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Kristen Clarke named president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law

NNPA-KRISTEN-CLARKE-clarke-Kristen Clarke named president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law

      ( The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL) has named Kristen Clarke of the New York Attorney General’s Office as its new president and executive director, effective Jan. 1. Clarke will succeed Barbara R. Arnwine, who led the organization for more than 26 years. Arnwine resigned last spring and has founded a new organization, the Transformative Justice Coalition.

Clarke currently serves as the head of the Civil Rights Bureau at the New York Attorney General’s Office, where she spearheads civil rights enforcement on a range of matters including criminal justice issues, education and housing discrimination, fair lending, barriers to reentry, voting rights, immigrants’ rights and LGBT issues, a Lawyers’ Committee press release states.

The release credits her leadership with “landmark agreements with banks to address unlawful redlining, employers to address barriers to reentry, major retailers on racial profiling of consumers, police departments on reforms to policies and practices, and one of the country’s largest school districts concerning issues relating to the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Lawyers’ Committee Co-Chair James P. Joseph said Clarke emerged as the candidate best suited to lead the Lawyers’ Committee after vetting a “stellar and diverse” pool of candidates.

“As African-Americans and other minorities nationwide continue to grapple with racial injustice and inequality, our new president will be critical to advancing our mission of securing equal justice for all under the rule of law,” Joseph said.

Clarke is being warmly welcomed by the national civil rights community.

“Congratulations to both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and to the entire civil rights community. The Lawyers’ Committee has selected a deeply and diversely skilled litigator as its new president. Ms. Clarke is both an accomplished advocate and an NAACP Legal Defense Fund alumnus. We welcome her with appreciation for her service thus far and anticipation of her service to the nation to come,” said NAACP President/CEO Cornell Brooks.

National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial described Clark as a “seasoned, passionate civil rights lawyer, and is an excellent choice for the new leader of the Lawyers’ Committee.”

Arnwine also weighed in, “On behalf of the Transformative Justice Coalition, I extend congratulations to Kristen Clarke.  My best wishes to her as she picks up the mantle for justice envisioned by President Kennedy and carried forth through the years by dedicated leaders.”

The Lawyers’ Committee was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy. It aimed to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination.

According to the release, Clarke has a wide range of civil rights and racial justice experience. They range from her work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where she served as a program director coordinating work in the areas of voting rights and election laws across the country, to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where she worked before LDF.

“AT LDF, where Kristen led our voting rights work, we knew her as a brilliant and strategic thinker and litigator. Since then, she has showed tremendous creativity and innovation in heading the Civil Rights Bureau in the New York Attorney General’s office. We can think of no better partner for LDF to have as we face the next challenges in civil rights. Kristen is a consensus builder and universally beloved by all those who work with her,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, LDF president and director-counsel.

As a federal prosecutor in the Criminal Section of the DOJ, she handled police misconduct, police brutality, hate crimes, and human trafficking cases. She also worked on voting rights and redistricting cases through the Office’s Voting Section, the release states.

Her honors and awards include being recognized as of the New York Law Journal’s 2015 Rising Stars and receiving the Best Brief Award for the 2012 Supreme Court term from the National Association of Attorneys General.

Clarke states, “I look forward to building upon the Lawyers’ Committee’s tremendous legal and civil rights legacy. I am honored to be selected as president and executive director to lead and work alongside a brilliant and committed staff in the fight to secure equal justice and equal opportunity for all.  Humbly, yet boldly, I embrace this historic opportunity to lead and serve, as the organization continues to combat systemic discrimination and racial inequality across our country.”

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