Who We Are

Faculty Directors

Deborah Archer portrait

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 is president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and serves on the board of the Legal Aid Society. 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.

Faculty Director Emeritus

headshot of Tony Thompson wearing blue shirt

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.

Executive Director

Jason Williamson

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 JD from NYU Law in 2006. Jason is a devout Rastafarian, committed husband, and proud father of twin daughters. 

Director of the Initiative for Community Power

Andrew Friedman

Andrew Friedman is founding director of the Initiative for Community Power at NYU School of Law. The Initiative is an ambitious, multi-faceted effort to combine the weight and assets of a global academic institution with the nimble, community-grounded tools of advocacy and organizing. Its goal is to catalyze understanding, innovation, and high-impact work in order to accelerate social change towards a more equitable, democratic, and racially just society. The Initiative combines scholarship, field-building, experiential education, academic convenings, internships and fellowships to examine inequality and anti-democracy, and the links between the two. The Initiative works to challenge and disrupt both. Andrew comes to the Initiative after decades of work founding and leading some of the highest impact base-building organizations in the United States, such as Make the Road New York and the Center for Popular Democracy.

Senior Research and Advocacy Fellow

Terrance Pitts

Terrance Pitts joined the Center as a Senior Research and Advocacy Fellow in 2021. Terrance's professional and creative work has focused on disrupting mass criminalization and racial bias in the criminal legal system- and transforming the conditions which allow violence to cause harm in communities of color. 

Terrance began his advocacy career addressing racial bias in the criminal legal system as a Project Director at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Since graduating from law school in 2008, he has worked at Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, the Vera Institute of Justice, and in consulting roles to support transformation of the U.S. criminal legal system. As a senior advisor at the Ford Foundation, Terrance managed a grantmaking portfolio focused on substantially reducing U.S. jail and prison populations. As a program officer at Open Society Foundations (OSF), Terrance crafted grantmaking strategies and managed a criminal justice reform portfolio focused on abolishing the death penalty, ending the practice of juvenile life without parole, and transforming U.S. policing practices to make them more transparent and accountable. 

Terrance believes strongly in multi-pronged tactics to shift narratives, build community power, and disrupt systemic racism. His nonfiction film, Heaven: Can You Hear Me?- which premiered nationally on the WORLD Channel and local PBS affiliates in 2022- addresses the impact of gun violence on families in Philadelphia. Terrance is also a Firelight Media Documentary Lab Fellow. Terrance received an undergraduate degree in political science with distinction from Stanford University, a Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. He also has studied film production, photography, and video editing. 

Practitioner In Residence

Lauren Cox

Lorén Cox is an education practitioner and advocate committed to civil rights, with a specific focus on educational equity.  She currently serves as the Senior Director of Policy, Advocacy and Community Engagement for the KIPP Foundation.  Prior to joining KIPP she led the education policy team at UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization.  In this role, she managed the federal education policy portfolio, and supported over 30 states in the development and implementation of state ESSA plans, particularly as they related to Latino students and English Learners.  Additionally, she developed and managed UnidosUS’ education state policy agendas and served as the primary liaison between UnidosUS leadership and the US Department of Education.  Prior to joining UnidosUS, Lorén worked for the Obama Administration in two separate capacities: first as a member of the community solutions team and then as a program examiner in the education branch at the Office of Management and Budget.  As a member of the community solutions team, she assisted in developing a training for more than 400 federal employees, across a number of federal agencies, on how to effectively execute place-based work with local communities.  As a program examiner, she managed a five-billion-dollar portfolio of federal education programs. Her passion for educational equity stems from her own experiences as a first-generation, low-income college graduate.  Lorén was previously a practicing attorney and holds a JD from the University of North Carolina and a PhD in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  

Administrative Coordinator

Carolyn Schachtel Headshot

Carolyn Schachtel graduated from Vanderbilt University in May of 2022, where she studied Public Policy, Philosophy, and Human & Organizational Development with a focus in civil rights. On campus, Carolyn served as a Peer Mentor for underclassmen and spearheaded a student-run civic engagement campaign, VoteUp Vandy. During the spring of her senior year, Carolyn worked at the ACLU of Tennessee as an Advocacy Intern with the communications team. Previously, Carolyn served as an Administrative Intern with the Advocates for the Children of New Jersey and an Operations Intern with Civic Influencers. More recently, Carolyn interned in the Office of the President at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. 

Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law Legal Fellows

Ted Jack Headshot

Ted Jack is a 2020 graduate of NYU Law and an aspiring public defender. Prior to law school, Ted studied psychology and music at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, where he became passionate about confronting the inequities and excesses of the criminal punishment system. At NYU, Ted focused his attention on public defense, racial justice issues, and criminal law-adjacent civil rights litigation and policy work. He participated in the Racial Justice and Federal Defender clinics; interned at the Legal Aid Society and Center for Death Penalty Litigation; and worked as an Executive Editor on the NYU Law Review, as a Research Assistant for Professor Anthony C. Thompson, and as a Student Fellow at the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law. Ted also devoted significant time to student groups, particularly PREP (now EPIC), where he established the Advocacy Project, and Substantial Performance, where he served as both Music Director and President. Upon graduation Ted was selected to be the inaugural recipient of the Anthony C. Thompson Award for Racial Justice. Ted has spent the past two years in Detroit, MI, clerking for the Honorable Arthur J. Tarnow and the Honorable Linda V. Parker, and is thrilled to be returning to the Center to work as a Legal Fellow. 

Tolu Lawal Headshot

Tolu Lawal joined the Center as a fellow in September 2022. Prior to joining the Center, she was a Racial Justice Legal Fellow with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, working on legislative and policy analysis, public education and community collaboration, legal research and restorative/transformative justice through a race-specific focus. While a student at NYU Law, she served as the Co-Chair of the Black Allied Law Student Association (BALSA) and one of the lead organizers of the Racism Lives Here Too campaign. She worked at the Center as an intern in 2017, as well as an intern at the ACLU Racial Justice Project in 2018, and with NYU's Juvenile Defenders Clinic from 2018 to 2019. She also engages in advocacy, supporting Black and Brown-led groups committed to charting the road to liberation for all people, particularly those who are formerly incarcerated. She currently provides legal support to the Justice Impact Alliance. She is also a co-founder and co-lead organizer of Unlock the Bar (UTB), a New York-based campaign and coalition of allied and systems-impacted law students and lawyers who are advocating for a just and equitable legal profession. She received her J.D. from New York University Law School in the Class of 2019 and received her B.A. from Duke University in 2014. 

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

Patrick Archer.jpg

Patrick Archer (he/him/his) ’24 is a 2L interested in the intersections of racial justice, class hierarchies, and access to educational opportunities for students across the United States. Originally from New Jersey, Patrick graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with majors in Political Science and Peace, War, and Defense and a minor in Education. After graduating, he served as a mathematics teacher at middle schools in Memphis, Tennessee and Raleigh, North Carolina. While in these roles, Patrick experienced firsthand the stark opportunity inequities built into the American education system, especially for the low-income students of color that comprised most of the student populations at both schools. These experiences catalyzed Patrick’s desire to attend law school and develop the advocacy skills to combat structural inequities for students of color, both in and out of the classroom. He spent his 1L summer interning with Bronx Legal Services in their Education Law practice. In addition to his role as a student fellow with the Center, Patrick is a member of the Public Interest Law Students Association working group, a co-chair of the Education Law and Policy Society, a clinic student in the NDS Police Accountability Externship, and a staff editor on the Review of Law and Social Change.

