John Heffernan is the Exective Director and Karen Robinson is the Senior Education and Training Manager of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Speak Truth to Power


What are you currently working on?


John: I am working on the launch of Speak Truth to Power in Norway. The play, Voices Beyond the Dark, will be performed at the National Theatre in Oslo by Norway’s most celebrated actors. The Norwegian human rights education curriculum will feature international defenders as well as local heroes who fought to create change. I am also working on a series of human rights education summits to discuss how we can create a structure to activate the worldwide citizenry of teachers and students who are committed to holding society to the highest standards of justice and equality.

Karen: Establishing, building, and strengthening our relationship with STTP educators and key partners; training, training, training; our newest youth programs in Baltimore and Massachusetts with adjudicated youth and in New York City our STTP Youth Leadership; and summer - teachers are off so we are busy!



What's your favorite part of your job, or what are you most looking forward to working on?

J: As a human rights professional, I am convinced that the best way to prevent human rights abuses is through human rights education. The best part of my job is expanding the program’s reach and building a community of teachers and students that can prevent ongoing human rights violations in the world.

K: I love being in the field meeting with and learning from our teachers and students.


What issue are you passionate about?

J: I am passionate about all issues where people are marginalized because of discrimination and imbalance of power. 

K: Human Rights education and training.  I believe this is at the base of all human rights work.  If we increase the human rights literacy rate, globally, we will see a paradigm shift.  Education is not neutral; imagine people everywhere not just knowing about human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but owning them, protecting them, defending them.  Real, systemic change can happen.


What song do you currently have on repeat?

J:  Eva Cassidy's version of Sting's "Fields of Gold." I have played it so often over the years that all three of my daughters know all the lyrics.   

K: Right now, Sweet Honey in the Rock, "Wade in the Water", next up, Rufus Wainwright " Hallelujah".