Profile: ilham.askia

Ilham Askia is the Executive Director and co-founder of Gideonís Promise. Askia become a proponent of indigent defense reform after witnessing countless members of her own family receiving inadequate representation in the criminal courts. After serving several years as an educator in public school systems, Askia began Gideonís Promise with Jonathan Rapping. Askiaís primary responsibilities are to ensure effective operation of the organizationís program, finance, operation, communication and development departments. Askia supports the operations and administration of the Board of Directors by regularly advising and informing Board members, interfacing between the Board and staff, and supporting Boardís evaluation of her position. She recommends the annual budget for Board approval and manages the organizationís resources with the approved budget guidelines. Askia oversees the design, marketing, promotion and delivery of the five major programs the organization offers and ensures the quality of those programs through ongoing evaluation. She monitors the organizationís by-laws, personnel policies, the strategic plan and other policies to ensure that the organization is in compliance with all local, state and Federal regulations. Askiamaintains a strong organizational infrastructure that supports the foundation for Gideonís Promiseís programs and services. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Askia was the Program Director and was solely responsible for recruiting new public defenders as well as developing and maintaining relationships with public defender offices throughout the southeast. She collaborated with law school career departments to help place recent law graduates in Gideonís Promise partner offices. She managed the Indigent Defense Leadership Summit for chief public defenders, the Summer Law Clerk program for first, second and third year law students, the three-year Core 101 program for new public defenders, the 201 Graduate level trainings and the Trainer Development Conference for law school clinicians and public defender trainers. Askia started her career as an elementary and high school teacher in the public school systems in Washington, D.C. and Fulton County, Georgia. In Washington, while teaching sophomore, junior and senior high school students, she designed the English curriculum for academically challenged high school students at the Maya Angelou Public Charter School and facilitated teacher workshops on topics such as Differentiation in the Classroom and Kinesthetic Learning. In her first year in the DC Public School system, as a Teach for America corps member, Askia was nominated for new teacher of the year in the District of Columbia. As a second year teacher, Askia taught elementary school practices in Kawasaki, Japan as a Mid-Atlantic Japan in Schools Fellow through the University of Maryland. She also served as a representative at the D.C. Superintendentís Roundtable Discussion to refine curriculum and school operations in the district. While working in the Fulton County Public School system in Georgia, Askia served on the first grade math curriculum team which designed performance assessments for the state of Georgia. She also served as chair of the first grade team and as a member of the Principalís Leadership Team. Askia received her Master in Teaching from Trinity University in Washington, D.C. and her B.S. degree from Cornell University.




On March 18, 2017 - the 54th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainright decision - NAPD published its Foundational Principleswhich are recommended to NAPD members and other persons and organizations interested in advancing the cause of equal justice for accused persons.  


On March 2, 2017, NAPD released its Statement on Reducing Demand For Public Defense: Alternatives to Traditional Prosecution Can Reduce Defender Workload, Save Money, and Reduce RecidivismThere are more than 2 million people in jail and prison in the United States. This is a four-fold increase since 1980. This increase and the racial disproportionality among incarcerated people has led to alliances across the political spectrum to address the impact on people and on budgets.  As the new Coalition for Public Safety has put it, “Our country has an ‘overcriminalization’ problem and an ‘overincarceration’ problem — and it’s getting worse." NAPD authored this statement because there is a great opportunity to make transformative changes that can improve justice and save money.  A variety of organizations representing a wide spectrum of political views have joined together to end the systematic problem of overcriminalization and narrow the net of incarceration by reforming criminal codes.