The Healing Impact: Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center’s Services for Survivors of Politically-Sanctioned Torture

We are pleased to share with you our latest publication, “The Healing Impact: Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center’s Services for Survivors of Politically-Sanctioned Torture,” which details our outcome evaluation program. We hope you will find it edifying and encouraging and that you will consider investing in our successful and respected program by making a tax-deductible contribution to Kovler Center before the year’s end.


2017 Robert H. Kirschner Award for Global Activism

mkc-nominationsThe 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, is now closed.

Kovler Center is considering nominations 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.

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


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Contact: Betsy Leonard

                                                                                                                                                             Phone: 773-491-1473



CHICAGO – (October 13, 2016)Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center congratulates António Guterres on 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.


About Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center

Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center (Kovler Center) helps transform the lives of those recovering from the complex consequences of politically sponsored torture. Kovler Center was founded in 1987 to respond to the needs of the burgeoning number of individuals arriving in Chicago having fled war and persecution in their home countries. Torture survivors are an underserved group often excluded from mainstream healthcare because of the unique nature of their trauma, lack of resources and legal status. With no other torture treatment program within 300 miles, Kovler Center’s specialized services connect survivors of torture to the care they need to start rebuilding their lives.