Gina Clayton

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Gina Clayton

2014 Global Fellow
Founder of Essie Justice Group

Gina Clayton 2014 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Build a women-led movement to end mass incarceration by uniting, supporting, and empowering women with incarcerated loved ones.



Essie Justice Group is a national organization of women that aims to restore family unity and safety to U.S. communities that are hardest hit by mass incarceration. For women with incarcerated loved ones, we seed loving groups across the country that focus on trauma prevention and healing, financial literacy, and advocacy training. We unify and activate our on-the-ground groups through an innovative online platform that provides toolkits and resources, while challenging stigma and stereotypes through stories and engaging content. Leveraging women as experts, healers, and advocates, we empower communities to bring about an end to mass incarceration once and for all.


Gina Clayton is the Founder and Executive Director of Essie Justice Group, a groundbreaking nonprofit empowering women with incarcerated loved ones. For over ten years, Gina has been drawn to finding solutions to social problems that are disproportionately experienced by communities of color, women, and the poor. Before the age of 25 she led, grew, and mobilized an over 200-member NAACP chapter in Los Angeles, and was elected to the NAACP National Board. In 2010 Gina won an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to design and implement a housing defense practice at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem in New York City. Gina represented over one hundred low-income women in eviction cases and ran community clinics. In law school, she served as Co Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Gina is the recipient of the 2014 Harvard Public Service Venture Fund Seed Grant and was named a 2014 Soros Justice Fellow. Gina holds a BA in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California and a JD from Harvard Law School.

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