Acting President and Executive Director and Executive Vice President, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Mr. Hewitt is a long-time civil rights lawyer, social justice strategist, philanthropist, manager and coalition-builder. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Mr. Hewitt served as inaugural executive director of the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and as senior advisor at the Open Society Foundations where he coordinated funding efforts responding to the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. He also worked for over a decade as an attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund where he was lead counsel on litigation and policy matters. He led pioneering efforts to address the School to Prison Pipeline and coordinated litigation and advocacy efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Hewitt is co‐author of the book “The School‐to‐Prison Pipeline: Structuring Legal Reform”; and he has published numerous articles on racial justice, school discipline policy and progressive education reform. He holds a B.A. in political science from Louisiana State University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
HON. D. NICOLE SHEPPARD, J.D.
Judge, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Division J
Elected to Orleans Parish Civil District Court in 2017, Judge Sheppard is an alumna of Southern University at New Orleans and the Southern University Law Center. She serves as security chair for Civil District Court, a board member of the National Bar Association Judicial Council and a member of the Board of Trustees for the American Judges Association. Judge Sheppard is also a committee member for the Continue Legal Education and Criminal Justice Committee for the Louisiana State Bar Association in addition to teaching multiple Continuing Legal Education seminars yearly. She developed the first Traffic Court Warrant Amnesty Day in New Orleans which benefited more than 1,100 citizens and established the first HIV Clergy Testing Day.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, Psy.D.
Law Enforcement Expert
Dr. Alexander is a law enforcement expert with over 40 years of experience in public safety. He has appeared on national media networks as a law enforcement analyst including CNN. He is the author of “The New Guardians: Policing in America’s Communities for the 21st Century” and “In Defense of Public Service: How 22 Million Government Workers Will Save Our Republic.” Dr. Alexander has served as deputy commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services as well as an assistant professor at the University of Rochester Department of Psychiatry having lectured on police stress and burnout and management and leadership. Dr. Alexander is a former national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).
KIM M. BOYLE, J.D.
Partner, Phelps Dunbar, LLP and Member, Dillard University Board of Trustees
Ms. Boyle practices in the areas of labor and employment, civil rights, constitutional law, commercial, tort and general litigation. Her employment practice includes representing employers in employment related claims, such as retaliation and discrimination claims as well as workplace harassment. Prior to joining Phelps Dunbar, Ms. Boyle served as judge pro tempore, Division I, for the Civil District Court for Orleans Parish. She is a former assistant professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. Ms. Boyle is the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Louisiana State Bar Association, the first African-American president of the New Orleans Bar Association and the first African-American woman to serve as co-chair of the NO/AIDS Task Force Board of Trustees. In addition to serving on Dillard’s Board of Trustees, she serves on the boards of trustees for Touro Infirmary and Tulane University as well as the Board of Directors for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.
HON. RUTH C. CARTER, J.D.
Coordinator, State of Michigan Indigent Defense Counsel Grant
Born and raised in Detroit, Judge Carter has a passion for facilitating justice. In 2007, she was appointed to the 36th District Court in Detroit where Judge Carter presided over and authored grants for the domestic violence and elder abuse docket after serving as the first female African American docket supervisor in the prosecutor’s office. After leaving left the bench, the first area of litigation Judge Carter chose to join involved the prosecution of the Flint Water Crisis. With the State of Michigan Indigent Defense Counsel Grant, she provides assigned counsel to persons accused of crimes that are unable to afford counsel. Judge Carter also serves as an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School teaching domestic violence and the law. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Dillard and her Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law.
KRISTEN CLARKE, J.D.
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice
Assistant Attorney General Clarke leads the Justice Department’s broad federal civil rights enforcement efforts and works to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all who live in America. Assistant Attorney General Clarke is a lifelong civil rights lawyer who has spent her entire career in public service. Assistant Attorney General Clarke began her career as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division through the Department of Justice’s Honors Program. In 2006, she joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she helped lead the organization’s work in the areas of voting rights and election law across the country. Ms. Clarke worked on cases defending the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, presented oral argument to the D.C. District Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, and has provided testimony on federal and state voting rights legislation. In 2011, she was named the head of the Civil Rights Bureau for the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where she led broad civil rights enforcement actions. Under her leadership, the Bureau secured landmark agreements with banks to address unlawful redlining, employers to address barriers to reentry for people with criminal backgrounds, police departments on reforms to policies and practices, major retailers on racial profiling of consumers, landlords on discriminatory housing policies, school districts concerning issues relating to the school-to-prison pipeline and more. In 2015, Ms. Clarke was named the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations founded at the request of John F. Kennedy. There, she led the organization’s legal work in courts across the country addressing some of the nation’s most complex racial justice and civil rights challenges. Assistant Attorney General Clarke was born in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Choate Rosemary Hall, she received her A.B. from Harvard University and her J.D. from Columbia Law School.
