Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center announces a call for nominations for the sixth Robert H. Kirschner Award for Global Activism, to be presented at its 30th Anniversary Benefit, Thursday, April 27, 2017, at The Newberry Library, Chicago.
Submit a nomination by Wednesday, November 30, 2016, of an individual or group whose work to serve the world’s most vulnerable populations is exemplary and embodies the spirit of Robert H. Kirschner, MD, a compassionate physician and human rights advocate. Candidates may be local or global, working in any field, but ideally able to accept the award in person. Click here to submit your nomination.
Robert H. Kirschner, MD
Robert H. Kirschner, MD was an internationally recognized authority on forensic pathology, human rights violations, police brutality, torture and child abuse. Dr. Kirschner’s activism took him to more than a dozen foreign countries where torture, extra-judicial executions and mass killings occurred. Dr. Kirschner trained pro bono health providers to conduct forensic evaluations of torture survivors and provided ongoing consultation to Kovler Center staff and volunteers. The recipient of the Robert H. Kirschner Award for Global Activism embodies the spirit of Dr. Kirschner and, like him, has conducted exemplary work to serve the world’s most vulnerable populations and to give a voice to those who have been silenced.
Past Recipients of the Award
- Jerome McDonnell, 2009. As the incisive host of WBEZ’s Worldview, Jerome McDonnell brings attention on a daily basis to significant human rights work being conducted around the world. His compassionate, intelligent interviews of those working often under the radar have been inspiring Chicagoans and others for over 20 years.
- Mardge Cohen, MD, 2011. Dr. Cohen has been advocating for people living with HIV, locally and globally, for over 30 years. As Medical Director, Women Equity in AIDS Care and Treatment-Rwanda, WE-ACTx, she recognizes the important role of trauma in treatment.
- Esad Boskailo, MD, 2013. Dr. Boskailo is a survivor of the Bosnian genocide and co-author, with Julia Lieblich, of Wounded, I am More Awake. He currently works as a psychiatrist with survivors of trauma.
- Kirk W. Johnson, 2014. Kirk W. Johnson is the founder of The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies and the author of To Be a Friend is Fatal, the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind.
- Les Roberts, 2015. Dr. Roberts is an epidemiologist and Professor, Columbia University School of Public Heath, who has designed, conducted, and authored over 50 surveys in 17 countries, mostly measuring mortality in times of war.
Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center
Founded in 1987 by a concerned group of physicians, psychologists, lawyers, philanthropists, and torture survivors, Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center is a unique Chicago-based program serving an international population of individuals who have survived unimaginable acts of politically-sponsored torture.
Marjorie Kovler Center helps transform the lives of individuals recovering from the complex consequences of such psychological and physical abuse. Kovler Center provides medical, mental health, and social services; trains and educates locally and globally; and advocates for the end of torture worldwide. All of Kovler Center’s services are offered free of charge, provided by dedicated staff and a large network of community-based pro bono professionals to more than 350 individuals each year who arrive from 84 countries around the globe.
Questions about the award or sponsorship opportunities for the 30th Anniversary Benefit? Contact Judith Weinstein at 224.479.2706 or email@example.com.
Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center congratulates António Guterreson his election as the next Secretary General of the United Nations. Mr. Guterres, formerly prime minister of Portugal, headed the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, from 2005 to 2015.
As one of the first torture treatment centers established in the United States, and one recognized for its work by the Secretary General-elect in his former role as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Kovler Center heralds the appointment for its potential to elevate the importance of support and rehabilitation of torture survivors globally.
“Mr. Guterres has witnessed firsthand the devastating consequences that conflict has on individuals, families, and communities,” said Peter Kovler, philanthropist and founder of the Kovler Center. “Last year, I had the privilege of presenting the National Democratic Institute’s highest honor to Mr. Guterres. In conversation after the award presentation, he shared his deep admiration for the expertise and specialized, comprehensive care provided by Kovler Center, which he referred to as one of the great institutions of its kind in the world.”
This perspective was influenced by a 2009 visit to Kovler Center by Mr. Guterres in his capacity as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, At his request, Mr. Guterres met with torture survivors to learn firsthand of the needs and challenges they faced. He also met with staff to discuss plans regarding early identification of torture survivors with a focus on ensuring that survivors are not detained upon entry into the US and are guided to cities where torture treatment programs exist.
These issues are as urgent today as they were during Mr. Guterres’ visit to Kovler Center in 2009. The world is facing the most significant refugee and migration crisis since World War II with over 65 million people displaced worldwide by conflict and persecution. The latest research indicates that the refugee torture prevalence rate may be as high as 44%, thus increasing threefold to 1.3 million the current estimate of torture survivors in the US.
Kovler Center looks forward to working with Mr. Guterres and his team to strengthen efforts across the UN on behalf of torture survivors and other survivors of conflict.
As we enter the last quarter of our fiscal year, Kovler Center is effectively serving 315 survivors of torture. We consistently report positive outcomes for participants, once they are engaged in treatment. Unfortunately, the need for our services is growing, and we have had to place 30 survivors on a waiting list until time for an intake evaluation is available.
Sophie, a 29-year-old mother of two young children from Brazzaville, Congo, was arrested by the local police after joining a march for transparent elections organized by the opposition party. She was detained for four days, during which she was deprived of food and potable water and brutally beaten. Upon release, she was threatened with death by the party in power and forced to flee. She made it to Chicago where she lives with her children in a homeless shelter. Kovler Center is her only source of support, but she is number 25 on our wait list.
Sophie and others are in a terrible limbo, their healing delayed and their lives on hold. Your gift today will help us to start the healing process for Sophie and others like her.
Thank you for considering a gift to Kovler Center.
Interested in a more lasting gift? Kovler Center has naming opportunities for your consideration. Please contact Judith Weinstein for more information.
Mary Lynn Everson, MS, LCPC
Senior Director, Marjorie Kovler Center
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Learn More: Andrea
When Andrea’s husband was kidnapped by Guatemalan soldiers in 1984, she fled the country in fear of her own life, leaving behind two young sons. She never saw her husband again, and the experience haunted her. At the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, Andrea—and her sons who followed her years later—accessed counseling for the anxiety, fear and depression that the experience caused. Like many of the clients of this special facility for the survivors of torture, Andrea also received legal and other social services—and today she is pursuing justice for her husband’s legacy, one of more than 45,000 Guatemalans who have become “disappeared.”