California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that longtime Californian and civil rights lawyer Catherine Lhamon will be his administration’s legal affairs secretary.
Lhamon is set to start her new role Jan. 7, 2019, when Newsom’s administration begins. She’ll replace outgoing Governor Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary Peter Krause, who began the role in December 2014 and was recently nominated by Brown to the Third District Court of Appeal. Lhamon’s appointment was announced at the same time that Newsom named Anthony Williams as his incoming legislative affairs secretary.
“I pledged that my Administration would reflect not only the best and brightest but the diverse talents of our state and a passion for public service and giving voice to the voiceless—and that’s exactly what Catherine and Anthony represent,” Newsom said in a press release.
Lhamon is currently Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a six-year role she was appointed to in 2016 by President Barack Obama. The commission did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Obama previously nominated Lhamon to the role of assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and served in the role from 2013 to 2017.
During that time she reached an agreement with Harvard Law School to update its sexual assault and harassment policies after an investigation from her department found the school’s handling of student complaints did not comply with Title IX.
Lhamon also litigated civil rights cases at the National Center for Youth Law, where she became of counsel in October 2017.
Prior to her roles in government, Lhamon was director of impact litigation at pro bono law firm Public Counsel, where she led efforts to grow the group’s national litigation portfolio. She spent a decade at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, where she was eventually named assistant legal director.