James Cadogan and Melanie Roussell Newman Join LDF in Key Leadership Positions

 Organization Looks to Expand Communications and Grow Distinctive Thurgood Marshall Institute Brand

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is proud to announce the addition of two new members to its senior management team.

We are thrilled to welcome James Cadogan as the inaugural Director of LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of LDF. “As Director of the Institute—a new multi-disciplinary hub within LDF—Mr. Cadogan will oversee targeted research and advocacy initiatives and contribute to the development and execution of strategic communications that enhance our ability to fight for civil rights and address structural inequality in the 21st century.”

Mr. Cadogan has significant expertise leading teams in civil rights and criminal justice policy development. Before coming to LDF, he served in the Obama Administration, most recently as Counselor to Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  At DOJ, Mr. Cadogan was a member of the Attorney General’s senior management team where he oversaw various operational, policy, and litigating components of the Department, and advised the Attorney General on criminal justice matters.  Previously, Mr. Cadogan held positions as Director of Policy and Planning in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division; as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in DOJ’s Civil Division; and as a Special Assistant at the U.S. Department of Defense. During his government service, he was a key advisor on a variety of landmark initiatives, including: DOJ’s comprehensive federal reentry reforms; reducing use of federal solitary confinement; community policing matters; restructuring distribution of federal law enforcement equipment; the White House My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; implementation of U.S. v. Windsor (U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Defense of Marriage Act); and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Mr. Cadogan began his career as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York.  Mr. Cadogan will be based out of LDF’s Washington, D.C. office.

Melanie Roussell Newman also joins LDF in a new position as Chief Public Engagement and Communications Strategist,” continued Ifill. “Ms. Newman will oversee a critical expansion of our communications department and will be responsible for shaping messaging strategy across all LDF practice areas as well as developing public relations on behalf of the Thurgood Marshall Institute.” Prior to LDF, Ms. Newman held several positions in the Obama Administration, most recently serving as Director of the Office of Public Affairs (OPA) at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she led the Department’s communications team and oversaw messaging and public engagement strategy for Attorney General Loretta Lynch. During her tenure at DOJ, Ms. Newman managed communications across all litigating, policy, and operational divisions of the Department. Ms. Newman also advised the Attorney General on crisis communications and emergency response, including the response to the Mother Emmanuel-Charleston massacre and the Dylann Roof trial, the civil rights investigations of the Baltimore and Chicago police departments, the Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina for its discriminatory HB-2 legislation, and the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino (CA), and Orlando (FL). Prior to joining the Justice Department, Ms. Newman served as Associate Director of Communications and Strategic Planning at the White House Office of Management and Budget and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her experience also includes stints as the National Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee and Communications Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary. Ms. Newman will be based out of LDF’s Washington, D.C. office.

“LDF is honored to welcome both Mr. Cadogan and Ms. Newman to our team,” concluded Ifill. “As former senior government officials, they bring significant public policy experience, political acumen, and organizational management skills to their unique roles. With their support, we look forward to amplifying our public presence and growing our distinct Thurgood Marshall Institute brand, both of which are integral to the advancement of LDF’s civil rights agenda.”


  • James Cadogan bio 


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.