Sherrilyn Ifill stepping down as NAACP Legal Defense Fund president

Prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill will leave her post as the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund this coming spring after holding the position for nearly a decade.

Ifill will be succeeded by Janai Nelson, who currently serves as LDF’s associate director-counsel.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead LDF for nearly 10 years. I began my career as a civil rights lawyer at LDF more than 30 years ago and every day leading this extraordinary, dedicated staff has felt like a dream come true,” Ifill said in a statement.

“I have given this work my all, and I am proud of our accomplishments, including our increased growth and strength. But I am most proud of the leadership role LDF has played during one of the most tumultuous and volatile periods for civil rights in recent memory.”

Earlier in the year, Ifill made Time’s annual 100 Most Influential People list.

LDF, which has functioned separately from the NAACP since the 1950s, is an active advocate for voting rights and was one of several groups that worked to combat voter suppression in last year’s presidential election.

The organization was also a frequent critic of the Trump White House, suing the previous administration for banning federal agencies and contractors conducting diversity training. The complaint was spearheaded by Nelson, Ifill’s successor.

“LDF is unparalleled in its contributions to the cause of racial justice over the past 81 years and in the evolution and protection of civil rights for Black people,” Nelson said in the statement.

“As LDF emerges from the profound metamorphosis of the past nine years under Sherrilyn’s leadership, I am honored to steward LDF’s next chapter with the skill, vision, care, and courage that it demands.”


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