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“A Conversation with Sherrilyn Ifill”

About Sherrilyn Ifill

Sherrilyn Ifill is the Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Esq. Endowed Chair in Civil Rights at Howard University Law School, where she also heads the multi-disciplinary 14thAmendment Center for Law & Democracy. She served as the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) from 2013 to 2022, and currently serves as President and Director-Counsel Emeritus. Ifill, the second woman to ever lead LDF, provided visionary and transformational leadership during one of the most consequential and intense moments in our nation’s history.

For over 20 years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students at the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore and pioneered a series of law clinics, including one of the earliest law clinics in the country, focused on challenging legal barriers to the reentry of ex-offenders. Ifill is also a prolific scholar who has published academic articles in leading law journals, and op-eds and commentaries in leading newspapers. Her 2007 book, On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century, was highly acclaimed, and is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation.

In 2013, Ifill was invited back to the Legal Defense Fund – this time to lead the organization as its 7th Director-Counsel. In that role, Ifill increased the visibility and engagement of the organization in litigating cutting-edge and urgent civil rights issues and elevating the organization’s decades-long leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. At critical moments during national political and civil rights crises, Ifill’s voice and vision have powerfully influenced our national dialogue. Ifill is a frequent public commentator on racial justice issues, known for her fact-based, richly contextualized analysis of complex racial issues. She is a trusted and valued advisor to civic and community leaders, national civil rights colleagues, and business leaders.

Among many honors, Ifill is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, and was recently named one of TIME Magazine’s Women of the Year. In 2021, she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the world in 2021, one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year, and honored with a 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award by the American Bar Association. She was named Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer in 2020. In 2022, Ifill joined The Ford Foundation organization as a Senior Fellow, received the prestigious Brandeis Medal, named for Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, and the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award.

Video Introducing Sherrilyn Ifill

About the Program

The program will begin with brief remarks from Sherrilyn Ifill who will then be joined on stage by Sarah Spain of ESPN and Robyn Davis, President and CEO of Brown County United Way, for a conversation style interview. 

Sarah Spain

Sarah Spain is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning sports journalist. In her 12+ years at ESPN she has worked as a radio and podcast host, writer and TV analyst. She's a former minority owner of the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL, a member of the Gatorade Women’s Advisory Board, a co-founder of “Hear The Cheers,” which provides hearing aids and equipment to kids so they can continue participating in sports, and is on the board of Embarc, a program that provides community-driven experiences and learning opportunities to low-income Chicago high school students. A graduate of Cornell University, she was an English major and a heptathlete and co-captain for the Big Red Track & Field team. 

Robyn Davis

Robyn Y. Davis is the president and CEO of Brown County United Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin, a community impact organization that unites people, ideas, and resources to create community solutions that strengthen every person and every community throughout Brown County. Robyn began serving in that role in May 2017. Prior to joining Brown County United Way, she led Freedom House Ministries in Green Bay as its President for 8 years. Robyn is a member of the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors, the Governor’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council, the Donald J. Schneider School of Business and Economics Board of Advisors, the Advisory Board for the Institute for Women’s Leadership, the Weidner Center Board of Directors, and the Northeast Wisconsin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service sorority. Robyn has been recognized for her leadership by numerous organizations, including the Greater Green Bay Chamber, the Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice, and Public Understanding and Madison 365. Most recently, she received the 2023 Nancy Armbrust Impact Award from the Women's Fund of Greater Green Bay. 

This program is sponsored by the Miller Family Foundation

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