The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has named civil rights scholar Sherrilyn Ifill as its next president and director-counsel, effective January 2013.
Ifill, named in a release this week, is a long-time member of the LDF family. Early in her career, she served as assistant counsel in LDFâ€™s New York office where she litigated voting rights cases, including the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas. In 1993, Ifill joined the faculty of the University Maryland School of Law where she continued to litigate and consult on a broad and diverse range of civil rights cases while grooming the next generation of civil rights lawyers.
A critically acclaimed author, her book â€œOn the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,â€ reflects her lifelong engagement in and analysis of issues of race and American public life, the release states. She is a respected civil rights strategist who provides regular political commentary on both national and local television and radio programs particularly during Supreme Court nomination hearings.
â€œIt was a dream come true to serve as a lawyer at LDF years ago, and it is a high honor to return to this premiere institution as President and Director Counsel,â€ Ifill said in a statement. â€œI am looking forward to working with the LDF team, allies and partners to advance an innovative 21st century civil rights practice that confronts the barriers to equality and justice in the lives of the most marginalized members of our community.â€
She continues: â€œIt was a dream come true to serve as a lawyer at LDF years ago, and it is a high honor to return to this premiere institution as President and Director Counsel…I am looking forward to working with the LDF team, allies and partners to advance an innovative 21st century civil rights practice that confronts the barriers to equality and justice in the lives of the most marginalized members of our community.â€
LDF has fought to expand political participation, forestall injustice in the criminal justice system, broaden the avenues of educational opportunity, defend economic freedoms and further the nomination and appointment of fair-minded and diverse judges through impact litigation and advocacy for over 70 years.
â€œSherrilyn Ifill brings to this position her visionary leadership, keen intellect, an unwavering commitment to social justice and a deep understanding of LDFâ€™s legacy,â€ states David W. Mills, Co-Chair of LDFâ€™s board of directors, in a release.
â€œWith Sherrilyn at the helm, LDF will be stronger as the fight for racial justice in the 21st Century continues,â€ noted Co-Chair of the Board of Directors Gerald Adolph.
According to a biography released by the LDF: Sherrilyn Ifill is a professor of law at the University Of Maryland Francis King Carey School Of Law and a civil rights lawyer who specializes in voting rights and political participation. She served as former assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., where she litigated voting rights cases, including Houston Lawyers’ Association v. Attorney General of Texas, in which the Supreme Court held that judicial elections are covered by the provisions of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
In addition to teaching in the classroom, Ifill launched several innovative legal clinics while at Maryland Law School, including an environmental justice clinic, and one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on the legal rights of ex-offenders. She is a respected civil rights strategist and public intellectual whose writings, speeches and media appearances enrich public debate about a range of civil rights issues. She is also an active and respected civil leader in the city of Baltimore and for the past two years has served as the Chair of the U.S. Programs Board of the Open Society Foundations, one of the largest philanthropic supporters of civil rights and social justice organizations in the country.