McCormick grew up in a quiet town in East Central Illinois. Going to Earlham College, a Quaker school, in Richmond, Indiana, helped broaden his view of the world. “Being in a liberal arts environment taught me to ask questions and think more deeply and critically when examining world events,” he said.
McCormick has two master’s degrees—one in social work and the other in public health. He spent a good part of his career as a contractor doing data management for the Centers for Disease Control, primarily in HIV/AIDS prevention. “My education helped sensitize me to issues of social justice,” McCormick said.
Human rights issues—especially those involving children—have always resonated with him, perhaps because McCormick tragically lost his brother when he was a teenager. His passionate concern for the rights of children was further heightened when he and his partner, Linda, took in two African-American foster children for 16 months, beginning in late 2000. As they have grown, he and Linda have witnessed the negative way in which people treat them.
Recently, McCormick has experienced some serious chronic health issues and he’s been forced to make some changes in his life and his career. “I no longer feel invincible,” he shared.
One change McCormick made was selling a condominium he had owned for a number of years. With some of the proceeds, he funded a Human Rights Watch gift annuity, which will provide him payments for life. When he was contemplating the idea, McCormick sought the advice of Linda, who teaches writing and literature at Oglethorpe University. They have been together for 18 years. “She told me, ‘Take your stand,’” he said.
While getting weekly dialysis, McCormick often reads the essays in the 2015 Human Rights Watch World Report. “Kenneth Roth wrote, ‘Human rights are not just arbitrary restraints on governments. They reflect fundamental values, widely shared and deeply held, imposing limits on the power of governments and essential safeguards for human dignity and autonomy.’ “With my support, I feel like I am doing my part. This is my way of taking a stand.”