Ben Peterson is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Journalists for Human Rights(jhr), Canada’s largest international media development non-governmental organization. He now holds the position of Chair of the Board of Directors for the charity.
Peterson is the son of former Liberal Premier of Ontario, David Peterson and Canadian actress Shelley Peterson. He is the nephew of Jim Peterson, former Canadian Minister of International Trade, and Tim Peterson, former Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament, and Deb Matthews, a current Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament and Minister of Health and Long Term Care.
Peterson graduated high school from North Toronto Collegiate Institute. He holds a BA in Economics and a BAH in Political Studies from Queen’s University (Kingston), and a MSc in Political Theory at the London School of Economics (LSE) where he played Varsity Basketball and studied under David Held.
Time in Ghana
From 2001 to 2002 Peterson worked at the Ghanaian Ministry of Justice on an intership funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Under the direction of Betty Mould-Iddrisu (now Ghana’s Minister of Justice), Peterson helped write Ghana’s report to the UN on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Creation of jhr
Peterson Co-Founded jhr with Sicotte-Levesque in 2002. jhr was founded with the mission of building the capacity of the African media to report more effectively on human rights issues.
Peterson and Sicotte-Levesque both lived in their respective parents house, taking no salary. jhr received start up funding from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in 2003 to start a small project in Ghana.
Sicotte-Leveque left jhr in 2005, making Ben the sole Executive Director. Sicotte-Levesque has since remained on jhr's Advisory Board and Board of Trustees
jhr has since grown into Canada's largest media development organization, working in over 15 countries is Sub-Saharan Africa. As of Spring 2009, jhr has offices in Toronto, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the DR Congo.
In 2007 Peterson contributed a Chapter to Notes From Canada's Young Activists, published by Greystone Books.
Peterson has been awarded the Action Canada Fellowship, Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award, and the Queen’s University Alumni Humanitarian Award for his work with jhr. Ben also sits on the Emerging Leaders Network of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance. He is a former member of the Youth Advisory Committee for CC UNESCO.