The Advocates for Human Rights

Changing the world for good


The mission of The Advocates for Human Rights is to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law. By involving volunteers in research, education and advocacy, we build broad constituencies in the United States and selected global communities.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Robin Phillips

Main address

330 2ND AVE S STE 800


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Formerly known as

Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights

Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee



NTEE code info

International Human Rights (Q70)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Women's Rights (R24)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Advocates for Human Rights works to change systems and conditions that cause human rights abuses, improve laws and lives throughout the world, represent individual victims of human rights violations, and fight injustice, The Advocates develops partnerships and mobilizes volunteers to address some of the most pressing issues of our time because we believe everyone has the power and responsibility to advance human rights.  By engaging volunteers The Advocates not only accomplishes critical research and advocacy, it transforms them into advocates. The Advocates works on two levels: the systemic and the individual direct services level. This unique approach grounds policy work in the lived experiences of partners and clients. When clients experience injustice, we help them and advocate to change the systems that perpetuate those injustices. When partners report obstacles, we identify gaps in legal protections and develop solutions. We address the most intractable human rights issues.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Women's Human Rights

The Advocates for Human Rights is committed to improving women’s human rights throughout the world. Our Women’s Human Rights Program, founded in 1993, works tirelessly to end violence against women through legal reform, technical assistance, and documentation. We combat human trafficking in Minnesota through prevention, survivor protection, and legal reform.

Our Stop Violence Against Women website serves as a forum for information, advocacy, and change. On the site, we detail women’s human rights news from around the world. By working with the UN, we developed the Legislation and Justice sections of the site's Virtual Knowledge Center to End Violence Against Women. On this forum, we provide expert guidance on drafting, advocating for, implementing, and monitoring national legislation of diverse regions around the world. We also provide information regarding programming tools and methods to help overcome the barriers women and girls face every day.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

We monitor and document human rights conditions in countries around the world, and call attention to those conditions at the United Nations and regional human rights bodies through submitting reports, making oral and written statements, and directly participating in human rights body meetings and reviews of treaty compliance. We partner with human rights defenders to conduct fact-finding and reporting and to increase their capacity to improve laws and policies for better protection of human rights in their countries through advocacy at the local, national, and international level.
We train and provide technical assistance to diaspora community groups and activists, including our asylum clients, who want to use human rights monitoring, documentation, and advocacy to change policy and improve human rights conditions in their countries of origin.
We develop practical, sustainable strategies to assist countries emerging from conflict and repression to create peace and accountability.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

We believe in - and fight for - immigration systems guided by international human rights standards and dedicated to the fair and humane treatment of all. Each year, we work with pro bono attorneys to provide free legal services to more than 1,100 migrants who are victims of human rights abuses. The Advocates represents adults, families, and children who are fleeing persecution, torture, and trafficking, as well as people in immigration detention. We ensure that everyone has a fair day in court. Through our National Asylum Help Line, we connect families released from U.S. immigration detention centers with free legal services around the country.

We also work to reform the legal system itself by documenting and reporting on human rights abuses and advocating for better immigration laws. Our extensive education and training resources help educators, individuals, and communities understand the dynamics of migration through a human rights lens.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Advocates for Human Rights carries out monitoring and fact-finding in partnership with activists around the world, publishing reports that seek to uncover the truth of human rights violations wherever they occur.

The Advocates for Human Rights is at the forefront of developing educational tools that help people learn about and apply international human rights standards in their families, schools, workplaces, and communities. We believe that education is one of the best ways to ensure long-term improvements in respect for human rights everywhere.

The Advocates for Human Rights works to create public policy that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights obligations in our home community and around the world. Our advocacy priorities are protecting the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants; protecting the human rights of women and girls; supporting the work of human rights defenders; and working to abolish the death penalty.

Population(s) Served

The Sankhu-Palubari Community School is a pre-K through 10th grade school located in the rural Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Founded by The Advocates for Human Rights in 1999 and operated in partnership with the local community, the school provides a genuine alternative to child labor to 375 of the most vulnerable students in the area. By providing a completely free, high-quality education, as well as a daily meal, the school makes the right to education a reality for hundreds of Nepali children.

