High Road for Human Rights

Ed Asner

Ed AsnerEd Asner is known for his political views, particularly his stance on the war in Iraq, as well as playing Lou Grant on two television series in the 1970s and ’80s.

Asner served two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild, in which capacity he opposed US policy in Central America. He played a prominent role in the 1980 SAG strike. He has also been active in a variety of other causes, such as the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Asner served as the spokesman for 2004 Racism Watch. In April 2004, he wrote an open letter to “peace and justice leaders” encouraging them to demand “full 9-11 truth” through an organization called the “9-11 Visibility Project.”


Harry Belafonte

Harry BelafonteHarry Belafonte is known worldwide for his accomplishments as a recording artist and concert singer, as an actor and a producer, and for his commitment to human rights.

Belafonte has a long and distinguished campaigning record. He became the entertainment industry’s first cultural adviser to the Peace Corps in the early 1960s. He was a leading architect of the civil rights movement. And in l985, he helped bring together 45 top performers to record the song ‘We Are the World’, which raised millions of dollars for emergency assistance in Africa.


Lester Brown

Lester BrownLester Brown is an environmental and economics analyst who devotes his time to solving environmental issues around the world. He has written over 50 books on global environmental issues such as Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, and Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth. He has also authored several book series and e-series and has published articles in numerous magazines and journals. He is affiliated with over 35 different environmental organizations. In 1974, he founded the World Watch Institute and, in 2001, the Earth Policy Institute.

Brown earned a degree in Agricultural Science from Rutgers University in 1955. Following his graduation he spent six months in India, living among the rural population and studying the food/population crisis. He has a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Maryland and in Public Administration from Harvard. He has served as an advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture and was appointed Administrator of the Department’s International Agricultural Development Service.

The Washington Post has called Lester “one of the world’s most influential thinkers.” The Telegraph of Calcutta refers to him as “the guru of the environmental movement.” The Library of Congress notes his writings to “have already strongly affected thinking about problems of world population and resources.”

Brown has received numerous awards, including: 23 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1987 United Nations’ Environment Prize, the 1989 World Wide Fund for Nature Gold Medal, and the 1994 Blue Planet Prize. Recently he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Italy, the Borgstrom Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, and appointed an honorary professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


Hillary Brown

Hillary BrownAs a former design director and Assistant Commissioner at New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, Hillary Brown founded its Office of Sustainable Design. She was managing editor of the nationally and internationally recognized City of New York High Performance Building Guidelines, co-author of the U.S. Green Building Council’s State and Local Green Building Toolkit, and author of Implementing High Performance Buildings. Additionally, she envisioned and has co-authored the just-released High Performance Infrastructure: Best Practices for the Public Right-Of-Way for New York City and the Design Trust for Public Space.


Ben Cohen

Ben CohenCo-Founder Of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Ben and Jerry have been recognized for fostering their company’s commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities, which awarded them the Corporate Giving award in 1988 for donating 7.5 percent of their pre tax profits to nonprofit organizations through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which named them U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year in 1988 in a White House ceremony hosted by President Reagan.

Ben Cohen is on the boards of various organizations, and is an active founding member of Businesses for Social Responsibility, an organization that works to promote socially responsible business practices.


Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel EllsbergDaniel Ellsberg graduated from Harvard in 1952 summa cum laude in Economics. He spent a year studying at King’s College, Cambridge University, on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. He was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. in Economics in 1962.

Ellsberg served as a rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1954 to 1957. He has also worked as a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation and as a consultant for both the Defense Department and the White House. In 1964 he joined the Defense Department as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense. Ellsberg also served two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. He specialized in understanding problems associated with the command and control of nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making.

In 1967 he worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. decision-making in Vietnam, later know as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969 Ellsberg photocopied the 7,000-page study and provided it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New York Times, the Washington Post, and several other newspapers. Twelve felony counts were filed against him. And he faced a possible sentence of 115 years. However, in 1973, his trial was dismissed on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which eventually led to the convictions of various White House aides. These events factored significantly into the impeachment proceedings against and eventual resignation of, President Nixon.

Following the publication of his bestseller book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg received several non-fiction book awards. In December of 2006 Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in recognition “for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to a movement to free the world from the risk of nuclear war.”

Ellsberg now lives in Berkley, California, with his wife, Patricia Marx Ellsberg. Ellsberg serves as a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing, and the urgent need for patriotic whistle-blowing.


Ross Gelbspan

Ross GelbspanFor over thirty years, Ross Gelbspan worked as a reporter, writing for the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. As a senior editor at the Boston Globe until his retirement in 1992, he directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination in Boston – this series won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984. The issue of global warming, however, dominates his career, and though now retired from daily journalism, Gelbspan continues to have his considerable voice heard.

Ross Gelbspan’s books: Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis–And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster; The Heat Is on: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription.


Susan Joy Hassol

Susan Joy HassolAs a climate change communicator, analyst, and author, Susan Joy Hassol is known for her ability to communicate science for the layperson. Her communication skills enable the general public and policy makers to better understand complex environmental issues. She provides valuable information on how to reduce negative impacts on the environment in the areas of energy, recycling, and commonly used chemicals.

Hassol earned a B.A. in Public Communications summa cum laude in 1981 from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, and Maxwell School of Public Affairs and Citizenship. Since then she has been involved in environmental research and education, and works towards improving the understanding of climate change science and solutions.

She has authored several reports, including Impacts of a Warming Arctic, a synthesis report of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. She spent four years in the Arctic with over 300 scientists from around the globe. In November of 2004, she testified about the impact of Arctic warming before the U.S. Senate. In 2006 the Climate Institute honored her for her “excellence in climate science communication.”

In 2006 Hassol wrote HBO’s global warming documentary Too Hot Not To Handle. She has also authored a synthesis report of the U.S. National Assessment in 2000, on the consequences of climate change titled, Climate Change Impacts on the United States. In 2006, she co-authored a chapter on Arctic climate impacts in the book, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change.

Along with many other projects, Hassol has appeared on national television and several radio shows, to discuss climate change. She has addressed many audiences, including the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She continues to work as an independent analyst and climate science communicator, writing and speaking widely on climate change issues.


Mark Hertsgaard

Mark HertsgaardMark Hertsgaard is a San Francisco-based independent journalist and author. He currently writes as the environment correspondent for The Nation, and is the political correspondent for US satellite broadcaster, LinkTV.

Mark Hertsgaard’s books include: The Eagle’s Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World; Earth Odyssey: Around the world in search of our environmental future; Nuclear, Inc.: The Men and Money Behind Nuclear Energy; On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency.


Mimi Kennedy

Mimi KennedyMimi Kennedy is both an actor and activist. She was born in Rochester, New York, where she began her acting career at the age of twelve. She has worked on various human rights, environmental, and labor issues, and has studied nonviolent social action with the Reverend James Lawson. Her work for peace and human rights has drawn her to many different parts of the world.

Kennedy was a signatory to the 9/11 Truth Statement. Along with her involvement in several progressive activist causes, Kennedy most notably serves as National Chairperson of the Board for Progressive Democrats of America, which promotes peace and justice. She was a charter member of Artists United to Win Without War.

Kennedy is widely known for her television role as Abbie O’Neil (Dharma’s mom), on the hit series “Dharma and Greg.” She has appeared widely on TV, in theatre, and in movies such as “Erin Brockovich” and “Pump Up the Volume.” She has also appeared on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”

Kennedy and her husband, Lawrence Edwin Dilg, have two children.


Paul Rogat Loeb

Paul Rogat LoePaul Loeb has spent over thirty years researching and writing about citizen responsibility and empowerment. Born in California, Loeb attended Stanford University and New York’s New School for Social Research.

Loeb has written several widely praised books, including Nuclear Culture, Hope in Hard Times, Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus, Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time, and The Impossible Will Take a Little While. He has written for a range of publications for large newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals.

