Speakers List (Partial)

Congressman James E. Clyburn

Majority Whip, United States House of Representatives

James E. (Jim) Clyburn, representing South Carolina's 6th congressional district since 1993, is the House Majority Whip and the third-ranking leader in the United States House of Representatives.

Congressman Clyburn began his professional career as a public school teacher in Charleston, South Carolina. Before being elected to Congress he directed two community development programs, served on the staff of a South Carolina Governor, and ran a state agency under four South Carolina Governors – two Democrats and two Republicans. His memoir, Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, was published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2015. It has been described ‎as a primer that should be read by every student interested in pursuing a career in public service.

His humble beginnings in Sumter, South Carolina as the eldest son of an activist, fundamentalist minister and an independent, civic minded beautician grounded Congressman Clyburn securely in family, faith and public service. He was elected president of his NAACP youth chapter at 12 years old, he helped organize many civil rights marches and demonstrations as a student leader at South Carolina State College, and he even met his wife Emily in jail following a student demonstration.

Congressman Clyburn played an outsized role in changing the nation’s political landscape in the 2018-midterm elections by engaging and energizing voters in districts all over America. Thanks to Congressman Clyburn, the 116 Congress looks more like America than at any time in our nation's history.


Photo of Keith Ellison

Attorney General Keith Ellison

Attorney General of Minnesota

Keith Ellison is the Attorney General of Minnesota. Ellison was elected to the office on November 6, 2018.  Congressman Keith Ellison represents Minnesota's 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to his election as attorney general, Ellison served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District from 2007 to 2019. Ellison served as one of the chief deputy whips of the Democratic caucus for the 113th Congress. Ellison also served as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

As a member of congress Ellison was a member of the House Financial Services Committee. He also served on the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. In the past he served on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Rep. Ellison was elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus for the 113th Congress.
He was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, founded the Congressional Consumer Justice Caucus, and belonged to more than a dozen other caucuses that focus on issues ranging from social inclusion to environmental protection. Before being elected to Congress Rep. Ellison was a noted community activist and ran a thriving civil rights, employment, and criminal defense law practice in Minneapolis. He also was elected to serve two terms in the Minnesota State House of Representatives.


Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman

United States House of Representatives

Bonnie Watson Coleman, a long-time public servant and advocate for New Jersey families, was elected in 2018 to her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The first African American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress, Watson Coleman is passionate about the issues affecting working families of all backgrounds, including criminal justice reform, building an economy that works for all families rather than a wealthy few, and rebuilding infrastructure to improve this country and support job creation. She focuses on these priorities and other critical issues as a member of the House Committees on Appropriations and Homeland Security

The daughter of legendary state legislator John S. Watson, Watson Coleman has continued a family legacy of public service, fighting for women, economically and socially disadvantaged populations, ad other vulnerable groups in our society. Prior to her election a Representative for New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, Watson Coleman served eight consecutive terms in the New Jersey General Assembly and shattered racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman to serve as Majority Leader, and as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. During her time as Majority Leader, Watson Coleman convened a year-long series of public hearings on reforms to prisoner re-entry programs while shepherding legislation through the Assembly that the New York Times called “a model for the rest of the nation,” on prisoner rehabilitation and release.

In 2016, Watson Coleman founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls alongside two of her colleagues, the first caucus aimed at bringing both the tremendous challenges and incredible successes of Black women to the fore in Congress’s policy debates. Watson Coleman is an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

Watson Coleman is a graduate of Thomas Edison State College, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from the College of New Jersey, Rider University, and Stockton University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and co-chair of the Girl Scouts of America Capitol Hill Honorary Troop. She resides with her husband, William, in Ewing Township. The two are blessed to have three sons: William, Troy and Jared; and three grandchildren: William, Ashanee and Kamryn.