CHARLTON C. COPELAND, J.D.
Professor of Law, University of Miami
Mr. Copeland is a native of New Orleans where he was educated in the New Orleans public school system. At the University of Miami, he teaches and writes about constitutional law, separation of powers, the role of race in shaping American political institutions, how institutions shape American politics, policy and law. Prior to teaching law, Mr. Copeland served as an associate at Hogan and Hartson, LLP (now Hogan Lovells) in Washington, D.C. He also served as a clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and as a foreign law clerk at the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Mr. Copeland received his J.D. from Yale Law School, his M.A.R. from Yale Divinity School and his A.B. from Amherst College.
M.A.Program Director, Democrats for Education Reform
Mrs. Davis-Prince was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama; and she has worked in higher education for over 15 years, creating programs and services to support students in achieving their post secondary education goals. She also advocates for student needs with an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusive practices. An alumna of Berea College, Mrs. Davis-Prince knew that working in a position that affirmed cultural identities and upheld the collegiate experiences of African American students was the space to which she was professionally and personally connected. Mrs. Davis-Prince holds a Master of Arts in higher education administration from Eastern Kentucky University, and she is pursing a doctorate in educational leadership from Xavier University of Louisiana.
RAYMOND M. DELANEY JR., D.M.
Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Criminal Justice, Southern University at New Orleans
Sworn in as the leader of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) in 2019, Chief Ferguson is a 21-year law enforcement veteran. He served as the commander of the Educational and Training Division, which oversees the police academy. Prior to overseeing the academy and training the next generation of NOPD officers, Chief Ferguson served for three years as commander of the department’s 2nd District before moving to the academy in the summer of 2018. Before his assignment in the 2nd District, Chief Ferguson commanded NOPD’s 4th District. The New Orleans native was raised in the Lower Ninth Ward and moved to Algiers during his junior high school years. A graduate of O. Perry Walker High School in 1990, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern University at New Orleans, where he also received his master’s degree in criminal justice.
KELISHA GARRETT, M.B.A.
Executive Director, New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce
Ms. Garrett leads the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce which covers a 10-parish region in southern Louisiana as well as the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation. A graduate of the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute and the Brian Bell Leadership class of 2010, she serves as chairwoman of Louisiana Alliance for Economic Inclusion, a board member of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., the Louisiana Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, the Happy Health Squad and UNCF New Orleans. Ms. Garrett previously served as the vice chair of the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network, co-chair of the Greater New Orleans Women’s Breakfast, treasurer of the Women’s Business Enterprises Council–South, treasurer of the New Orleans National Black MBA and vice president of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans (now Urban League of Louisiana) Young Professionals.
Executive Director, Isaiah Institute of New Orleans
Mr. Givens is a political and community organizer with over 40 years of organizing experience. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he has been a consultant to the Advancement Project, the Atlanta Regional Council of Churches and the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference in their efforts to assist in recovery efforts in New Orleans. A veteran of the United States Navy, Mr. Givens holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of New Orleans.
MARLIN N. GUSMAN, J.D.
Former Sheriff, Orleans Parish
Sheriff Gusman is responsible for the care, custody and control of approximately 1,000 inmates each day. To reduce recidivisms and enhance education dorms and learning centers in the facilities, Sheriff Gusman has instituted a Day Reporting Center for probation/parole violators and a regional re-entry program. The executive officer for the Criminal and Civil Courts in New Orleans, Sheriff Gusman is a graduate of the National Sheriffs’ Institute and he is a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association where he served on the Crime Victims Services Committee. He is also a member of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association, NOBLE, the American Correctional Association where he has served on its Adult Local Detention Committee, the National Correctional Industries Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Sheriff Gusman attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce where he obtained a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts before earning his J.D. at Loyola University New Orleans and completing the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University.
ANGELA HONORA, M.S.
