Press Releases

June 10, 2013

Public Counsel Supports the Nomination of Catherine Lhamon to Lead U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Effort


LOS ANGELES - Today President Obama announced the nomination of Public Counsel Director of Impact Litigation Catherine Lhamon to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education. Lhamon joined Public Counsel as its first Director of Impact Litigation in 2009 and spearheaded litigation on behalf of Los Angeles schoolchildren, families in public housing, farm workers facing heat-related death and illness, and many others.

As Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Lhamon would direct the Office of Civil Rights and lead the Department of Education's work to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights. The Office of Civil Rights serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting systemic solutions to civil rights problems.

Her nomination must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

"Catherine Lhamon is a world-class attorney who never steps away from a challenge where our children's futures are concerned. She is also a problem-solver who brings people together for better schools. She has worked alongside teachers, parents, community members and school leaders to deliver our nation's promise of opportunity to every child,” said Hernán D. Vera, Public Counsel President and CEO.

Vera continued: "Catherine's civil rights legacy in California is remarkable, not just in education but in all areas. Children have textbooks and schools in condition for teaching and learning today because of her work on Williams v. California. Students who faced losing more than 70% of their teachers to budget-based layoffs have stability for the first time in years due to Reed v. State. Thousands have benefited from her passionate pursuit of equality in areas of housing, employment and public safety. Civil rights is not a battle in the past, it is a fight for the future of our schools. America's students, parents and educators could not have a stronger champion.”

“I am delighted by Catherine's nomination as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Department of Education,” said David Johnson, founder of Act 4 Entertainment, past Public Counsel board chair and member of the advisory group for Public Counsel’s Impact Litigation Group. “Catherine built Public Counsel's Impact Litigation Group from an idea for fighting for economic justice to a reality of economic justice for school kids, working people, people who deserve a place to live and many more. Catherine is an extraordinarily talented lawyer and an even more exceptional person for her commitment to those who need it most. She will be an important asset for the Department of Education. We will miss her, but her legacy at Public Counsel and for its clients will continue.”

Before joining Public Counsel, Lhamon was Assistant Legal Director at the ACLU of Southern California. She was recognized as California Lawyer Attorney of the Year for Civil Rights in 2004, and the Daily Journal named her one of the Top 20 California Lawyers Under 40 in 2007. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School.