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