February 22, 2006
JOHN HEFFERNAN JOINS UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENCE AS GENOCIDE PREVENTION INITIATIVE DIRECTOR
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience has named John Heffernan as Genocide Prevention Initiative Director. Heffernan brings to the Museum nearly twenty years of experience in development, relief, human rights, and post-conflict reconstruction projects in the United States, Africa, South America, and Europe. The Museum’s Committee on Conscience is mandated to alert the national conscience, influence policymakers and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of genocide and related crimes against humanity. Heffernan will join the Museum on Wednesday, February 22.
As the Committee’s Genocide Prevention Initiative Director, Heffernan will oversee the Museum’s public outreach initiatives and activities including conducting research on and documenting instances of genocide, developing genocide response strategies and spearheading campaigns to build public awareness of and reaction to instances of genocide.
“John’s extensive experience in human rights work, conflict resolution and reconstruction efforts in societies traumatized by conflict will significantly increase the Committee’s effectiveness in preventing and responding to genocide,” says Jerry Fowler, Committee Staff Director. “Increasing public awareness of genocide when it occurs is crucial to ending it, and John will enhance the institution’s efforts to mobilize public opinion.”
For the past four years, Heffernan has been a Senior Investigator and Communications Associate with Physicians for Human Rights, where he designed and implemented advocacy strategy on the crisis in Darfur. He also led an investigation to Afghanistan to document human rights and international humanitarian law violations as well as to examine post-conflict reconstruction needs. Previously, he has served as the Chief of Party for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Guyana, Executive Director for the Coalition for International Justice, as Country Representative to Croatia for the International Rescue Committee, and Vice President of the Business Council for the United Nations.
In July 2004 the Museum’s Committee on Conscience declared a “Genocide Emergency” for Darfur. Since then the Committee has been working to educate policy makers and the American public about the urgent need to take action to end the genocide there. The Museum has mounted a display on the emergency in Darfur; held educational programming on the topic featuring members of Congress and Holocaust survivors; hosted two national conferences for student leaders engaged on the issue; and more. The Committee recently launched a weekly podcast series, “Voices on Genocide Prevention,” featuring leaders in government, media and advocacy addressing how citizens can get involved in genocide prevention efforts. For more information on the Committee, visit www.committeeonconscience.org.