Loeb’s dedication and work with various colleges and universities around the nation has helped to inspire the American Democracy project, which currently involves over 200 campuses. His work and inspiration are both deeply moving and motivating.

Loeb has received various awards for his books, including the American Book Association’s Nautilus Award for the best social change book. He is said to “bring hope for a better world in a time when we so urgently need it.” (Millard Fuller, founder, Habitat for Humanity.)


Edward Mazria AIA

Edward Mazria AIAEdward Mazria is an internationally-recognized architect, author, educator and visionary with a long and distinguished career. His award-winning architecture and planning projects span over a thirty-five year period and each employs a cutting-edge environmental approach to design. He is the author of numerous published works, including the ‘bible’ of solar design, The Passive Solar Energy Book, which is currently in use worldwide.

Most recently, Mr. Mazria has reshaped the national and international dialogue on climate change to incorporate building design and the ‘Building Sector’. He is the founder of Architecture 2030, an innovative and flexible research organization focused on protecting our global environment. He developed and issued the 2030 Challenge, a measured and achievable strategy to dramatically reduce global GHG emissions and fossil-fuel consumption by the year 2030. He speaks nationally and internationally on the subject of architecture, design, energy and climate change and has taught architecture at several universities including the University of New Mexico, University of Oregon and UCLA. His numerous awards include AIA Design Awards, AIA Design Innovation Award, American Planning Association Award, Department of Energy Awards, “Pioneer Award” from the American Solar Energy Society, first recipient of the Equinox Award presented on the 50th anniversary of construction of the world’s first commercial solar building, and most recently a 2008 National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation. He is a fellow of the Design Futures Council.


Bill McKibben

Bill McKibbenBill McKibben is an internationally renowned educator, environmentalist, and author. His writings are often focused on global warming, alternative energy, and the risks associated with human genetic engineering.

Following graduation from college, McKibben joined The New Yorker magazine as a staff writer. He has since published many essays and written many books, including: The End of Nature (1989), The Age of Missing Information (1992), and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007). McKibben is a frequent contributor to various publications, including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside Magazine. He is also a board member of and contributor to Grist Magazine.

During the summer of 2006, McKibben led one of the nation’s largest demonstrations against global warming in American history. In 2007 McKibben founded Step It Up, a program in which over 300 events were held throughout the United States demanding Congress to enact significant curbs on carbon emissions.

McKibben has received numerous awards, including Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships and the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He currently lives in Ripton, Vermont with his wife Sue Halpern, also a writer, along with their daughter. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College and currently organizing the 350.org initiative.


Yoko Ono

Yoko OnoYoko Ono attended the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Then began her lifelong work in the arts, including poetry and conceptual pieces. She is now recognized as an uncompromising and influential visionary artist. When once asked what kind of artist she was, Yoko answered, “I deal with music of the mind.” She pushes the boundaries of art, music, film, and theatre media.

Perhaps one of the most epic and monumental points of Yoko’s life was when she met John Lennon. The creative, artistic, and intellectual passions shared between Yoko and John eventually led them to marry. The two enjoyed expressing political voices through their art, and the couple’s mantra was John Lennon’s famous “Give Peace a Chance.” They staged a series of conceptual events to promote world peace during the Vietnam Era.

Since John’s death Yoko has remained active, releasing three music albums, engaging in two concert tours, and composing two off-Broadway musicals. She has also remained an avid activist for peace and human rights. In 2002, Yoko inaugurated her own peace award by giving $50,000 prize money to artists living “in regions of conflict.” In 2004, she remade her song “Everyman…Everywoman…,” in support of same-sex marriage. And in January of 2008, Yoko took out a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that read “IMAGINE PEACE.”


