Senior Fellow


Elisa Massimino

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Elisa Massimino is a senior fellow at American Progress. She is also the Robert F. Drinan, S.J., chair in human rights at Georgetown University Law Center. She recently served as a senior fellow with the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and as a practitioner-in-residence at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Previously, Massimino spent 27 years—the last decade as president and CEO—at Human Rights First, one of the nation’s leading human rights advocacy organizations.

Massimino has a distinguished record of human rights advocacy in Washington. 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. During her leadership at Human Rights First, the influential Washington publication The Hill consistently named her one of the most effective public advocates in the country.

The daughter of a nuclear submarine commander, Massimino was instrumental in Human Rights First’s effort to assemble a group of retired generals and admirals to speak publicly against policies authorizing the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody. This coalition of military leaders played a pivotal role in restoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

Massimino is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the U.S. Supreme Court Bar. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and she is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity University.


Latest by Elisa Massimino

Protecting Ethiopian Refugees — and Averting the Next Crisis In the News

Protecting Ethiopian Refugees — and Averting the Next Crisis

As the refugee crisis in Ethiopia worsens, authors Elisa Massimino and Alexandra Schmitt explain why the United States must take a leading role in building a flexible, inclusive, and sustainable system to protect the forcibly displaced.

Elisa Massimino, Alexandra Schmitt

Human rights lessons of the pandemic In the News

Human rights lessons of the pandemic

Elisa Massimino and Alexandra Schmitt explain how human rights violations have hindered the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alexandra Schmitt, Elisa Massimino