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For Immediate Release

Donna McKay to Join PHR as Executive Director

McKay brings 20 years of international and domestic nonprofit experience to PHR

Cambridge, Mass - 01/12/2012

Donna McKay
Donna McKay joins PHR as Executive Director, February 2012.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today announced that Donna McKay will join the organization as Executive Director in February 2012. Ms. McKay will be based in Cambridge, Mass.

A committed human rights activist, Ms. McKay brings more than 20 years of international and domestic nonprofit experience to PHR. Most recently, she served for nearly a decade as the Director of Institutional Advancement and Special Projects at the American Civil Liberties Union. In this senior executive position, she played a critical role in transforming the organization as it responded to the erosion of US civil liberties in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. During Donna’s tenure, the ACLU’s budget tripled, the size of the headquarters staff doubled, and the organization’s assets more than tripled, propelling the ACLU to number 160 of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Largest Non-profits.

“As PHR enters its 25th year of using science and medicine to stop human rights violations, the need for our unique expertise is greater than ever,” said Robert Lawrence, Chair of PHR’s Board of Directors. “Donna has a proven track record of helping advocacy organizations strategically grow their resources, presence, and effectiveness. I know that under Donna’s internal and external leadership, PHR’s global impact will be significantly multiplied, to the benefit of millions.” 

 While at the ACLU Donna designed and led “Leading Freedom Forward”—a national campaign to significantly expand the ACLU’s presence in the South and Midwest regions—working with a team of nationwide staff and volunteers who raised over $400 million for this special initiative. She also co-founded and helped manage an International Civil Liberties Network, comprised of some of the world’s most esteemed civil liberties groups.

“PHR's significant accomplishments demonstrate time and again that this organization serves a crucial role in the global fight for human rights and justice," Donna McKay said. “I am truly honored to join the group of exceptional staff and volunteers—past and present—who have made PHR an indispensable force in the human rights field.”

Prior to the ACLU, Ms. McKay served as Vice President for Development at the US Fund for UNICEF and chaired the Campaign to Eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Worldwide and she also helped direct awareness and resources to the worldwide HIV/AIDs pandemic. Previously, as a Director and Senior Program Officer at Planned Parenthood New York, she developed sexual and reproductive health and rights programs in Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Ms. McKay currently serves on the board of the Women’s Refugee Commission and holds an MS in Non Profit Management and Urban Policy from the New School for Social Research.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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