Human Rights First Announces Leadership Transition

The Board of Directors of Human Rights First today announces the departure of President and CEO Michael Breen effective June 1, 2024, after more than five years leading the organization. A search for a new CEO has commenced.

Since 1978, Human Rights First has worked in the United States and around the world to promote respect for human rights and the rule of law. A non-partisan organization, it currently focuses on countering extremism, combatting authoritarianism, challenging systemic injustice, addressing the use and abuse of technology around human rights, and protecting the rights of refugees and political asylum applicants.

Under Breen’s leadership, Human Rights First has worked with human rights defenders in the U.S. and globally, including in Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Egypt; assisted in the evacuation of at-risk U.S. allies from Afghanistan and advocated for laws to protect them; launched an innovation lab to build new technology tools for the human rights movement; and continued to collaborate with organizations around the world to increase accountability for human rights abuses and challenge anti-democratic extremists.

“Michael Breen has led Human Rights First at a time when the fight for human rights around the world has become ever more important as it becomes ever more challenging. The Board deeply appreciates Mike’s strong, courageous, and inspired leadership,” said Donald Donovan, the Board’s Co-Chair. “Mike leaves Human Rights First in a position to continue, and even enhance, its contribution to the global struggle for the fundamental values for which we have fought for more than forty-five years.”

“I have been honored to lead Human Rights First at a time of historic challenges as our team stepped up to confront anti-democratic extremism, defended human rights and the rule of law through use of innovative technologies, supported refugees in crises from Afghanistan to Ukraine, and brought accountability to some of the world’s worst human rights abusers and war criminals,” said Breen, who is stepping away to lead a new venture, which will be announced soon. “The organization I leave behind is strong, its mission is clear, and its expertise is more important to the global movement to protect basic human rights than perhaps at any time in its storied history. I look forward to continuing to further the work of protecting human rights and democracy.”


Published on May 2, 2024


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