Katie Blankenship

Katie Blankenship is the inaugural senior director of PEN America’s new Florida office. She oversees advocacy in defense of free expression, including strategies for educating and empowering writers and other communities, in the state that has led the nation in book bans and education gag orders that limit what can be taught and learned in public classrooms. The new presence in Florida was funded by a group of bestselling writers who came together to fight censorship in Florida.

Katie came to PEN America from the ACLU of Florida, where she served as deputy legal director and focused on developing integrated advocacy strategies to defend free speech and immigrants’ rights. She created a First Amendment campaign to address the censorship crisis in Florida, managed the immigrants’ rights campaign and created the ACLU of Florida’s Detention Program to combat rampant abuses in the state’s immigrant detention centers.

Katie studied cultural anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and has a Masters in Humanities from New York University. She was a member of the Belmont University College of Law’s 2014 charter class, where she served as a founding member of the Belmont Law Review and the founder and president of the Belmont Legal Aid Society. After law school, Katie served as a judicial law clerk in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Prior to joining the ACLU of Florida, Katie was a civil litigation attorney with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP, representing international clients in cross-border disputes and maintaining a robust pro bono practice. Prior to practicing law, Katie served as a director of children’s music programs and summer rock and roll camps.

Recent Publications

Critics call updated training for public school librarians on book challenges confusing
Florida Phoenix, May 2024

Once again, Florida leaders side with book banners
Tallahassee Democrat, April 2024

Katie Blankenship, Sophia Brown: Advocates are fighting Florida censorship (and winning)
Florida Politics, April 2024

What to know about a settlement that clarifies what’s legal under Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law
AP, March 2024

Educational censorship in Florida has gone too far, and DeSantis knows it
Miami Herald, March 2024

Welcome to Florida podcast: Book Bans
Welcome to Florida, Episode 194, March 2024

Coalition of 20 Groups Press Lawmakers to Reject Florida Teacher Training Bill
PEN America, February 2024

Anti-Diversity Law Will Inflict Harm Across Florida
PEN America, February 2024

Florida’s latest ideological battle ground: teacher training
Sun Sentinel, January 2024

The Good Fight for Books
inweekly, January 24, 2024

Florida is about to seriously damage its universities. Speak up before it’s too late
Miami Herald, January 12, 2024

Why I’m Helping Floridians Fight Back Against the State’s Censorship
The Daily Beast, November 27, 2023

Meet the woman picked to head the campaign to combat Florida book bans
Tallahassee Democrat, November 21, 2023