Congressman Frank Pallone

United States House of Representatives

On January 3, 2017, Frank Pallone, Jr. was sworn in for his 15th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pallone represents New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District, which covers most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County. Throughout his career, Pallone has been a leader in protecting the integrity of the Medicare guarantee and Medicaid programs, making the nation’s food system safer, strengthening laws to keep our air and water clean, making health care more affordable and accessible, and supporting initiatives that advance and protect the public health. Pallone is the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce, and telecommunications. From 2006 to 2014, Pallone served as the top Democrat on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. As Chairman during the 111th Congress, Pallone played a key role in authoring and passing the Affordable Care Act. The landmark law extends health care coverage to millions of Americans, while driving down health care costs and reigning in abusive tactics used by insurance companies to deny medical treatment. Frank Pallone, Jr., was born and raised in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he still resides. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, holds a master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and earned his law degree at Rutgers University. Pallone began his political career in his home city of Long Branch, getting elected to the City Council in 1982 and winning re-election four years later. In 1983, Pallone was elected to the state Senate, representing the Monmouth County coastline. He was re-elected in 1987. During his tenure in the state Legislature, Pallone distinguished himself as an advocate for environmental issues and senior citizen concerns, and prioritized providing constituent services. Pallone and his wife Sarah have three children; daughters Rose and Celeste, and a son, Frank.


Freeholder Ashley Bennett

Atlantic County Freeholder

Ashley Bennett, a lifelong Atlantic County resident, was elected District Three Freeholder in 2017. While attending Egg Harbor Township High School, she became an Emergency Medical Technician and discovered her passion to serve others. She holds a B.A. degree from Rutgers University in Psychology, where she also minored in Organizational Leadership and was a Ronal E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program Scholar. She went on to earn her masters in Community Counseling at Georgian Court University and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University, where she worked in The Forensic Neuropsychology Research as a Research Assistant. Ms. Bennett has presented original research at both the Association for Psychological Science and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies National Conferences. She has been in the mental health field for a decade and currently works as a psychiatric emergency screener in a local emergency room, where she conducts mental health assessments and links those in crisis with mental health treatment. She is currently completing two additional graduate degrees in Public Health and Business Administration.


Elise Boddie

Rutgers School of Law

Elise Boddie is a nationally-recognized expert in civil rights, was previously the director of litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund. She is a frequent public speaker and has appeared on MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, Democracy Now and National Public Radio and is the author of several articles. She holds a master’s degree in public policy in addition to her law degree.


John H. Bracey, Jr.

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Professor John H. Bracey, Jr., has taught in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst since 1972. He is now serving a second stint as department chair, and is co-director of the department’s graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. His major academic interests are in African American social history, radical ideologies and movements, and the history of African American Women and more recently the interactions between Native Americans and African Americans, and Afro-Latinos in the United States. During the 1960s, Professor Bracey was active in the Civil Rights, Black Liberation, and other radical movements in Chicago. Since his arrival at UMass he has maintained those interests and commitments both on campus and in the wider world. His publications include several co-edited volumes, include Black Nationalism in America (1970); the prize winning African American Women and the Vote: 1837-1965 (1997); Strangers and Neighbors: Relations between Blacks and Jews in the United States (with Maurianne Adams, 1999); and, African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Twenty-First Century (with Manisha Sinha, 2004).

Professor Bracey’s scholarship also includes editorial work on the microfilm series Black Studies Research Sources (LexisNexis), which includes the Papers of the NAACP, Amiri Baraka, the Revolutionary Action Movement, A. Phillip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune, the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, and the Papers of Horace Mann Bond. Professor Bracey is a co-editor with Professor James Smethurst and Professor Emerita Sonia Sanchez of SOS: Calling All Black People: A Black Arts Movement Reader (2014).


