Mary Bauer, who has directed the Southern Poverty Law Center's Immigrant Justice Project since its inception in 2004, has been named as the SPLC's new legal director, effective Aug. 1.
During her tenure at the SPLC, Bauer has directed groundbreaking lawsuits aimed at enforcing the rights of immigrants, foreign guestworkers and migrant farmworkers.
"Mary is an incredibly talented advocate who is committed to protecting the civil rights of the most vulnerable people in our society," said SPLC President Richard Cohen. "We're delighted that she's taking the reins of our legal staff."
Bauer has devoted her career to representing those who have no other champions. Before joining SPLC, she was the legal director of the Virginia Justice Center for Farm and Immigrant Workers, the legal director of the Virginia ACLU and an attorney for a legal services program. She graduated from the College of William and Mary and earned her law degree from the University of Virginia in 1990. She is a former Skadden Fellow.
Bauer is the author of two SPLC reports that gained national attention — Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States and Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South. She also has testified before Congress on issues involving the exploitation of migrant workers.
Bauer replaces Rhonda Brownstein, the SPLC's legal director since 2001. Brownstein is leaving the SPLC to be closer to her parents, who live in the Northeast.
The legal director guides the SPLC's legal advocacy, which includes impact litigation in state and federal courts, public policy advocacy and legislative reform.