Holly A. Thomas, Deputy Director of Executive Programs

Holly A ThomasHolly A. Thomas was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on July 22, 2016, to be deputy director of executive programs at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

From 2015 to 2016, Ms. Thomas served as Special Counsel to the Solicitor General at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, representing the state of New York and state agencies in a wide variety of matters. Prior to that, she spent five years as a senior attorney in the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice, where she represented the United States in education, voting, religious freedom, disability rights, employment, USERRA, immigration, and criminal matters, and provided counsel regarding matters of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. She also served, from 2005 to 2010, as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she worked on education and criminal justice issues and was an Arthur Liman Fellow from 2005 to 2006. Ms. Thomas has presented oral arguments before the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, and the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Circuits.

Ms. Thomas is a recipient of the 2008 New York City Bar Association Thurgood Marshall Award for Capital Representation; and, from the United States Department of Justice, the 2012 Special Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Civil Rights Division for work on an appeal involving the deprivation of rights under color of law; 2013 Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for work implementing the President’s conclusion that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and warranted heightened scrutiny; 2014 Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Department’s highest award for employee performance, for outstanding achievement in United States v. Windsor implementation; and the 2015 John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice for guiding the Department to its new position regarding Title VII and gender identity. She has been a frequent speaker and lecturer regarding civil rights issues.

Ms. Thomas served as a law clerk for the Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2004 to 2005. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School.