Human Rights Watch Names New Chief Operating Officer

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Wisla Heneghan. 

(New York) – Wisla Heneghan has joined Human Rights Watch as its new Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. In this role Heneghan will oversee finance, human resources, technology, development, security, and the general counsel office at Human Rights Watch, supporting a staff of almost 500 professionals in more than 50 countries.

“The human rights movement is needed more than ever right now,” Heneghan said. “I am so proud that my work will add to this important mission. I am excited to support Human Rights Watch shape its work from within, building a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for our global workforce, as well as those we partner with.”

Heneghan is charged with developing and driving operational strategy, maximizing operational efficiency, helping to foster the safety and resilience of staff, and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will sit on the Executive Committee and report to Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

Heneghan joins Human Rights Watch from The Nature Conservancy, where she was responsible for global operations. In addition to engaging in fundraising efforts, she served on the organization’s executive leadership team, which set strategy and drove implementation. Before that, Heneghan spent 15 years in the private sector, including as Vice President and Associate General Counsel at Staples, Inc. A lawyer by training, Heneghan began her career working for several US-based law firms, where she focused on environmental and commercial real estate matters.  

“We’re delighted that Wisla is joining Human Rights Watch at such a pivotal time,” Roth said. “She brings enormous experience, a track record of exceptional management skills, and a long and proven commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She will help ensure that our organization protects and supports not only those who are the focus of our human rights mission, but our staff and partners as well.”