Recognized Leader in Grassroots Advocacy, Death Penalty and Criminal Justice
(NEW YORK) - Amnesty International USA's (AIUSA) Board of Directors announced today that it has named Steven W. Hawkins as executive director. As Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the NAACP, Hawkins is a nationally renowned attorney and grassroots advocacy leader at the forefront of social justice issues, including death penalty abolition, criminal justice system reform and defending civil liberties. He will officially become executive director on September 25.
"Steve Hawkins has an innate understanding of grassroots advocacy and the power of people to bring about social change. He will be a galvanizing force in inspiring and engaging our members, volunteers, supporters and staff," said Shahram Hashemi, Chair of the Board of Amnesty International USA. "We are excited to have Steve at the helm. He is a leader with the heart, vision and drive to help us win the human rights battles ahead."
"The NAACP has been an integral and valued part of my life and career for many years and leaving is not an easy decision. However, the chance to join Amnesty's tireless activists and fight human rights injustice on a global scale is a battle I cannot refuse," said Hawkins. "I am honored to join Amnesty USA and continue to be part of a movement that will drive social change and protect the rights of all people."
Hawkins began his career in social justice as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where for nearly six years he represented African American men facing the death penalty. During this period, he investigated and brought litigation that led to the successful release of three teenagers wrongfully convicted in Tennessee. He later became the executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) where he helped end the death penalty for juvenile crimes. Hawkins then moved into philanthropic work as senior program manager at the JEHT ("Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance") Foundation, and later as program executive at Atlantic Philanthropies, where he directed the foundation's investment in a $60 million campaign to protect and defend human rights against abusive national security policies.
Hawkins is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.