John C. Brittain

Professor of Law UDC David A. Clarke School of Law

John C. Brittain joined the faculty in 2009. He had previously served as Dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of law at Texas Southern University in Houston, as a tenured law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law for twenty-two years, and as Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Professor Brittain writes and litigates on issues in civil and human rights, especially in education law. In 2013, he was named to the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair at North Carolina Central University School of Law, established to bring prominent civil rights law professors and litigators to the law school to teach constitutional and civil rights law for a year. He has participated in filing nearly a dozen briefs in the United States Supreme Court. He has been president of the National Lawyers’ Guild, a member of the Executive Committee and the Board of the ACLU, and legal counsel to the NAACP at the local level and national office of the General Counsel.


Cornell William Brooks

Rev. Cornell William Brooks

Harvard Kennedy School

Cornell William Brooks is Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School.  He is also Director of The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the School’s Center for Public Leadership, and a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School.  Brooks is the former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights attorney, and an ordained minister

Brooks was most recently visiting professor of social ethics, law, and justice movements at Boston University’s School of Law and School of Theology. He was a visiting fellow and director of the Campaign and Advocacy Program at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics in 2017. Brooks served as the 18th president of the NAACP from 2014 to 2017. Under his leadership, the NAACP secured 12 significant legal victories, including laying the groundwork for the first statewide legal challenge to prison-based gerrymandering. He also reinvigorated the activist social justice heritage of the NAACP, dramatically increasing membership, particularly online and among millennials. Among the many demonstrations from Ferguson to Flint during his tenure, he conceived and led “America’s Journey for Justice” march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C., over 40 days and 1000 miles. 

Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where he led the passage of pioneering criminal justice reform and housing legislation, six bills in less than five years. He also served as senior counsel and acting director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice. Brooks served as judicial clerk for the Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Brooks holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and member of the Yale Law and Policy Review, and a Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology, where he was a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. He also holds a B.A. from Jackson State University. He is a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Clayola Brown

President, A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO

Building One America 2017 - Opportunity America Award

Clayola Brown, is the National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), AFL-CIO; Vice President, Workers United-SEIU. The Civil Rights Director under the repositioned union Workers United, an SEIU affiliate, member of the General Executive Board of Workers United since its formation in March 2009. Former member, AFL-CIO Executive Council, and current Director of the Amalgamated Bank.

Ms. Brown’s lifelong commitment to labor activism began in her hometown of Charlestown, South Carolina, where she—alongside her activist mother—campaigned to organize the Manhattan Shirt Factory. In 1995, she was elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council, where she served for 10 years. Clayola Brown began serving as National President of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, located in Washington, D.C., in August 2004 -- the first female to serve in that role.


Rev. Timothy Tee Boddie

Progressive National Baptist Convention

Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie is the immediate past General Secretary and Chief Administrative Officer of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in Washington, DC. Prior to his pastoral ministry, Dr. Boddie served for 11 years as University Chaplain and Pastor of the Memorial Church at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. In 2007, Chaplain Boddie was elected to a one-year term as president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, becoming the first African-American from a historically Black university to serve this capacity in the organization’s then 60-year history. Born in Raleigh, NC, Dr. Boddie was reared in Newport News, VA, and is the product of its public schools. Dr. Boddie majored in English at Morehouse College and also holds a master’s degree from Stanford University. He has done further study at New York University, and he earned his doctorate degree from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. 


Tamara Elaine Chrisler

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Tamara Elaine Chrisler is the managing director of policy and government affairs. Chrisler is responsible for the management and strategic direction of the policy department and advancing the advocacy agenda of the organization. Prior to joining The Leadership Conference, she was an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) consultant with Resolution Services, Inc., where she provided professional counseling, investigative, and adjudication services to the federal government on matters of employment discrimination. Before working in this consultant capacity, Chrisler spent eight years at the Congressional Office of Compliance, where she led the office’s efforts to advance workplace rights in the legislative branch, first as the office’s deputy executive director, and then as its executive director. From 1997-2005, she was an attorney advisor with the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she supervised and trained attorneys in trial preparation for EEO and unfair labor practice hearings and advised and trained high-level agency officials in preventing discrimination and harassment claims. Chrisler began her professional legal career as a criminal prosecutor in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago, IL, where she prosecuted violent and habitual offenders and represented the people of the state of Illinois before the Illinois Appellate Court. Chrisler received her B.A. in French Literature, and her J.D., from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.


