Human Rights

Lottie Jones Hood , Underground Railroad Living Museum
CEO and Senior Minister Emeritus
Underground Railroad Living Museum
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

When I became the first African-American pastor of the First Congregational Church (FCC) of Detroit in its 150-year history, my European-American and African-American congregants were like two different cultures under one roof. It took me seven years to find a way to bring them together. When I found the solution on a black history bulletin board in 2001, I was ecstatic.

Wilhelmina Perry , LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent
LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

Every Sunday, many African-American gays worship in churches that preach hate and prejudice against them. We sit in silence in the pews even though we are tithing members of the congregation.

After Antonia Pantoja, my partner and colleague for 30 years, died of cancer in 2002, I came to understand just how much the homophobia in many traditional African-American churches has had a negative impact on African-American gay lives, including my own — and I decided to do something to change that.

Eberhard K. Riedel , Mobile Clinic Trauma Management/Cameras Without Borders
Founder and Director
Mobile Clinic Trauma Management/Cameras Without Borders
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

I’m a psychoanalyst and photographer. For years, I’ve advocated incorporating mental health care into humanitarian work. My nonprofit Cameras Without Borders has used photography as a therapeutic tool to help more than 500 people in northern Uganda and South Sudan process the perverse violence they experienced during decades of conflict.

But it wasn’t until 2011, when I started fieldwork in the war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), that I realized that the phenomenal violence and genocidal warfare I witnessed was an expression of severe trauma as well as its cause.

Michael Connor , Open MIC/Business Ethics Magazine
Executive Director
Open MIC/Business Ethics Magazine
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

“‘Business ethics’? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” I heard that joke a lot in 2004 when I bought Business Ethics, a magazine about corporate responsibility. But more than 40 years as a business journalist and media executive taught me that corporate secrecy can be a threat to the bottom line and to democracy.

Lily Yeh , Barefoot Artists
Founding Director
Barefoot Artists
Purpose Prize Fellow 2014

In 2004, I was unhappy as director of the Village of Arts and Humanities, the organization I co-founded in 1986 to transform North Philadelphia communities through art. I spent most of my time raising funds and managing staff. I yearned to be on the frontlines of action again, like I had been in 1994.

Gary Hollander , Diverse & Resilient, Inc.
President and CEO
Diverse & Resilient, Inc.
Purpose Prize Fellow 2013

Through his 25-year career in psychology, public health and research in Wisconsin, Gary Hollander came to know well that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people have higher rates of HIV, mental health issues, STDs and partner violence than heterosexuals do. In Milwaukee alone, LGBT youth are twice as likely as their straight peers to smoke tobacco or marijuana, and five times as likely to be injured in school fights or attempt suicide.

David S.  Bazerman , Legal Aid Service of Broward County
Director, Tracey McPharlin Dependency Pro Bono Project
Legal Aid Service of Broward County
Purpose Prize Fellow 2013

When 11-year-old Nubia Barahona was murdered by her adopted father in South Florida, her body found in a plastic bag, it shocked David Bazerman’s conscience. For years he’d worked to defend the rights of abused, neglected and abandoned children, and knew how the state’s legal system often neglected those children, too. “Had Nubia been represented by an attorney who would have pursued obvious concerns about the adoptive parents’ fitness,” he says, “she might be alive today.”

Obama Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Purpose Prize Fellow

At a recent White House ceremony, Purpose Prize fellow Dolores Huerta became one of only 13 people – including such big names as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former astronaut John Glenn and musician Bob Dylan – to receive the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Shana Swiss , Women's Rights International
Women's Rights International
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

In the late 1980s at a Boston hospital, physician Shana Swiss treated a refugee woman with 19 stab wounds. The brutality made Swiss realize she wanted to do more for this patient than sew up her horrific wounds. “I had to do something to stop violence against women,” she says. The case inspired her to volunteer at Physicians for Human Rights in 1991.

Esther Hyneman , Women for Afghan Women
Board Member
Women for Afghan Women
Purpose Prize Fellow 2011

When Esther Hyneman retired after decades as an English professor, she decided she wanted to pursue an international career. Outraged by the rape, murder and silencing of women under the Taliban, Hyneman became interested in advocacy work to help the women in Afghanistan achieve basic human rights – to safety, to an education, to work.

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