Kirsten Gettys Downs currently serves Baltimore’s citizens as the District Public Defender for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore City. In this role, Ms. Downs is committed to providing Baltimore City with client-centered and well-trained advocates at all levels. Since joining the agency in 2007, Ms. Downs has held several roles at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. She has served as the Deputy District Public Defender in Montgomery County, the Chief Attorney for the Western District Court Division in Baltimore City, and as an Assistant Public Defender in both the District and Circuit Courts of Prince George’s County. In addition to her legal work at the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Ms. Downs has served as a Federal Public Defender in the US Virgin Islands and as Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice under Janet Reno.
Throughout her career, Ms. Downs has sought ways to engage her local community and serve as an “accountability warrior” and community stakeholder. She is currently a Collaborative Planning and Implementation Committee member for the Baltimore City Consent Decree, focusing on behavioral health and police accountability issues. She is also a member of the Communications, Advocacy & Policy Committee of Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore and the Overdose Fatality Review Team with the Baltimore City Health Department.
Ms. Downs is a native of Philadelphia and received her undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania and her law degree at the University of California at Berkeley. Beginning with her law school days, Ms. Downs has worked with organizations that uplift and empower women and girls. She is a member of the Community Outreach Committee of the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys and has served as a Board Member for the Southwest Baltimore Charter School, Board Secretary for Girl LEAD (a project serving girls in Baltimore City and Sierra Leone), and as a Board Member of the US Virgin Islands Girl Scout Council.