PRRAC Poverty & Race Research Action Council
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Board of Directors

Olati Johnson, Columbia Law School, New York, NY

José Padilla, Executive Director, California Rural Legal Assistance, San Francisco, CA 

Spence Limbocker is former President of the Neighborhood Funders Group in Washington, D.C.

john powell, Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, Univ. of Calif.-Berkeley.

Anurima Bhargava, Open Society Foundations, Washington, DC

John Charles Boger, Univ. of North Carolina Law School, Chapel Hill, NC 

John Brittain, University of the District of Columbia School of Law

Sheryll Cashin, Georgetown Law School

Kristen Clarke, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Craig Flournoy, Assistant Professor of Journalism, University of Cincinnati

Rachel Godsil, Seton Hall Law School

Damon Hewitt, Senior Advisor, Open Society Foundations, Washington, DC

David Hinojosa, National Director of Policy, Intercultural Development Research Association

Camille Holmes, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Washington, DC

Elizabeth Julian, Inclusive Communities Project, Dallas, TX

Demetria McCain, Inclusive Communities Project, Dallas, TX

S.M. Miller, Senior Fellow, Commonwealth Institute and Research Professor of Sociology at Boston College

Dennis Parker, Director of Racial Justice Programs, ACLU 

Gabriela Sandoval, Research Director, The Utility Reform Network

Anthony Sarmiento, Executive Director, Senior Service America, Inc.

Ted Shaw, University of North Carolina Law School, UNC Center for Civil Rights, Chapel Hill, NC

Brian Smedley, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity

Justin Steil, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of City and Regional Planning

Board Member Brief Bios

John Charles Boger is professor and former Dean at the Univ. of North Carolina Law School and cofounder of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. He holds both a Masters of Divinity from Yale and a law degree from UNC. From 1978-90 he was with the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, both as Director of their Poverty & Justice Project and as Director of their Capital Punishment Project.

Anurima Bhargava is currently a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. She served as the Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, and was previously Director of the Education Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she was actively engaged in litigation and advocacy to expand educational access and opportunities for students of color. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a Truman National Security Fellow; and has produced and regularly consults on films. Bhargava is a graduate of the Columbia Law School was born and raised on the south side of Chicago.

John Brittain is a professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia. He previously served as General Counsel and Senior Deputy Director at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. As Chief Counsel, he was responsible for determining civil rights litigation strategies and public policy issues. He assisted in filing numerous amicus briefs in the Supreme Court and many other federal and state courts. Prior to his work at the Lawyer's Committee, Brittain was a law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, and Dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston. Professor Brittain is a school desegregation specialist and was one of the lawyers who filed the landmark Sheff v. O'Neill school desegregation case in 1989. This lawsuit challenged the racial, economic, and educational segregation between Hartford and the surrounding school districts as a denial of a student's fundamental right to an equal education under the Connecticut Constitution. In 1993, the NAACP awarded Professor Brittain the coveted William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for legal service to the NAACP without a fee. Brittain earned his B.A. and J.D degrees from Howard University and specializes in civil rights litigation theories in education, voting rights, affirmative action, affordable housing, and police misconduct.

Sheryll Cashin is a Professor of Law at Georgetown University, where she specializes in Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Local Government Law, and Race and American Law. Professor Cashin’s publications include The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class are Undermining the American Dream (Public Affairs, 2004) and The Agitator's Daughter: A Memoir of Four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family (Public Affairs, 2008). Prior to joining the Georgetown faculty, Professor Cashin was Director of Community Development for the National Economic Council at the White House, where she managed interagency policy development processes for urban policy and community development initiatives. Professor Cashin was law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She received her BA from Vanderbilt University in 1984, a Master’s in English Law from Oxford University in J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Law Review.

