Non-profit

EarthRights International (ERI)

Website:

earthrights.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

04-3265555

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $4,013,514
Expenses: $3,667,097
Assets: $8,462,953

Formation:

1995

Type:

Environmental Litigation Nonprofit

Co-Founders:

Ka Hsaw Wa

Katie Redford

President:

Ka Hsaw Wa

EarthRights International (ERI) is a left-of-center litigation nonprofit created in 1995 that provides pro bono legal representation in environmental lawsuits. The group is run by its two co-founders, Burmese political activist Ka Hsaw Wa and his wife, Katie Redford. [1]

Background

EarthRights International was formed in Massachusetts in 1995 by two left-wing activists, Ka Hsaw Wa and his wife, Katie Redford. [2] [3] It opened its main office in Washington, D.C. in 2010. [4]

In 1995, Redford received a fellowship grant from the environmental funder Echoing Green to found ERI. [5]

Environmental Litigation

ERI’s primary function is bringing lawsuits against oil companies and companies for supposed environmental abuses.

In 2005, legal action by ERI in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights led to a settlement with the American oil company Unocal (John Doe I, et al. v. Unocal Corp, et al.) for building a pipeline in conjunction with the Myanmar government. [6]

In April 2018, the City of Boulder, Colorado and County of San Miguel, Colorado filed a lawsuit against oil and natural gas companies ExxonMobil and Suncor, accusing the “fossil fuel-producing corporations” of harming the climate. [7] The Colorado communities were represented in the lawsuit by a joint climate group which included Hannon Law Firm—a group that litigates environmental lawsuits and whose founder Kevin Hannon worked as chief outside legal counsel in the suit—EarthRights International, and the libertarian-turned-liberal Niskanen Center, which represented the plaintiffs pro bono. [8] [9]

Funding

ERI received seed funding from the environmental funder Echoing Green in 1995, though the exact amount is unknown. [10]

ERI has received substantial funding from a number of major left-wing foundations. Its top five foundation donors since 1999 are Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund (a donor-advised fund provider), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program (a donor-advised fund provider), and the Educational Foundation of America. Other prominent funders to ERI include the Tides Foundation, Oak Foundation USA, Ford Foundation, George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society and Open Society Foundations, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. [11]

Since 2000, ERI has received $11.5 million in grants from a number of major foundations, particularly on the political Left. A list of foundations and their total contributions to EarthRights International is available below: [12]

EarthRights International: Funders (2000-2017)AmountYear(s)
Grand Total:$11,519,877
American Jewish World Service$183,000 2006-2017
C.S. Fund$260,000 2005-2010
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation$150,000 2017
Chino Cienega Foundation$10,000 2017-2018
Compton Foundation$20,000 2003
Conservation Food And Health Foundation$205,000 2003-2017
Denver Foundation$15,000 2011-2017
Ettinger Foundation$10,000 2000
Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund$3,254,660 2012-2017
Flora Family Foundation$115,000 2004-2011
Foundation To Promote Open Society$421,525 2009-2014
Frankel Family Foundation$47,500 2004-2015
Hanley Foundation$10,000 2017
JEHT Foundation$135,000 2008
John D & Catherine T MacArthur Foundation$980,000 1999-2017
Libra Foundation$400,000 2016-2017
Madison Community Foundation$50,000 2004
Marisa Muller Charitable Foundation$10,000 2016
Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation$105,000 2009
Open Society Foundations$10,000 2008
Overbrook Foundation$10,000 2009
Oxfam-America$55,000 2013
Park Foundation$5,000 2004
Rockefeller Brothers Fund$180,000 2000-2002
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors$10,000 2011
Rose Foundation For Communities and The Environment$62,000 2013-2017
Rosewater Fund$29,000 2009-2016
San Francisco Foundation$150,000 2002-2013
Schwab Charitable Fund$13,030 2017
Scott W Fitzmorris Trust$10,000 2014
Sieben Foundation$10,000 2000-2001
Silicon Valley Community Foundation$90,000 2007-2011
Swift Foundation$98,000 2015-2017
The Bay And Paul Foundations$5,000 2016
The D.N. Batten Foundation$440,000 2013-2017
The David Rockefeller Fund$10,000 2008-2009
The Educational Foundation Of America$520,000 1999-2004
The Ford Foundation$350,000 2004-2009
The Hobson Family Foundation$10,000 2003-2004
The Jenifer Altman Foundation$20,000 2001
The John Merck Fund$125,000 1999-2001
The Mcknight Foundation$150,000 2013-2016
The Oak Foundation USA$360,000 2008-2012
The Perls Foundation$115,000 2005-2007
The Prentice Foundation$19,800 2000-2003
The Russell Family Foundation$5,000 2016
The Threshold Foundation$61,000 2006-2017
Tides Foundation$319,362 2005-2017
Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program$626,000 2008-2014
Wallace Global Fund II$790,000 2010-2017
Warsh Mott Legacy$255,000 2009-2014
Wellspring Philanthropic Fund$225,000 2017

