Laleh Ispahani is acting deputy director of U.S. Programs and oversees its work toward a more inclusive and accountable democracy—supporting organizations that seek to protect and expand voting rights; ensure fair, independent and diverse courts; reduce the influence of big money on politics; produce high-quality enterprise journalism; and ensure that the internet remains an open and secure platform for free expression and civic participation.
Before joining the Open Society Foundations in 2008, Ispahani, a lawyer and advocate specializing in democracy and human rights issues, spent six years as senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union working on racial justice and human rights. She sought to reverse felony disenfranchisement policies, and worked with allies on a national campaign that used public education and advocacy, litigation, and federal and state executive and legislative reform. As part of that work, she produced a documentary film, Democracy’s Ghosts, and published in popular as well as academic journals. Prior to joining the ACLU, Ispahani litigated campaign finance reform issues at the Brennan Center for Justice.
She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.