Mary C. Ellison serves as a public engagement officer in the Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP). With her colleagues, she supports the Secretary of State in his role as the Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking (PITF), an entity whose purpose is to provide vision and direction for government-wide anti-trafficking efforts. She works to build relationships with other government agencies, corporations, academia, research institutes, and the general public – all important partners in a comprehensive, multidisciplinary effort to combat trafficking. Mary is trained as a human rights lawyer and has most recently worked for Polaris Project (Washington, DC) as the Director of Policy; The Advocates for Human Rights (Minneapolis, MN) as a staff attorney, in both cases working to enact and implement laws to protect vulnerable persons from human trafficking, violence, and persecution; and a judicial law clerk for a state district court judge.
Her passion for human rights and the rule of law was first ignited during travel to Central America where she visited with refugees and displaced persons affected by conflict and civil war. She earned a J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law (St. Paul, MN), a master of creative writing from Colorado State University, and a B.A. from St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN). She and her partner moved to Washington, DC in 2010 and recently celebrated their thirteenth anniversary. They are enjoying exploring the area, especially kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains.