President, Southern Poverty Law Center
Cornell William Brooks
President and CEO, NAACP (2014-2017)
President and CEO, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (2007-2014)
Senior Counsel and Special Counsel, Federal Communications Commission (1999-2007)
2017 Visiting Fellow and Director of Campaigns and Advocacy Program (CAP), HKS
Academic Dean and Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, HKS
Co-Director, Transparency Policy Project, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, HKS
Senior Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff, HKS
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, HKS
Former Assistant Attorney General, MA
Former President, Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association
The JFK Jr. Forum aims to educate, inspire debate, and foster conversation at the Institute of Politics. Unless otherwise specified, members of the Harvard community and general public are encouraged to attend Forum events.
To learn more about events like this one, sign up for the JFK Jr. Forum newsletter HERE.
A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Richard Cohen came to the SPLC in 1986 as its legal director after practicing law in Washington, D.C., for seven years. Under his guidance, the SPLC won a series of landmark lawsuits against some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist organizations. He also successfully litigated a wide variety of important civil rights actions – defending the rights of prisoners to be treated humanely, working for equal educational opportunities for all children, and bringing down the Confederate battle flag from the Alabama State Capitol. Prior to becoming SPLC president in 2003, Cohen served as its vice president for programs, which include the Intelligence Project and Teaching Tolerance.
In 1997, the national legal magazine The American Lawyer selected him as one of 45 public sector lawyers “whose vision and commitment are changing lives.” In 1999, he was a finalist for the national Trial Lawyer of the Year Award for his work on Macedonia Baptist Church v. Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a lawsuit that ended with a record $37.8 million judgment against a Klan group for its role in the burning of a South Carolina church.
Cornell William Brooks is a fourth-generation ordained minister, civil rights attorney, social justice activist, coalition builder, and writer. Most recently, he served as the 18th President and CEO of the NAACP. Rev. Brooks led the organization in securing 11 legal victories against voter suppression in 12 months; a dramatic increase in the level, visibility and breadth of grassroots activism; high profile opposition to civil rights violations through testimony before the U.S. Senate, engaging/confronting the White House, and using mass civil disobedience; rapid expansion in the number, diversity, and youth of new membership; developing new programs, including a pioneering social impact investing initiative; as well as raising $80 million in new support.
Archon Fung is the Academic Dean and Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research explores policies, practices, and institutional designs that deepen the quality of democratic governance. He focuses upon public participation, deliberation, and transparency. He co-directs the Transparency Policy Project and leads democratic governance programs of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School. His books include Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency (Cambridge University Press, with Mary Graham and David Weil) and Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy (Princeton University Press). He has authored five books, four edited collections, and over fifty articles appearing in professional journals. He received two S.B.s — in philosophy and physics — and his Ph.D. in political science from MIT.
Sarah Wald, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, is a lawyer and educator whose career has been in government and higher education. She is a member of the small HKS/HLS faculty group overseeing and teaching inthe joint MPP/JD program. She is a former Assistant Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and former Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts. Sarah had several different roles in senior administration at Harvard, first as Dean of Students and Lecturer on Law at the Law School, where she taught "Consumer Protection: Public Enforcement of Consumer Rights," and then as Assistant Provost for Policy and Planning in the Central Administration. She is currently Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the Dean at HKS. She has also been at the University of North Carolina, where she was Special Assistant to the Dean at UNC School of Law and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at UNC School of Medicine. She served as President of the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association, and teaches seminars on gender communications to practicing lawyers around the country. She is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School and her legal publications have appeared in the Harvard Women's Law Review, the Administrative Law Journal and the Widener Law Review.