Alison A. Hillman de Velasquez

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Alison A. Hillman de Velásquez, Director of Americas Program for Mental Disability Rights International.

"Alison A. Hillman de Velásquez is Director of MDRI’s Americas Programs. An attorney with an international human rights background, she designs and implements MDRI's advocacy support programs, human rights monitoring, and litigation in the Americas. She has led fact-finding investigations, advocacy-training workshops, and carried out human rights monitoring in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

"In collaboration with attorneys from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Hillman presented the first-ever petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights challenging on-going abuses in a psychiatric institution (2003). In 2005, she helped negotiate an historic accord with the Paraguayan government, requiring the country to deinstitutionalize and develop community-integrated services for people with mental disabilities.

"Hillman was the lead investigator and primary author of Ruined Lives: Segregation from Society in Argentina's Psychiatric Asylums (2007), and primary author of Human Rights & Mental Health in Peru (2004). She has lectured about mental health and human rights at numerous universities in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Hillman provided feedback to UN Special Rapporteur for Health, Paul Hunt, for his 2005 report on Mental Disability and the Right to Health. She has been interviewed about her work by the CBC, the International Press Service, and radio, television and print media in Argentina, Peru, Brazil and Paraguay and Canada.

"Hillman received an award for best short documentary at Canada's International Disability Film Festival for her film depicting abuses in a psychiatric institution (2005), the Paul G. Hearne/AAPD Leadership Award as an emerging leader in the disability field (2003), a New Voices Fellowship through the Academy for Educational Development (2002), and the National Association for Public Interest Law's Exemplary Public Service Award by a Summer Fellow for her work in the Petén, Guatemala (2000).

"Hillman serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), ENSAAF (meaning "justice"), and is a member of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center's Leadership-21 Committee. She received her law degree cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law in 2002, and her bachelor's degree with distinction from Cornell University in 1992. Hillman also has a psychiatric disability." [1]

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  1. Alison A. Hillman de Velasquez, Mental Disability Rights International, accessed April 7, 2009.