Donna McKay joined PHR as executive director in February 2012, bringing more than 20 years of international and domestic nonprofit experience to the organization. During her tenure she provided overall leadership and strategic direction and managed PHR’s staff and volunteers globally. After joining PHR, McKay moved the organization’s headquarters from Massachusetts to New York, and hired over 30 new, high-caliber staff with extensive human rights experience. McKay stepped down as Executive Director at the end of 2021.
Before PHR, McKay served for nearly a decade as the director of institutional advancement and special projects at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In this senior executive position, she played a critical role in transforming the organization as it responded to the erosion of U.S. civil liberties in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Among other successes, she designed and led “Leading Freedom Forward,” a national campaign to significantly expand the ACLU’s presence in the South and Midwest Regions. She worked with a nationwide team of staff and volunteers who raised over $400 million for this special initiative. She also co-founded and helped manage the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations, comprising some of the world’s most esteemed civil liberties groups.
Prior to the ACLU, McKay served as vice president for development at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and chaired the Campaign to Eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Worldwide. Previously, she worked as a director and senior program officer for Planned Parenthood of New York City, where she developed sexual and reproductive health and rights programs in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. She is a member of the board of directors of Access Now and World Education.
McKay holds an MS in non-profit management and urban policy from the New School for Social Research.