John Heffernan
President, Foundation for Systemic Change
2024 Speaker

John Heffernan has over 30 years of experience in leadership roles in international development, human rights, rule of law, democracy and governance, humanitarian relief, and postconflict reconstruction projects in the United States, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe. He has served as  executive director of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ Speak Truth to Power; director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; senior investigator with Physicians for Human Rights; chief of party for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Guyana, South America; founder and executive director of the Coalition for International Justice; and country representative for the former Yugoslavia and Sudan for the International Rescue Committee. He was trained as a community organizer by Fred Ross. 

Heffernan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He is also a former Coro fellow. He serves as the board chair for Disability Rights International and the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights and is on the board of Social Documentary Network.