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Human Rights Measurement Initiative Appoints Two New Executive Directors

The innovative global data platform, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), continues to push the boundaries with its new appointment of two co-Executive Directors, who begin today.

Taking over from founding Executive Director, Anne-Marie Brook, are Melissa del Aguila, a human rights strategist and lawyer based in Washington, DC, and Thalia Kehoe Rowden, HRMI’s current Strategy and Engagement Lead, who has been with HRMI for over five years in the Wellington, New Zealand headquarters.

With a mission to produce robust, useful human rights data to drive change, HRMI is moving into a new season of growth, now helmed by del Aguila and Kehoe Rowden. Together they will work to nurture HRMI’s unique culture and develop new income streams to support expansion of its much-needed measurement work. In the coming years, HRMI aims to measure all human rights in international law, for all countries.

Melissa is a human rights lawyer, advocate, and evaluation specialist with extensive experience working with academics, policymakers, and NGO partners across the international human rights ecosystem, particularly in Latin America and Asia. She previously directed the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University, and she has held research and advisory positions with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress. She has an AB in Comparative Politics from Princeton University, and a JD/LLM in International Comparative Law from Cornell Law School. She is a first generation American of Paraguayan and Peruvian descent, and has two children.

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Thalia Kehoe Rowden is a gifted communicator, coach, and human rights specialist. She holds a BA in Linguistics and an LLB(Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington, where she had a particular focus on international human rights law. After further study in Applied Theology at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, she worked as a Baptist minister in New Plymouth, New Zealand; with Partners Relief & Development in South East Asia; and the Wellington Community Law Centre; before joining HRMI in 2018. She is a Pākehā New Zealander with English and Scottish ancestry, and has two children.

Kehoe Rowden and del Aguila will share leadership of HRMI in a co-Executive Director model that is rooted in HRMI’s progressive culture, whose six core values are usefulness, collaboration, rigour, transparency, innovation, and independence. HRMI has been strongly influenced by Frédéric Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations, and strives for a highly collaborative, roles-based structure, with a keen emphasis on kindness, high performance, and a growth mindset.

HRMI was co-founded in 2015 by former OECD and New Zealand Treasury economist Brook, and two United States academics, Dr Susan Randolph, of the University of Connecticut, and Dr K Chad Clay, of the University of Georgia. Together they developed new ways of measuring the human rights performance of countries, and built a strong team to make their new data accessible and useful.

HRMI’s human rights scores are updated annually and published on the Rights Tracker, a free data visualisation site which has recently been certified as a Digital Public Good.

Brook is shifting her focus to HRMI’s new sister company, Rights Intelligence, where she is now CEO. A social enterprise working to make human rights data more widely available to the private sector, Rights Intelligence launched in 2023 with an initial dataset tailored for ESG analysts to make sure each country’s human rights record is reflected in investment advice.

All three co-founders remain deeply involved in HRMI. Randolph leads our Economic and Social Rights team, and Clay is the Research, Methodology and Design Lead. Brook will remain a Trustee of HRMI and is now HRMI’s Innovation Lead.

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