/ Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C., FEBRUARY 24, 2020—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced that the Honorable James E. Graves, Jr., Michael J. Harding, Garry W. Jenkins, and Steve McManus have been named to the organization’s board of directors.
“We are delighted to welcome these talented leaders to our Board,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “Their combined knowledge, expertise, and energy will help the organization advance its work to mobilize more passionate public service leaders who can respond to the slew of challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Honorable James Earl Graves, Jr., is a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Judge Graves is the first African American judge from Mississippi on the Fifth Circuit, having previously served as a judge in the Mississippi court system for 20 years, including 10 years on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Before becoming a judge, he worked as legal counsel for both the Health Law Division and the Human Services Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, and as a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Mississippi. Judge Graves has also spent much of his career active in the education field, having held the position of adjunct professor at Millsaps College, Tougaloo College, and Jackson State University. Judge Graves began his legal career as a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services.
“It is an honor to serve on the board of Equal Justice Works,” said Judge Graves. “I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working hard to assist in achieving the goals and carrying out the mission of this dynamic and vital organization.”
Michael J. Harding is a first-year law student at Villanova University, where he is also a Public Interest Scholar. Mr. Harding has a clear passion for public interest law, as shown by his work both on campus and in the community. He is currently chair of the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee representing the Mid-Atlantic region and served as a Student Fellow in the Equal Justice Works Crime Victims Justice Corps. He also participates in The Appellate Project’s mentorship program, which enables Black and brown law students to meaningfully engage with and learn from appellate practitioners about effective advocacy in our nation’s highest courts. Mr. Harding has previously worked with Justice at Work and The Public Interest Law Center, two Philadelphia-based public interest nonprofit organizations. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Universidad Diego Portales and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile.
“I entered law school guided by the belief that lawyers can be stewards of righteous democracy by harnessing the law’s potential for goodness to ensure our lived experiences—especially those of us pushed to society’s margins—are more fair and fruitful,” said Mr. Harding. “I’m eager to play a role in the broader narrative of young people committed to pursuing social justice by celebrating and leveraging diversity of thought, perspective, and experience. Equal Justice Works provides a unique platform to help transform students’ passion for service into a lifetime committed to realizing this mission. I’m deeply humbled to join the Board of such an incredible organization and, frankly, I’m ready to get to work.”
Garry W. Jenkins is dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. Before his post at Minnesota Law, he was associate dean for academic affairs and John C. Elam/Vorys Sater Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Prior to entering academia, Dean Jenkins practiced at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and was chief operating officer and general counsel of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. Dean Jenkins began his career as a clerk for Judge Timothy K. Lewis of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He currently serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Law School Admission Council, Haverford College, and the Guthrie Theater.
“I’m thrilled to join the board of one of the nation’s most vital legal nonprofits, which advances careers in public interest law and policy,” said Dean Jenkins. “The opportunities provided through Equal Justice Works promote justice for communities and people in need while simultaneously developing a new generation of lawyer-leaders. I look forward to supporting the growth and success of such an innovative and impactful organization.”
Steve McManus is senior vice president and general counsel for State Farm® Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Mr. McManus has spent his entire legal career at State Farm, starting law school after he joined the company. At State Farm, he has spearheaded several pro bono initiatives, including the Inclusion Initiative, through which corporate law departments commit to increasing their spending with women- and minority-owned law firms. An outstanding leader in the legal community, Mr. McManus serves on a range of boards and committees including Civil Justice Reform Group, National Center for State Courts General Counsel Committee, Washington Legal Foundation Legal Policy Advisory Board, Rand Institute for Civil Justice Board of Advisors, and General Counsel 50, among others. Mr. McManus previously served as a member of the Equal Justice Works Board of Counselors.
“In order to sustain our democracy, we need to uphold the rule of law. Upholding the rule of law requires that the law be inclusive of all citizens and serve to protect all citizens and society as a whole,” said Steve McManus. “It’s an honor to work with Equal Justice Works to advance its mission of creating a just society. Justice is an essential objective of the legal profession and Equal Justice Works seeks to bring justice to where it is most needed in our nation.”
The full list of Equal Justice Board of Directors members can be found here.
About Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice. As the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, Equal Justice Works brings together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, nonprofit legal aid organizations, and supporters to promote public service and inspire a lifelong commitment to equal justice.
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