Senator Nia H. Gill

New Jersey State Senate

Senator Nia H. Gill has been involved in government and law for more than 20 years, first as a law student and legislative aide tot he late Senator Wynona Lipman and today as a practicing attorney. Gill also served in the New Jersey State Assembly for three terms, being named Democratic Whip, and to the Speaker's Education Funding Task Force and to several committees including, the Assembly Democratic Senior Citizen Task Force, Co-chair and the Assembly Advisory Committee on the Arts, History and Humanities. She is the mother of an adult son, Bradley. 

Ms. Gill currently serves as Senator in the 34th legislative district, which includes Montclair, East Orange, Glen Ridge, Clifton and West Paterson. 

No newcomer to the cause of economic, educational and social change, Senator Gill has championed educational issues and has lobbied for higher education and adequate funding. In addition, she sponsored legislation, signed into law, to strengthen New Jersey's money laundering and check cashing laws and strengthen the ability of municipalities to use public funds for developing low-and-moderate income housing. 

Senator Gill is a sponsor of the measure recently signed into law to criminalize the deprivation of civil rights by public officials, making racial profiling a state crime. She has also sponsored the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, which would give individuals a remedy whenever one person deprives another person of any rights, privileges or immunities or interferes with another civil rights. Additionally, she sponsored a resolution to formally revoke an 1868 effort by the New Jersey Legislature to withdraw New Jersey's support for the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Senator Gill sponsored legislation that provides a $3,000 income tax deduction for certain families providing home care for an elderly relative, legislation that abolishes the death penalty in New Jersey, and has also sponsored legislation allowing PAAD recipients freedom of choice in selecting a pharmacy and prohibits the imposition of a mail order system. The Senator also sponsored legislation that establishes a central registry of domestic violence orders for use in evaluating firearm permit applications, sponsored legislation to upgrade crimes of the third degree. In addition, Senator Gill is the first African American and the first woman in the history of New Jersey named to serve on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Senator Gill is a graduate of Upsala College, earned her J.D. from Rutgers-Newark Law School and holds an honorary Doctor of Laws from Essex County College. She also clerked for Superior Judge Harry Hazelwood, Jr., before beginning a five-year term as a trial attorney with the New Jersey Public Defender's office in the Adult Division of Essex and Passaic counties. 

Ms. Gill is currently a partner in the firm of Gill and Cohen, P.C. in Montclair where she is primarily involved with plaintiff and defense trial litigation in state and federal jurisdictions. She is a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocacy Society. The national society of membership is restricted to those attorneys who have won damages in the amount of one million dollars or over. 

Senator Gill is also the recipient of numerous awards. She was honored in Selma, Alabama as one of '100 women in the 20th Century' who contributed to the struggle for civil rights, and the New Jersey Business and Industry Association '2003 Woman of the Year Award.' In addition, the Senator received the Outstanding contributions to Women and Families Award and a City News 100 Most Influential New Jerseyans Award and the YWCA North Essex has also recognized her as one of the 'Women You Should Know in 2000.' She was selected as 'Essex County Legislator of the year,' 'State Legislator Woman of Achievement' and had her 'Profiles in Courage' listed in New Jersey Monthly Magazine, the most recent in a long list of honors, including two from her hometown, the Montclair Community Leader and the Montclair NAACP Citizen Award.


Elaine Gross

V. Elaine Gross , MSW is the president of ERASE Racism, a Long Island, NY based regional organization that leads public policy advocacy campaigns and related programmatic initiatives to promote racial equity in areas, such as housing, public school education, public health and community development. Ms. Gross is a former member of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. Most recently she was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.


