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Elaine Jones

former president, NAACP's Legal Defense Fund

In 1993, when Elaine R. Jones took the helm of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund (LDF), she brought with her two decades of experience as a litigator and civil rights activist. As President and Director-Counsel of the nations foremost civil rights organization working for equal rights under the law, she has been able to carry out a childhood commitment to justice. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Ms. Jones came of age in the Jim Crow South and learned its painful lessons early on. Her mother was a college-educated schoolteacher and her father was a Pullman porter and a member of the nation's first black trade union. Her parents taught her about the realities of racism, but also about the importance of idealism. In 1989, Ms. Jones broke another barrier, becoming the first African American elected to the America Bar Association Board of Governors. Her term ended in 1992; she continues to sit on the ABA's Council on Individual Rights and Responsibilities. She is active in the Old Dominion Bar Association (Virginia) and the National Bar Association (first female recipient of its Founder's Award, C. Francis Stradford-1925), and is a former board member of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund. Ms. Jones is also a member of the executive committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the board of the National Women's Law Center.