NGO PROOF creates exhibitions, publications, and workshops in war-torn and conflict-ridden places. Find staff, annual report, and board members.
Who We Are
PROOF uses visual storytelling and education to inspire action on human rights.
PROOF: Media for Social Justice is a non-profit organization based in New York City that uses visual storytelling and education to inspire global attitude and policy changes. It was founded in 2006 under the vision of Leora Kahn, a longtime photo editor, documentary producer, and human rights advocate, who sought to unite the skills and experiences of internationally renowned photojournalists for social good.
PROOF brings together photographers, documentarians, journalists, academics, students, and activists to create photo exhibitions, publications, and educational workshops that document social injustices and empower people to act. Our exhibits and workshops aim to engage the broader public in conversations about human rights, peace, and justice through moving firsthand testimonies and powerful photo narratives.
Leora Kahn | Executive Director
Leora Kahn is the founder and Executive Director of PROOF: Media for Social Justice. A photo editor for over 25 years, in 2006, she and a group of internationally known photojournalists decided to combine their skills and experience to make an impact in the world. PROOF was born six months later.
Leora was previously the director of photography at Workman Publishing and at Corbis. She has also worked for Time, The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and US News and World Report as well as for the Ford and Annie E. Casey Foundations. She has curated exhibitions for the Ford Foundation, ABC Television, Amnesty International, Women’s Refugee Commission, and the Holocaust Museum in Houston.
Leora’s film credits include "Rene and I," an award-winning documentary about the life of an extraordinary woman who, as a child, was experimented on by Josef Mengele during the Holocaust. She also co-produced "Original Intent," a documentary exploring the judicial philosophy promoted by Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Leora was previously a fellow at the Genocide Studies Center at Yale University where she conducted research on rescuers and rescuing behavior. She was the Cathy Cohen Lasry Visiting Lecturer at Clark University’s Holocaust and Genocide Center. She is a recipient of The Adriane de Rothschild Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and is a Fulbright Senior Specialist.
Willhemina Wahlin | Creative Director
Willhemina (Willie) Wahlin has worked as a journalist, editor, copywriter and graphic designer in Australia and Japan, and has been the Creative Director of PROOF since 2009. She is a Lecturer in Graphic Design at Charles Sturt University in Australia, where she is also a doctoral candidate. Her practice-led research focuses on the design of exhibitions that deal with ‘difficult knowledge’ topics, such as genocide, gender violence and contested histories.
Debra Driscoll | Director
Debra Driscoll is an arts and education engagement specialist who successfully bridges the two worlds of social justice education and arts based practice, and has developed a strong framework for social dialogue and education. Her areas of expertise are youth at risk, youth development, peace building, and cultural and linguistically diverse communities. Her core methodologies include Applied Theater Practice, Playback Theater, Theater of the Oppressed, Psychodrama, and Process Drama. Debra is an expert project and program manager with successful projects in Australia, Sri Lanka and the United States.
Jonathan Alter | Bloomberg Review Jimmie Briggs | Man Up Campaign
Olivia Drier | Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
Adrian Edwards | Panos Pictures
David Garrison | The Brytemoore Group
Alex Gibney | Jigsaw Productions
Ed Kashi | V11 Photo Agency
Ben Kiernan | Yale University
Peter Mantello | Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Erik Parens | Hastings Center
Tali Nates | Johannesburg Holocaust Centre
Mark O’Brien | Pro Bono Net
Marc Skvirsky | Facing History and Ourselves
John Withers II | Former U.S. Ambassador
Leora Kahn | Executive Director
Willhemina Wahlin | Creative Director
Debra Driscoll | Director
Abby MacPhail | Human Rights Educator
Andrew Lichtenstein | Photography Teacher Cinthya Santos-Briones | Photography Teacher Mansura Khanam | Photography Teacher Elizaveta Firsova | Education Associate
Beatriz Arango | Photography Associate
Board of Directors
Dean Foster | Chair
For over two decades, Dean Foster, President, DFA Intercultural Global Solutions (a Dwellworks company), has been involved in researching, writing about, and consulting on the nature of culture and its role in society, work and politics in a globalizing world. As founder and former Worldwide Director of Berlitz Cross-Cultural, as well as the current founder and President of his own company based in NYC, Dean has played a central role in the development of the field of cross-cultural training and consulting. Dean works with most major Fortune 500 companies, national governments and NGOs (the United Nations and World Trade Institutes, among others), and as guest lecturer and faculty for a variety of premier educational institutions, such as the Harvard Business School, Columbia University School of Business, NYU, Darden Business School, and others. His work has taken him to over 95 countries. He is the CNN host of the nationwide “Doing Business in…” series, a frequent guest commentator on culture, global work and social issues for CNN, CNBC, the BBC and other radio and TV shows, and has been interviewed in Newsweek, USA Today, the New York Times, and elsewhere.