Gus Speth

Gus SpethGus Speth is a Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos in New York City. He was Professor in the Practice of Environmental Policy at Yale where he served as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2009. From 1993 to 1999, Dean Speth was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and chair of the UN Development Group. Prior to his service at the UN, he was founder and president of the World Resources Institute; professor of law at Georgetown University; chairman of the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality; and senior attorney and cofounder, Natural Resources Defense Council. Throughout his career, Dean Speth has provided leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives to many task forces and committees whose roles have been to combat environmental degradation, including the President’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment; the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development; and the National Commission on the Environment.


Winnie Singh

Winnie SinghWinnie Singh is a committed social entrepreneur, mentor, trainer, and educator with more than 15 years experience at national and grassroots levels in public health, community mobilization, and advocacy. She places a special focus in the areas of HIV/AIDS and gender equity.

Singh was born in India and graduated from Miranda House, Delhi University, where she studied Psychology and Philosophy.

Her lifelong interest in humanitarian relief has been the driving force for many new social programs in Northeast India. Singh is the Executive Director of Maitri, an organization dedicated to helping women and children dealing with HIV and AIDS. She also founded MASSES, a recycling paper plant project in Shillong, India, where women infected and affected with HIV and AIDS work alongside women from the community. Singh also advocates passionately for women survivors of sexual violence and for health education.

Singh co-founded Global Walk, an educational travel organization dedicated to fostering peace through cultural exchange and understanding and ‘Aashirwad,’ an organization committed to serving the needs of senior citizens. She serves on several honorary and advisory committees, including The Institute of Environmental Management and Social Development.

Singh is married to Lt. Gen. Bhopinder Singh, who works with Winnie in making a significant positive difference in the lives of women and children by providing them a healthy future.


Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Sheila Watt-CloutierSheila Watt-Cloutier has devoted her career to improving the lives and livelihoods of Artic communities in the face of climate change and other human development challenges.

For over 10 years now, Ms. Watt-Cloutier has been a political leader representing indigenous communities in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Russia. From 1995 to 1998, she was the Corporate Secretary of Makivik Corporation, the Canadian Inuit land-claim organization established for Northern Quebec (Nunavik) under the 1975 James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

In 1995, she was elected President of Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) Canada, a position she was re-elected to in 1998. ICC represents internationally the interests of Inuit in Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

More recently, Ms. Watt-Cloutier has turned her attention to the effects of climate change on the Inuit people. In December 2005, she joined with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska to launch one of the world’s first international legal actions on climate change, contending that unchecked greenhouse gas emissions from the United States violated Inuit cultural and environmental rights.


Elie Wiesel

Elie WieselElie Wiesel was born in Sighet, Transylvania. When Wiesel was just fifteen, the Nazis deported his family to Auschwitz. His father, mother, and younger sister all perished during the Holocaust. After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris, where he became a journalist. He was later persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps, which he did so in his internationally acclaimed memoir, La Nuit or Night.

As a writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, Wiesel authored over 40 books dealing with Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism, and genocide.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel as Chair of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980 he became the Founding Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is also the Founding President of the Paris-based Universal Academy of Cultures. He has since received more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.

Since 1976, Wiesel has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in Humanities at Boston University, where he holds the title of University Professor. He is a professor in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy. He has served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York, as well as the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University.

Wiesel has received numerous awards for his literature and human rights activities, including The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, the Medal of Liberty Award, and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. Wiesel received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986.

Wiesel and his wife Marion established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. They currently live in Connecticut.


Terry Tempest Williams

Terry Tempest WilliamsTerry Tempest Williams, a naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech and environmental justice, is author of Refuge – An Unnatural History of Family and Place, An Unspoken Hunger – Stories from the Field, Desert Quartet, Leap, Red – Passion and Patience in the Desert, The Open Space of Democracy, and, most recently, Mosaic: Finding Beauty in a Broken World. Terry has served time in jail for acts of civil disobedience, testified before Congress on women’s health issues, and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. Terry served as the Annie Clark Tanner Scholar in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide. Terry has provided a crucial and compelling voice for ecological consciousness and compassionate social change.

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