Former President, NAACP
Professor, Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice
Harvard Kennedy School
Cornell William Brooks is Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also Director of The William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the School’s Center for Public Leadership, and a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School.
Brooks was most recently visiting professor of social ethics, law, and justice movements at Boston University’s School of Law and School of Theology. He was a visiting fellow and director of the Campaign and Advocacy Program at the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics in 2017. Brooks served as the 18th president of the NAACP from 2014 to 2017.
Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. He also served as senior counsel and acting director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice. Brooks served as judicial clerk for the Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Brooks holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, a Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology, and a B.A. from Jackson State University. Brooks is a fourth-generation ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.