The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. today announced that Monique L. Dixon has been appointed Senior Policy Counsel for Criminal Justice and State Education Initiatives, a new position based in Washington, D.C. that will focus on much-needed federal and state policy reforms.

Monique DixonMs. Dixon comes to LDF from the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, where she has served as Director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program since 2008. In her new role at NAACP LDF, she will work on developing, coordinating and advancing the organization’s policy and legislative work in partnership with its Criminal Justice and Education teams in New York and Washington.

“As we continue our critical defensive litigation work, we know that we must also press forward on reforms that are badly needed at the state and federal level if we are to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society,” said Sherrilyn A. Ifill, President and Director Counsel of NAACP LDF. “I can think of no better person than Monique Dixon to lead this important –– and growing — component of our mission.”

“I am delighted to be working side by side with some of the brightest lawyers, community organizers and program staff in the world to advance the cause of justice,” said Ms. Dixon, who like many leaders in the legal, government and social justice fields started her career as an NAACP LDF intern. “At a time when Americans are finally waking up to the devastating social and economic costs of mass incarceration and of the lack of quality education for children of color, I am particularly eager to develop and carry out policy reform strategies in these critical areas.”

“Monique’s extensive background in civil rights advocacy at the state and local level will be a tremendous asset to our work in LDF’s Washington office,” said Leslie Proll, Director of LDF’s Washington, D.C. office.

As director of OSI-Baltimore’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Program, Ms. Dixon was responsible for developing, monitoring, and evaluating criminal and juvenile justice funding strategies for OSI-Baltimore, which seeks to reduce the overuse of incarceration as well as its social and economic costs. In that capacity, she oversaw distribution of more than $8 million in grant awards to nonprofit organizations and state agencies.

Prior to joining OSI-Baltimore, Ms. Dixon worked at Advancement Project in Washington, D.C., where she was a staff attorney from 2000-2004 and from 2004 to 2008 was director of the organization’s Opportunity to Learn Program. In these capacities, she worked on a variety of issues including community-centered policing, education, voting rights, and affordable housing. She also co-authored several reports on zero tolerance school discipline policies that lead youth from schools to prisons.

Before coming to the Advancement Project, Ms. Dixon served as the first Equal Justice Fellow at the Public Justice Center — a Baltimore-based, nonprofit legal organization where she spearheaded the organization’s juvenile justice project to reform Maryland’s juvenile correctional facilities.

Ms. Dixon is a 2011 recipient of the University of Maryland law school’s Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award. She also received the Racial Justice Award from the Young Women’s Christian Association in 2009.

Ms. Dixon received a B.A. from Hunter College, magna cum laude, and a J.D. from of the University of Maryland School of Law. She is a native New Yorker who currently resides in Baltimore.