Thor Halvorssen was born Thor Leonardo Halvorssen Mendoza on March 9, 1976 to Thor Halvorssen Vellum and Hilda Mendoza in Caracas, Venezuela. His father was a Venezuelan ambassador and staunch critic of narcotics and their effects on the community, while his mother, a distant relative of Cristobal Mendoza (Venezuela’s first president), was a political activist. While Thor’s mother came from a middle-class background, the family of Thor Halvorssen’s father was wealthy as a result of the patriarch Oystein Halvorssen’s role with several major Venezuelan corporations. Both of Halvorssen’s parents nearly fell victim to the harsh realities of the political climate of the time, having faced assassination attempts for their roles as human rights advocates.
Thor Halvorssen was educated in America, having attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received degrees in history and political science. After graduating from college, Halvorssen continued his parents’ work by challenging Apartheid in South Africa and slave-labor in China. Because of the volatility of his work around the globe, Halvorssen now employs a private security team.
Today Thor Halvorssen is widely known for his work as a human right advocate, touching on many topics such as, human trafficking and slave labor, but perhaps most notably as the current President of the Human Rights Foundation. The Human Rights Foundation was founded in 2006 as a nonpartisan nonprofit organization aimed at uniting like-minded individuals in the fight for human rights around the world. The groundwork for The Human Rights Foundation was laid by the International Covenant on Civil an Political Rights in 1976. As President of the Human Rights Foundation, Halvorssen has helped to spearhead the Oslo Freedom Forum, which has continued to bring together human rights advocates, tech entrepreneurs, and other world leaders through engaging conferences for the furthering of the collective movement.