About Us

about us

History

In 1994, a small group of grantmakers convened at the Ford Foundation to discuss trends in human rights grantmaking and to share their foundations’ human rights funding programs and strategies. Soon after, the group began a tradition of periodically inviting guest speakers from the field to join them in exploring critical issues. In the two decades since its inception, the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) has grown into a network of 300 grantmaking institutions and 700 individuals around the world.

In keeping with IHRFG’s ethos of peer leadership, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation served as the first institutional home of IHRFG from 1994 -1999. From 2000-2005, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation in New York City served as IHRFG’s second institutional home. As the network grew, Mona Younis, a Program Officer with the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, committed half her time to the role of IHRFG’s coordinator. The organization continued to be governed by a nine-member steering committee comprised of peer human rights grantmakers.

In 2005, IHRFG relocated to the offices of Wellspring Advisors in New York City. Andrew Park, a Program Director at Wellspring, assumed the role of IHRFG coordinator. In 2009, as the organization expanded to a staff of five, Michael Hirschhorn assumed the position of Executive Director of IHRFG. In 2010, IHRFG moved to a new fiscal sponsor, the Proteus Fund and received donated office space from our member, Liquidnet.

Mona Chun, formerly IHRFG's Deputy Director, took over as Executive Director after Michael stepped down in fall 2014. In his capacity as board chair of IHRFG-member The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Michael continues to serve on IHRFG’s steering committee.

IHRFG continues to uphold the tradition of peer leadership that sparked its inception. The International Human Rights Funders Group remains a catalyst for bringing together peers in human rights grantmaking.

Visit our Programs page to learn more about IHRFG's work.