Vanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
She has been working to advance civil rights her entire career. Before joining The Leadership Conference in June 2017, Gupta served as Acting Assistant Attorney General and head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama as the chief civil rights prosecutor for the United States, Gupta oversaw a wide range of criminal and civil enforcement efforts to ensure equal justice and protect equal opportunity for all during one of the most consequential periods for the division.
Under Gupta’s leadership, the division did critical work in a number of areas, including advancing constitutional policing and criminal justice reform; prosecuting hate crimes and human trafficking; promoting disability rights; protecting the rights of LGBTQ individuals; ensuring voting rights for all; and combating discrimination in education, housing, employment, lending, and religious exercise.
Prior to joining the Justice Department, Gupta served as Deputy Legal Director and the Director of the Center for Justice at the American Civil Liberties Union. She joined the ACLU in 2006 as a staff attorney. Gupta began her legal career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Gupta graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and received her law degree from New York University School of Law, where later she taught a civil rights litigation clinic for several years.
Nick Shores is a hate crime survivor who was attacked at an apartment complex swimming pool for being gay. The assault left Nick with cracked and broken bones and a still-lingering traumatic brain injury. The attacker pleaded guilty to one count of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury and Nick’s story has become of the troublingly rare instances of a successful hate crime prosecution under Colorado Hate Crimes Law.