Ryan Haygood

President and CEO, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

One of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers, Ryan Haygood became the third president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (the “Institute”) in 2015. In this role, he leverages his national expertise to advance the Institute’s cutting-edge work in empowering urban communities where residents of color are connected to full-time, meaningful jobs, have access to affordable housing and the democratic process, and are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.

Prior to leading the Institute, Haygood served as the deputy director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc. (LDF), where he worked for more than a decade.  At LDF, Haygood litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. In two of those cases, he defended a core provision of the Voting Rights Act, widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest pieces of civil rights legislation, before the United States Supreme Court.

A passionate advocate, Ryan speaks and writes regularly on issues concerning race, law, civil rights, and democracy. He is frequently interviewed by media outlets, including: MSNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, and the New York Times. Prior to joining LDF, Ryan was a litigation associate in the New York office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, and was a recipient of the prestigious LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship. At Fried, Frank, Ryan represented clients in a variety of complex commercial and civil rights matters before federal courts.

Ryan received his J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law and B.A. in American History and Political Science cum laude from Colorado College, where he was nominated for the Rhodes scholarship and earned academic and athletic All-American honors as a football player. 


Photo of Bruce Haynes

Bruce D. Haynes

University of California, Davis, Professor of Sociology, Senior Fellow, Urban Ethnography Project, Yale University

An authority on race, ethnicity, and urban communities, his publications include The Ghetto: Contemporary Issues and Controversies, and RED LINES, BLACK SPACES: The Politics of Race and Space in a Black Middle-Class Suburb (Yale University Press 2001) and Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family
Haynes teaches courses focused primarily race and ethnic inequality, racialized spaces, ethnic communities, and urban society. 


Derrick Johnson

President and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Mr. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP.

Born in Detroit, Mr. Johnson is a veteran activist who has dedicated his career to defending the rights and improving the lives of poor and working people. As State President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference, he led critical campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. He successfully managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, MS that brought $150 million in school building improvements and $65 million towards the construction of a new convention center, respectively. As a regional organizer at the Jackson-based non-profit, Southern Echo, Inc., Mr. Johnson provided legal, technical, and training support for communities across the South.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Johnson founded One Voice Inc. to improve the quality of life for African Americans through civic engagement training and initiatives. One Voice has spawned an annual Black Leadership Summit and the Mississippi Black Leadership Institute, a nine month training program for community leaders.


Rucker Johnson

Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

Rucker C. Johnson is an Associate Professor in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and faculty research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. As a labor economist who specializes in the economics of education, Johnson’s work considers the role of poverty and inequality in affecting life chances.

Johnson was one of 35 scholars to receive the prestigious 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship. His research has appeared in leading academic journals, featured in mainstream media outlets, and he has been invited to give policy briefings at the White House and on Capitol Hill. His forthcoming book, Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works, will be published by Basic Books & the Russell Sage Foundation Press early next year.

Johnson is committed to advance his scholarly agenda of fusing insights from multiple disciplinary perspectives to improve our understanding of the causes, consequences, and remedies of inequality in this country. Johnson earned his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Michigan. At UC-Berkeley (2004-present), he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in applied econometrics and topical courses in race, poverty & inequality.


Doug Massey

Princeton University

Doug Massey is Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, with a joint appointment in the Woodrow Wilson School. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, he is the current president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and is a member of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences and co-editor of the Annual Review of Sociology. He currently serves as Director of the Office of Population Research. Massey’s research focuses on international migration, race and housing, discrimination, education, urban poverty, stratification, and Latin America, especially Mexico. He is the author, most recently, of Brokered Boundaries: Constructing Immigrant Identity in Anti-Immigrant Times, coauthored with Magaly Sanchez and Published by the Russell Sage Foundation.


