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Elisa Massimino

Harvard Kennedy School, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
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 is a Practitioner-in-Residence at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and was just named 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 Foreign Policy for America. She is a Trustee of Warren Wilson College & a Member of the Advisory Councils of Refugees International and National Security Action

Elisa Massimino’s Background

Senior Fellow,
Jul 2018 - Present
Cambridge, MA, USA
The Carr Center has developed a unique focus of expertise on the most dangerous and intractable human rights challenges of the 21st century, including genocide, mass atrocity, state failure and the ethics & politics of military intervention.
Practitioner-in-Residence
Sep 2018 - Present
Washington, DC, USA
The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS), founded in 1919, is a premier school of international affairs. Campuses at Georgetown Washington, D.C. & Qatar provide a rigorous education grounded in theory and practice, while instilling the Jesuit values of service.
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Other Business Interests

Board Member
2019 - Present
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.
Member of the 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.
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Current Non-Executive Positions

Member of the Board of Trustees
2016 - Present
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.
Member of the 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.

Philanthropy

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.
Member of the 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’s Education

BA cum laude Philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa
MA cum laude Philosophy
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