Amanda Alexander

Amanda Alexander

Founding Executive Director | Detroit Justice Center

Amanda Alexander is founding Executive Director of the Detroit Justice Center, a non-profit law firm that works alongside communities to create economic opportunities, transform the justice system, and promote just cities. Originally from Michigan, Amanda has worked at the intersection of racial justice and community development in Detroit, New York, and South Africa for more than a decade. As a 2013-2015 Soros Justice Fellow, Amanda launched the Prison & Family Justice Project at University of Michigan Law School to provide legal representation to incarcerated parents and advocate for families divided by the prison and foster care systems.

Amanda is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies and a Postdoctoral Scholar in Law at the University of Michigan. Amanda received her JD from Yale Law School, her PhD in international history from Columbia University, and her BA from Harvard College. Previously she has worked with the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, the Bronx Defenders, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Centre for Civil Society in Durban, South Africa. As an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, she assisted with litigation challenging stop-and-frisk policing. As a Fulbright-Hays Scholar, Amanda conducted research on land, housing, and inclusive cities in South Africa. Her advocacy and research have won the support of an Echoing Green Fellowship, Social Science Research Council Fellowship, Ford Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, and other fellowships and grants. Her writing has been published in The Global Mail, Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Harvard Journal of African-American Public Policy, Michigan Child Welfare Law Journal, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Review of African Political Economy, and other publications. She is an adviser to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated, has served on the national steering committee of Law for Black Lives, and is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.

Why do you believe innovations in participatory democracy are important?

I’m excited to use participatory democracy to find ways to divest from jails, prisons, and police and reinvest in solutions for safe and thriving communities.

What do you hope to see at the 2018 Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference?

I’m looking forward to learning from the wisdom of others who have been experimenting with participatory budgeting for years. And I’m excited to connect with people who want to apply these approaches to criminal justice reform and the fight to end mass incarceration.