Feb. 28: NJ Institute for Social Justice to Celebrate 20th Anniversary

The Institute at 20: A Conversation with Our Leaders on New Jersey’s Fight for Social Justice


Feb. 28 Celebration Will Feature Panel of Past and Current Institute Presidents


NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey’s premier social and racial justice legal advocacy organization, will kick off its 20th Anniversary year celebration on February 28 with a panel discussion on the defining social justice issues in New Jersey, featuring its former and current leaders.


In a conversation moderated by Institute Board Member Elise Boddie, Institute President and CEOs Ken Zimmerman (1999-2006), Cornell William Brooks (2007-2014) and Ryan P. Haygood (2015-Present) will address the Institute’s front line advocacy over the past 20 years to empower urban residents to realize and achieve their full potential, and to create just, vibrant, and healthy urban communities where everyone can thrive.


The discussion will include highlights of past Presidents’ tenures as well as the Institute’s current advocacy.


“It is an honor to advance social and racial justice in the way that Amy and Alan Lowenstein envisioned when they founded this mighty organization 20 years ago,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Twenty years after our founding, we continue to advocate fiercely, from the ground up, for unapologetically progressive policies and systems that build wealth in urban communities, transform youth justice, and restore voting rights to people with criminal convictions. I am excited to speak with and pay tribute to our former Presidents who helped make the Institute what it is today. While there’s so much work still to be done, there’s also much achieved that deserves to be celebrated.”


WHAT:  The Institute at 20: A Conversation with Our Leaders on New Jersey’s Fight for Social Justice


WHERE: Prudential Tower, Kiyo Hall, 655 Broad Street, Newark


WHEN: February 28 – Cocktail Reception 6:30-7 PM; Program 7-8:30 PM


The Institute, founded by Alan V. Lowenstein to be a dynamic and independent voice to create just, vibrant and inclusive urban communities, will hold additional commemorative events throughout the year, including its Annual Gala on June 13.


About the panel:

Ken Zimmerman served as NJISJ’s first Executive Director from 1999-2006. A noted policy maker, fair housing expert, and civil rights attorney, Zimmerman – among other roles – directed the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs and served as a co-director of the Open Society Policy Center; was a litigation partner heading the pro bono group at Lowenstein Sandler PC; served on the presidential transition team for the Obama Administration; and was chief counsel to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow with NYU’s Furman Center.


Cornell William Brooks, a civil rights attorney and ordained minister, led the Institute from 2007-2014. Throughout his career, Brooks’ roles included serving as the 18th President of the NAACP; Visiting Professor of social ethics, law, and justice movements at Boston University’s School of Law and School of Theology; Director of the Campaign and Advocacy Program at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics; and Senior Counsel and Acting Director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission. Brooks is currently Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School and a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School.


Ryan P. Haygood is NJISJ’s third and current President and CEO, where he leads the organization’s work to uplift urban communities by focusing on criminal justice reform, economic opportunity and civic engagement. A nationally respected civil rights lawyer, Haygood previously served as Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. where he worked for more than a decade and litigated some of the most important civil rights cases of our time. Haygood is interviewed frequently by media outlets including the New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, and MSNBC.


Elise Boddie (moderator) is a nationally recognized expert in civil rights, a Rutgers University-Newark Professor of Law, and a Judge Robert L. Carter Scholar. She previously was Director of Litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. and taught at New York Law School and Fordham Law School.  In 2012, Boddie was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize by the Law and Society Association for her article, “Racial Territoriality,” which appeared in the UCLA Law Review. She is a frequent speaker and has appeared on several media outlets.




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