Chief, Dillard University Police Department
Chief Honora has over 25 years of distinguished service in law enforcement on university campuses where she is known for building community and for establishing relationships of mutual respect. Chief Honora has advanced training in leadership, supervision, crime prevention, domestic violence, Jeanne Cleary Act/Title IX Compliances, stalking and sensitivity on college campuses. She is a Rape Aggression Defense System (RADS) self-defense instructor for women with over 20 years teaching at Louisiana colleges, community organizations and with the Battled Women’s Program. Chief Honora graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering technology from Southern University and A&M College and a Master of Science in criminal justice from Loyola University New Orleans.
SGT. LATINA JOLIVETT, L.M.S.W.
Officer, New Orleans Police Department and Licenced Master Social Worker
For more than 23 years, Sgt. Jolivett has passionately served the City of New Orleans, as a police officer and is currently a Police Sergeant, assigned to the New Orleans Police Department’s (Investigations and Support Bureau) Victim Witness Assistant Unit. Sgt. Jolivett has done mission work in Port Au Prince, Haiti and Ghana West Africa. She loves inspiring and motivating others to reach their full potential, while educating the about the importance of self-care and healthy relationships. Sgt. Jolivett is a graduate of Southern University at New Orleans School of Social Work master’s program, and currently a licensed master social worker.
HERSY JONES JR., J.D.
A native in Shreveport, Louisiana, Mr. Jones is an attorney who filed 90% of police misconduct cases in Northwest Louisiana within an 11-year span. In the process, he won two federal verdicts against police officers who had killed unarmed Black men. Mr. Jones is a frequent guest columnist for Shreveport Times and the Shreveport Sun Weekly. He hosts two weekly radio shows, “The Sunday School Lesson” and “Are you smarter than Adam and Eve?” An ordained Baptist minister, Mr. Jones is an alumnus of Dillard where he was the Student Government Association president. Upon graduation, he became the first Dillard graduate to attend Harvard Law School where he received his J.D.
MICHAEL D. JONES, ESQ.
Partner, Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and Chair, Dillard University Board of Trustees
Mr. Jones, who is Kirkland & Ellis’ first Black partner, has tried cases in Baltimore, Maryland, New Orleans, Louisiana, Bisbee, Arizona, Queens, New York, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Blackburne County, Indiana, Oxford, Mississippi, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Illinois and Jackson, Mississippi. His most notable achievement is serving as the the lead counsel for the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education which represents the state’s HBCUs’ effort to achieve equity in state funding. Mr. Jones was selected as one of the top 10 trial attorneys in the nation by The National Law Journal in their feature, “Winning: Successful Strategies From 10 of the Nation’s Leading Litigators.” He was also chosen as one of the 75 Best Lawyers in Washington by Washingtonian magazine. Mr. Jones’ cases have been covered by a number of media outlets, including Court TV, The Associated Press, The American Lawyer, Forbes, CBS News and many others. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dillard and his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center where he serves as an adjunct professor.
SHERICE J. NELSON, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Black Leadership Roundtable
Dr. Nelson leads the Black Leadership Roundtable, a nonprofit organization committed to the unity of Black civic leaders and organizations. She is also a dynamic speaker and passionate assistant professor at Southern University. She is the founder in of Dr. Janaye Executes, a consulting firm that helps organizational leaders eliminate racial bias one conversation at a time. Educated at HBCUs, she received her Ph.D. in political science from Howard University at the age of 27 after earning her Master of Public Administration from the University of the District of Columbia. Dr. Nelson graduated magna cum laude with a dual bachelor’s degree from Stillman College in Tuscaloosa Alabama.
Executive Director, Court Watch NOLA
Having led Court Watch NOLA since 2015, Ms. Levine has dedicated her career to ensuring public accountability in the criminal justice system and in the civic arena. Court Watch NOLA is dedicated to ensuring procedural fairness, transparency, ethics compliance, constitutional rights and efficiency in the Orleans Parish Criminal Courts. Prior to joining Court Watch NOLA, Ms. Levine served as deputy police monitor within the New Orleans Office of the Independent Police Monitor where she monitored New Orleans Police Department officer-involved shootings and disciplinary hearings. Ms. Levine has also worked as both a prosecutor as well as a criminal defense attorney in New York. She has served as adjunct faculty at both Loyola Law School and the nationally recognized John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. She has been a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, Criminal Justice Committee for three years and a member of the National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement for four years.
