Contact: Erik Opsal, email@example.com, 646–292–8356; Jeanine Plant-Chirlin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646–292–8322
New York, NY – The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is pleased to welcome John F. Kowal as Vice President of Programs, a new position at the think tank and advocacy organization. In this role, Kowal will be responsible for coordinating and guiding the organization’s programmatic work, including its Democracy, Justice, and Liberty and National Security Programs, as well as its Washington, D.C. office.
“The Brennan Center is thrilled to bring John on board at this urgent moment for the Center and the nation,” said Michael Waldman, the Center’s executive director. “To meet the country’s challenges, we need to reform and renew the systems of democracy, justice and government that are so plainly broken. John has deep experience with issues of law, democracy and justice as a leader in the philanthropic community. He has been a thoughtful strategist, a passionate advocate and an organization-builder. Among other things, John has played a critical role in building the capacity of legal groups to address core challenges. He will help lead the Brennan Center as we work to strengthen our efforts to address the country’s vast challenges.”
“I have admired the work of the Brennan Center for years and have had the good fortune to work with this talented group as the organization has grown to have a significant national impact,” said Kowal. “In my new role, I look forward to building on the organization’s many successes advancing democracy, justice and the rule of law.”
Kowal comes to the Brennan Center from the Ford Foundation, where he directed the unit on Democratic Participation since 2008. At Ford, he was responsible for the oversight and strategic direction for five grant making initiatives, operating in the U.S. and in ten field offices around the world. These included programs supporting grassroots organizing, electoral reform, effective and accountable government, reform of the global financial system, and a strengthened civil society around the world.
Previously, Kowal spent a decade at the Open Society Institute, where he developed and directed a number of grant making programs on issues ranging from advancing a progressive vision of U.S. constitutional law to safeguarding a fair and impartial judiciary to securing LGBT rights. In his most recent role as Director of Constitutional Democracy Initiatives, he oversaw the expansion of judicial nominations grant making, chaired a working group for a new Transparency and Integrity Fund, and co-chaired a planning process for an international LGBT initiative.
In addition, he has been a leader in the philanthropic community, playing an active role in efforts to leverage funds for social justice organizations. He has held leadership positions in a number of foundation affinity groups. including the International Human Rights Funders Group, Human Rights in the US Working Group, the Funders Committee for Civic Participation, and the Civil Marriage Collaborative, which he helped to found.
He has also worked as a litigation associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore, and Schulte Roth & Zabel, both in New York City. He earned a JD from Harvard Law School, and a BA from New York University.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice. Its work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from racial justice in criminal law to presidential power in the fight against terrorism. A singular institution — part think tank, part public interest law firm, part advocacy group — the Brennan Center combines scholarship, legislative and legal advocacy, and communications to win meaningful, measurable change in the public sector.