Child labor remains a widespread problem in Nepal, with an estimated 1.6 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 in child labor. Child labor in brick kilns is one of the most common and exploitative forms of child labor in Nepal. It is also common in agriculture, domestic servitude, service industry, jewelry and rug making. Nepali children, especially girls, are also at risk for trafficking. Public education is technically free, but fees and and costs of supplies remain a barrier.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Advocates for Human Rights opposes the use of the death penalty anywhere and everywhere. We serve on the Steering Committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, an alliance of more than 160 NGOs, bar associations, local authorities, and unions from around the globe. We work with member organizations to train advocates and work to eliminate and reduce the scope of application of the death penalty, including fact-finding and advocacy at the United Nations.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Ethnic and racial groups, Sexual identity

Related Program

Immigrant Rights

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The pandemic required creative service delivery via text messaging and other technologies. Courts were closed for some periods during 2020 which affected case closings. Cases remain complex.

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Number of external speaking requests for members of the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

COVID-19 cancelled many in-person events and speaker requests. We pivoted to virtual conferences, education events, and presentations.

Number of overall donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our strategic plan, adopted in 2020, posits the following strategic goals:

1. Raising the profile of The Advocates for Human Rights and its priority issues

2. Maximizing volunteer effectiveness to strengthen The Advocates' capacity to respond to existing and emerging human rights priorities

3. Strengthening relationships with stakeholders to maximize the impact of our work

4. Expanding operational capacity

5. Assuring program quality

Our programmatic goals include:

1. Changing Systems and Conditions that Cause Human Rights Abuses
1.1.Hold Governments Accountable for Human Rights Abuses
1.2 Abolish the Death Penalty Worldwide

2. Improving Laws and Lives Throughout the World
2.1 Stop Violence Against Women and Girls
2.2. Protect LGBTQ+ Individuals from Violence and Discrimination
2.3 Fulfill the Right to Education

3. Representing Individual Victims of Human Rights Violations
3.1 Provide Access to Legal Representation to Asylum Seekers in the Upper Midwest
3.2 Build a Human Rights-based Approach to Human Trafficking
3.3. End Arbitrary Detention of Migrants and Asylum Seekers

4. Fighting Injustice
4.1 Advocate for Immigration Policy that Reflects International Human Rights Standards 
4.2 Incorporate International Human Rights Standards in all Legislation and Practices
4.3 Monitor Immigration and State District Court Practices

Achieve strategic goals by implementing the following:
1.1 Increase participation in conferences and events that can feature our resources, methodologies and work
1.2 Use publications, op-eds, letters to the editor, press conferences, new media, and technology
1.3 Increase cross-sector involvement with literary, arts, academic, technology, faith and other communities

2.1 Promote involvement of volunteers beyond the legal community
2.2 Improve capacity for recruiting, training, supporting and utilizing volunteers
2.3 Increase recognition of volunteer contributions

3.1 Effectively communicate with stakeholders
3.2 Increase the recognition of all forms of support
3.3 Provide opportunities for increased engagement
3.4 Increase board member involvement

4.1 Ensure adequate staffing and a supportive environment for staff to perform and grow in their jobs
4.2 Strengthen administrative and operational systems and infrastructure to meet growing needs

5.1 Ensure consistent standards in program development, implementation and evaluation
5.2 Strengthen evaluation methods
5.3 better define what constitutes success

Achieve programmatic goals by:
1.1 Monitoring, documenting, and reporting human rights abuses to the UN through oral and written statements and participation in the UN's review of compliance with human rights treaties
1.2 Serving on the steering committee of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, an alliance of more than 150 organizations from around the globe

2.1 Documenting human rights violations, working to improve laws and policies with partner organizations, and providing up-to-date information on our website
2.2 Conducting fact-finding related to the human rights of LGBTQ+ individuals, advocating at international treaty bodies, raising awareness, providing training and education, and representing LGBTQ+ asylum seekers
2.3 Providing access to free year-round education to some of Nepal’s most marginalized children at The Advocates’ Sankhu-Palubari Community School

3.1 Providing free legal services to low-income people seeking asylum and connecting families released from U.S. immigration detention centers with free legal services through our National Asylum Help Line
3.2 Monitoring government compliance with international obligations, documenting violations, advocating for human rights-based public policy responses, and providing free legal assistance to victims
3.3 Providing free legal representation to people detained by ICE

4.1 Advocating for a more humane immigration policy informed by our legal services experience at the national and international level
4.2 Working with the state of Minnesota to protect human rights and advising local governments on human rights standards
4.3 Bringing a public eye to justice, monitoring immigration court proceedings and their impact on asylum seekers, and monitoring state district courts proceedings related to violence against women and girls

The Advocates for Human Rights leverages the expertise of its staff, an engaged and energized board, and hundreds of volunteers to deliver millions of dollars in human rights monitoring, documenting and reporting of violations, training, as well as policy and legal advocacy annually. Using a unique model of pro bono engagement that views volunteers as an essential part of the human rights movement, The Advocates engages hundreds of professionals each year in research, education, and advocacy around our priority issues.

