Alison A. Hillman de Velásquez is the program officer of the Disability Rights Initiative at the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Hillman manages a global grant making and advocacy program focused on promoting the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Prior to joining the Foundations, Hillman was director of the Americas Programs at Mental Disability Rights International where she advocated for the rights of persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities (persons diagnosed with mental illness), monitoring conditions and treatment in psychiatric institutions, orphanages, social care homes, and forensic penal units. In collaboration with attorneys from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), she presented the first petition in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging ongoing abuses in a psychiatric institution. She is the primary author of Ruined Lives: Segregation in Argentina’s Psychiatric Asylums (2007) and Human Rights & Mental Health in Peru (2004). Hillman has received awards at international disability film festivals in Canada (2005) and Italy (2007) for her documentary depicting abuses in a psychiatric institution. In 2003, she received the Paul G. Hearne/AAPD Leadership Award as an emerging leader in the disability field. She sits on the Board of Directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities and is chair of the Board of Directors of Ensaaf.
Hillman holds a law degree with a focus in international human rights law from the Washington College of Law, American University. Hillman received her B.A. in government with a concentration in U.S.-Latin American Relations from Cornell University.