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 has overseen the growth and development of the Brennan Center’s advocacy and policy development work in Washington. Ms. Austin-Hillery is the organization’s chief liaison to Congress and the Administration. Her day to day work includes oversight of the Washington office operations and staff, serving as the chief advocate for the Brennan Center on a host of justice and democracy issues and coordinating coalition work with other civil rights, social justice and democracy organizations in Washington. Priority issue areas of Ms. Austin-Hillery’s portfolio include voting rights, racial and criminal justice advocacy and reform, indigent defense and vote restoration for those who have lost the right to vote. She also supports work in the Money and Politics issue area on a limited basis. Ms. Austin-Hillery provides both strategic and advocacy counsel ranging from legislative analysis to policy development.
She serves as both a media spokesperson and frequent presenter on Brennan Center issues. Ms. Austin-Hillery has written opinion pieces for several publications including Roll Call, The Root, CNN.com and BillMoyers.com and has been a contributing writer to several advocacy publications. Notably, she recently authored a chapter in the American Bar Association's 2016 volume of America Votes entitled "Voter ID as a Form of Voter Suppression." She has testified before state and local legislative bodies as well as submitted testimony for Congressional hearings and serves as a frequent speaker on a host of public interest issues.
Ms. Austin-Hillery has significant litigation experience having practiced with the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC as part of the firm's civil rights employment class action practice and as 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 focused on housing litigation and policy. She is a former Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School, currently serves on the Board of the Washington Council of Lawyers, is President-Elect of the Washington Bar Association, is an appointed member of the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law and serves as co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Defense Function Committee. She is an adjunct civil rights professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Ms. Austin-Hillery is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.
Selected Media Appearances
The Threat to American Elections You Don't Know Know About But Should, TIME (6/30/2017)
Starving Civil Rights in the Trump Era, The American Prospect (3/2/2017)
Discussing Trump's Calls for Voter Fraud Investigation, C-SPAN/The Washington Journal (1/29/2017)
Discussing Trump's Claims of Illegal Ballots, NewsOne (1/27/2017)
Monitoring Polls on Election Day, Fox News (10/20/16)
DOJ Mandates ‘Implicit Bias’ Training For Agents, Lawyers, NewsOne Now (6/29/16)
DOJ Voting Rights Unit Adapts After SCOTUS Ruling, All Things Considered/NPR (3/25/16)
50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, C-SPAN (8/8/15)
Will Pres. Obama Call on Congress to Act on Criminal Justice?, NewsOne Now (7/1/15)
1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, C-SPAN (5/3/15)
Criminal Justice Reform and the Presidential Race, The Brian Lehrer Show/WNYC (4/30/15)
Race Relations And Search For Justice In Ferguson, The Diane Rehm Show/NPR (8/21/14)
Discussing the Importance of the Voting Rights Act, C-SPAN (8/17/14)
Discussing capital punishment, MSNBC (1/20/14)
Judge Upholds Penn. Voter ID Law, Democracy Now! (8/17/12)
Discussing voting laws, litigation and the election, The Rachel Maddow Show (7/24/12)
Discussing suppression of the vote in the 2012 election, Roland Martin Reports (10/11/11)
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