In August of 2020, Human Rights Educators USA lost one of its sustaining sources of inspiration and committed leadership - Kirby Edmonds. Kirby was with HRE USA from its foundational meeting in 2011. Drawing on his years of community organizing, Kirby was instrumental in the establishment of “this impossibly audacious mission” that became HRE USA, directly shaping our mission statement, organizational structure, and most importantly our values framework and the consensus-based policy for decision-making. He served as co-Chair of HRE USA for nearly a decade.
HRE USA was only one of Kirby’s lifelong efforts toward social justice. As his obituary in the Ithaca Journal says, “Kirby was a mighty river that flowed through our community and far beyond, watering the positive seeds of possibility.” He was currently the Program Coordinator and a Senior Fellow with the Dorothy Cotton Institute (DCI) and the Cradle to Career Initiative, yet the scope of his work reached well beyond these roles. As his obituary described:
"Everywhere that people of goodwill united to tackle problems or cultivate opportunities, Kirby was quickly pulled into the center. He took on many roles-- contributor, connector, or designated leader, but always encouraged folks to plan actions that would get more power and resources into the people’s hands. Soft-spoken and kind, Kirby was skilled in the art of posing incisive questions, ever asking folks to consider who else should be at the table. He had a keen understanding of power and the courage never to shy away from issues of violence, racism, poverty, hunger, and intergroup conflict."
In honor of his legacy, HRE USA is pleased to announce the new Kirby Edmonds Fellowship to support students with hands-on leadership experience in human rights education and further Kirby’s work to engage young people in building human rights-friendly schools and communities. Donations to support this new student fellowship can be made online here through GiveGab or checks can be sent to the Center for Transformative Action with “HRE USA Edmonds Fellowship” in the memo line and mailed to the Center for Transformative Action, P.O. Box 760, Ithaca, NY 14851.
HRE-USA is a project of the Center for Transformative Action, a 501(c)3 organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.