Wiggin and Dana Celebrates Black History Month By Honoring Judith Browne Dianis

February 27, 2017

Judith Browne Dianis

The Diversity Committee of Wiggin and Dana LLP has begun a new tradition this month: celebrating Black History Month by honoring a contemporary leader that embodies our core values while doing great work in the field. Our history is filled with examples of great African American leaders, scholars, and activists. But in focusing on the history books, we sometimes fail to adequately recognize the great leaders of our day, leaders who are working tirelessly to champion the same crucial causes as those who preceded them. We are proud to announce the selection of Judith Browne Dianis as our 2017 honoree for Black History Month.

Browne Dianis is the Executive Director of the National Office of the Advancement Project, a multi-racial non-profit civil rights organization that is at the forefront of a growing and vibrant racial justice movement. Her mission at the Advancement Project goes well beyond legal advocacy in the Courts: "Our model is all around. How do we assist grass-roots movements in building power to hold systems accountable to get rid of structural racism, but also how do we change hearts and minds around those issues?" Browne Dianis recognizes that doing so requires addressing the issue using multiple tactics, from protests to direct action to legal challenges to partnering with local organizations and getting "out in the streets" to guiding and participating in large-scale and community-based conversations "about who we want to be as a Nation."

Born in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, NY, Browne Dianis is the daughter of a mother who was a community activist and a father who was a veteran of a segregated army. She went on to study law at Columbia University, where she focused her energies on becoming a civil rights lawyer. Her journey was also marked by a brief experience in corporate America, where Browne Dianis experienced racial discrimination on the job.

Browne Dianis understands that we are living in a unique time in our nation's history, a time of crisis for racial justice advocates but also one of great importance and opportunity. There is much work to be done across so many areas – from voting rights to education to policing to criminal justice. Now heading up the Advancement Project, Browne Dianis is in the right place at the right time: "Doing this work is living my purpose."