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Human Rights Watch announced today the appointment of Sarah Holewinski, a veteran of three presidential administrations with extensive experience in the non-profit sector, as its Washington director. In this role, she leads Human Rights Watch efforts to promote human rights as a key element of the United States' foreign policy.

Holewinski spent a decade working on civilian protection issues with the US military and its allies both in Washington and in conflict zones as executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict. She later served as deputy chief of staff for Ambassador Samantha Power at the US Mission to the United Nations, leading efforts on children’s rights, defending civil society, and combating anti-Semitism. Holewinski was the first senior adviser on human rights in the Chairman’s Office in The Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, a position she created.

“Sarah’s work on human rights inside the Pentagon is a testament to her ability to connect the issues Human Rights Watch cares about to the people who are not the usual targets of human rights advocacy,” said Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy executive director for advocacy at Human Rights Watch. “She’s coming to Human Rights Watch at a critical time as the United States transitions to a new administration.”

Holewinski has served in Bill Clinton’s White House, Barack Obama’s State Department, and finally Donald Trump’s Defense Department.

“I’ve moved between government and civil society throughout my career,” Holewinski said. “So I’m coming to Human Rights Watch with an understanding of the challenges policymakers face on human rights issues – as well as an advocate’s passion to see real progress on human rights when the US engages beyond its borders.”

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