Holly Burkhalter is the Vice President for Government Relations of International Justice Mission (IJM), a U.S.-based human rights organization that provides legal services in fourteen overseas offices to victims of human rights violations, and works to make public justice systems accessible to the poor.
Prior to joining IJM, Ms. Burkhalter was for nine years the U.S. Policy Director of Physicians for Human Rights, a Boston-based human rights organization specializing in medical, scientific, and forensic investigations of violations of internationally recognized human rights.
Prior to joining Physicians for Human Rights in March 1997, Ms. Burkhalter was for fourteen years affiliated with Human Rights Watch as that organization’s Advocacy Director and director of its Washington office. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Ms. Burkhalter staffed the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations from 1981 to 1983. From 1977 to 1981 she worked for Representative (now Senator) Tom Harkin, D-IA.
Ms. Burkhalter is a frequent witness before Congress, publishes articles and opinion pieces regularly on a range of human rights issues including HIV/AIDS, genocide, women’s rights, and U.S. human rights policy.
Ms. Burkhalter’s latest opinion-editorials include “The Politics of AIDS,” (Foreign Affairs, January/February 2004,) “Better Health, Better Lives for Sex Workers,” (Washington Post, 12/8/03), “Neglecting the Needles,” (Washington Post, 9/21/03), “No to Torture,” (Washington Post on January 5, 2003) and “Misplaced Help in the AIDS Fight,” (Washington Post. May 25, 2004.) Ms. Burkhalter is the author of a chapter on advocacy in the 2006 book, “Public Health and Human Rights,” published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Ms. Burkhalter has appeared as a witness before Congress most recently on trafficking and slavery, (Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, 2007), on the issue of HIV/AIDS and the health worker shortage in Africa (House International Relations Committee, 2005), on HIV/AIDS in Asia (House International Relations Committee, 2004), and on HIV transmission in medical settings, (Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 2003.)
Holly Burkhalter graduated from Iowa State University in 1978 (Phi Beta Kappa) and received the University’s “Outstanding Young Alumnus” award in 1984. Ms. Burkhalter was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate to be a member of the board of the U.S. Institute for Peace, where she served from 2001-2008.
Ms. Burkhalter also publishes outside the human rights field. Her most recent title, “Good God, Lousy World, and Me,” was published by Convergent Books in 2014. She is also the author of “Four Midwestern Sisters’ Cookbook,” Viking-Penguin, 1991, hard cover (with co-authors Karol Crosbie, Kathy Lockard, and Ruth Bosley), “Quick Escapes from Washington D.C.,” Globe-Pequot, 1996, soft cover, with 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions thereafter (with co-author John Fitzpatrick.)