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Deborah J. Vagins is the Senior Legislative Counsel on civil rights issues for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office. In this position, Ms. Vagins leads the office’s advocacy efforts on pending federal legislation and executive branch actions concerning employment discrimination and pay equity, voting rights, and the school-to-prison pipeline. She works closely with coalition partners and key congressional, White House, and agency staff to advance a federal civil rights agenda. Ms. Vagins has been instrumental in advocating for major civil rights laws, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and co-chairs several national coalitions advocating for passage of bills such as the Paycheck Fairness Act. Ms. Vagins’ words and work have been featured by The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, C-SPAN, Washington Post, AP, CQ, NPR, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and others. Prior to joining the ACLU in 2005, Ms. Vagins served as the acting deputy general counsel and senior attorney-advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The general counsel's office provided recommendations to the White House, Congress and federal agencies to improve national civil rights policies and preserve constitutional protections. Before working at the commission, Ms. Vagins was an associate in the employment discrimination and civil rights practice group at Cohen Milstein, where she litigated high-profile nationwide civil rights class actions, including representing the women of Wal-Mart. Prior to that, Ms. Vagins was an associate at Sidley & Austin in the civil, criminal, and constitutional litigation practice group and founded the firm’s Committee for the Recruitment and Retention of Women.

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