Maria Lina Marcucci
Kedrion S.p.A
Nicholas Matulovich
Credence Capital

Elisa Massimino

Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights

Georgetown University Law Center

Washington, DC, USA

Elisa Massimino

Biography

After 27 years with Human Rights First—the last decade as President & CEO—Elisa recently stepped down to join Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government as a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She served as Practitioner-in-Residence at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and is the 2019-2020 Robert F. Drinan Chair of Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center.

Elisa has a distinguished record of human rights advocacy. She has testified before Congress dozens of times, writes frequently for mainstream publications and specialized journals, appears regularly in major media outlets & speaks to audiences around the country. The daughter of a nuclear submarine commander, Elisa was instrumental in building a coalition of retired generals and admirals to speak publicly against policies authorizing the torture of prisoners. Since 2008, the influential Washington newspaper The Hill has consistently named her one of the most effective public advocates in the United States.

Prior to her work with Human Rights First, Elisa practised law with Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). Before joining the legal profession, she was a lecturer in Philosophy. Elisa holds a law degree from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity University where she was recently honored as a Distinguished Alumna. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar.

Elisa serves as a Board Member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, the McCain Institute for International Leadership and the Migration Policy Institute. She also serves on the Advisory Councils of Refugees International and National Security Action.

Elisa Massimino’s Newsfeed

A Migrant Model To Follow: Portugal’s Response to the Coronavirus

In this article written for the Center for American ProgressElisa Massimino and Co-author Alexandra Schmitt discuss the significant progress that Portugal has made in its Coronoavirus response. In a time when most countries are excluding and marginalizing immigrants, the authors say, Portugal is "exemplifying a smart, pragmatic policy that both respects the rights and dignity of all people and helps minimize spread of the virus." A government order that will remain in effect until at least July 1 ensures that all those have applied for immigration status will be treated as permanent residents, receving access to the national health service, welfare benefits, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts. 

Elisa Massimino To Join the Center for American Progress as Senior Fellow Focusing on Human Rights

The Center for American Progress announced today that Elisa Massimino is joining the organization’s National Security and International Policy team as a senior fellow focusing on human rights.For more than three decades, Massimino has been one of the nation’s foremost human rights advocates and a recognized authority on human rights law and policy. She spent 27 years with Human Rights First, including a decade as the organization’s president and CEO. 

Elisa Massimino’s Background

Georgetown University Law Center
Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights
Jul 2018 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
The Drinan Chair was established in 2006 in honor of Professor Robert F. Drinan, S.J. Drinan was a professor at Georgetown Law from 1981 until his death in 2007, as well as a priest, scholar, lawyer, politician, activist, ethicist, and one of the nation’s leading advocates for human rights. He dedicated his life to humanitarian causes and to improving the legal profession.
Human Rights First
President & CEO
Oct 1991 - Jul 2018
Washington, DC, USA
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Elisa Massimino joined Human Rights First as a staff attorney in 1991 to help establish the Washington office. From 1997 to 2008 she served as the organization’s Washington Director, becoming President & CEO in 2008.
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Current Board Positions

National Security Action
Advisory Council
2019 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
National Security Action brings together and mobilizes an unparalleled network of former senior officials, policy experts, academics, and civil society leaders dedicated to a progressive vision of American global leadership.
McCain Institute
Board of Directors
2012 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
McCain Institute at Arizona State University is guided by Senator John McCain's legacy of public service & values that have guided the McCain family for generations It is a non-partisan do-tank dedicated to advancing character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity, in the United States and globally.

Previous Board Positions

Foreign Policy For America
Board Member
Jan 2019 - Jun 2019
Washington, DC, USA
Foreign Policy for America is a nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, DC., that is building a diverse and active network of Americans who are committed to defending diplomacy and standing up for principled American engagement in the world.
Warren Wilson College
Board of Trustees
May 2016 - May 2019
Asheville, NC, USA
Warren Wilson College is a liberal arts college grounded in social responsibility, with strong beliefs in community and the dignity of work.

Philanthropy

RFK / Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Board Member
2008 - Present
New York, NY, USA
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, founded in 1968, is led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy and advocates for a more just and peaceful world. Working alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations, the RFK team includes leading attorneys, advocates, entrepreneurs and writers united by a commitment to social justice.
Refugees International
Advisory Council
2019 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
Refugees International advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises. They are an independent organization and do not accept any government or UN funding.

Publications

It's Official: In Egypt, You Can Get 15 Years in Jail for a Tweet
Co-author
Aug 2020
Washington, DC, USA
Elisa Massimino and Neil Hicks, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, discuss what the recent developments in Egypt mean for the nation's human rights fight, stating, "Last week, the government crossed a dangerous new threshold in its crackdown on peaceful dissent."
"Leveraging the State Department’s Human Rights Reports To Inform U.S. Foreign Policy"
Co-author
Mar 2020
Washington, DC, USA
Elisa Massimino and co-author Alexandra Schmitt discuss the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices report released last week by the US State Department. The annual report an important guide for US foreign policy. Massimino and Schmitt analyze the stark disconnect this year’s report shows between human rights situations on the ground and the current administration’s policies around the world.

Memberships

Supreme Court of the United States
Member of the Bar
Washington, DC, USA
The Court is the highest tribunal in the United States for all cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States.
Council on Foreign Relations
Member
Washington, DC, USA
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, non-partisan membership organization, think tank and publisher, composed of more than fifty full-time and adjunct fellows, who cover the major regions & significant issues shaping today's international agenda.

Academic Appointments

Center for American Progress
Senior Fellow, Human Rights
Jan 2020 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
The Center for American Progress is an independent nonpartisan policy institute that is dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, through bold, progressive ideas, as well as strong leadership and concerted action.
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Senior Fellow
Jul 2018 - Present
Cambridge, MA, USA
Since its founding in 1999, the Carr Center has developed a unique focus of expertise on the most dangerous and intractable human rights challenges of the new century, including genocide, mass atrocity, state failure, and the ethics and politics of military intervention.
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Elisa Massimino’s Education

Trinity University, Texas
BA cum laude Philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa
Johns Hopkins University
MA cum laude Philosophy
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