Written By Diontre Davis
Joint International Chair of the Young People’s Advisory Board
(Photo via Getty Images)
On International Women’s Day, The Young People’s Advisory Board want to honor four extraordinary women that The Black Policy Institute has had the privilege to collaborate with. They are all experts in their field who continue to grow in their professional success and the impact made for communities across the Black Diaspora.
Professor Wendy Greene
Professor Wendy Greene is a renowned legal scholar, teacher, and writer, with expertise in critical race theory, civil rights, and anti-discrimination law. She is the first tenured African American woman professor of law at Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, where she also serves as the Director of the Center for Law, Policy, and Social Action. Prior to joining the Drexel Law faculty, she was a faculty member at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama from 2007-2012. At Cumberland, she likewise made institutional history as one of the youngest women and women of color to attain tenure and full professorship and earned multiple awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship. Professor Greene also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Xavier University of Louisiana, a Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School, and a Master of Laws from the George Washington University School of Law.
Professor Greene has received numerous honors and awards for her groundbreaking work in the field of anti-discrimination law and policy, including the John Hope Franklin Prize awarded by the Law and Society Association and the inaugural Deborah L. Rhode Award conferred by the AALS Sections on Professional Responsibility, Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities, and Women in Legal Education. Professor Greene has inaugurated two Scholar in Residence programs at St. Thomas University (Miami) School of Law and UC Irvine School of Law’s Center on Law, Equality and Race (CLEaR) in addition to serving as a visiting professor at several law schools, including the University of Iowa College of Law, University of Kentucky College of Law and Washington and Lee University School of Law where she was also the Frances Lewis Scholar in Residence.
She is also a sought-after speaker and commentator on legal issues that have shaped civil rights protections against race and discrimination on federal, state, and national levels. She has featured in numerous media outlets, including BBC World News, NowThis News, and Teen Vogue for addressing grooming codes discrimination. She is recognized as the founder of #FreeTheHair Movement and one of legal architects of the C.R.O.W.N. Act, a historic civil rights legislation that protects Black people subjected to unlawful hair discrimination based on their natural hairstyles. She is the architect of two new legal constructs recognized within anti-discrimination law theory and praxis: “misperception discrimination” and “grooming codes discrimination.” Her internationally recognized publications in these areas have shaped the enforcement stance of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), administrative law judges, federal courts, and civil rights organizations in civil rights cases. Recently, the 11th Circuit and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals endorsed Professor Greene’s published definition of race as a legal authority on the social construction of race and as a practicable definition for constitutional decision-making respectively.
Professor Greene is a prolific author, with articles and essays published in numerous legal journals and scholarly volumes. Now, she is currently writing her first book, #FreeTheHair: Locking Black Hair to Civil Rights Movements, under contract with the University of California, Berkeley Press.
Yasmin (Rigney) Nelson is a Partner at Bracewell’s Policy Resolution Group. She is a senior political and policy executive who has worked on presidential and federal campaigns and in the United States Congress. Yasmin has a demonstrated history of bipartisan and bicameral work in the U.S. Senate, aiding Senators in passing legislation into law, shaping regulations, and developing public policy proposals. Yasmin is an expert coalition builder and passionate advocate, with expertise in creating client-focused campaigns. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in from Loyola University in Maryland and a M.B.A from the University of Maryland. She has expertise in finance, banking, housing, and financial services issues, with an ability to communicate and advance complicated policy issues with political leaders, companies, and stakeholders.
Prior to PRG, Yasmin was the Senior Policy Advisor to then-Senator Kamala D. Harris. In this role, Yasmin was responsible for crafting and managing Harris’ economic agenda as well as advising on Congressional Tri-Caucus policy and political issues. As lead on Congressional Black Caucus for Harris, Yasmin concentrated on advancing policy initiatives with a focus on equity and inclusion. She worked directly with several Members of Congress.
Yasmin played a significant role in Senator Harris’ efforts to propose policies that would reform the tax code, expand the social safety net, and advocate for greater equity in federal programming. Yasmin previously served on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee under Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden and in the offices of Senators Debbie Stabenow and Cory Booker, advising on the economic and housing portfolios.
Yasmin was the President of the Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus and currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the current President. She is a member of the Financial Services Professionals (FSP) and Smith Association of Women MBAs. She also sits on the Board of the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance (BWCA). Yasmin was named a ‘Rising Star’ on Capitol Hill by Congressional staff.
Katrina Ffrench is a social justice advocate and the Founding Director of UNJUST UK, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting racial justice and fighting against discrimination in the criminal justice system. Ms. Ffrench founded UNJUST UK in 2015 to address systemic racism and discrimination in the UK’s criminal justice system. The organization’s work includes advocating for policy change, providing support to individuals and families affected by racial injustice, and engaging in public education and awareness campaigns. She has extensive experience in community development, public policy, and social change activism.
Ms. Ffrench holds received a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Social and Political Sciences at Hughes Hall College, University of Cambridge after 7 years of matriculation. Since graduating, she has pursued a career focused on assisting the betterment of others. In 2019 she was awarded with the on the pioneering Pathways to Success Leadership Programme as one of the one of the top future Black, Asian, Ethnic Minority leaders in the UK. A program is a partnership between The House of Commons, Magdalen College, Oxford University, Lloyd’s Banking Group and the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.
In addition to her work with UNJUST UK, Ms. Ffrench is a frequent speaker on issues related to racial justice and social change. She has presented at numerous conferences and events in the UK and internationally and has been featured in several media outlets, including the Guardian and the BBC. In June 2020, Ms. French also provided oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, The Macpherson Report: Twenty Years On inquiry.
Ms. Ffrench has extensive leadership history advocating against stop and search policing that disproportionately harms Black communities. From 2018-2020 she served as the CEO of the civil society organisation, StopWatch. As CEO she displayed strong leadership and management skills, oversaw the publication of evidenced based reports, and met with a key stakeholders to advocate for meaningful change. Additionally, she was the Chair of MOPAC Stop and Search Community Monitoring Network. She has participated in panels and events alongside MPs, academics, lawyers, police officers, practitioners and civil liberties activists on a national and international level.
W. Judy Njenga
W. Judy Njenga is an accomplished higher education administrator and academician based in Kenya. She is currently serving as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and a Professor of Information Systems and Technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Prof. Njenga holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Kenyatta University, a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of London, and a PhD in Information Systems from the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include e-learning, mobile learning, and ICT in education.
In addition to her work as an academician, Prof. Njenga has held several senior administrative positions at JKUAT, including serving as the Dean of the School of Computing and Information Technology and the Director of the Board of Postgraduate Studies. She has also served as an external examiner and reviewer for several universities and research organizations in Africa and beyond.
Prof. Njenga has published extensively in peer-reviewed academic journals and has presented her research at numerous conferences and workshops both locally and internationally. She has also served as a keynote speaker at several events and has been recognized for her contributions to the field of education and technology. In 2018, she was awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW) by the President of the Republic of Kenya for her distinguished service to the nation.
She is also a member of the AEGEE, Association des États Généraux des Étudiants de l’Europe. AGEE is an organization that empowers young people and students of different backgrounds across Europe with professional development and leadership opportunities in policy. Prof. Judy was recently chosen to attend the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters as an active representative for AEGEE.
The Young People Advisory Board and The Black Policy Institute are grateful to be able to collaborate with these amazing leaders. They embody what it means to embody civil service in an inspirational and aspirational presence. Please follow and stay tuned for all of the successes and impacts to society of each of them in the future.