Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, serves on the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. A renowned public interest lawyer, Stevenson began representing death row inmates in court in 1985, while serving as a staff attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. That work inspired his founding, four years later, of the Equal Justice Initiative, which seeks to strengthen the system of public defense and protect the rights of people who are too often denied proper representation.
A transformational leader, he is the visionary behind the Enslavement to Mass Incarceration Museum and the Memorial to the Victims of Lynching, commemorating more than 4,000 individuals who were lynched in 12 southern states between 1871 and 1950. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and a professor at the New York University School of Law.
Stevenson earned a BA from Eastern College, an MPP from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and a JD from Harvard University. He has received 26 honorary degrees, from institutions including Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, and Washington University.