Swarns has dedicated her entire professional career to criminal justice reform. She is currently the new executive director of the Innocence Project, effective September 2020. Previously, she served as the president and attorney-in-charge of the Office of the Appellate Defender, Inc., one of New York City’s oldest institutional providers of indigent appellate defense representation. Swarns has also spent more than a decade at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she served as LDF’s litigation director and criminal justice project director.
Prior to joining LDF, Swarns served as a supervising assistant federal defender and assistant federal defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of Philadelphia’s Federal Community Defender Office. While there, Christina represented numerous individuals with death-sentences whose convictions and/or death-sentences were reversed, including Nicholas Yarris, the first man sentenced to death in Pennsylvania and later to be exonerated by DNA evidence.
A passionate legal advocate, Swarns speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law and criminal justice. She is also a member of Catholic Mobilizing Network's board of directors.
Christina earned a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a BA from Howard University.