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Ms. Nora Mae Benavidez

Free Press

Nora Benavidez is a civil and human rights attorney. She works at the intersection of law, tech, and democracy as an ‘urgency incubator’ to elevate interdisciplinary solutions to complex threats facing our society.

In all her work, Benavidez fights to eliminate barriers -- legal, technological, or political -- that may diminish the ability for communities to engage in democracy and with each other. Benavidez consults with policymakers and other entities to minimize online manipulation, maligned operations, and other digital harms which affect civic engagement.

Benavidez serves as Senior Counsel and Director, Digital Justice & Civil Rights at Free Press. She leads the organization’s efforts to protect against digital threats to democracy and to push for media and platform accountability. She develops winning policy and regulatory reform solutions that blunt disinformation, hate, and other maligned online practices while protecting digital civil rights, privacy, and equitable speech. She collaborates with and build support from Congress, the White House, and government agencies to advance digital justice while working with and pressuring technology companies to adopt corporate interventions that mitigate harms caused by their services. She has appeared before the House Oversight Committee and the Federal Trade Commission.

Benavidez serves as Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s Cronkite Institute where she teaches a course on freedom of expression in the digital age. In 2021, she won the Society of Professional Journalists-Los Angeles Chapter Freedom of Information award for her work defending truth and free expression.

Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tech Policy Press, and other publications. She has been a regular guest on NPR’s The Takeaway and interviewed by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, Newsweek, NPR’s Here & Now, Teen Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, AJ+, Vox, Columbia Journalism Review, and more.

Previously, Benavidez served as the director of U.S. Free Expression Programs at PEN America, where she guided the organization’s national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free expression issues. She managed PEN America’s domestic fight for freedom of speech, the right to protest, robust local news, and its disinformation defense program.

She has also worked in private practice and at the ACLU of Georgia, litigating significant cases representing victims of voting rights violation