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. Previously, she was head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1981.
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 Public Citizen's Congress Watch, worked for the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), the National Traffic Safety Bureau, the Social Security Administration, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.