Judith Browne Dianis, Co-Director of Advancement Project, has an extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing, and employment. Judith has worked tirelessly to protect survivors of Hurricane Katrina, filing critical litigation on behalf of displaced survivors and working to stop the exploitation of immigrant reconstruction workers.
Dianis’ efforts to protect voters of color spans years of dedication. In 1996, she filed pioneering litigation against the State Maryland for failure to enforce the “Motor Voter” law and represented the NAACP and African-American Floridians disenfranchised in 2000. Judith helped stop Florida’s use of an erroneous felon purge list in 2004, and served as counsel against the RNC, stopping challenges against voters of color based upon an illegal voter caging program. In 2008, Dianis represented the Virginia NAACP in litigation to eliminate racial disparities in the allocation of voting machines. Currently, Advancement Project is on the frontlines in fighting against a rash of legislative initiatives such as restrictions on early voting, state photo ID requirements, limits on voter registration and other laws designed to suppress the voting rights of people of color, the elderly, youth and the disabled.
Under Dianis’ leadership, Advancement Project has been dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline since 1999. Dianis has authored groundbreaking reports including: Derailed: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, and has partnered with grassroots organizations, leading to significant declines of unnecessary arrests and suspensions of students. Dianis is on the Board of the 21st Century Foundation, FairTest and is a Convener of the Forum for Education and Democracy.
Judith joined Advancement Project at its inception in 1999, after serving as the Managing Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. Judith is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, served as a Tobias Simon Eminent Scholar at Florida State University Law School and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. She was named one of the “Thirty Women to Watch” by Essence Magazine and has written and commented extensively in the media about race issues.