Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR)
Donna McKay is the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
Founded in 1986, PHR is a New York-based human rights organization that uses medicine and science to document mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. PHR’s forensic-based evidence has been used for decades in international, national, and local courts to hold perpetrators accountable, seek justice for victims, and prevent future abuses. In 1997, PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize for documenting landmine injuries and serving as a leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
As executive director, McKay provides overall leadership and strategic direction for PHR and manages its staff and volunteers globally. Since joining PHR in February 2012, McKay has led efforts to grow the organization, while spearheading the move of the organization’s headquarters to New York City. Most recently, PHR has worked on documenting anti-Muslim violence in Burma, investigating the use of force and tear gas in Turkey, partnering with health, legal, and law enforcement professionals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help document sexual violence cases, and providing training to medical staff evaluating asylum seekers in the United States.
A committed human rights activist, McKay brings more than 20 years of international and domestic nonprofit experience to PHR. Before joining PHR, she served for nearly a decade as the director of institutional advancement and special projects at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). At the ACLU, McKay played a critical role in transforming the organization as it responded to the erosion of civil liberties in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. In addition to designing and leading a national campaign to expand the ACLU’s presence in the South and Midwest, McKay also co-founded an International Civil Liberties Network, 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, as a director and senior program officer at Planned Parenthood of New York City, she developed sexual and reproductive health and rights programs in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
McKay holds an MS in non-profit management and urban policy from the New School for Social Research.