Nationally renowned civil rights lawyer, scholar, and public intellectual Sherrilyn Ifill will receive the 2022 Radcliffe Medal on May 27, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study announced today.
“Sherrilyn embodies Radcliffe’s highest ideals,” said Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, and professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “She is an influential scholar and educator, and she is deeply engaged in the hard work of change-making. As a nation, we owe a great deal to her pathbreaking leadership.”
Ifill serves as the seventh president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). For nearly a decade she guided the storied organization founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall, taking it through a period of tremendous growth and transformation. Her career at the LDF began in 1988, when she joined the organization’s New York office as an assistant counsel. She has litigated voting rights cases, including the landmark Supreme Court case Houston Lawyers’ Association v. Attorney General of Texas, which extended Voting Rights Act protections to elections of state trial court judges.
Ifill also spent two decades at the University of Maryland, where she taught and mentored the next generation of civil rights lawyers as a professor of law, while continuing to litigate and consult on a broad range of civil rights cases. At UMD, Ifill launched one of the first legal clinics in the nation focused on removing legal barriers to formerly incarcerated persons seeking to re-enter society responsibly.