SAM ODOM, Ph.D., ACSW
President, Congressional Research Institute for Social Work & Policy
J.C. WAGNER ROMERO, Ed.D.
Chief of Staff, Einstein Charter Schools
In addition to his role with Einstein Charter Schools, Dr. Romero serves as an adjunct professor of education. His research focuses on immigrant, Latinx youth experiences in schooling and their communities. Dr. Romero remains engaged in the community, including serving on the Board of Directors for Living School, an equity-focused high school in New Orleans East. He is also an active member of the National Association for Peace Education (NAPE) and the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) where he has presented his research to hundreds of scholars and students across the country. Dr. Romero earned his doctorate in education with a concentration in leadership for sustainability, social justice and participatory culture from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He also earned his master’s degree in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction from Northeastern University and his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Northwestern State University.
CAMACIA SMITH-ROSS, Ed.D.
Executive Director for Pre-College and Outreach, Southern University A&M College
Dr. Smith-Ross is a highly skilled educator who has worked in pre-K-12 and higher education institutions for 29 years. With an interest to work with future urban classroom teachers, Dr. Smith-Ross is an assistant professor of education at Southern University and A&M College where she was appointed the project administrator of its National Youth Sports Program. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravished the Gulf Coast, she felt compelled to return to New Orleans and accepted the position of director of Upward Bound at Dillard. During her tenure, she assembled a staff that worked diligently to develop a premier Upward Bound program. She served as the director of the Graduate Program at Louisiana College and shortly thereafter was named their dean of education making her the first African American to serve in the position in the college’s 109-year history. Dr. Smith-Ross is the past Interim vice provost of Academic Affairs at Southern University and she has numerous scholarly publications and continues to expand her research interests around national trends. She received her Ed.D. in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
WILLIAM C. SNOWDEN, J.D.
Director, Vera Institute of New Orleans
Mr. Snowden works to strengthen Vera’s existing partnerships with criminal justice actors and community leaders while identifying new collaborative relationships with government entities and community organizations. Prior to joining Vera, Mr. Snowden was a public defender for five years representing New Orleanians in all stages of a case from arraignment to trial. He also developed a focus and specialization in advocacy around reforming the procedures, systems, and policies around jury duty in an effort to promote diversity and representativeness in the jury box. Mr. Snowden also launched The Juror Project, an initiative aiming to increase the diversity of jury panels while changing and challenging people’s perspective of jury duty. He leads workshops around the country as it relates to how implicit bias, racial anxiety and stereotype threat influence actors and outcomes in the criminal justice system. He received his J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law and his B.S. from the University of Minnesota.
Executive Director, Operation Restoration
Mrs. Steib-Martin co-founded Operation Restoration (OR) in 2016 to eradicate the roadblocks she faced when returning to society after 120 months in federal prison. In 2017, Mrs. Steib-Martin along with partners wrote, advocated and successfully passed Louisiana Act 276 which prohibits public post-secondary institutions in Louisiana from asking questions relating to criminal history for purposes of admissions, making Louisiana the first state to pass this type of legislation. She regularly speaks at conferences and facilitates conversations across the nation about the experiences of incarcerated women and the importance of true economic equity and what racial equity truly means. In 2018, she was a co-chair for the healthy families committee for New Orleans Mayor Cantrell’s transition team. Mrs. Steib-Martin was a policy consultant for Cut50’s Dignity for Incarcerated Women campaign and worked tirelessly on the passage of the First Step Act. She was appointed by the governor to the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment oversight council and is the vice-chair for the Louisiana Task Force on Women’s Incarceration. She also helped create and was featured in the Newcomb Art Museum’s Per(Sister) exhibit which shared the stories of currently and formerly incarcerated women. Recently, she was a keynote speaker at the Grantmakers for Education Conference. She is a 2020 Rubinger Fellow; and a member of the second cohort of Unlock Futures (a collaboration between John Legend, Bank of America and New Profit), and 2020 Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Angel Awardee.
TENISHA STEVENS, M.A.
