The Marque The Marque
The Marque
About Services Profiles Press Contact

Elisa Massimino

Executive Director

Human Rights Institute | Georgetown University Law Center

Washington, DC, USA

Elisa Massimino
Maria Lina Marcucci
Kedrion S.p.A
Nicholas Matulovich
Credence Capital UK Ltd

Elisa Massimino’s Biography

Elisa Massimino is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center. She previously served at the university's Law Center as the Robert F. Drinan Chair of Human Rights. Elisa is a widely recognizable and highly regarded leader in human rights advocacy, and she previously spent 27 years with Human Rights First, serving as President and CEO.

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, and 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.

After leaving Human Rights First, Elisa joined Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government as a Senior Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, a post she held until 2019. 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

Georgetown University
Elisa Massimino Appointed to Lead Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute

“Today’s human rights challenges demand a unique combination of energy, wisdom, and strategic thinking,” Elisa Massimino said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to mentor the next generation of human rights advocates at Georgetown and help build the Human Rights Institute into a powerhouse training academy for lawyers who want to change the world.”

Center for American Progress
Reel Progress: ‘Do Not Split’

Elisa Massimino, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, took part in a Reel Progress discussion of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Do Not Split.” The documentary begins in 2019 as a proposed bill allowing the Chinese government to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China escalated protests throughout Hong Kong. Reel Progress is the progressive film series sponsored by the Center for American Progress

View allHide

Elisa Massimino’s Background

Human Rights Institute | Georgetown University Law Center
Executive Director
Jul 2021 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
The Human Rights Institute brings together a distinguished list of human rights faculty and experts at the Law Center and leaders in the global human rights movement to develop solutions for some of the world's most pressing human rights challenges. It manages programs and projects that help advance the research and advocacy work of students, alumni, and faculty.
Georgetown University Law Center
Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights
Jul 2018 - Jul 2021
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.
View allHide

Elisa Massimino’s Gallery

Current Board Positions

Migration Policy Institute
Board of Trustees | Treasurer
Washington, DC, USA
The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute seeks to improve immigration and integration policies through authoritative research and analysis, opportunities for learning and dialogue, and the development of new ideas to address complex policy questions.
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.
View allHide

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.


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.


Elisa Massimino Testifying on Human Trafficking
Senate Testimony
Feb 2017
Washington, DC, USA
Elisa Massimino testifies before a Senate Committee on the dangers faced by refugees from human traffickers, stating "Anyone who seeks to deprive traffickers of their ability to prey on vulnerable people cannot in good conscience slam the door on refugees."
Elisa Massimino on Leadership
Washington, DC, USA
Elisa Massimino, Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights at Georgetown University Law Center and Fmr. President & CEO of Human Rights First, shares her insights on leadership and advice for the next generation of leaders.


It's Official: In Egypt, You Can Get 15 Years in Jail for a Tweet
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"
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.


Council on Foreign Relations
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
2018 - 2019
Cambridge, MA, USA
Since its establishment 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.
View allHide

Speaking Engagements

Roads Not Taken: Reflections on the 9/11 Anniversary
Sep 2021
Elisa joins a panel of speakers to reflect on the events of 9/11 and how the human rights organizations responded in the time after the attack.
Chutzpah and Humility: Twin Virtues for Changing the World
Drinan Lecture on Human Rights
Washington, DC, USA
In her 2020 Drinan Lecture, 'Chutzpah and Humility: Twin Virtues for Changing the World', Elisa Massimino tells the story of how she built a coalition of retired military leaders to help her in a campaign to put an end to “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the wake of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This experience shaped her vision for a new approach to global human rights work.
View allHide

Bar Admissions

Supreme Court of the United States
Washington, DC, USA
The Supreme Court is the highest tribunal in the United States for all cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States.

Elisa Massimino’s Education

Johns Hopkins University
MA in Philosophy, cum laude
View allHide