Nora Benavidez is the director of U.S. Free Expression Programs, where she guides PEN America’s national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free expression issues.
Benavidez is a lawyer by training and, prior to joining PEN America, she worked in private practice as a civil and human rights litigator in Atlanta, Georgia. She has represented victims of unconstitutional police practices, First Amendment infringements, discrimination in public schools, and voting rights violations. In addition to her work as a litigator, Benavidez partnered with regional grassroots organizations and state and local legislative entities, advising and testifying on community-centered reforms in public safety, government transparency, criminal justice, and free speech.
Benavidez previously worked as a staff attorney at the ACLU of Georgia, where she litigated significant constitutional issues and assisted in statewide advocacy. In all aspects of her work, she sought to defend the human dignity of her clients as well as overcome legal barriers to justice.
Benavidez graduated from Emory University School of Law and received the Dean’s Public Service Award as well as the Pro Bono Service Medal. She received her BA from New York University’s Gallatin School, where she graduated magna cum laude.