Maya Wiley is a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer and racial justice advocate, a Legal Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and a former top candidate for New York City Mayor in the 2021 Democratic primary. Wiley’s run for Mayor was historic. Running on a platform to make New York City a more just, fair and affordable city, she was the first woman of color to be a top contender, receiving the second highest number of first choice votes, over 200,000, in the rank choice primary. Prior to her run, Wiley had a national reputation as a forceful leader and a lengthy career singularly focused on improving the lives of people of color and low-income people, through litigation, policy advocacy, multi-racial coalition-building, and communications strategy, both outside and inside of government.
As a Legal Analyst on MSNBC during the Trump Administration, Wiley was a powerful and trusted voice for democracy, constitutional rights and norms, as well as racial and gender justice. She is a veteran of prominent national legal offices, including the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. and the Civil Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY. In these positions, Wiley litigated on access to health care, anti-discrimination and gender justice, among other important issues. Wiley served as a Senior Advisor on Race and Poverty at the Open Society Foundations, the world’s largest funder of human rights. There she helped to develop a “Southern Initiative” to support multi-racial, multi-issue organizing in low-income communities and helped to create and establish a criminal justice initiative in post-Apartheid South Africa. In the wake of the September 11th terror attacks, seeing the need for a national policy strategy organization to confront structural racism in New York and nationally, she co-founded and led the Center for Social Inclusion, a national racial justice strategy organization, which is now a part of Race Forward.
Wiley has also led in city government. As the first Black woman to serve as a Counsel to a New York City Mayor, she delivered for New York City on civil and immigrants’ rights, women and minority owned business contracts, universal broadband access and more. After leaving City Hall, she joined the New School University, where she served as the Henry Cohen Professor of Public and Urban Policy in the Milano School and the Senior Vice President for Social Justice. She founded the Digital Equity Laboratory while there, which focused on universal and inclusive broadband and digital privacy. While in those leadership roles at the New School, she also continued to serve the people of New York to advance racial equity and justice. Wiley served as Chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board, which hears police misconduct complaints. As Chair, she oversaw the complaint against former Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the Officer who killed Eric Garner, and ensuring a civilian-initiated disciplinary trial that resulted in Pantaleo’s removal from the police force. She also became a Co-Chair of the School Diversity Advisory Group, a task force appointed by the Mayor and the Schools Chancellor, where she co-led over forty leaders to devise two lengthy reports and recommendations to integrate NYC public schools and produce higher student achievement.
In addition to regular appearances on MSNBC, Wiley has written numerous opinion-editorials for major news outlets, including, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Time, Essence.com, Fast Company, and the New York Daily News. She has received numerous honors and awards. She was named one of the world’s 100 most influential leaders in Digital Government by Apolotical; “Black 100” by City and State Magazine in 2019 and it’s “Education 100” in 2020. In 2016, Good Housekeeping honored Ms. Wiley as one of their “50 over 50.” City and State magazine named Professor Wiley one of the 100 most powerful people in New York City in 2014 and in 2015. The Root.com named Professor Wiley one of their "20 Leading Black Women Social Activists Advocating Change" in 2011, and in 2009, their “Moves Power Woman.”
Wiley resides in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
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