Skip to main content

The Atlantic Philanthropies Name Human Rights Advocate Martin O’Brien Senior Vice President for Programmes

Resource type: News

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

The Atlantic Philanthropies have announced the appointment of Martin O’Brien, a renowned human rights activist, as Senior Vice President for Programmes, effective immediately. O’Brien has served as Atlantic’s Country Director for Northern Ireland since 2010 and Director of its global Reconciliation & Human Rights Programme since 2004. O’Brien will continue to be based in Belfast.

In his new role, O’Brien will oversee and manage Atlantic’s four grantmaking programmes – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health and Reconciliation & Human Rights – as the foundation seeks to maximise the impact of its grantmaking in its final years.  A “limited life” foundation, Atlantic will disburse its remaining endowment of approximately $2.5 billion and complete active grantmaking by 2016, and close its doors by 2020.

“Martin has shown a remarkable combination of intellect, integrity, vision, pragmatism and leadership in his time at Atlantic,” said Chris Oechsli, Atlantic President and CEO. “As we strive to make the greatest possible impact we can in our final chapter of grantmaking, Martin brings an abiding sense of justice and a deep understanding of how Atlantic can make positive changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people.”

Prior to joining Atlantic in 2004, O’Brien spent 17 years coordinating the work of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), an organisation dedicated to securing the highest standards in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland. It was during O’Brien’s tenure in 1998 that CAJ received the prestigious Council of Europe Human Rights Prize in recognition of its contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

He is a past recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, and his work in Northern Ireland has been honoured by both Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to work at Atlantic with very committed colleagues and our outstanding grantees,” said O’Brien. “I look forward to the coming years and our work together to make the best possible use of Atlantic’s resources.”

> Read the full biography of Martin O’Brien

For media inquiries please contact:
Ben Wyskida, 212-338-4064 or


About The Atlantic Philanthropies
The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam.