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Kristen Abrams McCain Institute Headshot

Kristen Leanderson Abrams

Chief Program Officer

Kristen Leanderson Abrams serves as the McCain Institute’s Chief Program Officer, leading the design and delivery of the McCain Institute's Human Rights & Freedom, Democracy, and Leadership programs. In this role, Abrams drives the execution of the McCain Institute’s strategy to create a world that is free, safe, and just for all people.

Abrams has more than two decades of international human rights program management and policy experience. In previous leadership roles at the McCain Institute, Abrams directed the Combatting Human Trafficking Program, deploying strategic initiatives to secure justice for victims, build the capacity of trafficking response networks, and leverage data and technology to inform trafficking interventions.

Before joining the McCain Institute, she provided guidance to non-profits working to end exploitation and promote human rights through a consultancy she founded and ran. She also served as the acting director of the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST).

Earlier in her career, Abrams led international pro bono programs at DLA Piper. In that capacity, she developed and implemented interdisciplinary rule of law, economic development, access to justice, and women’s rights projects in the United States and throughout Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. While at DLA Piper, Abrams also provided counsel on matters of public international law, political law, and corporate social responsibility.

Abrams began her career as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives. She earned a juris doctor degree cum laude from The George Washington University Law School and a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University.