Sunu P. Chandy (she/her) is a Senior Advisor with Democracy Forward. Sunu has served as a civil rights lawyer for over 20 years including in the context of workers’ rights, gender justice, and LGBTQ+ rights. She is also a published poet, and the author of the award-winning collection, My Dear Comrades.
Before joining Democracy Forward, Sunu served as Legal Director of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) for six years until August 2023. There, she oversaw the Center’s direct litigation efforts and amicus practice, including as counsel on several Supreme Court amicus briefs. Sunu also led the Center’s policy work on LGBTQI+ Rights including by providing Congressional testimony, and also gave strategic input for other policy work including around workplace justice.
Before NWLC, Sunu served as the Deputy Director for the Civil Rights Division with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she led civil rights enforcement including under Section 1557 of the ACA. Before that, Sunu and her family moved to DC in the Fall of 2014 when she was recruited into the General Counsel role at the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR), and there she oversaw the agency’s civil rights legal determinations, including matters of first impression under the Fair Criminal Record Screening Act.
Previously, Sunu was a federal attorney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the New York District Office for 15 years and litigated cases based on race, sex, national origin, disability, age and religion-based discrimination. At EEOC, Sunu also led outreach initiatives including as a member of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAPPI) Regional Working Group. Before that, Sunu began her legal career as a law firm associate representing unions and individual workers in New York City at Gladstein, Reif and Megginniss, LLP.
Sunu earned her B.A. in Peace and Global Studies/Women’s Studies from Earlham College, her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law and her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Queens College, CUNY. Sunu has served on the boards of directors of several organizations including the Audre Lorde Project, South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC), LeGal (the LGBTQ attorneys’ organization in New York City), and Split This Rock, a national social justice poetry organization. Sunu currently serves on the board of the Transgender Law Center. Sunu is cited as a legal expert on a range of topics including workplace civil rights, gender justice, and LGBTQ+ rights including by The New York Times, The Washington Post, LA Times, and NPR.