Benetech Celebrates Milestone; Human Rights Data Analysis Group Transitioning Into Independent Organization

By Benetech, posted on

Years in the Making, Spin-Off Group to Focus on Science & Statistics; Benetech’s Human Rights Program to Remain Focused on Technology & Tools

Benetech has announced that an initiative of its Human Rights Program, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), will be spinning off from the organization and transitioning into its own, independent group. The initiative, led by Dr. Patrick Ball, has been part of Benetech’s Human Rights Program for nine years, though it was originally intended to spin off after three to five years. The official date of the spin off is February 1, 2013.

“Patrick’s remarkable and meticulous science-based work has grown the reputation of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group to a place of real, stand alone strength – exactly what we had hoped for when we recruited him to Benetech,” said Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech. “We think the human rights movement will only be better served by our two independent efforts, with Patrick’s group focusing on science and analysis and Benetech focusing on technology and tools.”

HRDAG’s primary focus will be on the data-driven and scientific side of analyzing human rights violations around the world. Initially, HRDAG will function as a project within Community Partners, an organization that provides fiscal sponsorship and a range of support to small and transitioning non-profits. This will allow HRDAG to retain its 501(c)(3) status and give it the stewardship needed during its transition to a fully independent non-profit group.

“Benetech has helped to nurture and grow the Human Rights Data Analysis Group to a place where we can be self-sufficient,” said Dr. Ball. “That, along with the fact that Benetech’s Human Rights Program is the strongest it has ever been, makes it the perfect time for us to move forward with plans to transition into a new, independent group.”

A search will soon begin for a new senior officer to lead Benetech’s Human Rights Program, which focuses on using technology to advance the cause of human rights. Anna Berns, longtime Program and Product Manager, and now a Director in Benetech’s Human Rights Program, will continue to oversee field outreach staff and manage Martus – a free software tool that allows users to securely document abuse that is occurring in their country. Benetech staff has trained hundreds of groups and individuals in more than 35 countries on how to best use Martus to document abuse so that accountability and justice can ultimately be achieved.

“Human rights is a critically important issue to Benetech, to the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and to the world,” said Fruchterman. “We believe that the stories of individuals suffering abuse, combined with analysis about the patterns and scale of abuse, makes an important and powerful contribution to the cause of justice. That’s one of the many reasons why Benetech will look to partner with Patrick’s new organization, whenever possible, on the science and data analysis.”

Dr. Megan Price, a senior statistician in Benetech’s Human Rights Program, will be joining Dr. Ball as HRDAG’s co-founder. Dr. Price recently led an analysis that Benetech provided to the United Nations on documented deaths in Syria, which gained international attention. HRDAG has established an advisory board that includes Dinah PoKempner, from Human Rights Watch, David Banks, a professor of statistics from Duke University, and Audrey Chapman, a professor of ethics from the University of Connecticut.