Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.

President & CEO

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Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.

President & CEO

Ryan P. Haygood is a nationally respected civil rights lawyer.

As President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Ryan leads a team of advocates who harness community engagement, research, writing, public education, policy and litigation to build reparative systems that create wealth, justice and power for Black, Brown and other people of color.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute’s advocacy has become a model for states as places to build community power from the ground up.

While Jim Crow-like voter suppression has swept across America in recent years, Ryan and his team successfully championed the restoration of the vote to 83,000 people on probation and parole, a right denied since 1844; the establishment of online voter registration and early voting; and the end to prison-based gerrymandering. Ryan also led the Institute’s litigation efforts to defeat the Trump campaign’s challenge to New Jersey’s voting accommodations during the COVID pandemic and to ensure that voters’ ballots would not be rejected for signature mismatch reasons.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute has also become a leader on New Jersey’s racial wealth gap, publishing original racial wealth data and championing policies to close the state’s vast wealth disparities, including the $15 minimum wage. Ryan oversees the Institute’s advocacy to expand homeownership opportunities; establish fair appraisal policies; and cancel student loan debt – as well as the Institute’s first-of-its-kind Say the Word: Reparations campaign for a state reparations task force.

Ryan has also led the Institute to the forefront of creating solutions to reduce the footprint of law enforcement and help keep communities safe.

Following Darnella Frazier’s courageous recording of George Floyd’s murder, the Institute championed the call for a statewide First Amendment policy to protect the right to record police conduct without intimidation, a policy subsequently established by the Attorney General. The Institute’s advocacy also led to the historic closure announcement for two of New Jersey’s youth prisons and an $8.4 million investment in youth restorative justice hubs in communities most impacted by youth incarceration.

Ryan has also spearheaded the Institute’s membership on the Independent Monitoring Team overseeing the Newark Police Division’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. In that role, the Institute centered community engagement in the development of 16 new policies designed to bring about the transformation in policing that Newark residents have urged since the 1967 Newark Rebellion. The Institute and partners also championed the passage of an independent prosecutor bill to address police misconduct.

Prior to leading the Institute, Ryan served as Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he worked for more than a decade and litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. In two of those cases, he defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act before the United States Supreme Court. He also led LDF’s successful challenge to Texas’ racially discriminatory photo ID law, leading to the first ruling of its kind when a federal district court struck down Texas’s photo ID law as intentionally racially discriminatory, a violation of the Voting Rights Act and an unconstitutional poll tax.

Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, social justice, democracy and power. Ryan received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and B.A. in American History and Political Science cum laude from Colorado College, where he was nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship and earned academic and athletic All-American and hall of fame honors as a football player. Ryan is a Trustee and Vice-Chair of the Board of Colorado College and a member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Featured Work by Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.