Wade McMullen

SVP of Programs and Legal Strategy

Wade McMullen is an experienced leader and human rights lawyer whose work in service of grassroots activists and social justice movements has spanned the globe.

At Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Wade leads the organization’s national and international strategy across programs that work with frontline advocates to topple systemic injustice and foster a new generation of human rights defenders in the classroom and on college campuses. He also directs the organization’s work to shrink the scale, scope and power of systems of mass criminalization and mass incarceration in the U.S.

Wade helped secure the release of Pedro Hernandez, a Bronx teenager caged on Rikers Island for over a year on false charges, in 2017. He also coordinated 2018 efforts to free over 100 people unjustly incarcerated on unaffordable money bail across New York city over the course of just one month.

A seasoned human rights litigator, Wade has argued high impact cases against state-sponsored repression and discrimination before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Commission, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission, and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. He has represented high-profile prisoners of conscience, among them Aya Hijazi in Egypt and Stella Nyanzi in Uganda, and led human rights investigations in over a dozen countries.

His work and commentary has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, Just Security, African Arguments, and Al Jazeera, among many others.

A lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law, Wade co-directed the International Human Rights Clinic from 2015 to 2018 and was the supervising attorney for the Civil and Human Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law in 2019. He served as the inaugural Donald M. Wilson Fellow at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Born on Comanche land (now called Texas), he received his J.D. from New York University School of Law. He’s licensed to practice law in the State of New York.