Terrance Pitts

Trained as a lawyer, Terrance has extensive experience implementing and supporting racial justice initiatives, human rights advocacy, and criminal justice reform efforts. Terrance began his career in the criminal justice reform sector while serving as a New Voices Fellow for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty where he developed a deeper understanding of the extreme sentences and racial disparities that have become unfortunate hallmarks of the American criminal justice system.

Almost twenty years after beginning his career in the criminal justice reform movement, Terrance served as senior advisor for the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial and Ethnic Justice unit, where he managed a robust grantmaking portfolio to advance the work of dozens of grantee partners to end mass incarceration in the United States. Prior to joining the staff of the Ford Foundation, Terrance worked as a program officer for Open Society Foundations (OSF) and as an independent strategy consultant supporting the development of new criminal justice reform efforts for organizations like Borealis Philanthropy and the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law. During his tenure at OSF, Terrance allocated millions of dollars to advance death penalty abolition efforts, end juvenile life without parole, and support new police reform campaigns. While at OSF, Terrance led the development of the Foundation’s first-ever U.S.-based police reform grantmaking strategy while working closely with national and local advocates and partners like The Atlantic Philanthropies. These efforts led to a highly successful and collaborative campaign in New York City bringing together a coalition of grassroots, legal, policy, and communications organizations that won historic policy reforms. Earlier in his career, Terrance served as a research analyst and consultant for UNICEF and the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva and for Penal Reform International in Paris.

Terrance has also implemented a variety of social change projects focusing on race, class, and justice using the tools of storytelling and cultural production—including several national and local events led by Blackout for Human Rights in collaboration with a variety of artists and activists. As a documentarian and Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow, Terrance has examined the themes of incarceration, community-level violence, trauma, and healing through short film production.

Terrance received an undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University with a concentration in public policy, a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a JD from Northwestern University School of Law.