ResourcesPress Release

Physicians for Human Rights Appoints Frank Donaghue as New CEO; Leonard Rubenstein Becomes Group's President

For Immediate Release

Frank Donaghue, PHR's new CEO, shares his thoughts about joining the organization

PHR’s new Chief Executive Officer, Frank Donaghue, shares his thoughts about joining the organization.

Frank Donaghue, shown here on a trip to Ghana for the Red Cross

Frank Donaghue, shown here on a trip to Ghana for the Red Cross.

Cambridge, MA—Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, announced today that Frank Donaghue will become the Chief Executive Officer of the twenty-year old health and human rights organization. Leonard S. Rubenstein, JD, PHR’s current Executive Director, will assume the role of President.

With more than three decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, Donaghue has assembled a distinguished track record in humanitarian service, fundraising and management. For the majority of his career, he worked for the American Red Cross in a variety of capacities, serving as President and CEO of the American Red Cross in Philadelphia, Vice President of both Development and Corporate Communication for the national Red Cross, and as national spokesperson for the Red Cross for both national and international disasters and conflicts, including the 1999 Izmit Earthquake in Türkiye and the wars in Kosovo, Iraq and Bosnia.

In his international work, Donaghue developed youth HIV education programs in Romania, Grenada, Ghana and Bosnia. He also participated in a mass vaccination campaign in West Africa to help eliminate measles from the African continent by 2010.

“For years I have admired and been inspired by PHR’s groundbreaking mobilization of health professionals to document and end human rights abuses around the world,” stated Donaghue. “My experiences at the Red Cross and its functions to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and natural disaster, provide them with assistance, and prevent further suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law have prepared me for the challenges I will face at PHR. We will continue to be on the forefront of protecting the health and human rights of the world’s most vulnerable people, examining root causes of abuses and offering lasting solutions.”

Donaghue also led Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Youth Foundation (After School All- Stars) through a period of tremendous growth and change. Today, the $23.5 million organization’s comprehensive school-based programs are recognized for their outstanding quality and performance, serving 58,000 children at 233 sites in 15 urban communities nationwide. He is a professor at the Pennoni School of Honors at Drexel University in Philadelphia and has served on both national and local boards such as Spark the Wave (a national youth organization) and Community College of Philadelphia.

“The Board of PHR is delighted that Frank has agreed to serve as Chief Executive Officer at such a pivotal time in the organization’s history,” said Robert S. Lawrence, MD, Chair of the Board of PHR and Director of the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University. “Frank’s track record of outstanding leadership with the American Red Cross and the Arnold Schwarzenegger Youth Foundation has shown that he will succeed ably at leading the country’s premier health and human rights group. We are excited to have Frank aboard.”

“Frank is a dynamic national leader whose efforts have saved the lives of vulnerable populations here in the US and abroad. I am delighted to see him bringing his skill and experience in management, development and public affairs to Physicians for Human Rights. At this uniquely important organization, I am confident he will make a significant contribution to the growth and effectiveness of the movement for the right to health and dignity for all,” said Christine James-Brown, President and CEO, Child Welfare League of America.

PHR’s current Executive Director, Leonard Rubenstein, is assuming the new role of President of PHR, allowing him to devote himself more fully to policy development, fieldwork, advocacy and building external relationships. Under Len’s leadership, PHR has become a lead advocate for human rights for people living with HIV/AIDS; protection of human rights in armed conflict; promotion of the right to health; protection of the human rights of adolescents in the US criminal justice system; helping to end psychological torture by the US Government and the complicity of health professionals in that policy; and the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health care in the US. PHR’s International Forensic Program is world renowned for setting the standard for forensic investigations.

“I am thrilled to represent PHR in this new capacity, and I am looking forward to working closely with Frank as he assumes day-to-day responsibility for managing and leading PHR,” stated Rubenstein.

Since its founding in 1986, PHR has organized health professionals to fight global AIDS, exposed the use of torture in US interrogation practices, campaigned to stop the genocide in Sudan, documented war crimes, helped end the juvenile death penalty, assisted asylum seekers, used science to transform the way human rights abuses are documented, and gained freedom for colleagues at risk around the world. Central to PHR’s work, and to its mission, is the idea that health professionals have a responsibility to bear witness to the health consequences of human rights abuses and can play a unique role in advocating for solutions to conflict, poverty and discrimination.

PHR’s executive search was led by the firm Isaacson Miller.

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.

Media Contact

Kevin Short

Deputy Director, Media & Communications1.917.679.0110

Get Updates from PHR