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Meet Tracie

Tracie L. Washington is a very proud native New Orleanian (Mercy Academy ’81), with deep roots in Louisiana. Tracie graduated in 1985 from Carleton College, and was the recipient of a Title IX Fellowship at Drake University, where in 1986 she was awarded a Master of Public Administration degree and elected to Pi Alpha Alpha. She moved to Austin, Texas and in 1989 Tracie received her juris doctor from The University of Texas School of Law.

For over 20 years Tracie has maintained a general civil practice concentrated in education law, civil rights, and labor and employment law, including both traditional labor-management relations and counseling and litigation in connection with disputes between employers and individuals in the non-union setting. She has served as General Counsel to the Austin, Texas transit system – Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and to the New Orleans Public Schools system. Since 1989, Tracie has authored numerous papers and traveled throughout the country speaking on education law, employment law, civil rights, and social justice. She is the principal consultant with HIGHER GROUND CONSULTANTS(www.highergroundconsultants.com), a catalyst for community change and non-profit organizational development.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Tracie was forced to evacuate the city with her son. They moved to Beaumont, Texas, living in a hotel and with friends until Hurricane Rita forced a second evacuation to Austin, Texas. Tracie and her son moved three times while living in Austin, and eventually decided to return to New Orleans in early December 2005.

Post Hurricane Katrina/Hurricane Rita, Tracie’s practice has focused on protecting the civil rights of individuals affected by this national catastrophe. Tracie has been counsel in several cases involving the rights of New Orleans Katrina survivors, including:Kirk vs. City of New Orleans and Ray Nagin, litigating the rights of all New Orleans home-owners to constitutionally guaranteed notice and opportunity to be heard prior to their houses being bulldozed; Lott vs. Orleans Parish School Board, litigating the rights of returning New Orleans Public Schools students to immediate re-enrollment and admission to publically funded Orleans Parish Schools; ACORN et al. vs. Kathleen Blanco, Governor – State of Louisiana, litigating the voting rights of New Orleans evacuees and their right to equal access to the franchise as promised by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution; Joshua et al. vs. City of New Orleans and Mayor Ray Nagin, a second class action case on behalf of New Orleans residents whose homes have been demolished and are slated to be demolished without prior notice and opportunity for hearing; LeBlanc et al. vs. Thomas, et al., the landmark class action suit demanding the state of Louisiana re-open Charity Hospital, the only public hospital serving the New Orleans regional area and closed after Katrina, leaving poor and mostly minority residents without access to full healthcare services; David et al. vs. Signal International, et al., the lawsuit and accompanying campaign to end Indian-immigrant worker exploitation in Gulf Coast area shipyards; and, most recently the Chisum/Johnson vs. Jindal voting rights litigation, which in 2012 resulted in a ruling that elevated Louisiana’s first African-American Supreme Court Chief Justice, Bernette Johnson.

Tracie serves as Co-Director of Louisiana Justice Institute (LJI), a nonprofit human rights organization and law firm devoted to fostering social justice campaigns across Louisiana, concentrating in the Gulf Coast region (www.LouisianaJusticeInstitute.org). LJIworks within communities, amongst residents, the public sector, business, and civil society, serving as a catalyst for change through empowerment and consensus. In the past four years, LJI has convened meetings of stakeholders to develop solutions concerning race and inequity in redevelopment, public education of special needs students, public housing residents and, most recently, forums of healthcare reform and economic development. In December 2009, LJI convened NOLA Kitchen Table, a diverse coalition whose mission is to identify the critical issues and opportunities facing New Orleans, and create for distribution report (the Blueprint) of specific recommendations for the future of the city.

In addition to her work with LJI, Tracie is the Principal Consultant with Higher Ground Consultants, LLC (www.HigherGroundConsultants.com), which works with community-based organizations, education non-profits, foundations, intermediaries, government agencies, and private corporations to make possible community change and growth through facilitated communications, strategic planning, organizational development, research and evaluation.

Tracie also represents the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School for Science and Technology, serves as Vice-President of the Board of Treme Charter School Association, and as Chair of the Board of Agenda for Children. Tracie is involved in a wide range of community activities, including the Junior League of New Orleans, Trinity Episcopal Church, the Carrollton Boosters, and the Omicron Nu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. She serves as a Board Member of GertTown Revival Initiative and Louisiana Housing Alliance. Tracie has received numerous state, local, and national leadership and civil rights awards, and she has concludeda Fellowship in Effective Leadership with the United States-Southern African Center for Leadership and Public Values of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University & Southern University, led by Ambassador James Joseph; and served as a Loyola University Institute of Politics Fellow for 2010-2011. In line with her deep commitment to facilitated dispute resolution, especially involving marginalized communities and communities of color in issues of education, housing, and economic development, has been selected as an American Arbitration Association Higginbotham Fellow for 2011-12.

Tracie was named by MSNBC’s TheGrio, as one of its 100 History Makers in the Making (http://www.thegrio.com/black-history/), and The Root, a daily online magazine published by Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive and edited by prominent academic Henry Louis Gates Jr, named Tracie one of its “Twenty Leading Black Women Advocating Change.”She was featured prominently in Spike Lee’s documentary “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise,” and Tracie has been featured on national talk shows, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, CNN Morning Edition, PBS NewsHour, and Fox Hannity &Colmes. And in November 2012, Tracie received the Torchbearer’s Award from the Greater New Orleans Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, an honor she treasures.

And last, but certainly not least, Tracie is the proud mother of one son, Jacob Matthew, a future civil rights leader and student at Grinnell College. Jacob is owner of NolaGoodies (www.NolaGoodies.com), a New Orleans bakery, where Tracie is “employed” as Chief Goodie-Baker.