Naacp Legal Defense Fund Leadership

“It has been the privilege of my life to lead LDF for almost 10 years. I began my career as a civil rights lawyer at LDF more than 30 years ago and every day leading these exceptional and dedicated employees seemed like a dream come true,” said Ms. Ifill. “I have given it my all in this work and am proud of our accomplishments, including our increased growth and strength. But I`m very proud of the leadership the LDF has played in one of the most turbulent and volatile times for civil rights in recent times. And our struggle is far from over. For the work ahead, I am very pleased that Janai Nelson, who has been my trusted partner, will take LDF to even higher heights. I have no doubt that she is the right leader to build on the solid foundation we have laid over the past few years, and Janai will continue to advance the organization`s mission to defend and protect the rights of Americans across the country. Ms. Vallot commented, “Sherrilyn has been a transformative leader who has done outstanding work leading DFL over the past 10 years. When it came time to appoint his successor, we knew exactly who he should be.

Janai`s leadership, in close partnership with Sherrilyn in recent years, makes her the ideal person to take the helm as LDF continues to lead the fight for racial equality at this pivotal time in American history. Over the past year, one of the most difficult times for civil rights in our nation`s history, LDF has fought to protect the rights of black Americans and promote racial justice. As the nation`s leading civil rights firm for 81 years, LDF has been uniquely positioned to lead the country through recent and ongoing crises. Since May 2020, the DFL has strengthened its leadership role in ending police brutality and shaping the discourse on public safety, addressing the growing inequalities facing Black communities as a result of COVID-19, and defending our democracy against a new and dangerous wave of voter suppression laws and violent white supremacists. Ms. Cecilia Marshall, widow of the Honourable Thurgood Marshall, said, “Janai Nelson is an excellent choice, in keeping with LDF`s tradition of commitment to equality and legal excellence.” Prior to that, Ms. Nelson worked for nearly eight years as an Associate Director-Counsel to former President and Managing Advisor Sherrilyn Ifill. Ms.

Ifill stepped down in the spring of 2022 after leading the company through its greatest period of growth and transformation in nearly a decade. The change of leadership is the first transition from woman to woman in the history of DFL. In 2013, Ifill was again invited to the Legal Defense Fund – this time to lead the organization as the 7th Director-Lawyer. In this role, Ifill increased the organization`s visibility and engagement in current and urgent civil rights litigation and strengthened the organization`s leadership for decades in addressing voter suppression, inequality in education, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. In critical moments of political and national civil rights crises, Ifill`s voice and vision have greatly influenced our national dialogue. Ifill is a frequent public commentator on racial justice issues, known for her factual and richly contextualized analysis of complex racial issues. She is a trusted and valued advisor to citizens and community leaders, national civil rights colleagues, and business leaders. “Every era in DFL history has called for brilliant leadership, and today Janai Nelson adds her name to this group,” added Koopersmith.

“She is the ideal person to take on this pivotal role in this time of seismic upheaval, combining her rich history and dedication to DFL with a clear goal to meet the new challenges we face with energy, creativity and rigor. As a board of directors, we are really excited to have her as our next leader. In 1993, Ifill left LDF to attend the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore. For more than 20 years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students and pioneered a number of legal clinics, including one of the first legal clinics in the country focused on removing legal barriers to the reintegration of ex-offenders.


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