Tona Boyd joined the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in January 2023 as the Associate Director-Counsel, where she will work in partnership with LDF’s eighth President and Director-Counsel Janai Nelson and LDF’s senior leadership team to set and execute the strategic direction of the organization’s legal programs, operations, and administration.
Tona most recently served as Special Counsel and Special Assistant to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office in the Biden-Harris Administration, where she worked to advance President Biden’s agenda related to racial justice, equity, and judicial nominations. As a member of the White House Counsel’s Office, she provided legal advice to the President and executive agencies and led policy development on criminal justice reform, including policing, sentencing, clemency, drug policy, and community violence intervention, as well as civil rights – including hate crimes and domestic terrorism.
As a senior member of the judicial nominations team, Tona supported the selection, preparation, and confirmation of federal judicial nominees, including D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, as well as the full slate of the United States Sentencing Commission appointees. During the time that Tona served on the judicial nominations team, President Biden nominated, and the Senate confirmed, an historic number of federal judges of unprecedented diversity.
Prior to joining the Biden-Harris administration, Tona was Chief Counsel and Senior Legal Advisor to United States Senator Cory A. Booker on the Senate Judiciary Committee. There, she led a team responsible for providing the Senator with legal and political analysis of issues related to criminal justice, racial justice, civil rights, immigration, antitrust, intellectual property, privacy and technology, firearms, constitutional law, and judicial and executive nominations. Tona worked closely with Senator Booker and other lawmakers to draft and negotiate the Justice in Policing Act, which outlined an agenda for modernizing policing and set forth a framework for greater law enforcement accountability.
Tona began her legal career as a litigator in the Honors Program of the United States Department of Justice. She served for nearly a decade as a federal civil rights prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, where she investigated and prosecuted complex criminal conspiracy cases involving law enforcement brutality and obstruction. In addition to official misconduct, Tona also specialized in litigating federal hate crime and human trafficking matters and trained federal and state law enforcement officers on federal civil rights statutes.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Tona served as elbow-law-clerk to the Honorable Roger L. Gregory on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she received the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership and served as an editor of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Political Science and Spanish and a minor in Peace Studies. While at Notre Dame, she was named the Alumni Association Distinguished Undergraduate of the Year and received the Yarrow Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement in Peace Studies. She later received the Notre Dame Black Alumni Exemplar Award.
Tona has been profiled in national and local publications, including Essence where she was featured for her role in assisting the confirmation of the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Tona’s longstanding commitment to advancing racial justice, exemplary history of public service, and extensive experience in policy, advocacy, and litigation will expand LDF’s capacity to fulfill its mission and serve its clients with excellence.