Leadership

Co-Founders and President

Ka Hsaw Wa is the co-founder, president, and executive director of EarthRights. [13] He was born in Burma (modern Myanmar), fleeing in 1988 after being tortured by the authoritarian Burmese government and changing his name to Ka Hsaw Wa (“White Elephant”) in order to protect his parents’ identities. [14]

Besides general human rights advocacy, Ka Hsaw Wa advocates against oil pipeline expansion, particularly in Myanmar. In 2005, legal action by ERI led to a settlement with the American oil company Unocal (John Doe I, et al. v. Unocal Corp, et al.) for building a pipeline in conjunction with the Myanmar government. [15]

Katharine “Katie” J. Redford is ERI’s U.S. office director and the group’s founding president in 1995. [16] Redford, a lawyer, is married to Ka Hsaw Wa.

Redford is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (UVA) and American University. She is a board member for the Center for International Environmental Law, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, and the Slingshot Development Fund; and an advisory board member of the True Costs Initiative and Free Speech for People. [17]

Board of Directors

EarthRights International’s board of directors in 2018 was composed of the following individuals: [18]

  • Aaron Eske (co-chair), Senior Vice President for M&R Strategic Services
  • Abby Reyes (co-chair), Director of Community Resilience Projects for University of California, Irvine
  • Sarah Singh, Global Communities Director for Accountability Counsel
  • Gillian Caldwell, strategic consultant and former CEO of Global Witness (U.K.)
  • Stanley Corfman (board treasurer)
  • Jasper Teulings, Greenpeace International (Amsterdam)
  • Astrid Puentes, Co-Director of Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (Mexico)
  • Laura Levine, Attorney for Dickstein Shapiro LLP

Katherine “Kate” Tillery is a former board member (2007-2018) and a retired Illinois lawyer. [19]

Lara Siree Johnson is a former ERI board member and senior development officer for the center-left Rocky Mountain Institute. In May 2019, Johnson left ERI’s board and became the group’s deputy director. She is a former regional coordinator for George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (2008-2014). [20]

Financial Documents

EarthRights International’s IRS Form 990 filings for 2017 and 2016 are available below:

EarthRights’ articles of organization were filed with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on February 13, 1995, and are available here.

References

  1. “About Us.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://earthrights.org/about/ ^
  2. “EarthRights International.” Massachusetts Secretary of State: Business Search. Accessed October 23, 2019. http://corp.sec.state.ma.us ^
  3. “About Us.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://earthrights.org/about/ ^
  4. “EarthRights International: Filings.” District of Columbia, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://corponline.dcra.dc.gov ^
  5. “Katie Redford.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://earthrights.org/about/team/katie-redford/ ^
  6. “The Defenders: Ka Hsaw Wa.” Speak Truth to Power. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://www.speaktruthtopowerinschool.com/defenders-map/ka-hsaw-wa ^
  7. “After Months of Silence, Boulder to Hold Rally With Activists to Announce Climate Lawsuit.” EID Climate – A Project of IPAA. April 20, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://eidclimate.org/after-months-silence-boulder-hold-rally-with-activists-announce-climate-lawsuit/. ^
  8. Cooke, Amy. “High Powered Legal Team for Plaintiffs in the Boulder Climate Lawsuit.” IWF. Accessed October 24, 2019. http://iwf.org/blog/2807807/High-powered-legal-team-for-plaintiffs-in-the-Boulder-climate-lawsuit. ^
  9. “Landmark Climate Change Lawsuit to Proceed in Colorado State Court.” EarthRights International. October 9, 2019. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://earthrights.org/media/landmark-climate-change-lawsuit-to-proceed-in-colorado-state-court/ ^
  10. “Katie Redford.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://earthrights.org/about/team/katie-redford/ ^
  11. Information provided by FoundationSearch. EarthRights International. www.FoundationSearch.com ^
  12. Information provided by FoundationSearch. EarthRights International. www.FoundationSearch.com ^
  13. “EarthRights International: Annual Report (2018).” Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Secretary of State. Filed December 4, 2018. Accessed October 23, 2019. http://corp.sec.state.ma.us ^
  14. “The Defenders: Ka Hsaw Wa.” Speak Truth to Power. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://www.speaktruthtopowerinschool.com/defenders-map/ka-hsaw-wa ^
  15. “The Defenders: Ka Hsaw Wa.” Speak Truth to Power. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://www.speaktruthtopowerinschool.com/defenders-map/ka-hsaw-wa ^
  16. “EarthRights International: Articles of Incorporation (1995).” Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Secretary of State. Filed February 13, 1995. Accessed October 23, 2019. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/10/Earthrights-International-Articles-of-Organization-1995.pdf ^
  17. “Katie Redford.” EarthRights International. Accessed October 23, 2019. https://earthrights.org/about/team/katie-redford/ ^
  18. “EarthRights International: Annual Report (2018).” Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Secretary of State. Filed December 4, 2018. Accessed October 23, 2019. http://corp.sec.state.ma.us ^
  19. “Board of Directors and Leadership Council (Archived).” EarthRights International (archived webpage). Archived September 15, 2018. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20180915122454/https://earthrights.org/about/board-of-directors-and-leadership-council/ ^
  20. “Lara Siree Johnson.” LinkedIn. Accessed October 24, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/larasireejohnson/ ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Lara Siree Johnson
    Deputy Director, Former Board Member
  2. Aaron Eske
    Board Member
  3. Katie Redford
    Former President and Co-Founder
  4. Ka Hsaw Wa
    President and Co-Founder

