Steven W. Hawkins
Chief Program Officer and Executive Vice President
Steve Hawkins began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where for nearly six years he represented African American men facing the death penalty throughout the Deep South. During this period, Steve investigated and brought litigation that led to the successful release of three Black teens who were wrongfully convicted in Tennessee.
Steve left the Legal Defense Fund to become executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty based in Washington, DC. In this role, he developed several initiatives that addressed racial disparities in capital sentencing, including a campaign that ultimately led to eradication of the death penalty for juvenile crimes.
After eight years at the NCADP, Steve moved into philanthropy, first serving as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation, specializing in a range of criminal justice issues, and then as a program executive at Atlantic Philanthropies, where his work included directing the foundation's investment in a $60 million campaign to preserve and defend human rights against national security abuses. Steve obtained his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and his law degree from New York University School of Law. He served as law clerk to the late Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.