Student Press Law Center Names New Executive Director

Sept. 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hadar Harris, a human rights attorney and non-profit leader with a passion for working with and on behalf of students, will become the next executive director of the Student Press Law Center, effective Sept. 6, 2017.

Harris succeeds Frank D. LoMonte, who served the SPLC with distinction for nine years and is now head of the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

“We searched the country to find a leader who could build on the strong foundation that Frank left us, and I am thrilled that someone of Hadar’s intellect, experience and strategic vision will lead the SPLC,” said Jane Eisner, chair of the SPLC board.

“SPLC’s work has never been more important,” Harris said. “Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are core to democratic society and student journalists play a fundamental role in promoting and protecting both. We, at SPLC, will help them do just that.”

Harris started her career as a student leader, speaking truth to power and asking hard questions. She worked on the student newspaper and yearbook staffs in high school, and was a student activist, engaged in advocacy around core rights-based issues in the U.S. and around the world.

She brings a wealth of experience as a non-profit leader to this position. Prior to joining SPLC, Harris served as the executive director of the Northern California Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the innocent and to reform the criminal justice system.

She previously served for 13 years as the executive director of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law. Harris grew the AU Center into a vibrant hub of activity, raising over $5 million in new funding and creating multiple new core programmatic initiatives, working with students and external partners.

Harris has worked on freedom of expression and assembly issues through the broad lens of civil and political rights. As an international human rights attorney, she brings a comparative perspective of work in over 25 countries, with NGOs, governments, academics and intergovernmental organizations.

Earlier in her career, she served as executive director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a bipartisan legislative service organization of the US House of Representatives, under the leadership of the late Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). Following her graduation from law school, she worked in private practice at the law firm Littler Mendelson.

Harris holds a BA in Political Science from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the Rafael Lemkin Human Rights Award and currently serves on the national Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA.

“I am excited and humbled to build on Frank LoMonte’s legacy and to join SPLC’s highly experienced team of journalists, educators and lawyers. I look forward to working with Diana Mitsu Klos, Mike Hiestand and the many volunteer attorneys, SPLC staff and Board members who work together to support and defend student First Amendment rights and civic engagement,” Harris said. “As we encounter new challenges on campus, we will work together to ensure that SPLC provides the crucial support, training and legal defense necessary to protect good student reporting, access to information and censorship-free media.”

Since 1974, the SPLC has worked to defend the rights of student journalists, their advisers and publications, to obtain information, publish articles and opinion pieces, and exercise their First Amendment rights as important members of civil society. Among its signature programs are Active Voice, which mentors young women journalists, and New Voices, to promote fortified legal protection for students and educators.

To hear more about Hadar Harris, listen to this month’s podcast.

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