Deborah N. Archer, professor of clinical law and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at NYU Law, joined the Center as its faculty co-director in February 2019. Archer joined the NYU Law faculty in 2018, following a distinguished career as a professor of law at New York Law School (NYLS). While at NYLS, Professor Archer served as the school’s inaugural dean of diversity and inclusion and as associate dean for academic affairs and student engagement. She also led NYLS’s Racial Justice Project, a legal advocacy initiative that worked to advance racial justice and civil rights. Archer serves on the board of the Legal Aid Society and is chair of the board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); she previously served as a member of the ACLU’s executive committee and as general counsel to its board. For many years, she also served on the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. In recognition of her work, the New York Law Journal named her one of its 2016 Top Women in Law. Before beginning her career in law teaching, Archer was assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, an associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and a Marvin M. Karpatkin Fellow at the ACLU.
Vincent M. Southerland, assistant professor of clinical law and director of the Criminal Defense and Re-entry Clinic at NYU Law, joined the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law as its inaugural Executive Director in February 2017. He has dedicated his career to advancing racial justice and civil rights. Vincent comes to NYU Law after serving as an Assistant Federal Public Defender with the Federal Defenders for the Southern District of New York since 2015. Prior to his time at the Federal Defenders, Vincent spent seven years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he was a Senior Counsel. While at LDF, he engaged in litigation and advocacy at the intersection of race and criminal justice, including the successful representation of people sentenced to death across the American South and children sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. He also led LDF’s advocacy efforts around race and policing, and was lead counsel in school desegregation and employment discrimination matters. Vincent previously served as a staff attorney at The Bronx Defenders, and an E. Barrett Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. He began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable Theodore McKee, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Honorable Louis H. Pollak, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Vincent holds an LLM from Georgetown University Law Center, received his JD from Temple University School of Law and his BA from the University of Connecticut. He serves on the boards of The Bail Project, the Federal Defenders of New York, and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Past Faculty Director
Anthony Thompson, Professor of Clinical Law Emeritus, was the Center’s founding faculty director. Professor Thompson retired from the NYU Law faculty, of which he was a member for 25 years and taught courses in criminal justice, civil litigation and leadership. Thompson is part of the Duke Corporate Education Global Educator Network and has provided executive education to a number of global companies focusing on leadership and strategy execution. He received numerous prizes for his teaching, including the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award, which recognizes teaching excellence, leadership, social justice activism, and community building; and the Law School’s Podell Distinguished Teaching Award. Thompson was recognized by El Diario in 2011 with “The EL” award, as one of the “outstanding Latinos in the Tri-State area,” for his community service. He earned his JD at Harvard Law School and his BS Ed from Northwestern University.
Jason D. Williamson joined the Center as its Executive Director in June 2021. He previously served as the deputy director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, where he began working as a staff attorney in January 2011. At the ACLU, he focused primarily on Fourth Amendment, police practices, and public defense reform litigation. Prior to joining the ACLU, Jason worked as a litigation associate at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York, and served as a law clerk for Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York from 2007-2008. He began his legal career in New Orleans in the months following Hurricane Katrina, first as a staff attorney for the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, and later as a staff attorney and founding member of Juvenile Regional Services (now called the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights), which provides legal representation for indigent youth in Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. Jason also serves as an adjunct clinical professor at New York University School of Law. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard University in 1998, and his J.D. from NYU Law in 2006. Jason is a devout Rastafarian, committed husband, and proud father of twin daughters.
Steven Demarest joined the Center as a Research Scholar in August 2019. He graduated magna cum laude and Order of the Coif from New York University School of Law, where he was an executive editor of the New York University Law Review. Prior to joining the Center, Steve interned with The Bronx Defenders in the Impact Litigation Practice and with the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. As a student, Steve provided legal assistance to incarcerated individuals in NYU’s Racial Justice and Civil Rights Clinics and worked with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in defense of voting rights. Steve received his B.A. from American University.
Sofia Lopez Franco ’21 is a second-year law student who is committed to work at the intersection of race, immigration, and criminal justice reform. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 where she majored in Political Science and Legal Studies. Before beginning law school, Sofia worked as an immigration paralegal for two years, most recently at the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. At NIJC, Sofia was a part of the Legal Protection Fund, a project that provides free legal representation and Know Your Rights presentations to immigrant communities around the city. She spent her 1L summer interning at the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin, Texas. In addition to her role as a student fellow at the Center, Sofia is a Latinx Rights scholar, student advocate in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, public interest chair for LaLSA, and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change.
Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law Paul Weiss Fellows
Isaiah Anderson '22 is a second-year law student committed to bridging racial gaps to advance racial reconciliation and the empowerment of communities of color. He graduated from Boston College in 2017 with a B.A. in International Studies, focused on American foreign relations in the Middle East, and a minor in Theology, focused on American racial justice. While at BC, Isaiah spent his summers interning for the Office of Senator Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland; the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy -- a nonprofit organization working with religious leaders and peacebuilders in other countries to address the root causes of identity-based conflict and violent extremism in their communities; and The McCollum Firm -- a private law practice located in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Before law school, Isaiah worked for two years as a Litigation Paralegal at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, a corporate firm based in New York City where Isaiah worked on matters across various legal fields. During his 1L summer, Isaiah worked with Phillips Black, a nonprofit public interest law practice that provides post-conviction representation and other legal services to U.S. prisoners facing severe penalties. This year, in addition to his position at the Center, Isaiah is the Alumni Relations Committee Co-Chair for the Black Allied Law Students Association (BALSA), the Social Chair for the Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), and a Staff Editor on the Law Review.
David Jacobs ’22 is a second-year law student committed to advancing racial justice, with a particular focus on voting rights and criminal legal system reform. Before law school, David served as spokesperson for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama Administration. In that role, he crafted messaging for federal consent decrees with police departments, investigations of constitutional violations in prisons, and guidance regarding the enforcement of fines and fees that disproportionately ensnare communities of color in cycles of poverty. Later, David spearheaded communications for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s work to end police abuses, reform the criminal legal system, and defend clients facing the death penalty. A graduate of Brown University, David spent his 1L summer as a law clerk at Orleans Public Defenders. This year, in addition to his fellowship at the Center, David will be a student advocate in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic,a research assistant to Professor Deborah Archer, and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change. He also plans to continue his involvement with the Suspension Representation Project and the Prison Reform and Education Project’s Advocacy Project.
Stephanie Kerr ’22 is a second-year law student and native of Tampa, FL. She graduated from Tufts University in 2014 where she majored in Psychology and Community Health. Before beginning law school, Stephanie served as an AmeriCorps Member and Team Leader with City Year where she provided targeted academic and socioemotional learning interventions to high school students in Watts and South Los Angeles. She then joined City Year’s staff as the Program Manager for a middle school partnership where she led a team of eight AmeriCorps Members and managed the implementation of City Year’s service model. Stephanie is passionate about abolition, education equity, and racial justice. She spent her 1L summer at The Bail Project where she supported with legal research and advocacy related to bail reform efforts across the country. This year, in addition to her position at the Center, she is a student in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, a Teaching Assistant for the Lawyering Program, a board member for the Coalition on Law and Representation, Prison Reform and Education Project, Suspension Representation Project, and Women of Color Collective, and a Staff Editor on the Law Review.
Maya McDonnell ’22 is originally from the Bay Area in California. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in Government and concentrations in Writing and International Relations in 2016. There, she was involved in various student organizing, including a successful Prison Divestment campaign. As a lawyer, she hopes to center the demands of anti-racist grassroots movements and work towards a future free from the violence of borders, prisons, and police. Before law school, she worked as an immigration paralegal at Fragomen and volunteered with New Sanctuary Coalition assisting migrants with Pro Se asylum applications. Maya spent her 1L Summer at Make the Road New York working on their Housing Team. In addition to her work at the Center, she updates content for the Database For Police Abolition and is an intake manager for the Unemployment Action Center Hotline. She is on the board of the NYU Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a member of the Public Interest Law Students Association Working Group, a participant in the Immigrant Defense Clinic, and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change.
Alina Tulloch is a second-year law student from South Florida with a passion for Civil Rights work, particularly concerning racial justice. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Prior to law school, Alina served in various student-facing and administrative roles at Broward College. She also worked as a research assistant at the University of Miami. While there, she was part of a team focused on delivering evidence-based, culturally-informed therapy to minority youth and their families. The promise of an equitable future, especially for those impacted by race and class-based discrimination, motivates her work. During her 1L summer, Alina interned at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, a public defender’s office and non-profit. As a 2L, she serves as a PILSA Diversity & Outreach Co-chair, staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change, and member of the Racial Equity Strategies clinic.
Jamie Hin Hon Wong '22 grew up in Queens and Chinatown in New York. She is a second-year law student committed to working for reform of the criminal legal system that centers community experiences, autonomy, and narratives. She hopes to work with and for justice impacted clients like her dad. She graduated from Brandeis University in 2017 where she majored in Sociology and minored in Social Justice and Social Policy, and Legal Studies. At Brandeis, she founded the Brandeis Asian American Task Force to mobilize student activists to successfully advocate for an Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies program. Before law school, she worked as a paralegal in the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice, focusing on investigations of pharmaceutical companies. She spent her 1L summer interning at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York. In addition to her role as student fellow at the Center, Jamie is Co-Director of the Solitary Confinement Project in the Prison Reform and Education Project, a Public Interest Chair of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, a Leadership Collective Member in the Coalition on Law and Representation, and a student in the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic.