Born and raised in apartheid South Africa, Mary Shuttleworth saw firsthand the devastating effects of discrimination and a lack of basic human rights. As a teenager, she traveled extensively throughout Europe. During her studies and travels, she saw further discrimination and realized that issues of human rights violations reached far beyond the borders of her own country. Certain that education was the long-term solution to improving conditions, Shuttleworth earned her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University.
The mother of two children and a proud grandmother, she started her first nonprofit corporation and private school in Los Angeles in 1998. Three years later, in 2001, she formed the nonprofit corporation Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI). The purpose of YHRI is to teach youth about human rights, specifically the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To rapidly expand the organization and reach youth around the globe, she has collaborated with like-minded individuals, groups, and organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. The organization now has hundreds of groups and chapters in over 100 countries around the world.
Believing in meeting with people in their own countries to observe the issues they face and to encourage their efforts, Dr. Shuttleworth has circled the globe every year since 2004 visiting like-minded individuals, groups and organizations in dozens of countries. Meetings were held with top-level dignitaries, including Kings, Presidents, Prime Ministers, and United Nations officials. The Mayor of Los Angeles proclaimed Youth for Human Rights Day for the City of Los Angeles and other mayors have followed his example. Dr. Shuttleworth is the Executive Producer of the multiple award-winning UNITED music video, followed by the Youth for Human Rights Educator’s Guide and other literature.
Her actions in forwarding the cause of human rights have been covered by local, national and international media, including radio, press and TV. Through her efforts she has reached millions of people across cultural and geographic boundaries, inspiring leadership through education.