Doctor of Laws
For Jacqueline Berrien, leading the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the latest chapter in a career that President Barack Obama characterized as “fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.”
The president nominated Ms. Berrien in July 2009 as chair of the EEOC, the agency charged with ending unlawful discrimination in the nation’s workplaces.
Ms. Berrien’s determination to keep faith with the civil rights activists of the 1950s and 1960s—and their goal to move the nation forward—has informed her work as a lawyer and a leader.
Under her leadership, the EEOC has reduced its caseload of unresolved discrimination charges for the first time in a decade—recovering millions of dollars in relief for victims of unlawful employment discrimination—adopted regulations to implement key antidiscrimination legislation, and launched a Small Business Task Force, among other achievements.
She came to the commission from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she served for five years as associate director-counsel, assisting with the direction and implementation of LDF’s national legal advocacy and scholarship programs.
From 2001 to 2004, Ms. Berrien was a program officer for the Ford Foundation’s Peace and Social Justice Program, where she administered more than $13 million in grants to promote political participation by underrepresented groups.
Before joining the Ford Foundation, she practiced civil rights law with the LDF, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Legal Department and Women’s Rights Project.
Ms. Berrien has served as an adjunct faculty member at New York Law School, taught trial advocacy at Harvard and Fordham law schools, and published articles on race and gender discrimination issues.
She began her legal career in 1986 as a law clerk to the Honorable U. W. Clemon, the first African American U.S. District Court Judge in Alabama.
Ms. Berrien is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she served as a general editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. She received her Bachelor of Arts with High Honors in government from Oberlin College and also completed a major in English.