Sara Totonchi

Executive Director, Southern Center for Human Rights

Whether or not you support the death penalty, it’s hard to deny that the Southern Center for Human Rights provides a crucial check of Southern prison and criminal justice systems—especially Georgia’s, which has seen prison deaths, inmate strikes, and the use of shady lethal injection drugs in the past year alone. Totonchi joined the SCHR ten years ago as public policy director and was integral to the passage of the Georgia Indigent Defense Act and the development of the Georgia Public Defenders Standards Council. In January 2010, she became the SCHR’s executive director, a position in which she oversees not only the SCHR legal team but also the donations and foundation grants the nonprofit needs to carry out its litigation and public policy campaigns.

School Choice Born in London to an Iraqi father and an Irish mother, Totonchi grew up in Chicago but chose to attend Berry College. She fell in love with the Rome, Georgia, school because it reminded her of the Emerald Isle.

Photograph by Kathryn Hamoudah

This article originally appeared in the May 2011 issue