Kristen Clarke is president & executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee). The Lawyers’ Committee, one of the original founders of PRRAC, works to promote fair housing and community development, equal employment opportunity, voting rights, equal educational opportunity, criminal justice, and judicial diversity. Clarke formerly served as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, where she led broad civil rights enforcement on matters including criminal justice issues, education and housing discrimination, fair lending, barriers to reentry, voting rights, immigrants’ rights, gender inequality, disability rights, reproductive access and LGBT issues. Clarke also worked as a litigator at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and in the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. Clarke has also written numerous articles and books including Barack Obama and African American Empowerment: The Rise of Black America’s New Leadership (co-edited with Dr. Manning Marable). She received her J.D. from the Columbia Law School and received the school’s Paul Robeson Distinguished Alumni Award from in 2010.

Craig Flournoy is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at University of Cincinnati. For over a decade, he was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News where he won a Pulitzer Prize (among many other awards) for his investigative reporting, including "Separate and Unequal," a series on racial discrimination and segregation in HUD's low-income housing programs throughout the country. His undergraduate degree is from the University of New Orleans, and he holds a Masters from SMU, a doctorate from Louisiana State University.

Rachel Godsil is the Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law and a co-founder and Director of Research for the Perception Institute, a national consortium of social scientists, advocates, and educators dedicated to using the insights from the mind sciences to address the role of implicit bias and racial anxiety on culture, public policy, and institutional structures. She focuses her teaching and scholarship on issues of Race, Property, Constitutional Law, and Environmental Justice, and has authored numerous articles and book chapters as well as co-editing Awakening from the Dream: Civil Rights Under Siege and the New Struggle for Equal Justice (2005). She is a former Associate Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and continues to write amicus briefs to the Supreme Court including representing LDF in Wood v. Moss, Research Psychologists in Fisher v. University of Texas, and the National Parent Teacher Association in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District.

Damon Hewitt is a Senior Advisor at the Open Society Foundation and Former Director of Education Practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Mr. Hewitt founded LDF's "Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline" initiative, and has also coordinated LDF's post-Hurricane Katrina litigation and advocacy efforts. A native of New Orleans, Mr. Hewitt attended Louisiana State University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

David Hinojosa is the National Director of Policy for the Intercultural Development Research Association, based in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. David Hinojosa was formerly the Southwest Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), with a focus on educational civil rights impact litigation on behalf of Latinos. At MALDEF, Mr. Hinojosa served as MALDEF's lead counsel in Edgewood v. Williams, where he represented low income and English Language Learner (ELL) students and property-poor school districts. He also represented Latino parents and students in a forty-year old class action school desegregation case, Morales v. Shannon, and in a federal court class action against Texas' programs for ELL students in US/LULAC v. Texas. He has also represented Latino amici students and organizations defending the University of Texas at Austin's diversity admissions plan in Fisher v. Texas, where he most recently co-authored a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of several national Latino civil rights organizations. David earned his Bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University and his J.D from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

Camille Holmes is an independent civil rights consultant, who worked most recently as Senior Staff at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. She previously worked with the Center for Law & Social Policy as Co-Director of its Project for the Future of Equal Justice. In 2002, she helped form the Mississippi Center for Social Justice, a collaborative racial and economic justice law firm that practices community problem-solving approaches. Ms. Wood has also served as Executive Director of the Southern Africa Legal Service & Legal Education Project. A graduate of Harvard/Radcliffe Colleges and the Harvard Law School, she clerked for Sixth Circuit Judge Damon Keith.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Julian is Founder/Senior Counsel of the Dallas-based Inclusive Communities Project. From 1990 to 1994, she worked as Deputy General Counsel for Civil Rights & Litigation, later as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her pre-HUD experience includes 20 years of practice of poverty and civil rights law in Texas, where she represented primarily low-income clients in cases involving housing discrimination, voting rights, municipal services discrimination and indigent health care. From 1988-90 she was executive director of Legal Services of North Texas, and helped found the Texas Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Olati Johnson is an associate professor at the Columbia Law School. Until May 2004 she served as a consultant to the National Legal Department of the ACLU, where she helped develop a strategic plan for the organization on racial justice issues. From September 2001 until September 2003, she served as counsel to Senator Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee where she worked on civil rights, judicial nominations, religion and first amendment issues. Prior to that Ms. Johnson was an assistant counsel for four years at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund where she worked on a range of issues including higher education affirmative action, employment discrimination, education policy, and welfare and low-wage employment policy. Ms. Johnson graduated in 1995 from Stanford Law School where she was Order of the Coif, and received her B.A. in Literature Cum Laude from Yale University in 1989.

