Kiara Pesante Haughton
Strategist. Speaker. Servant Leader.
Named one of the 100 most influential Black Americans by EBONY Magazine, Kiara Pesante Haughton is a political strategist, public relations executive and justice advocate with 15 years of experience specializing in campaigning in the South, strategic communications, crisis management, public affairs and partnerships.
She is the Chief of Communications & Advancement at Demos, where she oversees the organization’s narrative change, marketing, brand-building and fundraising strategies. Kiara is focused on elevating narratives around building power and leading on consistent messaging and storytelling. Her work includes media relations and strategy, digital and social media, design, writing, production, strategic partnerships, special events, donor cultivation and philanthropy engagement.
Previously, she was Senior Vice President in the Issue Advocacy practice at BerlinRosen, leading work at the intersection of electoral politics, racial justice and culture. While there, she partnered with campaigns, political organizations, and nonprofits to tell the stories of people and families to spark changes in the systems that hurt too many.
For nearly three years, she ran the Communications shop at Civil Rights Corps, the organization dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the American legal system through innovative, anti-racist litigation. Through partnerships with communities and formerly incarcerated people, Kiara worked with her colleagues at CRC to bring landmark challenges to dismantle cash bail systems and predatory private probation schemes, to hold prosecutors accountable, and end the criminalization of poverty through exorbitant fines and fees in dozens of jurisdictions across the country.
Previously, she was the Communications Director for the Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, where she was one of the youngest senior staffers in the chamber’s Democratic leadership. While there, she led the Democratic Caucus’ communications strategy around the Working Families Agenda and the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, while also promoting policies to close the achievement gaps in PK-12 education, reform school discipline practices, modernize juvenile justice, expand access to Pell Grants and make college more affordable, raise the minimum wage, provide paid sick and family leave for all workers, create and enforce safe workplaces, and more. She was also part of the battleground states press operation for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Before that role on Capitol Hill, she served as the Southern Regional Press Secretary and National Director of African American Media for the Democratic National Committee during the 2014 election cycle. While there, she led the party's media outreach and messaging efforts in 11 Southern states, working with those state parties, more than 40 campaigns and embedding in three on-the-ground. Prior to that, she was a battleground states radio and TV booker for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and Communications Director for D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh and the District’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment. While there, Pesante Haughton played an integral role in the expansion of rideshare apps and streetcar services in the city, along with the modernization of the District’s taxicab fleet. She has also served in various roles at Edelman Public Relations, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and WSB-TV in Atlanta.
Pesante Haughton was named the 2017 Young Woman of Achievement for Politics and Campaigns by the Women's Information Network, was a member of the Women's Campaign School at Yale University's class of 2012, served as the first-ever IMPACT Social Media Fellow in 2011, and was one of 17 individuals selected from across the United States and Canada for the 2010 Google Policy Fellowship. She earned her Master’s in Public Administration from Howard University, where she was a Trustee Scholar. She graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
A dedicated servant leader, Pesante Haughton is an active volunteer tutor with Reading Partners DC, a literacy program in DC’s public schools to help its most vulnerable young readers who are falling behind. She is an Ambassador for the Greater DC Diaper Bank, a volunteer leadership position to collect diapers, wipes, formula, feminine hygiene products, and other necessary mother-baby items for families throughout the DC, Maryland and Virginia region that need them most. She is a supporter of Martha's Table, which provides access to high-quality education, healthy food, and family and community supports to families who need it most, and Thrive DC, a direct-services support organization for unhoused community members. She previously served as a Commissioner for the Board of Real Estate Appraisers for the District of Columbia. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Arika Trim Foundation, an organization supporting Black mothers through pregnancy and birth, and The Hill Preschool, the oldest continually operating early learning institution on Capitol Hill in DC.
Pesante Haughton was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has roots in Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico. She lives in Southeast Washington with her husband Malik Haughton and their two young daughters.