Kimberly McGlonn

Councilmember, Jenkintown, PA

Kimberly McGlonn is Educator, Councilwoman, Writer, Environmentalist. She is a Councilmember in the Borough Of Jenkintown where Serve as Liasion to Jenkintown School District, serve on Public Safety and Public Works Committees. She is also an educator Lower Moreland School District where she is the English Department Chair. She is a sinbgle mother and a grauate of Louisiana State University.


Rev. Terrence Melvin

President, International Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)

Rev. Melvin is the Secretary-Treasurer of the 2.5 million members, New York State AFL-CIO.

In 1980, Mr. Melvin started his career as a member of Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 427 at the Western New York Developmental Center. CSEA is a Statewide Union representing over 250,000 state, county, municipal and private sector workers throughout New York.

In May 2012, Mr. Melvin was elected unanimously as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) new president, succeeding William (Bill) Lucy, who had held the position since he co-founded CBTU in 1972. CBTU, which is dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of black workers and their communities, has 50 chapters in major U.S. cities and one in Ontario, Canada. President Emeritus Lucy is a heralded Civil Rights and Labor Leader, marching with Dr. King and working with Nelson Mandela advocating the end of apartheid in South Africa. President Emeritus Lucy has long been a mentor and guidance for Mr. Melvin.
Amongst his various Labor and community roles, Mr. Melvin is a man of devout faith and spiritual belief. He is an ordained Baptist Minister. He serves as Associate Minister and Assistant to the Pastor at Second Baptist Church, Lackawanna, New York.

Mr. Melvin is a graduate of the Rochester Center for Theological and Biblical Studies with a Bachelors Degree in Ministry. He is married to Sonja Marie Melvin, and has three children: Candice, Terrence II and Crystal; and one beautiful granddaughter, Cadence.


Khalil Muhammad

Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. He is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. Before leading the Schomburg Center, Khalil was an Associate Professor at Indiana University.

Khalil’s scholarship examines the broad intersections of race, democracy, inequality and criminal justice in modern U.S. history. He is co-editor of “Constructing the Carceral State,” a special issue of the Journal of American History (June 2015), and a contributor to a 2014 National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences, as well as the author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies.

Much of his work has been featured in national print and broadcast media outlets, including the New York Times, New Yorker, Washington Post, The Nation, National Public Radio, Moyers and Company, and MSNBC. He has appeared in a number of feature-length documentaries, including the Oscar-nominated 13th (2016) and Slavery by Another Name (2012). Khalil was an associate editor of The Journal of American History and prior Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the American Antiquarian Society. In 2017, he received the Distinguished Service Medal from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He holds two honorary doctorates and is on the boards of the Vera Institute of Justice, The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Historical Society, and The Nation magazine, as well as the advisory boards of Cure Violence, Common Justice, The HistoryMakers and the Lapidus Center for the Study of Transatlantic Slavery.

Khalil is an award-winning teacher at Harvard and has received numerous honors for his commitment to public engagement, including BPI Chicago’s Champion of the Public Interest Award (2018), The Fortune Society’s Game Changer Award (2017), Ebony Power 100 (2013), The Root 100 of Black Influencers (2012-2014), and Crain’s New York Business magazine 40 under 40 (2011).

A native of Chicago’s South Side, Khalil graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics in 1993, and then joined Deloitte & Touche, LLP, as a staff accountant until entering graduate school. He earned his Ph.D. in U.S. History from Rutgers University.


Myron Orfield

Myron Orfield

Earl R. Larson Professor of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Director, Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity University of Minnesota Law School

Professor Myron Orfield is the Director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity. He has written three books and dozens of articles and book chapters on local government law, spatial inequality, fair housing, school desegregation, charter schools, state and local taxation and finance, and land use law. The syndicated columnist Neal Peirce called him “the most influential demographer in America’s burgeoning regional movement.” Orfield’s research has led to legislative and judicial reforms at the federal level and state level reform in Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, Oregon, and Maryland.


