2020 O’Brien Award Winners

HRE USA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Edward O’Brien Award for HRE.  

The O’Brien Award was established in 2015 in memory of Edward O’Brien, pioneer human rights educator, to recognize both an individual and an organization that has made an outstanding contribution to human rights education in the United States. 

Award for Individual Achievement:

Pam Bruns created the vision for the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF) in 1999 when she served as Director of Human Rights Watch in Southern California. Under her guidance STF has worked for 21 years to develop students’ leadership and communication skills and their commitment to defend and protect human rights, both locally and globally. Each year STF works with approximately 250 students at 14 different public and private high schools to reach out to more than 25,000 students in Los Angeles, empowering them to advocate for human rights issues, especially the rights of children. Annual human rights campaign issues have included ending the use of child soldiers, juvenile justice reform in California, protecting immigrant children on the southern U.S. border and the universal right to education.

One nominator, a former student in the STF program, has said of Pam Bruns:
“Pam has inspired me and countless others …. to be leaders and advocates for human rights … and changemakers in our communities.”

Another nominator, an STF faculty sponsor, said of Pam Bruns:
“Pam Bruns has an unparalleled compassion for humanity … she projects warmth and hope … and opens the space for human rights to be discovered, discussed, and become the focus of action among high school students.”

>> Learn more

Award for Organizational Achievement: 

ACT Center for Disability Leadership Logo

ACT Center for Disability Leadership (ACT) is a grassroots disability rights organization located in St. Paul, MN run by and for people with developmental and other disabilities. As part of the broader human rights movement, since 1979 ACT has been creating leaders in self-advocacy, supporting people with disabilities to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. Its multiple programs share a common framework for equipping groups to understand disability equality and human rights, work together to make equality happen, and inform society at large on disability equality. Recognizing the disparity between the rights people with disabilities have and the rights they actually exercise, ACT Center works to fix that disparity. Executive Director Mary Kay Kennedy will accept the award on behalf of the ACT Center for Disability Leadership.

One nominator, an ACT volunteer, said:
“Today, 40 years later, ACT Center can take credit for being part of changing society—changing the view of disability from something is wrong with the person to something is wrong with society if everyone is not respected and included.  ACT Center message is loud and clear—Everyone Benefits when Everyone Is Included!”

>> Learn more

The 2020 awards will be presented as part of the HRE USA Human Rights Day Celebration on Thursday, December 10th at 3:30 EST.  To attend, please rsvp HERE.

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