Human Rights First

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Previously known as Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and now rechristened as Human Rights First. Founded in 1977 by Jerome Shestack.

HFS Events

One of the principal events that HFS organizes is its annual awards ceremony which as a means to promote HFS's favorite human rights advocate, and as a networking opportunity so that HFS's rich funders can meet lawyers who have signed up for HFS. The list of the principals and the pet-human-rights-defender-of-the-year can be found in thislist

Staff and Principals

Board of Directors
William D. Zabel – Chair
Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP
Tom A. Bernstein – Vice-Chair

President, Chelsea Piers

Management, Inc.
Kenneth R. Feinberg – Vice-Chair
Feinberg Rozen, LLP
Gail Furman – Vice-Chair
Roberta Karp – Secretary
Lynda Clarizio – Treasurer

Chief Executive Officer,

Invision Inc.
Elisa Massimino – President

Chief Executive Officer,

Human Rights First
J. Adam Abram
James River Group, Inc.
Raymond M. Brown

Greenbaum, Rowe,

Smith & Davis LLP
Craig Cogut
Pegasus Capital Advisors, L.P.
Dan Doctoroff
Bloomberg LP
Donald Francis Donovan
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Alston Gardner
Fulcrum Ventures
Leslie Gimbel
Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation
R. Scott Greathead
Wiggin & Dana LLP
Myrna K. Greenberg
Founder, City Lights Youth Theatre
John D. Hutson

Dean Emeritus

Lewis B. Kaden

Vice Chairman & Chief Administrative Officer,

Citigroup, Inc
Kerry Kennedy
RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights
Jo Backer Laird

Patterson Belknap Webb

& Tyler LLP
Robert Todd Lang
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Westley Moore
Citigroup Global Markets
Alberto Mora
Mars, Incorporated
Michael K. Rozen
Feinberg Rozen, LLP
Barbara A. Schatz

Columbia University

School of Law
Lev A. Sviridov

The City College of

New York-CUNY
Richard R. Verma
Steptoe & Johnson, LLP
Damian Williams
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
James W. Ziglar

Senior Fellow,
Migration Policy Institute
Senior Counsel,

Van Ness Feldman
James D. Zirin
Sidley Austin LLP
Michael Posner
Founding Executive Director 1978-2006, President 2006-2009
M. Bernard Aidinoff Michael Davis
Phil Lacovara James R. Silkenat Rose Styron
In Memoriam
A. Whitney Ellsworth
Marvin E. Frankel

Chairman Emeritus

Louis Henkin
Robert Joffe
Jerome Shestack
Board of Advocates
James J. Benjamin Jr.
New York, NY
Eric Biel
Washington, DC
Cathleen Collins
New York, NY/Los Angeles, CA
Brigadier General James Cullen, USA (Ret.)
New York, NY
James R. Dugan II
New Orleans, LA
Terry Friedman
Los Angeles, CA
Jennifer S. Geetter
Washington, DC
Marcy Harris
New York, NY
Virginia Joffe
New York, NY
Steven J. Kolleeny
New York, NY
Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum
New York, NY
James Leitner
Wyckoff, NJ
David P. Matthews
Houston, TX
Tatiana Maxwell
Boulder, Colorado
Marcellus McRae
Los Angeles, CA
Julie A. North
New York, NY
David Rudenstine
New York, NY
Lynn Savarese
New York, NY
Steven H. Schulman
Washington, DC
Robert D. Sloan
New Orleans, LA
Mary Ann Stein
Washington, DC
Debra Brown Steinberg
New York, NY
Human Rights First: About Us[2]
Staff 2012
Elisa Massimino
President and CEO
Eleanor Acer


Refugee Protection Program
Lori Adams

Managing Attorney

Refugee Protection Program
Vanessa Allyn

Staff Attorney

Refugee Protection Program
Troi D. Bailey
Network and Systems Engineer
Kelly Bassett
Donor Relations & Special Events Manager
Duncan Breen

Senior Associate

Refugee Protection Program
Michaela Brown
Exec. Asst. to President/CEO
Stephen Brownell
Video Producer
Cynthia Burns
Program Operations Manager
Winny Chen

Pennoyer Fellow/Senior Associate

Crimes Against Humanity Program
Gina Del Chiaro

Leon Levy Fellow

Refugee Protection Program
Marc Jayson Climaco
Program and Communications Asst.
Brian Dooley


Human Rights Defenders Program
Frédérique Drouin

Program Associate/Legal Asst.