Dean has written many articles, as well as the book, Bargaining Across Borders, published by McGraw-Hill and voted as one of the top ten business books of the year in 1994 by the American Library Association. Dean is on the faculty of the American University, Intercultural Management Institute, Washington, DC, and he received his Master’s degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, NYC. He was inducted into the Worldwide Employee Relocation Council Hall of Fame in 2013, and received the Forum for Expatriate Management’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Fran Kaufman | Vice Chair
A lifelong New Yorker, Fran Kaufman was a partner in Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art for 17 years, a contemporary gallery known for its commitment to an international roster of artists and a dedicated center for dialogue between visual art, literature, criticism and music. After closing the gallery in 2006, she went on to run palmbeach3 contemporary art fair for three seasons while maintaining her active practice as an art advisor to private and corporate collections, and as a consultant to institutions such as Magnum Photo and The Open Society.
She has curated projects in the US, Italy and Germany as well as "Lucio Boschi: Una Argentina," the first solo photography exhibition at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires. In 2011 she launched the premier international Houston Fine Art Fair, developing a full VIP program and lecture series, as well as marketing strategy. Her most recent consultancy, Art + Banking, founded in 2009, was geared to working with high net worth clients at private banks and insurance companies. Fran is a frequent lecturer and panelist, and an occasional art writer. She is also on the Leadership Council of the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Robert Peacock | Treasurer
ROBERT PEACOCK is a content strategist, editor and producer, specializing in photography. He developed uncanny instincts for great photography through a story-rich career in editing, production, introduction and advocacy of artists. Peacock’s specialty and interest is visual storytelling and making these stories portable through the use of digital technology seizing the opportunity to visualize the traditional master’s trades through new delivery systems.
As an author he has publishing several collections, including Light of the Spirit: Portraits of Southern Outsider Artists (University Press, Mississippi), a project exploring outsider art in the southern United States; Sleep: Bedtime Reading (Universe/Rizzoli) a collection of photographic and literary works based on the themes of sleeping and dreaming; Paradise Garden: A Trip Through Howard Finster’s Visionary World (Chronicle), a photographic essay chronicling American folk artist Howard Finster’s sculptural environment, Paradise Garden—photography by Mary Ellen Mark, David Graham and Karekin Goekjian.
For the past fifteen years, Peacock has also been an active member on the board of CITTA, a not-for-profit organization founded by Michael Daube, that owns and operates two hospitals and several smaller medical and education facilities in India and Nepal and provides health care and education to communities living in extreme economic, environmental and political distress.
F. Robert Stein
Bob Stein is an attorney who counsels and represents authors, literary agents, book publishers and others in all aspects of book publishing. He also represents film producers in the pre-release review of screenplays and films (including Academy Award winners The Cove and Taxi to the Dark Side and Academy Award-nominated The Betrayal-Nerakhoon, No End in Sight and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), and assists insurers of film and television productions in determining the insurability of various productions.
Bob has been “Of Counsel” to the law firm of Pryor Cashman LLP since 1987. He previously served as Vice President and General Counsel of Warner Publishing, Inc. (including its subsidiaries, Warner Books and DC Comics), as Deputy General Counsel of Simon & Schuster, Inc., and as an attorney at both Random House, Inc., and CBS, Inc.
Bob is a graduate of Cornell University and of Columbia Law School. He is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale Hubbell’s highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability.
Prior to partnering with Gary Lichtenstein, Melissa was the chief operating officer of Global Media Services, the innovative digital media force behind, among others, MTV’s iCarly website, the FOX Sports Big Ten Network, the Domino Magazine Deco File, Speed TV’s multi-camera
racing platform and the Spirits Marque One SVEDKA_Grl online advertising campaign.
Melissa was the co-founder of Elevation Filmworks, LLC, an independent feature film production company that produced a number of films including Rebecca Miller’s The Ballad of Jack & Rose (Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Keener, Beau Bridges – an IFC Films release). She was also the co-founder of Blue Magic Pictures, LLC, the indie production house behind Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity (Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk – a United Artists release) and John Sayles’s Casa de los Babys (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Marcia Gay Harden – an IFC Films release).
As the director of streaming media communications at Digital Island, Inc., Melissa supervised the deployment of media services production centers in Tokyo and Los Angeles and produced behind-the-scenes live webcasts for The Hollywood Stock Exchange at the Academy Awards and the News Corp “Gatecrashers” at the Billboard Music Awards. She was underground with MTV’s Bunker Participants during the Millennium and on stage with David Bowie at The Kit Kat Club in New York City. Other clients included SFX Entertainment and Clear Channel Communications.
Marla S Maritzer
Marla Maritzer is the CEO of Miller RE Development, a national and international real estate development company. For over two decades she served as the principal and executive photographer for the Office of the New York City Comptroller. Marla attended Columbia University, International Center of Photography and Oxford University. She received Certificates in photography, Yiddish language and culture, and earned a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in Social Work.
Marla presently serves as president of the board of directors of One Grand Army Plaza Association. She and her wife Lisa live in Brooklyn, and are patrons of Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden.