Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
Katherine Culliton-González was appointed by President Biden to serve as Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on January 20, 2021. Reporting directly to the Secretary, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) supports the mission of the Department to secure the Nation while preserving our values, including liberty, fairness, and equality under the law. To do this, CRCL advises on civil rights implications of DHS policy, receives complaints and provides recommendations to DHS components, and conducts community engagement about civil and human rights matters. CRCL also leads the Department's equal employment opportunity and diversity programs and initiatives.
Ms. Culliton-González brings more than 25 years of cutting-edge civil and human rights expertise, as well as significant strategic leadership experience to this role. She most recently served as Director of the Office of Civil Rights Evaluation of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where she led a team in investigating and drafting a series of 12 comprehensive reports issued to Congress and the American public on a wide range of civil rights issues, including hate crimes, immigration, sexual harassment, voting rights, Native American rights, and police use of force, as well as a review of the performance of the civil rights offices of 13 federal agencies, including CRCL. Prior to that, she served as Senior Counsel at Dēmos, where she led work on constitutional protections for immigrants and their families at the state and local level, and as Director of the Voter Protection Program at Advancement Project, where she led a team in litigation, communications and advocacy strategies in racial justice efforts.
Katherine previously served at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where she brought a series of cases to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act regarding language access and racial discrimination. Further, while serving as Special Counsel for Immigrants’ Rights and Access to Justice at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), she provided Congressional testimony about the need for DHS to have a dedicated and effective Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. In private practice in the Latin American group at Arnold & Porter, she led pro bono work on behalf of the Central American community in Washington, D.C., and provided human rights law training for the International Association of Women Judges.
Throughout her career, Katherine developed highly impactful, community-based civil rights strategies, and she has also written and spoken widely about civil and human rights, in English and Spanish. She is a nationally-recognized expert on civil rights in the context of changing demographics.
After graduating as valedictorian of the 1993 law class at American University, she was a Fulbright Scholar and taught human rights law in Spanish in Chile from 1993-1994, during the transition to democracy. Her scholarship advanced women’s rights as human rights and was used to support the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (Belem do Pará). Katherine has also served in recent years as a volunteer Chair of the Civil Rights Section of the Hispanic National Bar Association. She and her husband are the proud parents of three bilingual children.