Leadership Team

Nicole Austin-Hillery

President & CEO

Nicole Austin-Hillery is the President & CEO at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). In this role, Ms. Austin-Hillery will lead and inspire a team of high-performing leaders and staff as they create and implement plans to carry out the organization’s mission and achieve strategic goals.  Ms. Austin-Hillery is a steward of the brand and mission of the organization, acting to build, enhance and leverage the power of relationships and networks across the private, public and corporate sectors to procure support and needed resources for the organization to further its mission.

Prior to joining to the CBCF, Ms Austin-Hillery led Human Rights Watch’s efforts to end violations in abusive systems within the United States. Her work focused on addressing and combatting systemic racism, improving the U.S. immigration system, tackling rights problems within the domestic criminal justice system and advocating for policies to address poverty and inequality informed by international human rights standards.

Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Ms. Austin-Hillery was the first Director and Counsel of The

Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office which she opened in March 2008. At the Brennan Center, she oversaw the growth and development of the Center’s advocacy and policy development work in Washington and served as its chief representative before Congress and the Executive Branch.

Ms. Austin-Hillery has testified before state and local legislative bodies as well as Congress. She has published numerous pieces for major news outlets including the Washington Post, Time Magazine, The Hill, CNN.com and others. She is a frequent speaker on a host of progressive issues.

Prior to her time at the Brennan Center, Ms. Austin-Hillery litigated at the law firm of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC as part of the firm’s civil rights employment class action practice and as the George N. Lindsay Civil Rights Law Fellow at the national office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. where she focused on housing litigation and policy.

She served as the 2018-2019 President of the Washington Bar Association, is a past President and current Board member of the Washington Council of Lawyers, formerly served as an Advisory Committee Member of the ABA Standing Committee on Election Law, serves on the Board of Common Cause and is a former co-chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Defense Function Committee. She has also been an adjunct civil rights professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and is a former Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow at Harvard Law School. Ms. Austin-Hillery is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and Carnegie Mellon University.