Donor Organizations

  1. American Jewish World Service (Non-profit)
  2. C. S. Fund (Non-profit)
  3. Chino Cienega Foundation (Non-profit)
  4. Compton Foundation (Non-profit)
  5. Conservation, Food and Health Foundation (Non-profit)
  6. Cultures of Resistance Network (Non-profit)
  7. D.N. Batten Foundation (Non-profit)
  8. David Rockefeller Fund (Non-profit)
  9. Denver Foundation (Non-profit)
  10. Echoing Green (Non-profit)
  11. Educational Foundation of America (Non-profit)
  12. Ettinger Foundation (Non-profit)
  13. Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund (Non-profit)
  14. Flora Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  15. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  16. Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOS) (Non-profit)
  17. JEHT Foundation (Non-profit)
  18. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Non-profit)
  19. John Merck Fund (Non-profit)
  20. Libra Foundation (Non-profit)
  21. Madison Community Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation (Non-profit)
  23. McKnight Foundation (Non-profit)
  24. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Non-profit)
  25. Oak Foundation USA (Non-profit)
  26. Open Society Foundations (OSF) (Non-profit)
  27. Oxfam America (Non-profit)
  28. Park Foundation (Non-profit)
  29. Perls Foundation (Non-profit)
  30. Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Non-profit)
  31. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (Non-profit)
  32. Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (Non-profit)
  33. Rosewater Fund (Non-profit)
  34. San Francisco Foundation (Non-profit)
  35. Schwab Charitable Fund (Non-profit)
  36. Silicon Valley Community Foundation (Non-profit)
  37. Swift Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Threshold Foundation (Non-profit)
  39. Tides Foundation (Non-profit)
  40. Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program (Non-profit)
  41. Wallace Global Fund (Non-profit)
  42. Warsh Mott Legacy (Non-profit)
  43. Wellspring Philanthropic Fund (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1995

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $4,013,514 $3,667,097 $8,462,953 $188,433 N $3,869,353 $0 $64,802 $259,510
    2016 Dec Form 990 $3,160,128 $3,343,499 $7,756,053 $173,590 N $3,120,000 $0 $45,871 $254,449
    2015 Dec Form 990 $5,030,814 $2,984,735 $7,868,570 $160,872 N $4,930,214 $0 $31,180 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $2,110,257 $2,859,959 $5,733,662 $99,030 N $2,094,839 $0 $15,778 $340,458 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $4,428,155 $2,357,363 $6,662,483 $273,553 N $2,726,285 $0 $8,667 $340,896 PDF
    2013 Jan Form 990 $1,966,113 $2,426,386 $4,396,904 $87,266 N $1,955,497 $0 $4,996 $0 PDF
    2012 Jan Form 990 $2,255,584 $2,083,962 $4,891,838 $129,104 N $2,243,560 $0 $9,927 $0 PDF
    2011 Jan Form 990 $2,538,210 $1,741,651 $4,664,210 $75,209 N $2,501,986 $0 $9,600 $281,129 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    EarthRights International (ERI)

    1612 K ST NW STE 401
    WASHINGTON, DC 20006-2826