For Thor Halvorssen, protecting human rights and exposing tyrannical dictators is all in a day’s work. As president of the Human Rights Foundation, Halvorssen along with his staff of 12 in New York City do an amazing amount of work, including advocating for the release of political prisoners, speaking with dissidents and organizing the foundation’s annual Oslo Freedom Forum. To get as much done as possible, Mr Halvorssen works all hours of the day and night. He is intensely energetic, sending texts and emails in the middle of the night. Halvorssen insists that he does not have a conservative or liberal agenda; he has gone after left wing and right wing dictators with equal vigor and intensity.
Born in Venezuela and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Halvorssen’s career as a human rights activist was expected. His father spent 74 days in a Caracas prison where he was tortured, his cousin is a political prisoner and Halvorssen’s mother was shot while attending a demonstration. Halvorssen describes himself as a film producer as well; he has been the producer, executive producer and co-producer of six films already, with more in the planning stages. Click here to watch video.
Having been called the new face of human rights advocacy by Buzzfeed, the 41 year-old Halvorssen is at the center of conflicts worldwide. Halvorssen has said that he did not want to be the face of the Human Rights Foundation, however, he is one of the most media-friendly human rights activists today. When television news outlets need stories or commentary on dictators and authoritarian regimes, they turn to Halvorssen. CNN, HBO, The O’Reilly Factor and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews have all featured Halvorssen.