Genevieve Jones-Wright
Genevieve Jones-Wright. Campaign photo

A San Diego-based nonprofit has hired Geneviéve Jones-Wright, the former public defender who lost a race last year for San Diego County district attorney to Summer Stephan.

Jones-Wright will be the first legal director of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans.

“We are thrilled to bring Geneviéve’s expertise, leadership and fierce drive to PANA’s fight to secure human rights, justice and freedom for everyone in San Diego,” said Ramla Sahid, executive director of PANA.

“In a time where our refugee and immigrant communities are under constant attack from hateful rhetoric and policies, Geneviéve will help create cutting-edge refugee and racial justice policy and litigation to serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

The group said Jones-Wright would help PANA develop human rights and national security impact litigation.

She will also lead PANA in creating a rapid response legal infrastructure in the region to respond what the group calls growing, urgent threats to Muslim, asylum-seeking and refugee communities, including increased law enforcement harassment and requests for meetings with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, prolonged detention for asylum seekers, criminal charges with immigration consequences.

“Every person, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status, has a right to equal protection and justice under the law,” said Jones-Wright. “Unfortunately, our refugee and immigrant communities are being targeted, overpoliced and oversurveilled. As the new legal director of PANA, I am excited and energized to get to work with these communities and defend their rights in San Diego County.”

Jones-Wright comes to PANA after serving as a deputy public defender in San Diego County for 13 years, representing individuals charged with serious criminal offenses. In June 2018, she lost to interim DA Stephan by a vote of 62.7% to 37.3%.

Jones-Wright serves on San Diego’s Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, where she chairs the ad-hoc committee on gang documentation.

She also serves on the board of The David’s Harp Foundation, an organization that radically transforms the lives of “at-risk” and homeless youth through the power of music.

Jones-Wright is a volunteer attorney with the California Innocence Project, 2nd vice president of the San Diego branch of the NAACP, and vice president of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association.

Jones-Wright earned her B.A. in mass media communications from the University of San Francisco, J.D. from Howard University School of Law, and LL.M. in trial advocacy specializing in federal criminal defense from California Western School of Law.

A native San Diegan, Jones-Wright grew up and lives in the Southeast San Diego community.