Karen A. Newton ColeExecutive Director

Karen A. Newton Cole

Karen A. Newton Cole is the Executive Director of Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP) of the District of Columbia. She has served as NLSP’s chief executive since July 2017. Under her leadership, NLSP has expanded its SE presence – opening a neighborhood law office with attorneys from 3 practice areas and launched a new practice, the Economic Security Unit. In 2018, Ms. Newton Cole initiated NLSP’s Community Share Sessions to obtain input from NLSP clients and DC communities. In 2018, Ms. Newton Cole received the Advocate for Justice Award from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Currently, Ms. Newton Cole serves as the Co-Chair of the DC Consortium of Legal Services Providers. 

Prior to joining NLSP, Ms. Newton Cole was a member of the Senior Executive Service with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for almost 20 years. While at HUD, she served in several key leadership roles including as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Troubled Agency Recovery in the Office of Public and Indian Housing, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Operations and Management in the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, the Director of the Office of Receivership Oversight, the Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer and the Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Ms. Newton Cole began her legal career at NLSP as a Staff Attorney and then became the Managing Attorney of the lower northwest Neighborhood Law Office. She was a member (partner) at the law firm Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC, a public interest law firm that specialized in representing non-profit organizations with particular emphasis on housing related matters.  Her practice included legislative advocacy on public and Indian housing issues, representation of local cooperatives and low-income tenant organizations, and litigation in the areas of housing and employment law.   

Ms. Newton Cole graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and received her Juris Doctor from Antioch School of Law.  She is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (inactive).  In 2007, Ms. Newton Cole was awarded a Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

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