Vienna Colucci is Director of Policy for Amnesty International USA, where she oversees human rights policy development, and review across departments on issues such as the rights of prisoners, poverty, the death penalty, refugee and migrant rights, torture, children’s rights, and censorship and free speech.

Vienna graduated from Notre Dame in 1990 with majors in government, international relations and ltalian and a concentration in peace studies. She went on to earn her master's degree in international peace studies at the Kroc Institute in 1991.

“My experiences at Notre Dame opened my eyes to human rights and my professors enabled me to believe that I could devote my life to it,” Vienna says. “They ardently supported my research, allowing me to tailor my projects to what I wanted and needed to learn.”

In 1992 Vienna joined the staff of Amnesty International USA, part of a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights. At Amnesty International USA, Vienna founded the Program for International Justice and Accountability and led Amnesty's campaign for U.S. signature of the International Criminal Court treaty.

She also researched (with author William Aceves) the report "USA: Safe Haven for Torturers" and co-produced (with Skylight Pictures) the documentary "Justice Without Borders." Vienna co-produced (with Skylight Pictures) "Human Needs, Human Rights," a documentary on economic, social and cultural rights.

Vienna served as Director of Amnesty International USA's Program Development Unit and Membership Networks Program, where she was responsible for developing advocacy programs and recruiting, training and mobilizing volunteers and activists on issues ranging from human rights education to health and human rights to human rights and the law.

The landscape of human rights work has broadened considerably since she began her work more than 20 years ago, Vienna says.

“There are many, many more human rights organizations that have emerged, many of them using the Amnesty model: ‘When ordinary people come together to take action, they have power,’ ” she says. “To see how that model has proliferated is incredible.”

Vienna returned to the Kroc Institute in February 2014 to accept the Kroc Institute’s Distinguished Alumni Award. She lives in Chicago.

— Renée LaReau, February 2014