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Penda D. Hair

Created Mar 07, 2014

Penda D. Hair

Penda D. Hair is Co-Director of Advancement Project. more

A staunch civil-rights advocate, Penda Hair co-founded Advancement Project in 1999 as an innovative racial justice organization that would help eradicate structural inequities that threaten the democratic process and work alongside community and grassroots groups. Hair manages a team of voting rights attorneys and helps overseas the organization's voter protection work. In a post-Shelby world, her experience litigating Jeffers vs. Clinton is especially applicable as groups across the country contemplate remedies and next steps following the Supreme Court's decision to no longer allow preclearance for states with histories of racial animus and discrimination in voting.

Under Hair's direction, Advancement Project has spearheaded litigation challenging voter restrictions, discriminatory electoral provisions and other civil rights violations across the nation. Hair is counsel in current cases challenging onerous Photo ID requirements in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and the challenge to the recently passed voting measure in North Carolina. Under her leadership, Advancement Project has produced groundbreaking reports on the issue, including What's Wrong with this Picture?: New Photo ID Proposals Part of National Push to Turn Back the Clock on Voting Rights (2011).

Hair is the former director of the Washington, DC office of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the author of the Rockefeller Foundation's report on innovative civil rights strategies, Louder Than Words: Lawyers, Communities, and the Struggle for Justice (2001). She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and was named one of the top public interest attorneys under age 45 by The American Lawyer in 1998. She is a frequent TV and radio commentator, opining regularly on issues of race and democracy.