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Shimica Gaskins is the Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund–California (CDF-CA), a state office of the national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman. CDF-CA champions programs and policies that ensure a level playing field for the most vulnerable children and youth in California; Shimica is responsible for leading the organization in its growth and sustainability, policy and advocacy priorities, and programming.

Before joining the CDF-CA, Shimica worked in law and public policy specializing in legislative, regulatory, and policy issues associated with criminal justice reform and children’s rights. Most recently, she served as the Director of Policy and Outreach for The Fair and Just Prosecution Project—a program supporting newly elected prosecutors committed to innovative criminal justice reform policies. She formerly served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where she worked to develop and implement innovative policy initiatives in areas such as criminal justice reform and issues affecting children with incarcerated parents. 

Prior to joining the DOJ, Gaskins was in private practice at Covington & Burling LLP where she managed complex civil litigation. She clerked for the Honorable Roger L. Gregory on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Honorable Victoria A. Roberts on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  

Born in Lake City, South Carolina, Shimica earned her Bachelor of Arts cum laude in philosophy from the Catholic University of America and her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area with her husband and their two children.