accountability for violence against women and other marginalised groups. She graduated from St. Stephen’s College, obtained her law degree from Delhi University and her Masters in Law from New York University, School of Law.
Women’s Rights Advisor and Director of Programs, African Women’s Development Fund
Jessica Horn is a women’s rights activist and technical advisor. She has worked for over 15 years supporting activist organisations, funders and the UN to deepen analysis, shape policy and funding, and refine interventions to defend women’s rights to health, bodily autonomy and freedom from violence. This includes a decade in human rights philanthropy as a grantmaker, in donor governance and advisory roles, and as a grants assessor and evaluator. Jessica’s research and analysis has been published in a range of platforms including The Lancet, Feminist Africa, Al Jazeera, The Guardian and openDemocracy. She is the author of the Cutting Edge Pack on Gender and Social Movements (BRIDGE/IDS) and has produced two monographs on the impact of Christian fundamentalism on women’s rights and HIV/AIDS policy in Africa for AWID. Jessica holds an MSc (Distinction) in Gender and Development from the London School of Economics and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) in Anthropology from Smith College. She currently works as Director of Programmes at the African Women’s Development Fund.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
Mr. Maina Kiai is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He took up his functions on 1 May 2011, for an initial period of three years. His mandate was renewed in 2014 for an additional three years. A lawyer trained at Nairobi and Harvard Universities, Mr. Kiai has spent the last twenty years campaigning for human rights and constitutional reform in Kenya – notably as founder and Executive Director of the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission, and then as Chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission (2003-2008), where he won a national reputation for his courageous and effective advocacy against official corruption, in support of political reform, and against impunity following the violence that convulsed Kenya in 2008, causing thousands of deaths. From July 2010 to April 2011, Mr. Kiai was the Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy, a Geneva-based think-tank which produces research reports and briefing papers with policy recommendations. Mr. Kiai was also the Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme (1999-2001), and the Africa Director of the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights, 2001-2003). He held research fellowships at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington), and the TransAfrica Forum (Washington). He currently works as co-director of InformAction, a community organizing NGO in Kenya. Mr. Kiai has regularly been an advocate informing and educating Kenyans through various media about their human rights. In 2014, Freedom House awarded Kiai its Freedom Award for his work in Kenya. The award was begun in 1943 “to extol recipients’ invaluable contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy.”
President, Democracy Alliance
Gara LaMarche is President of the Democracy Alliance (DA), providing overall leadership, strategic vision and management capacity for the organization. Prior to joining the Alliance, he served as Senior Fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and previously, as President and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies. At Atlantic, he led the foundation’s efforts to embrace a social justice framework for grantmaking, and spearheaded the largest-ever grant made by a foundation for an advocacy campaign – over $25 million to press for comprehensive health care reform in the U.S. Before joining Atlantic in 2007, he served as Vice President and Director of U.S. Programs for the Open Society Foundations (OSF), launching the organization’s pivotal work on challenges to social justice and democracy in the United States. A longtime advocate for human rights at home and abroad, he has held various positions with Human Rights Watch, PEN American Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). LaMarche is a frequent commentator on progressive issues in the news, and is the author of numerous articles on human rights and social justice issues, which have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Nation, and American Prospect, among many others. He has taught courses on philanthropy, public policy, and non-profit leadership at NYU’s Wagner School, as well as courses at the New School University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. A Westerly, Rhode Island, native, he is a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University in New York.
Private Investor and Former President, Warburg Pincus International
Edward McKinley spent twenty years in various roles at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus, including managing the firm’s private equity activity in Europe and serving on the firm’s Management Committee. Before joining Warburg Pincus, he was with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Mr. McKinley has served on the boards of over 30 public and private companies in both the US and Europe, currently is on the board of one public and one private company, and acts as an advisor or investment committee head for several investment management firms. He also serves on the investment committee of several endowments, and on the boards or advisory boards of several non-profit organizations. Among these is the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in London and CALM, a child abuse treatment and prevention organization in California. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Stanford University and holds a graduate management degree from Yale University. Ed is based in Santa Barbara.
Founder and President, Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation
Joan Platt is the Founder and President of the Joan and Lewis Platt Foundation whose mission is to support organizations that advocate for human rights with a focus on women and children. Ms. Platt currently serves on the International Board of Human Rights Watch as well as the executive committee of Northern California HRW. She is a member of the advisory councils of the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Center at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition, she is a member of the boards of Global Fund for Children, United to End Genocide, the Philanthropy Workshop West and the Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto YMCA. Ms. Platt owns and manages the Platt Vineyard in Bodega, California.
Human Rights Lawyer
Emma Playfair is a British human rights lawyer by training. After practicing law in the City of London, she spent ten years working on human rights in the Middle East, initially as a researcher with the first Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, in the West Bank, and then establishing the human rights program in the Ford Foundation’s Cairo Office. In 1993 she became Executive Director of INTERIGHTS, the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, in London, UK, returning to Cairo nine years later to rejoin the Ford Foundation as Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, a position she held until April 2008. She is currently Acting Chair of the Alexandria Trust, Board member of INTERIGHTS and Secretary of the UK branch of the Fund for Global Human Rights. She has written on human rights and humanitarian law, and on philanthropy. Among other publications, she edited International Law and the Administration of Occupied Territories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).
Attorney/ Principal, CREATURA
Founder and CEO, Integrated Archive Systems
Amy Rao is the President of The 11th Hour Project and Founder & CEO of Integrated Archive Systems, a company she founded in 1994. Amy’s greatest passion is for the defending and protecting of human rights both domestically and internationally and currently serves on the International board of Human Rights Watch and The Fund for Global Human Rights as well as on the V-Day board with Eve Ensler. Amy also serves on the board of the Schmidt Family Foundation and is chair of the Human Rights Watch Voices for Justice events in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. Amy serves on the advisory board for the Dalai Lama Fellows, based in The Presidio in San Francisco.
Media Executive, Film Production, Publishing, and Game Development
Nicola is an award-winning media producer, working across film, gaming, educational technology and publishing. In her capacity as film producer, she has won a BAFTA (British Academy Award), a producing fellowship from Sundance, and has made feature films, distributed worldwide, with stars such as Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Pierce Brosnan. Nicola worked for many years at publisher Scholastic in New York, initially developing large scale technology products to help struggling readers, and then leading game-based research and development – in particular heading the team that conceived and developed the New York Times bestselling transmedia property “The 39 Clues”. She also runs an Early Literacy-focussed charity, which, amongst other projects, developed the BAFTA-nominated reading game “Teach Your Monster to Read”. Nicola has a BA in English Literature from Oxford University; an MA in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; has studied business at London Business School, and is currently completing an MBA.
Executive Chairman and co-founder, Big Yellow Group Plc
Nicholas Vetch is Executive Chairman and co-founder of Big Yellow Group Plc, a UK-based FT250 listed business. Prior to his work there, he was joint Chief Executive of Edge Properties Plc, which he co-founded in 1989 and which was subsequently listed on the Official List of the London Stock Exchange in 1996. He is also deputy Chair of Bedales school. Nicholas has a strong interest in human rights, and has supported several human rights and social justice groups. In 2003 he spent nearly a year sailing across the southern Pacific with his family and has travelled extensively through large parts of the world.