Nicole Austin-Hillery is the first Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office, which she opened in March 2008. In her role, Ms. Austin-Hillery oversees D.C. office operations, serves as the chief advocate for the Brennan Center on a host of justice and democracy issues and coordinates work with other civil rights, social justice and democracy organizations in D.C. Ms. Austin-Hillery is the organization’s chief liaison to Congress and the Administration. Priority areas of Ms. Austin-Hillery’s portfolio at the Brennan Center include racial and criminal justice advocacy and reform, voting rights, and felon enfranchisement. In her role, Ms. Austin-Hillery has written opinion pieces for publications such as Roll Call and The Root and has been a contributing writer to several advocacy publications. She has appeared on numerous news programs, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Washington Watch with Roland Martin, and NPR affiliate, WAMU's, Kojo Nnamdi Show. She has also submitted testimony for Congressional hearings and has served as a speaker on a host of public interest advocacy issues.
Before beginning her career at the Brennan Center, Ms. Austin-Hillery practiced with the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC where she focused primarily on the firm's civil rights employment class action litigation practice. While there, Ms. Austin-Hillery worked on all aspects of complex employment class action litigation and outreach to the larger public-interest civil rights community. Her experience as a litigator included work on a variety of employment matters focused on race and gender including employment negotiations, pre-filing settlements, with an emphasis on both individual and programmatic relief, as well as work with federal trial courts.
Prior to joining Mehri & Skalet, Ms. Austin-Hillery was the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Law Fellow at the national office of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. where she worked on housing litigation as well as policy and community development issues. During her fellowship, Ms. Austin-Hillery was a member of the Lawyers' Committee's delegation to the NGO Forum of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
In 2007, Ms. Austin-Hillery was selected as a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School. She currently serves on the Board of the Washington Bar Association and is a former member of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee and is a past-president of the Washington Council of Lawyers. Ms. Austin-Hillery is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.
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