In the fifth grade, Lanae Erickson voted for Ross Perot in the mock election held by her class. This orthodoxy-busting move was the first indication that she’d spend her life and career looking beyond conventional political frameworks to challenge the status quo and find common cause across traditional ideological divides.

A true believer in listening to all sides of an argument, Lanae draws on her extensive background in Constitutional and civil rights law to advance the case for expanding opportunity and freedom on a wide range of issues that impact the lives of Americans every day. Lanae loves working on the hardest and most divisive subjects, and as Senior Vice President for Social Policy & Politics, she does just that, tackling hot-button issues like immigration, abortion, religious liberty, and guns, as well as helping to drive crucial policy conversations like how we can ensure our higher education system is delivering for students. Lanae spearheaded Third Way's Commitment Campaign, which mobilized moderate Americans to support marriage for gay couples by changing the conversation from legal rights and benefits to the importance of making a lifetime commitment in front of family and friends. This is an issue particularly close to Lanae's heart—as it was only a week after her own wedding that President Obama became the first president to voice his support for marriage equality, saying he didn't want to deny committed couples the ability to make that promise to take care of one another for a lifetime.

Lanae served as a member of President Obama's third Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Before coming to Third Way, she was Legislative Counsel at Alliance for Justice, where she investigated the backgrounds of federal judicial nominees on civil and human rights and advocated for progressive policies on issues from detention and interrogation policy to equal pay. Before that, she was a “real" lawyer at the Legal Rights Center and the Center for Victims of Torture.

Lanae's commentary has been featured in a variety of news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Politico, The New Yorker, and PBS News Hour. She has also appeared on NPR, Fox News, CSPAN's Washington Journal, CNN, Bloomberg Television, Air America, and Minnesota Public Radio.

She earned her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota, and her Bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College. Originally from the beautiful Land of 10,000 Lakes (which actually has significantly more than 10,000 lakes), Lanae is now a proud Washingtonian. She has played violin since the first grade and is the principal second violinist in DC’s Capital City Symphony.

Follow Lanae on Twitter @LanaeErickson.

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