Managing Director, Open Society – U.S.
Laleh Ispahani serves as Managing Director of Open Society Foundation for the U.S. (OSUS), the US component of the largest foundation dedicated to advancing justice, democratic governance, and human rights in the United States and globally. Laleh is a recognized expert on protecting and expanding the right to vote, reducing the influence of money on politics, and ensuring that the internet remains an open and secure platform for free expression and civic participation. Last year, she created and co-chaired the Partnership for Safe Voting, the largest philanthropic partnership in American history to protect voting in the face of the pandemic, voter suppression, and disinformation. She oversees $250 million in annual investments in efforts to advance racial equality, inclusive democracy, and combatting hate, including major initiatives to combat Islamophobia, protect net neutrality, and challenge corporate consolidation of media and data. Before joining the Open Society Foundations, Ms. Ispahani served as senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she worked on racial justice and human rights. Her work included developing a framework to apply international human rights principles to domestic racial justice issues, using disenfranchisement as the test case. She previously litigated campaign finance reform issues at the Brennan Center for Justice, serving on the trial team that successfully defended the McCain-Feingold Finance Reform Act. Her recent writings include: Biden Executive Actions Make Unity Possible for Americans, How I explain Trump’s Travel Ban to My Daughter; Shoring Up a Democracy under Siege; What’s Needed Nationally and Fast to Stop Wisconsin From Replicating; Will the Surge in Social Activism Result in More Votes? She is a Fellow at the World Economic Forum, serving on its Global Futures Council on Systemic Inequality & Social Cohesion, a Board Member at the American Economic Liberties Project, and leads philanthropic associations including the Democracy Funders’ Group and previously, the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation. Laleh was born and raised in Pakistan and Iran, through times of war, revolution and martial law. She has made New York City home, where she is raising a daughter with a Nordic husband. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.