In a stellar sea of energetic, service-driven legal standouts, Jasmine Bolton knew there was a chance she might be asked to join President Joe Biden’s Office of Civil Rights.
So could hundreds of other exceptional lawyers around the country.
So, between October and December, Bolton lived in a world of “what if.”
Before the Nov. 3 presidential election, the election, it was, “What if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris pull off a successful Democratic bid for the White House in November?”
After the election, the question for Bolton was, “What if President Biden chooses me to join his administration in some capacity?”
There were so many talented, so many gifted, equally committed prospects who have dedicated their lives and careers to advocating for the civil rights of impoverished, under-represented individuals navigating the justice system alone.
The possibility that Bolton could win this contest was a long shot and a sucker’s bet – that is until a call came about the second week of December.
“I came to the Biden Transition Team’s attention when some education stakeholders I have worked with in the past recommended me.
“I received a call that said I was being considered for a position as senior counsel in President Biden’s Civil Rights office,” said Bolton. “At this point, I was pretty confident I would get the job. The agency’s HR protocols were being followed at this point. It was conditional, I knew. There was still vetting and a background check to complete.”
The caller requested one thing before ending the conversation. Bolton was asked to keep the news under wraps and not to share it with anyone.
“Of course, I told my parents,” Bolton confessed. “Dad’s challenge was that he was bursting with excitement and wanted to tell everyone right away.”
Bolton’s father is lawyer Julian Bolton, a former Shelby County Commissioner.
“My mom’s response was to ‘say that she would remain prayerful,’ said Bolton. “Her reaction was much more subdued and thoughtful. She prayed about the matter in coming days, which is the same response I had.”
Shortly after that call, things moved pretty fast. Bolton already has been in Washington for several weeks now. The job actually started Jan. 21.
“I already had a place to live, but I was unpacking boxes and trying to get as settled in as possible before the job actually started,” Bolton said. “There have been many, many meetings to get me acclimated to the job. But this huge stage where policies of civil rights in education are being shaped is a passion of mine. This is my dream job.”
Bolton will be advocating for communities and students from kindergarten to older students. She will also be involved in policies concerning adult education.
“During this pandemic, I’ve been pondering about various issues of education,” said Bolton. “Certain issues have constantly been on my mind. There are things that should be corrected, policies that should have already been in place. Now, we can right those wrongs.”
Bolton is a native Memphian who graduated from St. Mary’s Episcopal School before attending Harvard University, where she graduated with honors. The prestigious Columbia University Law School rounded out her Ivy League education.
After earning her law degree, Bolton interned for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in 2014. She also later worked as a Children’s Rights law fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in New Orleans.
At the time she was tapped for Biden’s administration, Bolton worked with the Bail Project, a national, nonprofit bail reform organization that funds bail for people in need. The organization’s website states that it is “reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.”
Bolton said Wednesday (Jan. 27) that she is thrilled to be in Washington, and “so, so excited” to be in the Biden administration.
“I am happy and just excited about the possibilities that come with this huge platform,” said Bolton. “But most of all, I am grateful. I am so grateful.”