Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.

President & CEO

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Ryan P. Haygood, Esq.

President & CEO

Ryan P. Haygood, a nationally respected civil rights lawyer, is President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.

The Institute’s mission is to empower Black, Brown and other people of color by building reparative systems that create wealth, transform justice and harness democratic power in New Jersey and beyond.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute’s racial justice advocacy—powered by a dynamic team and stellar Board of Trustees—has become a model for states as places to build community power from the ground up.

The Institute led historic campaigns to strengthen and expand New Jersey’s democracy, including restoring the vote to 83,000 people on probation and parole, a right denied since 1844; establishing online voter registration and early voting; ending prison-based gerrymandering; and lowering the voting age to 16 for Newark School Board elections.

The Institute is also a leading voice on New Jersey’s staggering racial wealth gap, publishing original data and championing policies like the $15 minimum wage, universal basic income and baby bonds. The organization also works to expand homeownership opportunities, establish fair home appraisal policies and cancel student loan debt. As part of its economic justice work, the Institute convened the first-of-its-kind New Jersey Reparations Council to finally confront and repair the enduring harm from slavery in the Garden State.

Under Ryan’s leadership, the Institute has been at the forefront in the movement to reduce the footprint of law enforcement and help keep communities safe, including championing a statewide First Amendment policy to protect the right to record police conduct; a historic closure announcement for two of New Jersey’s youth prisons; and a nearly $10 million investment in youth restorative justice hubs in communities most impacted by youth incarceration.

As a member on the Independent Monitoring Team overseeing the Newark Police Division’s Consent Decree with the Department of Justice, the Institute has led the effort to center community engagement in the development of 16 new policies urged by Newark residents since the 1967 Newark Rebellion. 

Prior to leading the Institute, Ryan served as Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. This included twice serving on LDF’s team that defended the heart of the Voting Rights Act before the United States Supreme Court and successfully challenging Texas’ racially discriminatory photo ID law.

Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law,  justice, democracy and power. 

He 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 received an honorary doctorate. He also 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.