Kathryn McNiel

Kathryn Chace McNiel is Executive Director of Texas Defenders Service (TDS), which is a non-profit organization established in 1995 by experienced Texas death penalty attorneys whose mission is to establish a fair and just criminal justice system in Texas.

TDS mission is to improve the quality of representation afforded to those facing a death sentence and to expose and eradicate the systemic flaws plaguing the Texas death penalty. TDS researches and reports on best practices in criminal justice. TDS represent clients and speak for those without a voice.

Previously, McNiel was CEO of Theater District Houston, a cultural district that advocates on behalf of seven world-renowned performing arts organizations and business owners. McNiel has also been instrumental in the success of numerous political and public affairs campaigns, including NY State Democratic Senate Campaign committee, Bill Clinton for President, Harvey Gant for US Senate, Annise Parker’s mayoral campaign, and multiple bond issues. 

She currently serves on the board of the UH Hobby School for Public Policy, including as a past chair of the Hobby Center’s development committee and American Leadership Fellow’s marketing committee. Past Board appointments include ADL, Project Row Houses, Da Camera of Houston, and Legacy Community Health.  

A Houston native, McNiel received her undergraduate degree in political science and psychology from Simmons College in Boston, Mass., and earned a master’s degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.