ERA Welcomes Prominent Civil Rights Leader Deborah J. Vagins as National Campaign Director 

April 10. 2023

For Immediate Release
Apr 10, 2023

Media Contact
Jess Eagle
[email protected]

Deborah Vagins joins Equal Rights Advocates with decades of experience leading national efforts to advance women’s rights with a focus on economic and racial justice issues

Deborah J. Vagins

San Francisco, April 10, 2023 – Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), one of the nation’s leading organizations advocating for gender justice, today announced the hire of Deborah J. Vagins as its National Campaign Director. For decades, Vagins has been a guiding voice in advocating for civil and women’s rights at the federal level. At this critical moment for civil and constitutional rights in this country, Vagins’ expertise will energize ERA’s high-impact advocacy campaigns across the nation for gender justice. These include Equal Pay Today, a collaborative initiative with dozens of organizations working across the states and federally to close the gender, racial, and LGBTQ+ pay gap.

“Deborah is a vastly accomplished leader with strategic vision, deep legal expertise and the ability to build power among partners,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates and Chair of Equal Pay Today. “She is exactly what this movement and Equal Rights Advocates needs right now. We are ecstatic to bring her aboard.”

Deborah’s career spans nonprofit leadership, federal policy, and civil rights, economic justice, and educational equity advocacy. Prior to joining ERA, she was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), where she led the organization’s work to create a social, political, and economic environment in which domestic violence no longer exists.

“I am looking forward to contributing to the important mission of ERA as we continue to address the barriers to equality, like pay inequity, harassment at work and school, occupational segregation, and other forms of discrimination.” – Deborah Vagins

She helped craft NNEDV’s vision to identify emerging issues in the field in order to develop policy, economic justice, housing, and technology solutions to support survivors. Deborah also served as the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Research at the American Association of University Women where she oversaw the federal and state policy work and co-led the national Paycheck Fairness Act coalition and the organization’s fight against the Administration’s rollback of sexual assault and harassment protections in schools. 

Before AAUW, she was a Chief of Staff and Principal Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she served as an agency liaison to the White House Equal Pay Task Force and helped develop the EEOC’s pay data collection initiative and new guidance on retaliation and pregnancy discrimination. 

Prior to the EEOC, Deborah was at the ACLU as their senior legislative council on civil rights, and was instrumental in advocating for the passage of major civil rights laws and executive branch actions, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and the Obama-era executive order banning retaliation for wage disclosure and ordering pay data collection. Earlier in her career she was an associate at Cohen Milstein, where she represented more than 1.5 million women from Wal-Mart in the largest Title VII employment discrimination class action in history.  

“I am thrilled to join ERA to lead their national campaigns in the fight to achieve gender and racial equity in employment and education. I am honored to join Noreen, the incredible ERA team, the Board, and our external partners as we innovate and grow our nationwide work, including the Equal Pay Today Campaign and the Stop Harassment State Network,” said Deborah J. Vagins. “I have devoted my professional life to civil rights, economic justice, and survivor justice through systemic change. I am looking forward to contributing to the important mission of ERA as we continue to address the barriers to equality, like pay inequity, harassment at work and school, occupational segregation, and other forms of discrimination.”



About Equal Rights Advocates

Equal Rights Advocates fights for gender justice in workplaces and schools across the country. Since 1974, they have been fighting on the front lines of social justice to protect and advance rights and opportunities for women, girls, and people of all gender identities through groundbreaking legal cases and bold legislation that sets the stage for the rest of the nation.

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