Nancy Gist, Director of Programs

Nancy Gist is the Director of Programs at the DC Bar Foundation. Her work has focused primarily on developing, executing, and supporting strategies for providing people who have been marginalized with access to quality legal services and to a legal system which provides equal justice. She has established and managed legal services programs and delivery systems for members of the United Auto Workers Union and United Food and Commercial Workers. As Deputy Chief Counsel of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, the statewide public defense agency, she led the private assigned counsel delivery system. Nominated by President William J. Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate, she served as Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s largest grantmaking agency, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).


At BJA, Nancy was responsible for grant programs totaling $1.8 billion annually. Grants were awarded to state, local, and tribal justice agencies, and non-governmental organizations working to strengthen the justice system and address violent and drug-related crime across the country. BJA provides extensive training and technical assistance as well as funding for program evaluation. She led early funding for community and specialty courts, as well as initiatives to improve indigent defense systems and to engage prosecutors and law enforcement with the communities they served.


Nancy has co-chaired an endowment making grants to grassroots social justice organizations across DC and served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the Invisible Institute, and the Institute for Community Peace. She has also served on the Community Advisory Board of WHUT, Howard University’s PBS station, and the American Bar Association’s Special Committee on Prepaid Legal Services and Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants.

Nancy is a graduate of Wellesley College and Yale Law School. She looks forward to once again enjoying the company of friends and family and to regaining her pre-pandemic status as a premier source of restaurant recommendations.