Deborah Leff

NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice Board of Trustees, Trustee, Class of 2022

Deborah Leff Photo

Deborah Leff, former Senior Advisor to the Equal Justice Initiative, has held leadership positions public, private, and non-profit, most recently as Pardon Attorney of the United States. Prior to assuming the Pardon Attorney position, she served as Acting Senior Counselor for Access to Justice at the US Department of Justice, where she oversaw federal efforts to increase legal assistance and improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers. She received the Department of Justice’s John Marshall Award, the agency’s top award for litigation.

Prior to joining the Justice Department in 2010, Ms. Leff served as President and member of the Board of Directors of the Public Welfare Foundation, a national foundation based in Washington, DC, focusing on health reform, criminal and juvenile justice, and employment issues. She also has served as Director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum; President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation's largest domestic hunger relief organization; and President of the Joyce Foundation. During much of the 1980s and early 1990s, Ms. Leff was Senior Producer at ABC News Nightline and World News Tonight overseeing coverage that won numerous national awards, including the Emmy and the DuPont awards.

Ms. Leff is the immediate past Chair and a founding member of the Board of Directors of StoryCorps, www.storycorps.org, and previously served on the Board of Directors of the CARE, the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, and the Children's Defense Fund. She has chaired and been a member of the executive, governance, nominating, and audit committees for numerous boards. She also chaired the Midwest Rhodes Scholars Selection Committee.

Ms. Leff received her undergraduate degree cum laude from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, where she was named a University Scholar. She earned her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School and is the recipient of an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Lake Forest College.

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