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The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas provides legal and support services to legal immigrants and those already here in the United States seeking refugee status who have suffered human rights abuses. Many clients have fled religious, racial, or political persecution. The HRI also offers assistance to victims of human trafficking, domestic abuse and neglect through their Women and Children’s Program.

Attorney Elizabeth “Betsy” Healy was a co-founder and driving force behind the creation of the Human Rights Initiative in 1999.  She served as its Executive Director until 2005, and she continues to serve as an active board member of the Human Rights Initiative. Under Healy’s guidance hundreds of legal professionals have been trained to assist the HRI in its vital work.

Bill Holston, HRI’s current Executive Director, has a long history assisting those seeking religious and political asylum, including providing pro-bono assistance at HRI since its founding. In 2005, Holston was awarded HRI’s Angel of Freedom Award in honor of his commitment to providing free legal service to clients in need. Since 1987, Holston has provided pro bono legal representation to clients from 20 countries in Immigration Court. Holston has also written editorials on human rights issues for The Dallas Morning News and KERA.

HRI is dedicated to human rights work and continues to attract and recruit talented lawyers who are passionate about the HRI’s mission.  HRI’s clients are international and domestic survivors of human rights abuses. They may come from different backgrounds and situations, but all are forced to decide whether they should flee, with little set aside to begin a new life, or stay and face violence, imprisonment or death.

Healy and Holston’s work at HRI exemplifies the qualities of an Upstander. They do not stand by while others suffer human rights abuses.

The Upstander Speaker Series event will take place March 10 at 6:30 p.m at Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane in Dallas. For more information and tickets, visit

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