Founder & President, Gideon's Promise (Atlanta, GA)

Jonathan Rapping is the President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise, an organization that has partnerships with public defender offices across 16 states in a collective effort to transform public defense in those jurisdictions. In 2014, Gideon’s Promise began a partnership with Maryland, where Jon serves as the Director of Strategic Planning and Organizational Development with the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. Jon is the Director of the Honors Program in Criminal Justice at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where he also teaches criminal law and criminal procedure. He is also a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School where he helps to run its prestigious Trial Advocacy Workshop. He is the former Training Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), an office nationally known for its training program. Following his tenure at PDS, in 2004 Jon became the first Training Director of Georgia’s new state-wide public defender system. In that capacity he was responsible for designing training programs for both legal and non-legal staff statewide. Jon then became the Director of Training and Recruitment for the Orleans Public Defenders, where he was integral in the efforts to rebuild the public defender system in post-Katrina New Orleans. In recognition of his work in New Orleans, he was a co-recipient of the prestigious Lincoln Leadership Award, given by Kentucky’s Department of Public Advocacy to honor leadership in national efforts to improve indigent defense. Jon has trained public defenders all over the country, and was awarded a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship to develop Gideon’s Promise. In 2009, Jon was named a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow by the Harvard Law School Office of Public Interest in recognition of his contribution to the public interest through his work with the Gideon’s Promise. In 2013 Jon and Gideon’s Promise were awarded the Sentencing Project Award from the National Association of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists and the Gideon’s Promise Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights. Also that year he was invited to serve as the Public Interest Scholar in Residence at Touro Law School in recognition of his work with Gideon’s Promise. In 2014, Gideon’s Promise was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award by Emory University. Jon was named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow for his work with Gideon’s Promise.