Katie Blankenship is the inaugural 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.
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Tallahassee Democrat, November 21, 2023