ResourcesPress Release

Physicians for Human Rights Appoints New Chief Operating Officer

Seasoned activist, manager, and leader Rob Wheeler, MPA, joins Physicians for Human Rights.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today announced the hire of Rob Wheeler, MPA as PHR’s first Chief Operating Officer (COO). Wheeler will spearhead PHR’s innovation, operational excellence, and organizational development, drawing on his vast experience as an accomplished change agent and consensus builder in the nonprofit advocacy field.

Wheeler joins PHR from the New York City LGBT Community Center, where he served as chief operating officer and deputy executive director for 10 years (2010-2020). He led the Center’s business and people operations, executing an operational and capital investment strategy while leading a number of major, multi-year organizational transformation efforts.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rob Wheeler to the Physicians for Human Rights team, where he will serve as an organizational catalyst in this time of growth and impact for PHR,” said Donna McKay, executive director at PHR. “Rob brings the skills and vision we need to take PHR to the next level of influence and accomplishments: deep human resources expertise, operations and finance prowess, and a proven track record growing organizations and fostering community.

“Rob is simultaneously a people-driven activist, an administrator, a change agent, and a leader, having made remarkable contributions to an essential LGBT organization, the New York City LGBT Community Center. At its core, PHR’s work combines steadfast advocacy with programmatic excellence – an approach that Rob has embraced throughout his career. He will be a tremendous partner for PHR’s staff, board, and global network of clinicians and advocates who are on the front lines of the human rights movement,” said McKay.

In his role as COO, Wheeler will lead PHR’s finance, administration, human resources, and information technology teams and strategic planning, anchoring equity, data insights, and people-driven practices throughout the organization.

“I am elated to join Physicians for Human Rights, a community of clinicians and human rights professionals who advance human rights, public health, and social justice every day,” said Wheeler. “PHR’s trailblazing legacy – from sharing the Nobel Peace Prize to its landmark investigations into crimes against humanity to its tireless campaigning – is incomparable. Today PHR is on the front lines of many of the most pressing human rights crises of our time, from Myanmar to the U.S.-Mexico border. I am honored to help steward PHR during this era of unprecedented growth for the organization and the thousands of health professionals and activists it mobilizes. Amid a global pandemic and the rise of anti-rights forces around the world, there are few organizations better placed to respond, to document, to spotlight, and to make change possible.”

Wheeler earned his BA (Organizational Sociology and Political Science) at Hunter College and a Master of Public Administration from New York University, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he has taught as an adjunct associate professor. 

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.