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Joia Erin Thornton
National Policy Strategist

Joia Erin Thornton

Joia Erin Thornton joined SCHR in January 2021 in partnership with the 8th Amendment Project for movement building in the role of National Policy Strategist in Capital Litigation & Smart Justice. Joia is an avid civil rights activist, writer, historian, and policy leader. Joia grew up in both Memphis, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana; two cities on the mighty Mississippi river riddled with class, race, and educational disparities which heavily impact her passion and work toward the progression of civil and human rights.

An ample amount of Joia’s work is dedicated to connecting faith leaders, grassroots activists, litigators, and legislators together for statewide and nationwide policy alignment. A few of her speaking engagements include being a panelist for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund – Capital Punishment Conference, the National Civil Rights Museum Journey to Justice Symposium, and The NBA Cares-Memphis Grizzlies social justice panel.

Joia attended Dillard University and graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in English and French. She also holds a Master of Public Administration-Policy & Legal Studies from the University of Memphis. Joia was selected as a cohort member of the 2021 Leadership Memphis Executive class. Joia’s fervent passion is to advocate for vulnerable and marginalized groups, foster progressive policy strategies, and leverage power against implicit and explicit systemic biases.