Featured Speakers

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Featured Speakers

NLADA's 2019 Annual Conference, Innovative Justice, is the leading national training event of the year for the civil legal aid, public defense and public interest law communities. The reason why our conference is such an educational and fulfilling experience is because of the caliber of its speakers and educators. Below are some of the many seasoned practitioners who will be participating in this year's conference. More speakers will be added in coming weeks.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is a well-known progressive warrior and, in her own words, “a mother working for justice for all.” Her two young sons are at the root of her unwavering passion to help change lives for the better. She is the oldest of 14 children, born and raised in Detroit, the proud daughter of Palestinian immigrant parents. Rashida made history in 2008 by becoming the first Muslim woman to ever serve in the Michigan Legislature. She is beloved by residents for the transformative constituent services she provided, and for successfully fighting the billionaires and corporations that tried to pollute her district. When families get to know Rashida, they have no doubt that she will work tirelessly to knock down barriers for real change, and whether by policy or action, she will roll up her sleeves to make sure her residents are cared for, no matter how big the challenge.

When billionaire slumlord Matty Moroun refused to follow the law and get polluting semi-trucks off neighborhood streets, Rashida organized residents with the We Have A Right To Breathe campaign and forced Moroun to fulfill his obligations to protecting public health. When large piles of black dust started showing up on the Detroit riverfront and blowing into homes and parks, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality told residents everything was fine, Rashida collected samples and got the substance tested herself - exposing the cancer-causing “petroleum coke” as a threat, and getting it removed.

As an attorney at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Rashida took the movement to the courts, fighting racist emergency managers, abusive state agencies, and leading the fight for community benefits agreements that promote equitable development. Rashida knows that effective advocacy requires an all-out approach, fighting in the community, in the legislature, and in the courts every day against injustice and inequality, so that every single person in this country has a chance to thrive. She is currently the Congresswoman for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Learn more about her civil legal aid work here.

Congresswoman Tlaib will deliver the keynote address at the Opening Plenary on Thursday, November 7.

Dennis Archer

Dennis Wayne Archer was born on January 1, 1942, in Detroit, Michigan. He has been a leader on many levels and his influence has reached far beyond his home state. After earning his bachelor of science degree from Western Michigan University in 1965, he began his career as a teacher of learning-disabled children in the Detroit public schools from 1965 to 1970.

Mr. Archer earned his J.D. in 1970 from the Detroit College of Law, now the College of law of Michigan State University. In addition to practicing law in Detroit, Archer was an associate professor at the Detroit College of Law from 1972 to 1978 and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School from 1984 to 1985. He was a member of the board of directors of the Detroit Bar Association and chairman of the association's Young Lawyers Section from 1973 to 1975, and president of the Wolverine Bar Association from 1979 to 1980. He was president of the National Bar Association from 1983 to 1984 and president of the State Bar of Michigan from 1984 to 1985.

Michigan governor James Blanchard appointed Mr. Archer to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served as an associate justice from 1986 to 1990. In his last year on the bench, he was named “most respected judge in Michigan” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Mr. Archer won election as mayor of Detroit in 1993 and was in office from 1994-2001. As mayor, he worked to repair the city’s relations with the Detroit suburbs and the local business community through cooperation with suburban business leaders on their redevelopment plans for the city, reducing tensions. Mr. Archer also became president of the National League of Cities during his last year as mayor.

He served as president of the American Bar Association from 2003-2004, becoming the first black president of the organization, which, until 1943, had barred African American lawyers from membership. Upon leaving office as Mayor of Detroit in January 2002, Mr. Archer was appointed as chairman of Detroit-based law firm Dickinson Wright and to the board of directors of Compuware. He is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. In 2004, he was appointed to an eight-year term ending December 31, 2012, on the board of trustees of the Western Michigan University by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. He was appointed legal guardian for Rosa Parks in October 2004. Mr. Archer serves as a co-chair of the National Transportation Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Mr. Archer will deliver remarks at the Opening Plenary on Thursday, November 7.

Allyson Maynard-Gibson

Allyson Maynard-Gibson is a leading advocate for the rights of women and children and whose public and private work exemplify a quest for justice and transformation. Allyson Maynard-Gibson served twice as attorney general and minister of legal affairs of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

She is a member of the Task Force on Justice, an initiative of Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies hosted by New York University's Center on International Cooperation.

Ms. Maynard-Gibson also served in the Bahamian Parliament, was the country’s first minister of financial services and investments and is past president of the International Women’s Forum and the Leadership Foundation. She is currently undertaking a fellowship at Harvard University's Advanced Leadership Institute.

Ms. Maynard-Gibson will deliver remarks at the Opening Plenary on Thursday, November 7.

Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack

Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack joined the Michigan Supreme Court in January 2013 and became the Chief Justice in January 2019. 

An NYU Law graduate, Chief Justice McCormack started her legal career in New York City. In 1996, she joined the Yale Law School faculty. She joined the University of Michigan Law School faculty in 1998, where she taught criminal law, legal ethics, and various clinics. She was named associate dean for clinical affairs in 2002.

Chief Justice McCormack was elected to The American Law Institute in 2013. The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology appointed her to the National Commission on Forensic Science in 2014. She serves as an editor on the ABA’s preeminent journal, Litigation. In 2019, Governor Whitmer appointed her as co-chair of the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration. Chief Justice McCormack continues to teach at the University of Michigan each year as well as publish in professional journals and law media.

Chief Justice McCormack is married to Steven Croley, a partner at Latham and Watkins. They have four children.

Justice McCormack will be speaking at the Meeting of Members on Wednesday, November 6.


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