ResourcesPress Release

Human Rights Leader and Physician Dr. Homer Venters Joins PHR

Assumes role of director of programs

For Immediate Release

Dr. Homer Venters, an international leader in promoting health and human dignity, has joined Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) as the organization’s director of programs and a member of PHR’s executive management team. Charged with overseeing PHR’s research, investigations, and training work, Dr. Venters arrives at PHR with decades of experience as a physician, epidemiologist, and human rights activist. Most recently he served as the chief medical officer and assistant vice president of Correctional Health Services in New York City.

“We are delighted and honored to have an innovative leader like Homer, who joins PHR at this critical juncture in our 30-year history,” said Donna McKay, PHR’s executive director. “Homer comes to us with a deep well of experience in health and human rights, and his courageous advocacy and research have shined a spotlight on human rights violations around the world.  I am confident in his ability to build on PHR’s rich legacy while providing the vision and skills that will take the organization to even greater heights in a new age of human rights.”

As director of programs, Dr. Venters will be charged with further developing and managing PHR’s research, training, and capacity building programs globally. He will also help guide much of PHR’s future expansion, which includes developing and mobilizing an international network of physicians and health professionals to engage in human rights advocacy. While working at PHR, Dr. Venters will remain active as a clinical attending physician at New York University.

“Homer is the type of human rights visionary who straddles the worlds of health, medicine, human rights, and advocacy,” said Dr. Kerry Sulkowicz, chair of PHR’s board of directors. “His expertise will inform our work, adding yet another powerful voice of science and medicine to the world of human rights advocacy. Homer possesses the exact combination of skills and expertise that give PHR its unique, irreplaceable voice in the human rights movement.”

At New York City’s Correctional Health Services, Dr. Venters oversaw care for 55,000 patients and managed 1,400 staff, bringing a human rights lens to the system of care for incarcerated people. He and his colleagues conducted research on the health consequences of solitary confinement, laying the groundwork to advocate against such practices. He has conducted more than 200 forensic medical evaluations of prisoners and has worked with Doctors of the World, DIGNITY, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo.

“Coming to Physicians for Human Rights allows me to combine my work as both a practitioner and an advocate,” said Dr. Venters. “PHR has long been a guiding star for human rights both in the United States and abroad, and I am deeply honored to join an organization with such an incredible legacy of fighting impunity and defending the rights of all people who seek to live with freedom and dignity. I know that at PHR, I will have the opportunity to lead the organization’s programs in new and exciting directions.”

Dr. Venters holds a BA in international relations from Tufts University and an MD and MS in biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was a resident in social internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center, the university hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and a fellow in public health research at New York University. Dr. Venters begins his tenure at PHR on March 20.

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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