Naila Awan, Interim Co-Director of Policy, supports the full range of the NYCLU’s advocacy work on issues involving racial justice, criminal legal system reform, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, free expression, equal protection, and housing justice.
Prior to joining NYCLU, Naila worked for multiple civil rights organizations and served on the legislative staff for Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Naila served as the first-ever Director of Advocacy at Prison Policy Initiative, where she supported grassroots organizations and worked with policymakers in states across the U.S. to advance criminal legal system reform, assisted campaigns to prevent new jail construction, engaged in administrative advocacy, and developed trainings and webinars to aid criminal legal system reform efforts. She also served as a Senior Counsel at Dēmos, where her work centered on combating voter suppression and expanding access to the ballot for traditionally marginalized communities. In this role, she led a cross-functional project to end the disenfranchisement people experience when then come into contact with the criminal legal system, testified before Congress, and served as counsel in numerous cases, including A. Philip Randolph Institute v. Husted, a U.S. Supreme Court case challenging Ohio’s voter purge practices, and Mays v. LaRose, a class action seeking to expand access to the ballot for voters detained in jail.
Naila’s work has been published in the Children’s Legal Rights Journal, The University of Memphis Law Review, the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, and The Guardian. She has also authored and co-authored How to End De Facto Disenfranchisement in the Criminal Justice System, Jail-Based Polling Locations: A Way to Fight Voter Disenfranchisement, Enfranchisement for All: The Case for Ending Penal Disenfranchisement in Our Democracy, How States and the Trump Administration are Working to Exclude Millions from Political Representation and Reduce Black and Brown Political Power, Executive Inaction: States and the Federal Government Fail to Use Commutations as a Release Mechanism, and The Racial Equity Impact of Secret Political Spending by Government Contractors.
Naila holds a L.L.M. in International Legal Studies from the New York University School of Law, a J.D. from The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, and a B.A. from Miami University of Ohio.