Keisha Hudson, Chief Defender

Since becoming Chief Defender in November 2021, Keisha Hudson has brought local and national attention to the critical role played by public defenders in maintaining and reforming our criminal justice system. By combining her background as an accomplished lawyer, leader and activist, she has improved the Defender’s delivery of services to its clients, achieved pay parity for Defender attorneys and staff, and refocused the Defender’s mission to be a more people-focused and inclusive organization. 


Keisha spent nearly eighteen years as a public defender, first with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and then as a capital appellate defender with the Federal Defender-Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Capital Habeas Unit) representing people on death row in their state post-conviction and federal habeas appeals. As a seasoned trial and appellate defender, Ms. Hudson has an in-depth understanding of what it means to be a public defender. At the Capital Habeas Unit, Hudson was the Director of Training.  


In 2016, Ms. Hudson left the Federal Defender and joined the Montgomery County Office of the Public Defender Officer to become the Deputy Chief Defender. Ms. Hudson joined the Montgomery County Office of the Public Defender with the goal of building and strengthening advocacy in the courtroom. Along with former Chief Defender Dean Beer, Ms. Hudson addressed systemic issues regarding policing, pretrial detention, sentencing, and probation in the county. In four years, Chief Defender Dean Beer and Ms. Hudson built one of the best public defender offices in the state.


In 2020, Ms. Hudson worked with The Justice Collaborative and The Appeal, developing and leading advocacy and media campaigns on criminal justice issues- specifically campaigns aimed at looking at creative and successful community alternatives that truly create public safety. Ms. Hudson was a visiting professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law from 2020 to 2021

Follow us: @PhillyDefenders