For more than 20 years, she has used her background in policy, legal, advocacy, and media to provide leadership and strategic counsel on a range of policy issues, including civil and international human rights, voting rights, and criminal justice reform. Beginning in February 2022, Austin-Hillery will use her expertise and leadership to carry out the Foundation’s mission. She will continue to cultivate and foster a strong organizational culture by strengthening programs, services, community engagement, and operations in a virtual space, as well as serve as the Foundation’s top spokesperson.
“I am proud to welcome Nicole Austin-Hillery as she embraces the mantle of leadership at CBCF,” said Lori George Billingsley, chair of the CBCF Board of Directors. “Nicole brings significant policy expertise, legal acumen, civil rights and racial justice advocacy and media prowess to this role. Her rich background makes her uniquely suited to further our mission of advancing the global Black community.”
Austin-Hillery comes to the CBCF directly from serving as executive director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch. Before joining Human Rights Watch, Austin-Hillery was the first Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center for Justice, Washington, D.C. office and served as its chief representative before Congress and the Executive Branch. Austin-Hillery draws significant litigation experience from her time practicing with the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC as part of the firm’s civil rights employment class action practice. She began her legal career as the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“It is an honor to join the CBCF at this critical moment when strong policy and leadership development on a host of critical issues such as racial justice, economic empowerment, public safety and education will help further advance the important work of the Foundation and its impact on the Black community,” said Austin-Hillery.
Her experience includes testifying before Congress, state, and local legislative bodies, publishing numerous pieces for major news outlets including
The Washington Post, Time magazine, and CNN.com. She has been a frequent expert on CBCF Annual Legislative Conference panels, most recently serving as a panelist during the 2021 CBCF Annual Legislative Conference session, “Democratization of US Foreign Policy—How Diversity Can Shape U.S. Engagement.”
As CBCF president and CEO, Austin-Hillery will use her expertise and leadership to carry out the Foundation’s mission. She will continue to cultivate and foster a strong organizational culture by strengthening programs, services, community engagement and operations in a virtual space, as well as serve as the Foundation’s top spokesperson.
Austin-Hillery is past president of the Washington Bar Association and the Washington Council of Lawyers and has served as an Advisory Committee Member of the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law. She has also served as an adjunct civil rights professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and is a former Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School.
Austin-Hillery is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.
About the CBCF
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), established in 1976, is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research, and educational institute, committed to advancing the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy, and educating the public.