Nkechi Taifa is a senior policy analyst for civil and criminal justice reform at the Open Society Foundations (OSF). She works to influence the public policy debate in support of comprehensive justice reform. Taifa focuses on issues involving federal sentencing reform, accountability in federal law enforcement, re-entry of previously incarcerated persons, and prison reform. She has played a major role in raising visibility of issues involving unequal justice. Taifa also convenes the Justice Roundtable, a Washington-based advocacy network advancing federal criminal justice policy reforms.
Prior to joining the Foundations, Taifa served for ten years as an adjunct professor at Howard University School of Law teaching the popular seminar, “Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.” She was the founding director of the Law School’s award-winning Equal Justice Program, where she developed and created new opportunities for public interest and pro bono activities. Taifa spent four years as legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), serving as the principal spokesperson for the ACLU Washington office on criminal justice and civil rights issues. Prior to that position, Taifa was also public policy counsel for the Women’s Legal Defense Fund and worked as a staff attorney for the National Prison Project. She also maintained a private law practice specializing in the representation of indigent adults and juveniles as well as employment discrimination law.
Over the course of her career, Taifa has spoken extensively across the country and has been published on a variety of issues involving criminal justice and civil and human rights. She has testified before the U.S. Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission, the District of Columbia City Council, and the American Bar Association Justice Kennedy Commission. She has served as a consultant to various organizations and projects. Taifa serves as an appointed commissioner on the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights.
Taifa has served on the board of numerous organizations, and has received awards and honors, including the prestigious “President’s Award from the Washington Council of Lawyers,” the “Rosmarian Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service,” “Professor of the Year,” and “Outstanding Social Engineer Award.”
Taifa received her J.D. from George Washington University Law School. She graduated magna cum laude from Howard University with a B.A. in history and education. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.