Commissioner, New Orleans Office of Criminal Justice Coordination
Commissioner Stevens’ work with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Coordination (OCJC) promotes an accountable, efficient and effective criminal justice system in Orleans Parish. Under Commissioner Stevens’ leadership, the OCJC received $2 million from the MacArthur Foundation to continue its jail population reduction efforts, and they allocated over $6 million in state and federal grants to criminal justice agencies and victim assistance services in Orleans Parish. Commissioner Stevens has also played a pivotal role in the development of the city’s violence reduction strategy and the restoration of the Police Department’s Victim and Witness Division, Pre-Trial Services at Criminal District Court and the City’s Re-entry program. Prior to joining Mayor Cantrell’s administration in 2018, Commissioner Stevens dedicated more than 20 years of public service to the New Orleans Police Department, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. Commissioner Stevens received her master’s in criminal justice from Southern University at New Orleans and completed her undergraduate studies at Dillard. Her memberships include Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s New Orleans Alumnae Chapter, the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the Criminal Justice Policy Advisors Network, the National Criminal Justice Association and the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board.
Mr. Thompson is a nationally acclaimed journalist, cultural critic and author who has appeared before diverse audiences as featured speaker including the 2011 Providence/Rhode Island NAACP 98th Freedom Fund Dinner, 2011 Federal Bench and Bar Conference for the Eastern District of Michigan, 2012 American Jewish Committee (AJC) Annual Distinguished Leadership Dinner, 2020 Michigan State University Slavery to Freedom: An American Odyssey Lecture Series and the 2022 Brown University Forum on Race and Democracy in the Era of Black Lives Matter. He most recently keynoted Dillard University Center for Racial Justice Forum on Race and Poverty. As dean and editor-in-chief of The PuLSE Institute, he leads a national anti-poverty think tank, headquartered in Detroit, the nation’s largest Black city. The founding of The PuLSE Institute was inspired by his influential work on issues of poverty, race and economic justice. Mr. Thompson is the host of the daily two-hour political commentary and urban affairs program in Detroit called Redline with Bankole Thompson on 910AM Super Station, which is broadcast Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. across Michigan and in Canada, Ohio and Indiana. Mr. Thompson is an opinion columnist at The Detroit News, where he writes a twice-a-week column (Mondays and Thursdays) on presidential politics, culture, diversity, leadership, equity and socioeconomic issues. He is the only Black political opinion columnist for a major daily newspaper in Michigan. He is the author of a pair of books on President Barack Obama, based on his exclusive sit-down interviews with Obama. In recognition of his work as a distinguished journalist and thought leader, the University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library in 2015 established the “Bankole Thompson Papers”, a comprehensive physical and digital collection to preserve his work for students and scholars. The Bentley houses the papers of every Michigan governor and significant leaders.
Gabrielle A. Perry, MPH is an epidemiologist, a writer, and the founder and executive director of The Thurman Perry Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to provide direct-giving resources to women impacted by incarceration nationally, with a special emphasis on Black women and women of color in Louisiana. When Gabrielle was just 21 years old, she was arrested. Following the deaths of her adoptive and biological parents, Gabrielle’s family was thrust into poverty and homelessness. In early 2016, 2 years after her arrest and an almost year-long stint of homelessness, her conviction was set aside. Her criminal record was later expunged in 2019. In 2020, Gabrielle created The Perry Second Chances Scholarship for current and formerly incarcerated women and girls, as well as girls who have a parent experiencing incarceration. To date, The Perry Second Chances Scholarship has awarded almost $60,000 in scholarships to system-impacted women of all ages across the United States, with 38 women in 18 states becoming PSCS scholars since the start of the program. Gabrielle later went on to found The Thurman Perry Foundation in 2021, in memory of her deceased father. The mission and vision of The Thurman Perry Foundation is to serve 10,000 women and girls impacted by incarceration nationwide by removing obstacles to education, healthcare, and housing so that they may successfully re-enter society and achieve their dreams. As of May 2023, she has personally delivered almost 150,000 organic menstrual products to incarcerated and justice-impacted women and girls at correctional facilities in Texas and Louisiana, including East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, where she, herself, was incarcerated. Gabrielle’s ‘Girl Code’ initiative, under the umbrella of The Thurman Perry Foundation, is the nation’s first and only program addressing menstrual equity for incarcerated women. Further, The Thurman Perry Foundation pays the rents and mortgages of formerly incarcerated pregnant women and mothers across the country through their Mother’s Day 365 program and is the only direct-giving housing relief organization in the state of Louisiana. To date, The Thurman Perry Foundation has aided over 3,000 women and girls across the country that have been impacted by incarceration. To learn more, visit www.thurmanperryfoundation.org
ROCHELLE L. FORD, Ph.D., APR
President, Dillard University
MABLENE KRUEGER, M.B.A.
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dillard University