The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund announced today that it has named Sherrilyn Ifill its new president and director-counsel.
Ifill, who will start her new position in January, is a law professor and the author of On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century. She has also made regular television and radio appearances to discuss politics, not much unlike her older cousin PBS correspondent Gwen Ifill.
According to its website, the LDF, which was founded by Thurgood Marshall in 1940, seeks to “expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
Ifill is not new to the organization, having served as assistant counsel in its New York office early in her career. During her time there, she worked on the landmark Voting Rights Act case Houston Lawyers’ Association vs. Attorney General of Texas.
“It 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,” Ifill said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with the LDF team, allies and partners to advance an innovative 21 century civil rights practice that confronts the barriers to equality and justice in the lives of the most marginalized members of our community.”
“Sherrilyn Ifill brings to this position her visionary leadership, keen intellect, an unwavering commitment to social justice and a deep understanding of LDF’s legacy,” said David W. Mills, Co-Chair of LDF’s Board of Directors.
Gerald Adolph, also Co-Chair of LDF’s Board of Directors, said of Ifill, “With Sherrilyn at the helm, LDF will be stronger as the fight for racial justice in the 21st Century continues.”
Ifill will take a leave of absence at the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law, where she’s taught since 1993.
The dean of the school, Phoebe A. Haddon, called Ifill an “extraordinary member of our faculty.”
“We are deeply proud that she has been called upon to lead this storied national organization at a critical time,” Haddon said. “Her intellect, vision and life-long dedication to advancing justice will improve the rights of all.”
Follow Ugonna on Twitter at @ugonnaokpalaoka