NAACP Legal Defense Fund : Defend, Educate, Empower

Skip to Navigation
"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

Sonia Gill Hernandez

Senior Policy Counsel, Policing Reform Campaign

Sonia Gill Hernandez serves as Senior Policy Counsel for the Policing Reform Campaign at LDF. In this role, she develops and implements legislative and policy reform strategies and utilizes research, community organizing, public education, and communications to advance unbiased and responsible policing policies and practices.

Prior to joining LDF, Gill Hernandez served as a counsel and legislative strategist at Public Citizen, a citizen advocacy group and think tank, where she worked with Members of Congress and the Administration to advance legislative and regulatory policy on access to justice issues. While at Public Citizen, she helped successfully lobby the U.S. Department of Education to propose a rule curbing the use of forced arbitration by for-profit colleges that receive money through the Direct Loan Program, resulting in a significant victory for student borrowers.   

Gill Hernandez previously served as a staff attorney at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she was a member of the litigation teams in major challenges to voting restrictions in federal and state court, including successful challenges to photo ID in Texas (Texas NAACP v. Steen) and Nevada (Rosati et al. v. Our Vote Nevada PAC), and assisted in numerous other cases, including challenges to proof of citizenship requirements in Kansas (Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission) and two seminal voting rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, Shelby County v. Holder and Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona.  Gill Hernandez also worked on criminal justice reform initiatives and developed cases to challenge debtors’ prisons and the denial of the right to counsel. In addition to litigation, she conducted research, issued reports and articles, and advised congressional staff and state and local officials on voting rights policy and other civil rights issues. Gill Hernandez was also a lead attorney for the 2012 national Election Protection program, organizing and executing voter protection programs for the Presidential primaries and general election in 25 states.

Prior to her time with the Lawyers' Committee, Sonia was counsel to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer, advising on election law, voting, campaign finance, and Senate Rules and procedure, including filibuster and executive nominations reform in 2010-2011. During her time with Senator Schumer, Gill Hernandez led the development and drafting of major voting legislation to protect military voting rights as the lead staff author of the bipartisan Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, or MOVE Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2009 . The legislation introduced broad reforms to protect military and overseas voters, including new obligations for states, the Department of Defense, and the State Department to improve their processes for these voters.   

Gill Hernandez is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School where she was awarded the Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship and the University of Minnesota Human Rights Law Award. She is admitted only in New York.  In her role as Senior Policy Counsel for the Policing Reform Campaign, Sonia advocates only for, and provides legal advice only to, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.