Raymond M. Pocino

Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Laborers’ International Union of North America

A member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America for 60 years (LIUNA), Raymond M. Pocino holds dual positions as LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager. He directs and oversees activities that affect the working lives of some 40,000 laborers in the New Jersey, Delaware, New York City, Long Island and Puerto Rico. During his tenure, the Eastern Region has evolved into a vital, influential force within the 550,000-member Laborers’ International Union.

As a LIUNA Vice President, Mr. Pocino serves as a trustee of the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, and the Laborers Health and Safety Trust, two unique programs that bring labor and management together in joint efforts to stimulate economic development, upgrade the competitiveness of union construction, and improve the health and safety of laborers. One of his first initiatives as Eastern Regional Manager was to establish the Laborers Eastern Region Organizing Fund (LEROF), the International’s first-ever regional organizing arm. 

Mr. Pocino has carried his commitment to the Laborers Union beyond the union hall into an active public life.  Long recognized for his expertise on transportation and economic development issues, Mr. Pocino serves as commissioner to the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey and is serving his sixth term as a commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, including one as chairman. He also serves as vice chairman of Choose New Jersey, an independent, privately funded non-profit corporation created to promote New Jersey as a place to invest and do business. Mr. Pocino also serves as a trustee for NJ SEED and the New Jersey Alliance for Action.

Mr. Pocino has received numerous accolades for his commitment and service, including the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s Labor Award, the Alliance for Action’s coveted Eagle Award for Leadership, Construction Man of the Year by the Building Contractors Association of New Jersey, Labor Leader of the Year by American ORT, New York City Chapter, and Labor Leader Honoree by the Newark Catholic Archdiocese. 


Bishop Dennis V. Proctor

Northeastern Episcopal District, African Methodist Episocopal Zion Church.

A native of Buffalo, New York, and a graduate of the Syracuse, New York public school system, he received his Bachelor of Arts (Summa Cum Laude) from Livingstone College, Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary, a Clinical Pastoral Experience Diploma from Western Reserve Psychiatric Habilitation Center, a Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University College of Law, and a Doctor of Ministry (Samuel D. Proctor/Otis Moss Fellow) from the United Theological Seminary. He was inducted into Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia. He was honored by his Alma Mater to receive the Doctor of Divinity from Hood Theological Seminary and Livingstone College. He was a featured lecturer at the prestigious Hampton University, Hampton Minister’s Conference. He was appointed by the University to be the Conference Historian, becoming the first Methodist to serve as an officer in the organization’s history. In addition, one of his sermons is published in the book of “Outstanding Black Sermons Volume 4″ Judson Press, and a contributing author in “Doing Church Vol.2” New Seasons Press.

He has served as a Fellow to Study the Presidency of the United States, a North Carolina Legislative Intern, North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership Fellow, Clerk for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Lt. Governor of American Bar Association Law Student Division, President of The Ohio State University Black Graduate and Professional Student Caucus.

He is the Founding President of the Congress of National Black Churches, Baltimore Affiliate. He served on his denomination’s Connectional Budget Board, Overseas Missions Board and co-authored Christians Under Construction.

Bishop Proctor has held three pastorates: St. James A.M.E. Zion Church in Massillon, Ohio, where he led the congregation in the building of a new church and purchased a parsonage. His second pastorate was the St. Luke A.M.E. Zion Church of Wilmington, North Carolina. There he led the congregation in remodeling the church, purchasing a new parsonage and commissioning a life size mural. His last pastorate was the historic Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Remodeling the facility, acquiring additional property, creating a full-time ministerial staff and implementing over twenty ministry areas are among his many accomplishments there. Each of his pastoral appointments accepted the challenge of technological development and biblical stewardship as a means of financing the work of Kingdom building.

