Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Elisa Massimino directs the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center and is a senior fellow on National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress. She spent 27 years—the last decade as President and CEO—at Human Rights First, one of the nation’s leading human rights advocacy organizations.
From 2019-2021 Massimino was the Robert F. Drinan, S.J., Chair in Human Rights at Georgetown. She also 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.
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 newspaper 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, a Master’s in philosophy from Johns Hopkins University, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Trinity University where she has been recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award.