Rebecca Dixon is executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP). NELP is a respected leader in federal workers’ rights advocacy and the go-to resource for state and local worker movements, providing unmatched policy, legal, and technical assistance. As executive director, Rebecca leads NELP’s work to build and contribute to a strong workers’ rights movement that dismantles structural racism, eliminates economic inequality, and builds worker power. A national leader recognized for her commitment to racial, gender, and economic justice, Rebecca is inspired by workers across the U.S. who organize for justice and dignity in the workplace.
Rebecca’s motivation for advancing workers’ rights and commitment to economic justice is deeply rooted in her lived experience growing up in rural Mississippi at the intersection of race, class and gender—characteristics that have long defined our ability to participate in our democracy and economy. As the descendant of enslaved people and daughter of sharecroppers and domestic workers, Rebecca knows firsthand what is lost when workers of color are relegated to the lowest rungs of our labor market, without respect, rights, and protections.
Prior to taking the helm as executive director, Rebecca served on NELP’s Executive Management team as chief of programs. In this executive leadership capacity, Rebecca led the general management of all program areas, including strategy, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Rebecca was a leader in the comprehensive organizational restructuring of NELP, implemented beginning in 2017, which improved organizational effectiveness and ensured authentic integration of an anti-racist framework to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally and externally.
Since joining NELP in 2010, Rebecca has advanced NELP’s growth and impact through several positions, including policy analyst, senior staff attorney, and deputy program director. During the Great Recession and its aftermath. Rebecca was a leader in winning unprecedented state unemployment insurance (UI) coverage expansions in 20 states and multiple extensions of federal emergency UI benefits for the long-term unemployed. Altogether, these efforts benefited more than 20 million workers nationwide.
In addition, she managed NELP’s unemployment insurance state technical assistance project, which advises and supports more than 30 state partners. As deputy director of NELP’s Access and Opportunity program, Rebecca provided coordination and oversight of programmatic activities and deliverables. She founded and led NELP’s Breaking Barriers program, which focuses on improving job access, wages, and working conditions for Black workers in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Before joining NELP, Rebecca did critical work in Mississippi, including as senior policy analyst at the newly formed Mississippi Economic Policy Center (MEPC), where she advocated for the economic advancement of families with low incomes through policy improvements in adult education, workforce training, access to postsecondary education, childcare funding, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and unemployment insurance. Rebecca and her MEPC colleagues successfully fought to ensure that homeowners with low incomes were included in Mississippi’s hurricane recovery grant program. Rebecca began her career in nonprofit public service prior to law school, working at The Salvation Army’s regional headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi, where her award-winning publications supported people suffering through natural disasters and families weathering economic crisis.
Rebecca is sought out for her thought leadership at the intersection of labor and racial equity. In 2012, Rebecca was selected by the State of New York for its Empire State Leadership Fellows program and served in the Office of the Governor in its Labor and Civil Rights Division. She is a board member of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race; a member of the Georgetown Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership Racial Equity Working Group; the Economic Analysis and Research Network in the South; Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative and Expert of Color Network; and a past member of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) “New Faces” of SNAP workgroup. In addition, she is a 2012 Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Thought Leader Fellow; and a member of the Race Forward Working Group on Racial Equity in Workforce Development (2016); The Kellogg Foundation Racial Equity Community of Practice (2018-2019); and Politico Working Group, The Geography of Opportunity (2019).
Rebecca holds a B.A. in English and M.A. in English from Duke University and a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.
J.D., Duke University School of Law
M.A., Duke University
B.A., Duke University