Michele L. Jawando is the Vice President for Legal Progress at American Progress. Previously, she served as general counsel and senior advisor to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), where she was responsible for wide-ranging portfolio of policy issues pertaining to the federal judiciary and nominations; voting rights; women and labor issues; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, issues; education; telecommunications; technology; and ethics. As a member of Sen. Gillibrand’s senior staff, she helped lead some of the office’s landmark work, including the passage of the 9/11 health bill; the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or DADT; the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and Sen. Gillibrand’s trailblazing work on military and campus sexual assault.
Jawando has a rich background in politics and public policy and a demonstrated lifelong commitment to public service. Prior to working for Sen. Gillibrand, Jawando served as the national campaign manager for election protection and legislative counsel at People For the American Way, or PFAW, Foundation. Her work included managing a nationwide campaign devoted to reforming the election process and serving as the deputy campaign manager for PFAW Foundation’s Restore My Vote, a program devoted to helping ex-offenders in the clemency restoration process.
A native of Queens, New York, Jawando started her career in public service in the office of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), where she worked on judiciary, health care, and education issues.
Jawando has been a guest speaker for numerous panels and national conferences, including those of the NAACP; the National Urban League; the U.S. Student Association; the Young Women’s Christian Association, or YWCA; and the National Bar Association. She has been a guest lecturer at the Santa Clara University School of Law and was a recipient of the Women’s Information Network, or WIN, Young Women of Achievement Award. She was recognized by the NAACP as one of the “40 Power Young Professionals Under 40” and named one of the top 15 African American women in politics under age 40.
Michele holds a B.A. with honors from Hampton University and received her J.D. from the University Of North Carolina School of Law.