The Children’s Defense Fund – California announced last week that it has hired former Department of Justice staffer Shimica Gaskins as its executive director.
Gaskins, who will start on June 5, is replacing Alex Johnson as head of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that operates as a state office for the national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman.
With offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach, Children’s Defense Fund – California focuses on policies and programs to ensure access to quality affordable health care for children and low-income families, reforming the juvenile justice system, promoting educational equity and alleviating child poverty.
Prior to joining the Children’s Defense Fund, Gaskins served as the acting deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration. In the Office of Legal Policy, Gaskins worked alongside colleagues to develop and implement policy related to the Smart on Crime initiative, law enforcement and emerging technologies, prison reform, reentry and issues affecting children with incarcerated parents.
Gaskins also recently served as the director of policy and outreach for the Fair and Just Prosecution Project, an effort to help support prosecutors committed to implementing new criminal justice reform policies.
Gaskins replaces Alex Johnson, who departed in December after two-and-a-half years as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund – California. Johnson left to become managing director of Californians for Safety and Justice, an Oakland nonprofit that advocates for building healthier communities through criminal justice reform.