Executive Director

Ilham Askia is executive director of Gideon’s Promise, a 501(c)(3) public defender organization whose mission is to transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities. 

In this capacity, Askia has oversight of the organization’s daily operations, annual budget, strategic plan, personnel, fundraising, board development, and regulatory compliance. She is also responsible for maintaining the infrastructure that supports the programs and services that distinguish the organization as the only public defender advocacy organization that supports public defenders at every career stage. The organization’s six major programs are executed in partnership and for the benefit of 104 partner, statewide and affiliate public defender offices across 29 states and the United States Virgin Islands and 22 law schools. In five years, Askia moved the organization from an annual revenue of $800,000 to $2 million. She has also raised $3.8 million in government and foundation grants and $789,000 in corporate and philanthropic sponsorship to date.

Under Askia’s leadership Gideon’s Promise has won numerous awards including, but not limited to, Stephen B. Bright Public Defender Award, Emory University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, Southern Center for Human Rights’ Gideon’s Promise Award, The National Association of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists  Sentencing Project Award and the American College of Trial Lawyers Emil Gumpert Award. The organization also served as the inspiration for the award-winning HBO documentary Gideon’s Army. She is also a member of Leadership Atlanta and the Society of International Business Fellows and has been honored with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Inspiring Woman Award, and the Atlanta Hawks Most Notable Atlantan. 

Askia earned a Master’s of Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Trinity University in Washington D.C. and a Bachelor of Science degree in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with husband Jonathan and children Aaliyah and Lucas.