In Atlanta, Georgia, during the 48th Quadrennial Session of the A.M.E. Zion General Conference, the Rev. Dr. Dennis V. Proctor was elected by the world church and consecrated the 97th Bishop in succession of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and assigned to the Western Episcopal District. At the 49th Quadrennial Session of the A.M.E. Zion Church’s General Conference he was assigned to the Alabama- Florida Episcopal District and serves as the Presiding Bishop. With the passing of Bishop Roy A. Holmes the Board of Bishops assigned him to to preside over New York, Western New York, and the United Kingdom.

He is a fifth generation preacher and the son of the late Rev. Emory C. and Rosie T. Proctor. He is married to the former Deborah Diane Wilson, and they are the parents of four children.


Diane Ravitch

Historian of education at New York University

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. She has written many books and articles about American education. She is president and co-founder of the Network for Public Education, which opposes privatization of public schools and advocates for equitably resourced public schools with experienced teachers. She is the author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools


Lisa Rice

President & CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance

In her capacity as Executive Vice President with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), Ms. Rice oversees the resource development, public policy, communication and enforcement divisions of the agency. NFHA works with over 200 member organizations across the country to eliminate barriers in the housing markets and expand equal housing and lending opportunities. Prior to joining NFHA, she was the President and CEO of the Fair Housing Center of Toledo, Ohio and the Northwest Ohio Development Agency where she created the state’s only anti-predatory lending remediation program. Ms. Rice has served on the state of Ohio’s Housing Trust Fund Advisory Board, State Farm Bank Consumer Advisory Council, and Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council. She is a current member of the JPMorgan Chase Consumer Advisory Council, Mortgage Bankers Association's Consumer Advisory Council, Freddie Mac Affordable Housing Advisory Council, and America’s Homeowner Alliance Advisory Board. 


Theodore M. Shaw

Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill

Professor Shaw was the fifth Director-Counsel and President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., for which he worked in various capacities over the span of twenty-six years. He has litigated education, employment, voting rights, housing, police misconduct, capital punishment and other civil rights cases in trial and appellate courts, and in the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Shaw’s legal career began as a Trial Attorney in the Honors Program of the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., where he worked from 1979 until 1982. In addition to teaching at Columbia and at Michigan Law School, Professor Shaw held the 1997-1998 Haywood Burns Chair at CUNY School of Law at Queens College and the 2003 Phyllis Beck Chair at Temple Law School. He was a visiting scholar at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia in 2008-2009. He is a member of the faculty of the Practicing Law Institute (PLI). Mr. Shaw served on the Obama Transition Team after the 2008 presidential election, as team leader for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.


William E. Spriggs

Chief Economist, AFL-CIO

William Spriggs serves as Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO, and is a professor in, and former Chair of, the Department of Economics at Howard University. Bill assumed these roles in August 2012 after leaving the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. Bill was appointed by President Barack Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, in 2009 to serve as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy at the United States Department of Labor, taking a leave of absence from Howard University to do so. At the time of his appointment, he also served as chairman for the Healthcare Trust for UAW Retirees of the Ford Motor Company and as chairman of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust; and on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration's Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States; and, as Senior Fellow of the Community Service Society of New York.

Bill's previous work experience includes roles leading economic policy development and research at the Economic Policy Institute, the National Urban League, positions at the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress and the independent federal National Commission for Employment Policy.

While working on his PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Bill began his labor career as co-president of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 3220 in Madison, Wisconsin. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the National Academy of Public Administration.


Richard Tolson

Director, New Jersey Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC)

Richard E. Tolson, Director-New Jersey Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC)


Naomi Williams

Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations

Naomi R Williams received her PhD from the History Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary research interests include labor and working-class history, urban history and politics, gender and women, race and politics, and more broadly, social and economic movements of working people.  Naomi’s primary focus is on late-capitalism at the end of the 20th century and workers’ role in shaping U.S. political economy. Currently, she is revising a book manuscript, tentatively titled “Workers United: Race, Labor, and Coalition Building in Deindustrialized America,” on the transformation of class identity and politics in the second half of the twentieth century.