Laleh Ispahani

Laleh is the Acting Deputy Director of the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs. She also directs U.S. Program’s democracy work, the strategy for some of which is currently being rethought. Broadly, it will likely continue to focus, as it has, on ensuring an informed and engaged public, and accountability and respect for the rule of law. OSF has been doing the first by supporting investigative journalism, digital rights, and civic and political participation, and by challenging distortions to democracy such as voter suppression and the digital divide. They’ve advanced the second by supporting work to ensure independent and diverse courts, curbs on the anti-democratic national security state’s counterterrorism operations, and increased respect for human rights. Before joining OSF in 2008, Laleh spent six years as senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union working on racial justice and human rights, including directing a nationwide campaign to end felony disenfranchisement, through coalition building, public education and advocacy, litigation, and federal and state executive and legislative reform. Prior to the ACLU, she worked at the Brennan Center on campaign finance reform. She has produced a documentary film on disfranchisement called Democracy’s Ghosts, and authored numerous articles on democracy and human rights issues. Laleh received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.