The NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s (LDF) Board of Directors named Janai S. Nelson as the organization’s eighth President and Director-Counsel effective March 15, 2022.
Ms. Nelson previously worked alongside former President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill for nearly eight years as Associate Director-Counsel. Ms. Ifill stepped down from her role in the spring of 2022 after nearly a decade leading the organization through its greatest period of growth and transformation. The leadership transition marks the first woman-to-woman transition in LDF history.
Janai S. Nelson is LDF’s President and Director-Counsel. Ms. Nelson has also helped to steward some of LDF’s most pivotal developments in the past seven years, including guiding the design and launching one of the most far-reaching efforts to create the next generation of civil rights leaders: The Marshall-Motley Scholars Program. Prior to joining LDF in June 2014, Ms. Nelson was Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law where she was also a full professor of law and served on the law school’s Senior Leadership Team.
Ms. Nelson began practicing law as the 1998 recipient of a LDF/Fried Frank Fellowship. She received a B.A. from New York University and a J.D. from UCLA School of Law.