Expertise: The Supreme Court and the judicial system, democracy and voting, civil rights, criminal justice and civil liberties, race and ethnicity, women's rights, religion
Michele Jawando is an attorney and social justice advocate working at the intersection of policy, political strategy, and media. She currently serves as the Vice President for Legal Progress at American Progress. Previously, she served as general counsel and senior advisor to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), where she was responsible for a wide-ranging portfolio of policy issues pertaining to the federal judiciary and nominations; voting rights; women and labor issues; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, issues; education; telecommunications; technology; and ethics. As a member of Sen. Gillibrand’s senior staff, she was responsible for leading some of the office’s landmark work, including the passage of the 9/11 health bill; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or DADT; the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan; and Sen. Gillibrand’s trailblazing work on military and campus sexual assault.
Jawando has a rich background in politics and public policy and has demonstrated lifelong commitment to public service, working tirelessly for a wide range of social justice issues. Aside from her efforts to ensure a full and functioning judiciary, her passion is to protect and secure voting rights for all citizens. Prior to working for Sen. Gillibrand, Jawando served as the national campaign manager for election protection and legislative counsel at People For the American Way, PFAW, Foundation. While there, she managed a nationwide campaign devoted to reforming the election process and served as the deputy campaign manager for the PFAW Foundation’s Restore My Vote, a program that provided assistance to ex-offenders in the clemency restoration process.
A native of Queens, New York, Jawando started her career in public service in the office of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), where she worked on judiciary, health care, and education issues.
Jawando appears frequently in print and on air on national media outlets, including The Washington Post, Politico, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, PBS, FOX, NY One, News One, ARISE, Sirius XM Radio, Huffington Post Live, Upscale Magazine, and she is currently a contributing columnist for InsideSources. Additionally, she serves as a contributing host and politics and pop culture commentator on “The Leslie Marshall Show” on the Progressive Voices Network and iHeartRadio, as well as “The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt” on SiriusXM Progress channel 127.
Jawando has been a guest speaker for numerous panels and national conferences, including the NAACP; the National Urban League; the American Constitution Society; the Young Women’s Christian Association, or YWCA; the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation; and the National Bar Association. She has been a guest lecturer at a number of law schools and universities and was recently awarded the prestigious Women in Leadership Award by the National Black Law Student Association. In 2016, Upscale Magazine recognized Jawando for being one of 15 national power players who continues to “break barriers, push boundaries, and foster talent” in her respective industry.
Jawando has been recognized as one of the “40 Power Young Professionals Under 40” and named one of the top 15 African American women in politics under age 40.
Jawando holds a B.A. with honors from Hampton University and received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law. When she is not busy promoting social justice, she is busy raising three daughters—Alia, Addison, and Ava—with her husband Will Jawando in Silver Spring, Maryland.