Joan Claybrook

Joan Claybrook (born June 12, 1937) is an American lawyer who served as President of Public Citizen from 1982 until she announced her resignation on December 9, 2008.[1] Previously, she was head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1981.[2]

Claybrook grew up in the 1930s in Baltimore. She graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore in 1959. While working in Washington, she met Ralph Nader, and the two became close friends as they both worked on improving highway and auto safety. In 1966, she teamed up with Nader to successfully lobby for passage of the nation's first auto safety laws - the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act. These acts empowered the government to establish safety standards for new vehicles and issue recalls for defective vehicles and parts.

Prior to her time with NHTSA, Claybrook ran Congress Watch, worked for the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the National Traffic Safety Bureau, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She served as the president of Public Citizen for 26 years.

She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1973 and currently serves on its Board of Visitors. She also holds positions on the boards of Consumers Union, Citizens for Tax Justice, Trial lawyers for Public Justice, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Goucher College Board of Trustees, and the California Wellness Foundation Advisory Board.[3]

Her work on behalf of civic interests has been recognized through the following awards and honorary degrees:


Claybrook received recognition for advocating for airbag use in automobiles.[4][5]

In 2009 Claybrook left her position at Public Citizen.[6]

Claybrook fought for automobile regulations like the 85 MPH speedometer and also spoke about SUV rollovers.[7]


  1. Snyder, Jim (December, 2008). Claybrook steps down at Public Citizen group. The Hill
  2. Roosevelt, Margot (August 8, 2006). Q & A: Joan Claybrook. Time
  3. Conniff, Ruth (March, 1999). Joan Claybrook - consumer advocate - Interview. The Progressive
  4. "Public Citizen Press Room". Dec 6, 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. Bedard, Patrick (September 1999). "Airbags Kill More Kids Than School Shootings - Column - Car Reviews - Car and Driver". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  6. Werthheimer, Linda (20 August 2009). "Consumers' Crusader Joan Claybrook Steps Down : NPR". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  7. "Interviews - Joan Claybrook | Rollover | FRONTLINE | PBS". February 21, 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
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