In Human Rights Watch, she’s found an organization that is a dynamic catalyst for change and has taken the step to support it long after she’s gone.
“Giving was part of my consciousness. My mother was a volunteer social worker,” said Colleen. “I was raised Southern Baptist where tithing was ingrained. Early in my career, when 10 percent of my disposable income meant somewhere in the range of $5 per year, I hoped one day I would be able to make a difference. I’m happy to have finally reached that point.”
Colleen spent 16 years working in corporate communications for Time, Inc., concentrating her time at the cable and satellite network HBO (“Mike Tyson paid my rent!”) and Book of the Month Club. After relocating from London to Chicago, Colleen had lunch with Chicago Committee founders. She soon after joined the committee and deepened her commitment.
“Human Rights Watch taught me what global citizenship is about and nudged me to become engaged in a new way…” “I had followed the work of Human Rights Watch since the mid-80s, in the pages of Publishers Weekly. Meeting the researchers on Burma, Syria and the Central African Republic confirmed the awe and respect I had for the organization and its nimble and effective deployment of a small staff,” Colleen recalled. “Shortly after Human Rights Watch proved Bashar al-Assad was using chemical weapons in Syria, I shared a moment with one of our Syria researchers and heard some of the most inspiring on-the-ground stories I had ever heard – possibly the coolest moment of my life.”
“Over the years, I’ve made financial contributions and have done outreach,” she said. “I can read five articles a year on Rwanda in The New York Times, but Human Rights Watch is where I will find the backstories and scope of the country’s problems. And it’s the go-to source for news organizations whose staffs have been decimated. I came to realize I had to do more.”
Colleen has found her means to make a larger impact by naming Human Rights Watch a beneficiary of her 401(k). She told us:
“It’s easy to do and a painless way to give. I am comforted knowing that when I’m no longer around, my legacy gift will support Human Rights Watch’s work of documenting and exposing injustice worldwide.”