Who We Are

Faculty Directors

Professor Anthony Thompson is the Center’s founding faculty director. Professor Thompson has served on the NYU Law faculty for over 20 years and teaches 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 has 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.

Deborah Archer

Deborah N. Archer, associate 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 boards of the Legal Aid Society and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); she is a member of the ACLU’s executive committee and serves 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.

Executive Director

Vincent M. Southerland 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 and the Federal Defenders of New York.

Research Scholar

Steve Demarest

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.

Student Fellows 

Keiler Beers

Keiler Beers (’20) was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. While attending Whitman College he spent a semester on the US-Mexico border with No More Deaths, providing medical aid, food and water to migrants crossing the desert. He also worked as a youth counselor to incarcerated teenagers and wrote his ’14 senior thesis tracing the evolution of slavery to mass incarceration through the 13th Amendment. Before law school, Keiler spent three years as a Board of Immigration Appeals representative for a Texas refugee resettlement agency. Keiler attended UCLA Law for 1L, where he was enrolled in the Critical Race Studies Program. There, he developed a passion for the infusion of race-conscious pedagogy in legal education. He has since interned with Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (New Orleans’ juvenile public defender) and Metropolitan Public Defender in Portland. Keiler is currently participating in the Parole Preparation Project, OUTLaw and the Juvenile Defender Clinic.

Kimberly Fayette

Kimberly Fayette (’20) plans to use her law degree to tackle racial injustice in America.  After graduating from Brown University in 2014, Kimberly served as an Immigrant Justice Corps Community Fellow in Brooklyn, where she represented New Yorkers on applications such as Naturalization, DACA, and TPS. After her fellowship, Kimberly worked on issues of government transparency as a paralegal in New York City's Office of Counsel to the Mayor. Since beginning law school, Kimberly has interned at the New York Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. On campus, Kimberly serves as an Articles Editor on the Annual Survey of American Law and is a member of the Black Allied Law Students Association and the American Constitution Society.


Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law Paul Weiss Fellows

Jeremy Burton

Jeremy Burton ('21) is native of Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Princeton University in 2018 with a Bachelors of Arts in Politics and a certificate in African-American Studies. While at Princeton, Jeremy served as the Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government and the Chair of the Diversity and Equity committee, in both capacities working to increase awareness of and responsiveness to issues faced by minority populations. Jeremy spent his summers while at Princeton interning with Umoja Student Development Program – a non-profit education organization instilling restorative justice practices in Chicago Public Schools; Lawyers for Children– a non-profit law firm representing children in New York’s foster care system; and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. These experiences enabled Jeremy to begin to imagine the law as tool for protecting disadvantaged communities and achieving social justice.
During his 1L summer, Jeremy served as a law clerk for the City of Chicago Department of Law’s Public Safety Reform Division. As a law clerk he researched and drafted legal memoranda regarding investigatory stops and protective pat downs, disparate impact analyses, and third-party intervention motions, compiled reports on community police oversight ordinances and police misconduct review boards and furthered city compliance with court-mandated consent decree by developing selection criteria for Police Board members and supporting city-wide language access efforts. Jeremy will spend his 2L summer at the Bronx Defenders in their criminal defense practice.
Jeremy is passionate about combatting issues of racial inequality embedded into the law. He hopes to use his legal education to work towards legal and extralegal solutions for changing our legal system from one that many need protection from to one that is equitable and protects all.

Kameron Jonhston

Kameron Johnston (’21) is a second-year law student committed to racial justice work, with a special emphasis on advancing housing and education rights for communities of color. She graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University with a B.A. in History and a certificate in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine Law. Kameron has engaged in racial justice work in numerous capacities: fighting for tenants’ rights across South Los Angeles at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, providing critical research on affordable housing for the NAACP, and advanced restorative justice practices in schools. This year, in addition to her position at the Center, Kameron is the Director of Diversity and Outreach for the Suspension Representation Project, a Diversity Pipeline Instructor for Legal Outreach, a Staff Editor on Moot Court, a participant in the Racial Equity Strategies Clinic at NAACP LDF, and a team captain for the NYU Law Dean’s Cup basketball team.

Sofia Lopez Franco

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.