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Mary Ellison
Photo by Dan Seipp of Con Tiempo

Mary C. Ellison is a Staff Attorney in the Women’s Human Rights program. She received her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in June 2007. She is admitted to practice in Minnesota. Mary graduated cum laude from St. Olaf College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Family Studies with a concentration in Women's Studies. She also earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Colorado State University. Since joining the Women’s Human Rights Program, Mary co-authored the “Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota;” assisted Cheryl Thomas and Aviva Breen in conducting two days of meetings in Yerevan, Armenia in June 2008 on “Advocacy and Lobbying for a Domestic Violence Law in Armenia;” advocated for and passed amendments to Minnesota’s Sex Trafficking Law in May 2009; and visited Astana, Kazakhstan to deliver a presentation entitled “Best Practices in Legal Reform on Domestic Violence” in June 2009; among other accomplishments. Mary is the 2009 recipient of the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project “Journey of Hope” attorney award in recognition of her outstanding work promoting women’s rights and working for systems change.

Mary’s previous legal experience includes: judicial law clerk for the Honorable Diane Alshouse in the Second Judicial District, law clerk for the Ramsey County Public Defender’s office, and volunteer intern with the Refugee and Immigrant program at The Advocates for Human Rights. As an intern in the Refugee and Immigrant Program, Mary assisted Michele Garnett McKenzie in researching and writing the Legal Services Chapter, in Healing the Hurt: A Guide for Developing Services for Torture Survivors, published by the Center for Victims of Torture. Mary is also a published poet and essayist and the editor of two oral history collections. Prior to law school, she was a consultant to Columbia University's development office, a principal gifts fundraiser for St. Olaf College, and the manager of training services at SunGard BSR, Inc.


Ellison, Mary. Sex Trafficking in Minnesota: Is the Paradigm Shifting?”With Equal Right (Fall 2009).
Ellison, Mary. “A Stronger Fight against Trafficking - Here in Minnesota.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (9 July 2009).
Ellison, Mary and Cheryl Thomas. “Minnesota won’t tolerate sale of human beings for sex.” Star Tribune (23 June 2009).
Bortel, Angela, Mary Ellingen, Mary. Ellison, Robin Phillips, Cheryl Thomas. Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: The Advocates for Human Rights, September 2008.
Ellison, Mary. “Barriers to Justice for Battered Mothers and their Children.” Stop Violence Against Women: A Project of the Advocates for Human Rights (November 2008).
Ellison, Mary and Michele Garnett McKenzie. Legal Services Chapter, in Healing the Hurt: A Guide for Developing Services for Torture Survivors. Minneapolis, MN: The Center for Victims of Torture, 2005.
Ellison, Mary. “Congruence,” in Where in the World is Integrity: The Challenge of Doing What is Right. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2004.