On February 24, NYU Law’s Women of Color Collective (WoCC) named Chantá Parker ‘06 its Woman of Distinction for 2021. This annual award is given to an alumna of color for outstanding contributions to their field.
Parker has served as a public defender for more than a dozen years, including working as a felony trial attorney for the Orleans Public Defenders in post-Katrina New Orleans; serving as special counsel for the Innocence Project, a criminal justice reform organization that works to exonerate the wrongly convicted; and working as supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn office. Parker now serves as the managing director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Detroit.
“Chantá has demonstrated excellence in both the legal profession and in supporting diverse and upcoming lawyers who may not always see themselves represented in positions of power or leadership,” said WoCC executive co-chair Jemie Fofanah ’22. “Chantá defines herself as a helper, and it is through this lens, she says, that she relates to the world.”
This virtual award ceremony was co-sponsored by the Birnbaum Women’s Leadership Network and the Office of Alumni Relations. Fofanah and Alexandra Gray ’22 served as hosts for the event.
Watch video of the event:
Parker: “I had carefully chosen NYU Law because of its promise to expand my potential…and I found my place in clinic spaces cultivated by Professor Kim Taylor-Thompson, Professor Tony Thompson, and Professor Randy Hertz and others at NYU Law. I also found healing spaces like [Black Allied Law Student Association] a place where I could express my frustration at the cases that we were seeing where Black people were being crushed by the criminal legal system.” (video 6:28)
Parker: “In this work, the injustices that we see within the criminal legal system, particularly in this last year, and the way in which the racism and white supremacy—supremacy that’s baked into the system—has been on full display, has for many years, over a decade, made my knees shake and my voice quiver. This work has torn my chest open, snatched at my heart and lungs and left me breathless. This work has plunged me to the depths of despair and chased me away in shame…. But this work has also gifted me some of my most cherished friendships, centering me in a tribe of people who see me and support me in all my Blackness, and this work has given me confidence and power, grace and humility.” (video 13:34)
Posted April 14, 2021