Civil Rights Attorney • Faculty Director, Voter Access & Engagement Initiative, Washington University
2021 Speaker • 2022 Guest Speaker

St. Louis, Missouri

Denise Lieberman is a civil rights attorney and nationally recognized expert on voting rights. Most recently serving as Director of the Power & Democracy Program at Advancement Project National Office in Washington DC, Denise is also Faculty Director of the Voter Access and Engagement Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis. A renowned constitutional and civil rights lawyer for almost 25 years, Lieberman has been at the forefront of voting rights debates in her home state of Missouri and across the country. 

As Director of Advancement Project’s Power & Democracy Program, Denise oversaw the organization’s Voter Protection and Right to Vote initiatives. She has litigated challenges to Photo ID laws in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, where she was counsel to the NAACP in a challenge to the state’s “monster” voter suppression law that the court found targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” She has prepared testimony for the U.S. Senate Judiciary and House Administration Committees of Congress - most recently testifying before the House in Fall 2019 in support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act. She has also prepared testify to legislatures in several states and has been featured as a voting expert on MSNBC, CNN, PBS, the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and others. She is currently litigating a challenge to Missouri’s photo ID, and recently successfully settled a federal lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act. She has worked to address the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, working to advance rights restoration campaigns in Florida and Virginia. She also served as counsel in an appeal to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Louisiana citizens who are on probation or parole.

In Missouri, Denise coordinates the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, a grass-roots coalition of more than three dozen organizations statewide. There, she organizes the non-partisan Election Protection efforts in the state, which includes hundreds of volunteers who respond to hotline calls and monitor polls and ensure voters can cast a ballot on Election Day. 

Denise is also Faculty Director of the Voter Access and Engagement Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is also an adjunct professor of law and political science teaching courses on constitutional law and voting rights. Before joining Advancement Project in 2006, Denise served as the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, where she litigated constitutional and civil liberties cases. 
In the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Denise served as co-chair of the Don’t Shoot Coalition, a coalition of 50 St. Louis-area organizations calling for policing reforms. She brought a federal lawsuit on behalf of Ferguson protesters that secured a historic restraining order against indiscriminate use of tear gas on demonstrators. 

Denise is a recipient of the 2018 Ina Boone Social Justice Award from the NAACP; the 2018 Lead OUT Loud Award at the Midwest LGBTQ Law Conference; the 2015 National Human Rights Award from T’Ruah the rabbinic call for human rights; the 2015 Hannah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women; 2015 Martin Luther King Award from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the St. Louis Human Rights Coalition; the Democracy in Action Award from the American Jewish Congress; the 2009 Spirit of Martin Luther King Award and others. Denise serves as Voting Rights Chair for the Missouri NAACP, on the Board of NARAL Pro Choice Missouri, on the Worker Rights Board of Jobs with Justice, as general counsel for PROMO (Missouri’s LGBT rights organization) and on the St. Louis African American-Jewish Task Force.