Yeabsira Asrat

Yeabsira Asrat is a 2L from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She graduated from Barnard College in 2019 with a double major in Africana Studies and Political Science. Prior to starting law school, she worked as a Legal Assistant at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP where she spent a substantial amount of time assisting a pro bono team that worked to appeal the harsh and stacked 924(c) convictions of clients under the Holloway Project. During the first year of the pandemic, she became highly aware of alarmingly high maternal mortality and morbidity rates of Black mothers in NYC and received training as a doula to support and advocate for Black birthing individuals. Yeabsira aspires to continue her advocacy within the legal field. At NYU, in addition to her fellowship at the Center, she is an AnBryce scholar, a Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network fellow, the Social Work Coordinator for the Suspension Representation Project and the Community Service Co-chair for the Women of Color Collective and the Black Allied Law Students Association. This past summer, she worked as a Summer Law Clerk at Willkie Farr & Gallagher where she will again be employed in the summer of 2023.

Blair Childs-Biscoe

Blair Childs-Biscoe (they/she) is a second-year student at NYU Law. They were raised between the DC area and the US Virgin Islands, and are now based on Canarsie land (Brooklyn, NY). Blair graduated from Northeastern University in 2019 with a BA in International Affairs & Economics. Before entering law school, their work included environmental justice, housing, and LGBTQ health. As a law student, Blair's interests primarily involve environmental justice, land use, and abolition. For their 1L summer they worked at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, doing transactional work supporting land rematriation to indigenous communities and creating opportunities for QTBIPOC land stewardship. Additionally, on campus Blair has been involved with the Environmental Law Society's environmental justice project and co-led an abolitionist reading group through Ending the Prison Industrial Complex. As a CRIL fellow, Blair hopes to build on this work and facilitate opportunities for QTBIPOC land stewardship, healthy environments, and community autonomy.

In addition to being a CRIL fellow, Blair is also a Public Interest chair for the Black Allied Law Students Association, staff editor for the Review of Law and Social Change, and a Root-Tilden-Kern Scholar. In their free time, Blair loves going to their community garden, dancing, roller blading, and being in nature.

Olivia Fritz

Olivia Fritz (she/her) is a 2L originally from Chicago, IL. In 2018, she graduated with distinction from Stanford University, where she majored in International Relations and minored in Creative Writing. Prior to law school, Olivia was a paralegal at Relman Colfax PLLC, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, DC. At the firm, she worked on fair housing, disability justice, police accountability, and employment discrimination cases. Olivia spent her 1L summer as a law clerk for the Illinois Prison Project. In addition to her role as a fellow at the Center, she is a Root-Tilden-Kern scholar, an Advocacy Coordinator for the Parole Advocacy Project, a co-chair of the Midwestern Law Society, a student advocate for the Criminal Defense and Reentry Clinic, a research assistant for Professor Vincent Southerland, and a member of the Black Allied Law Students Association's community service committee.

Apurva Panse

Apurva Panse (she/her) is a 2L from Southern California. She is interested in the intersection of race, technology, and law, with a focus on technologies most harmful to marginalized communities. Before law school, she was a Product Manager at YouTube working on combatting misinformation and extremist content and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Computer Science. In addition to her role as a Fellow, Apurva is a Cyber Scholar, a research assistant for Professor Vincent Southerland, co-chair of SALSA (South Asian Law Students Association), co-president of Rights over Tech, a student advocate for the Suspension Representation Project, an instructor with the High School Law Institute and a staff editor on the Law Review. She spent her 1L summer interning with the Legal Aid Society's Criminal Defense Practice in their DNA Unit. After graduation, Apurva hopes to work on abolishing carceral surveillance and the technologies that amplify police power as an attorney and professor.

Eunice Park

Eunice Park '24 is a 2L from Springfield, Missouri. She is interested in technological infringements of civil liberties, especially those most impacting marginalized communities, and hopes to work at the intersection of technology, law, and racial justice. She graduated from Amherst College in 2017, where she double majored in Sociology and Computer Science. Before law school, she worked as a software engineer at Microsoft. She spent her 1L summer at the Brennan Center for Justice within the Liberty and National Security program, working on projects related to police use of social media surveillance. In addition to serving as a student fellow at the Center, Eunice is an AnBryce Scholar, research assistant to Professor Katherine Strandburg, staff editor on the Law Review, co-chair of the Access Project within the Ending the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) student group, student advocate in the Racial Justice Clinic, and Privacy Research Group student fellow.