Emilie Kao serves as senior counsel and vice president of advocacy strategy for Alliance Defending Freedom, where she is a member of the U.S. Legal Team. In this role, she supports ADF’s legal and legislative objectives through culture shaping initiatives.
Before joining ADF, Kao served as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation. She led a team of experts who provided strategy, research, and policy recommendations on life, marriage, and religious freedom consistent with Constitutional principles. She convened coalitions of strategic partners to support the protection of religious freedom and launched the Promise to America’s Children, a movement dedicated to the protection of children and parental rights.
Kao also served as senior legal counsel at an international human rights law firm, East Asia team leader in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Human Rights, and director of international advocacy at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. She was an adjunct professor at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and is co-editor of the “First Principles on International Human Rights” essay series.
She has testified before the U.S. Congress and spoken at the United Nations in Geneva and New York. She has been interviewed and quoted extensively in the media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, C-SPAN, and 60 Minutes+.
Kao earned her A.B. cum laude from Harvard University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is a member of the state bars of California and the District of Columbia and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. She speaks Mandarin Chinese.