The Advocates program staff is made up of experienced human rights practitioners with expertise in women's human rights, refugee and immigration law, human rights education, and international human rights law. The Advocates' professional staff hold advanced degrees in law, law and diplomacy, international politics, and education, in addition to years of field experience.

The Advocates' administrative staff has been recruited from the for-profit, non-profit, and academic sector and brings advanced skills to supporting the mission and programmatic efforts.

The Advocates has helped nearly 1000 victims of persecution to rebuild their lives, find work, and reunite with their families after being granted asylum, and provided essential legal advice to thousands more through innovative collaborative projects to ensure access to counsel. In 2015, The Advocates launched its National Asylum Help Line to assist women and children released from detention, serving hundreds of families in its first months of operation.

The Advocates has transformed legal systems' response to violence against women in over a dozen countries, impacting the lives of millions of women and creating models for future change. Through sustained partnerships with women's human rights defenders, careful monitoring and documentation of systemic failures to protect women, advocacy to adopt effective policies, and training of systems personnel and advocates to ensure effective implementation, The Advocates has helped reduce the prevalence of and impunity for violence against women.

Using international human rights mechanisms at the UN, The Advocates holds governments accountable for human rights violations. The Advocates' work has resulted in the restoration of essential legal protections for victims of domestic violence in Croatia, helped advocates fight against forced child marriage in Morocco, and given voice to on-the-ground human rights defenders at the international level. The Advocates' work with transitional justice mechanisms has helped create an accurate historical record of atrocities in Cambodia, Peru, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Through its Nepal School Project, The Advocates has transformed lives of its students and the Sankhu-Palubari community in the Kathmandu Valley. Beginning its first year with 50 students, the Sankhu-Palubari Community School now has 375 students enrolled, more than half of whom are girls. In 2014, the third class of students that began kindergarten at the school graduated from 12th grade. All graduates have continued on to study at a university in Nepal.

The first cohorts of graduates now work as ICU nurses, hotel managers, engineers, and teachers, a future that they couldn't even imagine when they first started school.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Asylum seekers Immigrant trafficking victims Immigrant unaccompanied children Individuals who are or were in immigration detention Grassroots human rights defenders in other countries Systems actors

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    When COVID-19 required staff to work from home, we moved to technology-mediated service delivery. We texted clients, called them, emailed them, and told them to mail materials to us rather than drop them off in the office. Several clients did not know about the US mail system. They had wondered about the purpose of the blue boxes on street corners. They didn't believe that they could put materials in the envelope we provided, drop it in the blue box, and trust it would reach us. Their country of origin did not have a functioning mail system. We learnt that we need to provide more cultural information and explain processes. We also recognized that we have to meet clients at their comfort level. Hence, we made sure to have some staff in the office to accept documents from clients.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Clients often feel powerless when their case is still pending, less so when legal goals are achieved. In some instances, we have created roundtable feedback sessions and invite both current and past clients. This has largely been a positive experience that fosters mutual support among individuals who have had similar experiences as clients and asylum seekers. As providers, we can only accompany clients and guide them with our legal knowledge, but few of us have lived experiences akin to the clients we work with. The needs of women’s rights partners in other countries are paramount to what work we do and how we respond. We go into a country with an invitation from a local partner; this ensures our work is helpful and relevant. We focus on partners' needs and local context.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is hard to come up with good questions to ask people,


The Advocates for Human Rights

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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The Advocates for Human Rights

Board of directors
as of 10/19/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

James O'Neal

Aviva Breen

Hon. Diane Bratvold

Howard Myers, III

Dean Eyler

Julie Firestone

Chris Bercaw

Loan Huynh

Karen Evans

Kathy Lenzmeier

Kelly McLain

James O'Neal

Peggy Grieve

Christine Almeida

Kerry Bundy

Jennifer Ives

Alison McElroy

Mary Kariuki Ries

Nancy Speer

David Vander Haar

Hiba Al Hasnawi

Bridget Chivimbiso Chigunwe

Edwige Mubonzi

Bindi Swammi

Dan Supalla

Thomas Fraser

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

William Manske

Emily Wessels

X. Kevin Zhao

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/12/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/13/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.