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Laleh Ispahani

Acting Deputy Director, U.S. Programs, Open Society Foundations


Open Society Foundations, U.S. Programs (2008-present)
Acting Deputy Director & Democracy Director

Laleh Ispahani is a lawyer and advocate specializing in U.S. democracy and human rights issues. At OSF, she supports the Executive Director of U.S. Programs with administration of the 70-person program. She also leads a team that develops strategies aimed at ensuring a more inclusive and accountable democracy. We support organizations that seek to protect and expand voting rights; ensure fair, independent and diverse courts; reduce the undue influence of money on politics; produce high-quality enterprise journalism; and ensure that the internet remains an open and secure platform for free expression and civic participation. In related grantmaking, we fund organizations seeking to ensure that national security policies respect human rights. Most recently, she has been responsible for launching and operationalizing OSF’s U.S.-focused anti-hate initiative. Externally, Laleh has led the U.S.-based Funders’ Committee on Civic Participation and served on the Steering Committee of a democracy funders collaborative.
Before joining OSF, Ms. Ispahani spent six years as senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union working on racial justice and human rights, where she sought to reverse felony disenfranchisement policies, and worked with allies on a national campaign that used public education and advocacy, litigation, and federal and state executive and legislative reform. As part of that work, she produced a documentary film, Democracy’s Ghosts, and published in academic and popular journals. Prior to joining the ACLU, Ms. Ispahani litigated campaign finance reform issues at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Laleh received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Human Rights