Spence Limbocker has over forty years experience working in community based organizations and with philanthropic institutions whose mission has been the support the development of effective community and economic development organizations in low and moderate income communities. Since retiring in 2008 after serving as the executive director of the Neighborhood Funders Group for twelve years, Spence has been doing consulting work with several non profit organizations.

Demetria McCain is President of the Inclusive Communities Project in Dallas. Ms. McCain previously held positions at Neighborhood Legal Services in Washington, D.C. and at the National Housing Law Project.

S.M. (Mike) Miller, an economic sociologist/activist theoretician, is director of the Project on Inequality and Poverrty at the Commonwealth Institute, Cambridge, MA. and former chair of the sociology deparrtment at Boston University. He has a B.A. in economics from Brooklyn College, a M.A. in economics from Columbia, a M.A. in economics from Princeton and a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton. He has taught at NYU, Syracuse, Brooklyn College, Rutgers and in labor programs at Cornell, Michigan, Rutgers, University of Massachusetts. He was an advisor on poverty at the Ford Foundation where he initiated its Latino and Native American programs and served on the executive committee of the Field Foundation. He was co-founder and first president of the Research Committee on Poverty and Social Welfare of the International Sociological Association. He is a co-founder of United for a Fair Economy. His most recent book is Respect and Rights. His current project is on long-term economic and political directions and strategies.

José Padilla is Executive Director of California Rural Legal Assistance and where he has been for more than 25 years. He received his law degree from UC-Berkeley and his undergraduate degree from Stanford. Among his special interests bilingual and migrant education and farm worker legal services. The Mexican government presented him with the prestigious Ohtli Award for his service to Mexican citizens in the United States.

Dennis Parker is Director of the Racial Justice Program at the American Civil Liberties Union. Prior to joining the ACLU, Dennis was Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in the Office of New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer where he oversaw the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws in housing, employment, voting, public accommodations and credit. He is also a 14 year veteran of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he supervised the litigation of scores of school desegregation cases, as well as cases involving affirmative action in higher education.

john powell is Professor of Law and Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC-Berkeley. He formerly was Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School, Executive Director of Greater Miami Legal Services and on the staff of Evergreen Legal Services. His undergraduate degree is from Stanford, and his law degree is from UC-Berkeley.

Gabriela Sandoval is Director of Research for The Utility Reform Network. Prior to joining TURN, she was Research Director with The Insight Center for Community and Economic Development and was a member of the faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she taught courses in race and ethnicity and urban sociology.

Anthony Sarmiento is Executive Director of Senior Service America Inc. in Silver Spring, Maryland, a national nonprofit organization that operates programs for older workers. He is currently on leave from the AFL-CIO, where he held several positions in the Education and Organizing Departments, including director of Union Summer, the AFL-CIO's summer internship program in union organizing. His prior work includes positions with local government and community based organizations in the District of Columbia. He graduated from American University with a B.A. in American Studies.

Theodore M. Shaw is the Julius Chambers Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina and Director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. He was formerly Associate Director-Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund in NYC and previously was Western Regional Counsel in the Fund's Los Angeles office. He formerly was on the faculty of the Univ. of Michigan Law School, where he taught civil rights, constitutional law and civil procedure, and served in the Civil Rights Division of the US Dept. of Justice. His undergraduate degree is from Wesleyan, and his law degree is from Columbia. 

Justin Steil is an Assistant Professor of Law and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on the intersection of civil rights, land use, and local government law. He is a co-editor of Searching for the Just City: Debates in Urban Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2009) and The Dream Revisited: Segregation and Opportunity in the Twenty-first Century (Columbia, forthcoming).

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