Khalilah L. Brown-Dean

Advisory Board Member
Khalilah L. Brown-Dean

Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean is a nationally-known and respected expert on the political dynamics surrounding the American criminal justice system. She is featured in the CPTV documentary, “The Color of Justice,” and serves on the Board of Directors for Prison Policy Initiative; a non-partisan, non-profit organization that documents the impact of mass incarceration on communities across the nation. She has authored numerous academic and popular pieces including “Felon Disenfranchisement after Bush v. Gove: Changes and Trends,” in Election Administration in the United States: The State of Reform After Bush v. Gove, edited by Michael Alvarez and Bernard Grofman (Cambridge University Press, 2014) and “Counting Bodies and Ballots: Prison Gerrymandering and the Paradox of Urban Political Representation” forthcoming in Urban Citizenship and American Democracy: The Historical and Institutional Roots of Local Politics and Policy by Amy Bridges and Michael Javen Fortner (SUNY Press). She is co-author of a Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies report on the contemporary status of voting rights in the United States that was presented during the 50th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March in Selma, Alabama.

Brown-Dean is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Quinnipiac University and was the Peter Strauss Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from The Ohio State University in 2003 and a B.A. in Government from The University of Virginia in 1998. Khalilah is featured in Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40” list and was recognized by the State Conference of NAACP Branches as one of the 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut. In 2014 she was appointed to serve on the Health Transition Committee for New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp. In that capacity she advocated for the City of New Haven in general, and the Health Department in particular, to better address the public health dimensions of ex-offender re-entry with a particular emphasis on the challenges facing women, children, and those battling addiction. She received the Legacy Award from the National Association of Blacks in Law Enforcement and was a finalist for The’s “People’s Choice Award” for her lasting impact on underrepresented communities. Most recently she was named the 2015 recipient of the Leadership Award from Connecticut’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission.

Professor Brown-Dean has dedicated much of her time to promoting greater civic engagement among overlooked communities. She is a founding member of the Unity Voter Empowerment Campaign and has raised over $50,000 in scholarships for students in the Greater New Haven community as Second Vice President and Fundraising Chairman for the Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She previously served as Chairman of the Foundation Committee for the New Haven Chapter of Jack and Jill of America where she oversaw efforts to engage young people in philanthropy and community service. She now serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven which distributes over $20 million in annual grants. She has held appointed and elected positions in various professional organizations including the American Political Science Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers.

Brown-Dean was named a 2009 Senior Justice Advocacy Fellow by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. The findings of her research helped guide community mobilization efforts during recent campaign to abolish the death penalty in multiple states. Spurred by the murder of her cousin, Brian Anthony Patterson, and the wrongful execution of Troy Davis, she works with legislators, activists, and community groups to advocate on behalf of victims’ families. In 2012 Ebony Magazine published her article entitled, “A Call To Community: Why We Cannot Wait For the Next Troy Davis.” She has testified before legislators, lobbied on behalf of murder victims’ families, met with state and federal officials, and appeared on numerous radio and television programs discussing the issue. In April 2012 she was invited to sit alongside other families, advocates, exonerees, and the national President of the NAACP Benjamin Todd Jealous as Connecticut became the 17th state in the country to end capital punishment. Since that time she has travelled the country speaking out against capital punishment on behalf of other murder victims’ families who seek justice rather than retribution. She strongly believes that greater attention must be paid to the needs of crime victims and their families. In July 2012 a resolution Brown-Dean wrote calling for increased awareness of and mobilization against the death penalty was officially adopted by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated at its biannual Boule meeting in San Francisco, California. She is a former Board Member of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty and was recognized in the Summer 2013 edition of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Ivy Leaf publication for her contributions to the death penalty repeal movement.

Dr. Brown-Dean is an award-winning political analyst, advisor, and commentator for numerous agencies and organizations including The New York Times, The Congressional Black Caucus, NPR, WURD, CNN, The Wall Street Journal,, Crisis Magazine, Fox News Radio,, Uptown Magazine, The Comcast Network, The Washington Post, the American Urban Radio Network, and Dominion of New York. She is a frequent guest on WNPR’s “Where We Live,” blogs as “The Chic Geek,” and shares her political musings with over 3,000 Twitter followers via @KBDPHD. She has lectured at some of the world’s leading universities including Oxford University in England.

Dr. Brown-Dean is a native of Lynchburg, Virginia and holds a key to that City. The City’s Mayor also proclaimed May 6th “Dr. Khalilah L. Brown-Dean Day.”

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