Bio

Sara Totonchi is the Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), a nonprofit law firm that provides legal representation to people facing the death penalty, challenges human rights violations in prisons and jails, seeks through litigation and advocacy to improve legal representation for poor people accused of crimes, and advocates for criminal justice system reforms on behalf of those affected by the system in the Southern United States. 

Sara joined SCHR in 2001 as the Public Policy Director and became the organization’s Executive Director in 2010. For more than a decade, she has represented SCHR on a full range of criminal justice and public safety issues at the Georgia General Assembly. Sara led coalition efforts and legislative advocacy to establish Georgia’s statewide public defender system and enact criminal justice reforms, specializing in building partnerships with unlikely allies such as law enforcement, survivors of crime, and conservative elected officials.

Sara has been recognized twice as a “Top 40 Under 40”, in 2010 by Georgia Trend Magazine and in 2012 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. In 2011, Atlanta Magazine named Sara as one of "Five of the Future" leaders of Atlanta. Georgia Trend also named Sara a “Notable Person” in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Sara is the immediate past chairperson and current Board Member of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, an Advisor for the Georgia Chapter of the American Constitution Society, an Advisor for Good Thinking Atlanta, alumna of Leadership Atlanta, a member of the Georgia State Bar’s Indigent Defense Committee, and serves on the Steering Committee of the International Arab Women's Solidarity Association.

Sara and her family immigrated to the United States when she was a child, settling in Chicago. She is a graduate of Berry College in Rome, Georgia. Prior to joining SCHR, Sara worked at the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, an organization that employs a coordinated community response to end intimate partner violence.

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