Refugee Protection Program
Corinne Duffy
Media Relations Asst.
Ruthie Epstein

Researcher & Advocate

Refugee Protection Program
Daphne Eviatar

Senior Associate

Law and Security Program
[[Jo&umle;lle Fiss]]

Senior Associate

Fighting Discrimination Program
Rob Friedlander

Major Gifts Officer

Sarah Graham
Production and Design Supervisor
Innokenty (Kes) Grekov

Program Associate

Fighting Discrimination Program
Sadia Hameed


Crimes Against Humanity Program
Patrick Hanley

Program Associate

Law and Security Program
Mary Hedahl
Director of Development
Neil Hicks
International Policy Advisor
Justin Howard
Web Publisher
Anwen Hughes

Senior Counsel and Deputy Director

Refugee Protection Program
Nick Humen
Director of Finance
Adam Jacobson

Program Asst.

Law and Security Program
Kathy Jones

Director of Special Projects

Yasmin Khan
Director of Foundations
Sharon Kelly McBride
Director of Communications
Pam Kingpetcharat
Chief Administrative Officer
Paul LeGendre


Fighting Discrimination Program
Robyn Lieberman
Senior Advocacy Strategist
Carla Medina
Receptionist / Office Services Asst.
Melina Milazzo

Pennoyer Fellow

Law and Security Program
Nikki Minard
Web & New Media Manager
David Mizner
Senior Writer/Editor
Gabriel Nichols
Web & Database Senior Manager
Brittany Nuttall
Development Systems Manager
Quinn O'Keefe

Senior Associate

Human Rights Defenders Program
C. Dixon Osburn


Law and Security Program
Kurt Pacquette

Financial Controller

Finance and Administration
Kathryn Plummer

Office Manager/Program Asst.

Government Advocacy
Liszette Reyes
Facilities/Operations Manager
Meg Roggensack

Senior Advisor

Business and Human Rights Initiative
Gabor Rona
International Legal Director
Dennis Rosensteel
IT Support Associate
Alison Searle
Administrative Asst. for Advocacy
Amy Sobel
Chief of Staff
Brenda Bowser Soder
Media Relations Director
Anne E. Sovcik

Advocacy Counsel

Refugee Protection Program
Tad Stahnke
Director of Policy and Programs
Deborah Stewart
Information Services Analyst
Pamela Takiff


Fighting Discrimination Program
Claudia Toloza

Program Associate/Legal Asst.

Refugee Protection Program
Isabel Toolan

Program Associate/Legal Asst.

Refugee Protection Program
Lauren Trinka
Development Asst.
Raha Wala

Advocacy Counsel

Law and Security Program
Human Rights First: Staff[3]

Former Human Rights First Principals and Staff


Human Rights First: Funding

Contact details

Human Rights First
333 Seventh Avenue
13th Floor
New York, NY 10001-5004
Tel: (212) 845 5200
Email: communications AT

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch

External Resources

  • Nabeel Abraham, et al.; International Human Rights Organizations and the Palestine Question, Middle East Report (MERIP), Vol. 18, No. 1, Jan.-Feb. 1988, pp. 12 – 20. The article reviews the history and the coverage of Palestinian human rights by ten different organizations – one of them is HRF (under its previous name). It clearly indicates that several organizations were biased. It is a seminal article in the analysis of what is now called "the politics of human rights."


  1. Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award, American Immigration Lawyers Association, accessed August 24, 2009.
  2. BoD (Accessed: 4 February 2012)
  3. Human Rights First: Staff (Accessed: 4 February 2012)