Thor Halvorssen, orator, human rights activist, and film producer is the founder of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) located in New York City, New York. Under his activist leadership, the HRF does many things to improve freedoms, human conditions and defeat dictatorships. One program, Exposing Dictatorships discourages celebrities from performing in locations subject to dictator ruling, in addition they publicly berate American Public Relation firms for exchanging their services for “donations” to their firms. This list has included but has not been limited to:
- Jennifer Lopez for her performance in Turkmenistan;
- Kanye West, who performed at President Mursultan Nazabavev’s grandson’s wedding in Kazakhstan;
- Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj for their performances in Angola.
- The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation in Equatorial Guinea who is believed to have cleaned up President Teodoro Obiang’s public image of operating the country with no concern for human rights.
Through his film producing efforts, Thor has persistently attempted to advocate against suppression and educate people about poor conditions across the globe regarding human rights. Among these efforts are movies:
- Freedom’s Fury is a documentary that focuses on the 1956 Summer Olympics in Australia. More specifically the semifinal water polo competition between the then USSR and Hungary, which would come to be known as the violent “blood in the water match.” This film debuted in 2006 at the Tribeca Film Festival on the 50th anniversary of the event.
- Released in 2009, the science fiction movie, 2081 projects a possible future America, where individual inequality has been eliminated by the make-believe 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the constitution.
- The Singing Revolution, another 2006 film is about Estonians who together fight against Russian occupation by singing patriotic songs. Certainly, not your typical idea of a revolution, but it makes the point regarding human suppression.
There are others, along with numerous written publications; however, the important note to make here is that Thor Halvorssen, offers expertise in the fields of human and civil rights.
I first became aware of business leader Dick DeVos for the impressive business sense he has shown the world as the President of the AmWay Group, and as the founder of his own investment company, The Windquest Group. Recently I read an interview with Betsy DeVos, Dick’s wife and partner in the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation who changed my view of the couple as simply business people, and made me feel even more positive about them after learning more about their commitment to education reform. I was unaware of the way Dick DeVos has become a major part of the education reform movement and has remained so for over 30 years after becoming concerned with the standard of education offered to the majority of children in the U.S.; Betsy DeVos explained it was difficult to pinpoint a single point where the need for education reform struck her, but the many visits made to the Potter’s House Christian School when her own children were of school age had a significant effect on her attitude towards education. Dick DeVos has done more than just provide funding for campaigns to bring school vouchers and education choice plans to families; instead, I was pleased to see Dick DeVos had become a major part of the movement and even fought a successful campaign to become elected to the Michigan State Board of Education.
Like myself, many people simply know Dick DeVos for his work as a businessperson and for his backing of the political causes he feels so strongly about, but he has always sought to fight for the charitable causes he feels are important. Through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation the couple work together to push forward many different causes and provide funding for many educational institutions, such as Princeton University and Grove City College. Through his work with the Willow Creek Association Dick DeVos has always been working hard to make sure a sense of American based morals remain in place, which also prompted his authorship of the book “Rediscovering American Values“.