The Leadership Conference Announces New and Expanded Executive Staff

Contact: Dena L. Craig, [email protected]

WASHINGTONThe Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund announced today new and expanded leadership on its executive team to increase and build upon successes in fighting for civil and human rights and to expand capacity to ensure technology serves society rather than undermines fairness, inclusion, and shared prosperity.

Khalid Pitts now serves as executive vice president of campaigns and programs. Koustubh “K.J.” Bagchi serves as vice president of the Center for Civil Rights and Technology. And Chris Canning and Addie Whisenant, who joined the organizations this year, serve as chief operating officer and chief of staff, respectively.

The organizations also announced that Corrine Yu, a longtime member of the organizations’ staff, will be moving into a new role as senior advisor to Chris Canning. Yu will be responsible for developing special projects related to the organizations’ history and the capture of institutional knowledge and will help the organizations grow thoughtful voices for change, including through the organizations’ internship program in addition to a new fellowship program.

“While civil rights are under attack, we are more committed than ever to an America that lives up to its ideals. With our new talent and expanded leadership, we will do more to protect democracy, ensure truth is heard over disinformation, and demand a nation where everyone has a high quality and inclusive education, the freedom to be who they are and decide when and how to start a family, and the ability to learn our histories and work together across races, religions, genders and gender identities, abilities, and all the richness of our diversity. I am very excited to announce the expansion of our senior leadership team to achieve this shared vision,” said Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund. “Together, these talented, committed leaders bring extensive and vital experience to our phenomenal staff.”

Koustubh “K.J.” Bagchi served as vice president of technology policy at the Chamber of Progress. He is a veteran of Capitol Hill and public interest organizations, which includes his role as senior policy counsel at New America’s Open Technology Institute. Bagchi has more than 10 years of experience in public policy and legislative strategy at the local, state, and federal levels and led the re-establishment of the technology, telecommunications, and media program during his tenure as senior counsel for our coalition partner Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. In addition to advising members of the Washington State Senate, Bagchi worked as legislative counsel for a D.C. city councilmember and former Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), a member of Congress who served on the influential House Appropriations Committee.

Bagchi graduated from the University of California Davis and received his law degree from Seattle University School of Law. He resides in Northern Virginia with his wife.

Khalid Pitts served as the vice president of policy, advocacy and coalitions at the Rockefeller Foundation and has worked as a senior political strategist for some of the country’s largest advocacy organizations, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Sierra Club. Pitts brings extensive issue advocacy, campaign, and coalition building experience, particularly in the areas of democracy, economic equity, gun violence prevention, and health care. Along with being a founder and executive board co-chair of Healthcare for America Now, the grassroots coalition that brought together 1000 organizations to pass, protect, and promote the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he is also the past president of USAction.

Pitts received his undergraduate degree in History from the College of the Holy Cross and his Masters in Public Health from the George Washington School of Medicine.

Addie Whisenant served as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden-Harris administration, where she oversaw internal and external communications, media relations, digital, and stakeholder engagement for the agency and served as a key advisor to Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. Prior to her time at HUD. Whisenant held several top-level roles, including serving as the Director of African American Media in the White House.

Whisenant received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass Communication from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Chris Canning served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where he oversaw operational functions including human resources, information technology, and labor relations. While at HHS, Canning also led the return to the workplace effort and coordinated diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives. Earlier in Canning’s career, he served as the chief of staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, as a public affairs consultant specializing in advocacy communications and crisis management, and in several roles at the Democratic National Committee.

Canning has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University and resides in Maryland with his spouse and three children.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 240 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit

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