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Dr. Ashish Jha and Susan Blaustein, Renowned Public Health and Human Rights Experts, Join PHR’s Board of Directors

Two leading public health and human rights experts have joined the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) board of directors. Ashish Jha MD, MPH, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, and Susan M. Blaustein, MMA, DMA, founder/executive director of WomenStrong International, were appointed to the board by unanimous vote this month, and will help advance PHR’s mission and voice as the world confronts urgent global health and human rights crises.

“Jha and Blaustein are visionary leaders in their respective fields who will help take PHR’s pathbreaking research and campaigning to new heights,” said Alan Jones, chair of the PHR board. “PHR’s board of directors brings together world-renowned medical, legal, policy, and scientific minds, who guide PHR’s work and ensure the highest caliber of investigations and advocacy. Today our board benefits from the addition of these two remarkable professionals, whose collaboration with PHR’s staff and networks will fuel the organization’s innovation, influence, and impacts.”

“Dr. Jha embodies what it means to be a physician for human rights, applying the unique skills and voice of a medical professional to advance global health, equity, and human rights,” said Jones. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Jha has been one of the nation’s most influential, trusted, and dynamic medical experts, bringing his deep scientific expertise and empathy to the global public through extensive media appearances, rigorous research, and evidence-based guidance to policymakers. Dr. Jha’s deep commitment to conveying complex scientific information in clear, compelling, thoughtful ways has been a true public service during the COVID-19 emergency. His trailblazing research on pandemic preparedness and response, as well as on health policy research and practice, will support PHR’s expanding research and advocacy on the COVID-19 pandemic and its many intersections with human rights. We know that Dr. Jha’s ties with PHR run deep – while in medical school, he was a founding member of the Physicians for Human Rights Students chapter at Harvard University. We are beyond thrilled that Dr. Jha is returning to PHR as a board member and his partnership in the years to come will be invaluable.”

A practicing general internist, Dr. Jha is the dean of Brown University School of Public Health. He has been a leading scholar of and advocate for public health, be it policies that improve access and quality of care to vulnerable populations or approaches to managing and mitigating health crises such as pandemics. Dr. Jha has published more than 200 original research publications in prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the BMJ and is a frequent contributor to a range of media. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Jha has argued that physicians and scientists have a special obligation to engage in solving problems that go well beyond their clinics and laboratories.

“PHR has a unique and vital role to play in the world today, mobilizing health professionals to advance human rights in the United States and around the world,” said Ashish Jha, MD, MPH. “I have long admired the organization, starting from my medical school days when I co-founded the Harvard University student chapter of PHR. Today I am both deeply honored and excited to join the PHR board of directors alongside luminaries from diverse fields, united by their commitment to safeguarding human rights as a bedrock of public health. As we grapple with intersecting global public health and human rights crises, the world has never needed an organization like PHR more.”

“PHR also welcomes to our board of directors Susan M. Blaustein, MMA, DMA, who brings immense global expertise and vision on issues ranging from atrocity prevention to sustainable development to women and girls’ health and rights,” said Jones. “Over the course of her career, Blaustein has helped warn of and document gross human rights abuses across the globe.” She has founded and led pioneering global initiatives to advance women’s rights and sustainable urban development. Her perspective will be vital as PHR continues our decades-long work on international justice and accountability for crimes against humanity, as well as our emerging work at the intersection of the environment and human rights.”

Blaustein is founder and executive director of WomenStrong International, a global non-profit that finds, funds, strengthens, and shares women-driven solutions that will transform lives in urban communities and advance the rights and wellbeing of women and girls worldwide. Prior to establishing WomenStrong, Blaustein was co-founder-director of The Millennium Cities Initiative, a 12-year project of The Earth Institute at Columbia University committed to sustainable urban development across sub-Saharan Africa. In previous roles, Blaustein was a senior consultant and analyst with the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank focused on conflict prevention, and with the Coalition for International Justice, a Washington-based NGO supporting the efforts of international criminal tribunals to prosecute gross human rights abusers in Cambodia, East Timor, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and the former Yugoslavia.

Blaustein reported on conflict, politics, economics, and social injustice from the Balkans, Southeast Asia, and Washington, DC, for such publications as The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, The New Republic and the Los Angeles Times. She served previously as assistant professor at Columbia University, where she now teaches in The Earth Institute and is researching her book, Toward a Just and Sustainable City, on essential ecosystems enabling holistic, community-focused urban development.

“I’m thrilled and truly honored to be joining the board of Physicians for Human Rights, whose work and whose brilliant staff I have admired and relied on for decades, to understand both the truth behind conflict situations and other complex emergencies worldwide and how best to protect those most affected and most vulnerable,” said Blaustein.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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