Katharine Huffman has been a principal at The Raben Group for more than 15 years with a primary expertise in criminal justice reform, civil and human rights advocacy, and evidence-based policymaking. Her work also includes forensic science reform, chemical policy reform, environmental health advocacy, and emerging applications of technology. Her client portfolio comprises multi-faceted projects that draw on political strategy, legal analysis, strategic communications, and creative outreach to a variety of people, communities, and stakeholders. Additionally, she serves as the executive director of the Square One Project at Columbia University’s Justice Lab.
Katharine has been committed to civil and human rights throughout her life, a passion that motivated her to become a lawyer. She began practicing law at the Southern Center for Human Rights as a Soros Justice Fellow, representing incarcerated people in southeastern prisons and jails facing unconstitutional conditions of confinement and abuse, or seeking access to mental and medical healthcare. Recognizing that solutions required not only the involvement of the courts, but the active participation of entire communities, her work expanded to actively engage families, advocacy organizations, corrections staff and management, churches, civic organizations, policymakers, and many more.
Katharine moved to the Drug Policy Alliance, where she was responsible for opening the organization’s first state-based office, in New Mexico; and later served as the organization’s national Director of State-based Affairs. Through this work, she developed an expertise in engaging diverse groups and bringing together broad coalitions to support state and local policy reform: people charged with drug offenses, families and community leaders, medical professionals and patients, law enforcement officials, universities and hospitals, public health practitioners, teachers, and policymakers of all political stripes. This experience with coalition-building and community engagement to achieve lasting policy change guides her work for clients at The Raben Group every day.
Katharine’s projects and clients at Raben over the years include the Innocence Project’s forensic science reform campaign; Vera Institute’s Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons; Union Theological Seminary’s amplification of progressive faith voices and values in policy and politics; Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ advocacy for responsible chemical policies; and many more.
Katharine grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and received her undergraduate degree in psychology and music from Emory University, where she was a Robert W. Woodruff Scholar. She earned her law degree from Yale Law School. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Justice Policy Institute; is a Board Member of the D.C. Corrections Information Council; and was the 2017 recipient of the D.C. Human Rights Commission’s Cornelius “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award for her contributions to advancing civil rights and commitment to criminal justice reform.