NYSBA Task Force To Address Racism, Social Equity and the Law

By Christian Nolan

September 16, 2021

NYSBA Task Force To Address Racism, Social Equity and the Law


By Christian Nolan

The New York State Bar Association has launched a comprehensive new task force that will examine how structural racism permeates and influences all aspects of daily life leading to injustice and inequality among New Yorkers.

“As a Black man, many times I have felt the weight of societal prejudices and injustice acutely and personally,” said NYSBA President T. Andrew Brown. “The only way to effectuate meaningful change is to address these long-standing and deep-seated issues directly.

“Our effort will extend beyond race to also include individuals who suffer stigma and abuse as a result of their sexual or gender orientation,” continued Brown. “The Task Force on Racism, Social Equity and the Law will examine some of the most intransigent regulations, laws and structures that are collectively holding us back as a society from achieving true equality.”

The task force will include six committees – Criminal Justice, Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Justice, Health, and Housing – that will examine why structural racism is entrenched and persistent. These committees will enable the task force to explore changes in the law and public policy and deliver a report with measures that can be taken to attack structural racism and effectuate meaningful societal transformation.

The new task force builds off the momentum of NYSBA’s Task Force on Racial Injustice and Police Reform, which President Brown co-chaired. That task force released a groundbreaking 114-page report earlier this year.

Taa Grays, vice president and associate general counsel of information governance, MetLife, and Lillian M. Moy, executive director, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York will co-chair the task force.

The members of the Task Force on Racism, Social Equity and the Law include:

  • Jose A. Almanzar, Beveridge & Diamond, New York, NY
  • Rosemary Martinez-Borges, deputy chief of staff, NYS Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, New York, NY
  • Robert E. Brown, Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, New York, NY
  • Robert E. Brown, ESOP Plus: Schatz Brown Glassman, Rochester, NY
  • Timothy P. Donaher, Monroe County Public Defender, Penfield, NY
  • Clotelle Lavon Drakeford, Legal Aid Society of Westchester County, White Plains, NY
  • Bryan Hetherington, Hetherington Consulting, Rochester, NY
  • Adriene L. Holder, The Legal Aid Society, New York, NY
  • Seymour W. James, Jr., Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco, New York, NY
  • Kavitha Janardhan, Bousquet Holstein, Syracuse, NY
  • Lucy Lang, former director of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY
  • Nelson Mar, Legal Services NYC, Bronx, NY
  • Rodrigo Sanchez-Camus, director of legal, organizing and advocacy services at NMIC, New York, NY
  • Mirna M. Santiago, Girls Rule the Law, Pawling, NY
  • Michelle Smith, chief of staff, NYS Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives, New York, NY
  • Vivian D. Wesson, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Weston, CT
  • Keisha A. Williams, Western New York Law Center, Buffalo, NY
  • Mishka Woodley, Dowling Law, Albany, NY
  • Oliver C. Young, Barclay Damon, Buffalo, NY

About the New York State Bar Association

The New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since 1876, NYSBA has helped shape the development of law, educated and informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.


Contact: Susan DeSantis
[email protected]

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