ResourcesPress Release

Physicians for Human Rights Welcomes Both New Board Chair and Interim Executive Director

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today announced the hire of Joel Lamstein, MBA, as Interim Executive Director, effective July 1, 2022. Lamstein brings a lifetime of organizational expertise in the global health and education fields, which will provide leadership and vision during PHR’s  search for a new permanent Executive Director.

PHR also welcomes a new Chair of its Board of Directors, Gerson H. Smoger, JD, PhD. Smoger is a Principal at Smoger and Associates, PC, and a leading public interest and human rights advocate with decades of litigation experience, including work on behalf of people suffering from injuries as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. Smoger served a previous, decade-long term on the Board and the past two years as a member of PHR’s Advisory Council.

“We are thrilled to welcome two visionary leaders to PHR in Joel Lamstein and Gerson Smoger,” said Karen Naimer, JD, LLM, MA, Director of Programs at PHR. “With their deep expertise and experience in global health, public interest law, and nonprofit management, PHR will grow its programmatic reach and impact in the months and years ahead. Lamstein and Smoger’s contributions and guidance will strengthen PHR’s capacities to document human rights violations, hold perpetrators to account, and widen our global network of health professionals to advocate for human rights.”

Lamstein is co-founder of John Snow, Inc. (JSI), its sister nonprofit organization JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., and World Education, Inc.,  all global health and development organizations that together span more than 350 projects in 42 countries with over 4,000 staff members. Lamstein’s global health expertise and experience equips him to guide PHR in its work at the intersections of human rights and public health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lamstein is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, as well as on the Board of Seed Global Health and a member of the Advisory Council of the Children’s Health Fund in New York. He is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Boards at Boston University School of Public Health, the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and the Harvard FXB Center.

Smoger received the Public Justice Foundation’s national Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his work fighting for the lead-contaminated children of Herculaneum, the location of North America’s largest lead smelter. As an appellate attorney, he has often worked at the intersection between law and medicine, including filing U.S. Supreme Court briefs on behalf of PHR, the New England Journal of Medicine, the AMA, and a variety of U.S. Senators. Smoger serves on the advisory board of the Human Rights Center at U.C. Berkeley and as a Commissioner for the International AIDS Society-Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. He also serves as President of the National Civil Justice Institute, and on the boards of Public Citizen, Public Justice (as a past president), and the Civil Justice Research Initiative. He earned his B.A. from Lycoming College (summa cum laude), Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (with distinction), J.D. from Berkeley Law, and is a member of the bars of Texas and California.

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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