Crystal Nix-Hines (1963- )

Crystal Nix-Hines
Crystal Nix-Hines
Photo from U.S. Department of State (CC0)

Crystal Nix-Hines is an attorney, screenwriter, producer, and diplomat who was born in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 23, 1963. Her father, Theophilus R. Nix Sr., was the second African American attorney admitted to the Delaware bar, and her mother, Dr. Lulu Mae Nix, was the founder of several social service organizations. Hines received her BA in International Relations from Princeton University (1985) and her Doctor of Law (JD) in 1990 from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, Nix-Hines was also a Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Nix-Hines began her professional career as a reporter for The New York Times before becoming a Law Clerk (following law school) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge William A. Norris from 1990 to 1991. She then served as a Law Clerk for Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor from 1991 to 1992. Nix-Hines next served as a Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the Capital Cities ABC media company from 1992 to 1993.

In 1993, Nix-Hines moved into government service, holding multiple positions at the U.S. Department of State, including as Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser from 1993 to 1995, Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and Member of the Policy Planning Staff from 1995 to 1997. While at the Department, she used her legal expertise to help spearhead the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia.

From the State Department, Nix-Hines returned to the private sector, first serving as a Special Counsel at the O’Melveny & Myers LLP law firm from 1997 to 2000. She would then move into television, becoming an Independent Producer, Co-Producer, and Writer on multiple shows on Disney/ABC, Inc., from 2000 to 2011. Her legal expertise and government experience were vital to her success as she wrote and produced for award-winning television shows, including The Practice, Alias, and Commander in Chief. Nix-Hines then served as Counsel at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP law firm from 2008 to 2014.

In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped Nix-Hines to become the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with the rank of Ambassador. UNESCO, based in Paris, France, is an agency of the United Nations (UN) that promotes world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences, and culture. After Senate confirmation in June 2014, Ambassador Nix-Hines served as U.S. Ambassador until 2017. While with UNESCO, Ambassador Nix-Hines launched major education-related global public-private partnerships, including the TeachHer Initiative, which empowered girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and math (STEM) careers.

Ambassador Nix-Hines returned to the U.S. in 2017 and became a Partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. She remains there at the time of writing. She co-chairs the firm’s Crisis Law and Strategy Group, and, in this capacity, was selected as one of two of its attorneys who would be primary special counsels for the external review of the events surrounding the November 13, 2022, mass shooting at the University of Virginia where three people were killed, and two others were injured. Four of the victims, including the three who died, were members of the university’s football team.

Ambassador Nix-Hines is married and has two children.