The Leadership Conference Education Fund Announces Its “Center for Civil Rights and Technology,” a First of Its Kind Research and Advocacy Hub

Contact: Mattie Goldman, [email protected]

Center Will Examine AI And Emerging Technologies and How They Will Impact Civil Rights

Dr. Alondra Nelson Will Serve as a Senior Advisor

WASHINGTON — Today, The Leadership Conference Education Fund launched an unprecedented initiative to create a fair, just, opportunity-rich, and rights-advancing future for all in the face of artificial intelligence with the creation of The Center for Civil Rights and Technology. The Center will serve as a convener, collaborator, and communicator on policy issues, ideas, and potential innovations that can advance, as well as protect, equity in society. Dr. Alondra Nelson — who served as deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy — will serve as a senior advisor on Civil Rights and Technology to the president and CEO, Maya Wiley.

The Center will be a pioneering hub for the civil rights community and other civil society organizations, academics, researchers, technologists, and the private sector to help shape the future we envision and demand. The Center will build on The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ advocacy on tech and AI.

We are at an historic inflection point in our fight for a country that lives up to its ideals. Artificial intelligence is that inflection point, particularly generative AI,” said Education Fund President and CEO Maya Wiley. “The rise of AI and other emerging technologies must work for people and society and not harm them. We also know that bad actors can harness AI to do real harm through disinformation, deep-fakes, and discrimination. The Center for Civil Rights and Technology is going to be a first of its kind hub that will examine how AI is going to impact civil rights, make policy recommendations, and bring people together to talk about one of the most important issues facing us today.”

“Artificial intelligence should be developed and deployed in service to humanity, to unlock discoveries and cures, and to amplify our own intelligence and capabilities,” said Dr. Alondra Nelson. “We have already seen promising feats from the use of AI, but also breathtaking failures that have magnified human biases and exacerbated societal challenges. We often think of science and technology as the hard part, and the development of technologies and tools as the difficulty. But moving from aspirational values for this technology to institutions, concepts, policies, and practices is arguably more challenging. The Leadership Conference Education Fund is stepping up at a crucial moment to help ensure civil society is leading the conversation, not just asking for a seat at the table.”

In order to begin to better understand how technology can shape an opportunity-rich, fair, and just society that recognizes and advances civil rights and positive social outcomes, and to ensure that people-centered approaches and outcomes are enabled and not encumbered by technology, The Leadership Conference Education Fund has established The Center for Civil Rights and Technology. The Center will help facilitate coordination across sectors, communities, and issue areas to identify and develop the right policies, the right content, and the right guardrails to ensure a democratic and rights-rich future.

The Center will serve as a hub for information, research, and collaboration that breaks down silos and advances understanding of opportunities and challenges from all sides of the discussion of AI. To start, the Center will include:

  • Advocacy: The Center is going to work relentlessly to ensure that when legislation, regulations, and other policies on AI and other emerging technologies are formulated, they center civil rights as a core issue.
  • Public Education: The Center will publish papers and policy positions, education tools, and materials and support active civic conversations about AI and emerging technologies in the context of civil rights advancement in all its forms, including democracy, education, economic opportunity and mobility, justice, and more.
  • Advisory Board: The Center will form an advisory group of civil rights organizations and subject matter experts to advise and guide the Center.
  • Convenings: The Center will host convenings focused on civil rights and emerging technologies.

The Center creates a new, unique space that will bring together civil rights advocates, labor, academics, technologists, the private sector, and other stakeholders to confront our rapidly evolving technological terrain. Its overarching goal is to ensure that we, the people, have a say in and are served by technological advancements that not only propel opportunity, democracy, justice, and fairness, but also remain aligned with our core American principles rather than subverting them.

The Center will play a dual role as a hub for both convening and collaboration, bringing together the civil rights community, advocates, scholars, the technology sector, and other stakeholders. Together, these diverse groups will work in concert to identify emerging issues and possibilities with advancing technologies, while at the same time advocating for regulatory and legal guardrails and protections that ensure that humanity remains primary and technology remains a tool. Moreover, the Center will actively engage in public enlightenment, offering insights into how these technological strides present multifaceted opportunities and challenges across the spectrum of AI discourse.

By addressing biases, safeguarding privacy, and promoting ethical innovation in AI and tech practices, the Center will be a beacon of hope for a future where technology empowers, not discriminates. Through this Center, we aim to harness the potential of AI for positive change while safeguarding against bias, disinformation, and discrimination.

About Dr. Alondra Nelson
Dr. Alondra Nelson, who served as deputy assistant to President Joe Biden and acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will serve as a Senior Advisor on Civil Rights and Technology to the president and CEO, Maya Wiley. Dr. Nelson is the Harold F. Linder Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. As a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a science and technology policy advisor, she has provided guidance to local, state, and federal governments, legislators, civil society, and others. Selected by Nature to its international list of ten people who shaped science in 2022, and just named to the new TIME100 AI list, she is the author of several books, most recently The Social Life of DNA, an award-winning exploration of the social implications of direct-to-consumer genetic technology. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Dr. Nelson is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Medicine, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal and state policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit