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Meeting of July 26, 2011 – EEOC to Examine Arrest and Conviction Records as a Hiring Barrier

Cornell William Brooks, Esq.
Executive Director
New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

As Executive Director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Mr. Brooks oversees all advocacy, policy research and workforce initiatives. In the advocacy realm, Mr. Brooks directed the efforts for the passing of three major reentry bills in 2010. The bills create a more level playing field for ex- offenders returning home and will enable previously incarcerated men and women to rebuild their lives as productive and responsible citizens. Under Mr. Brooks, policy research in the upcoming years will see an increase and expansion in the health care area, digital divide and market labor field. In the workforce area, Mr. Brooks brought about an innovative program, WomenBuild, which trains women in non-traditional employment.

Mr. Brooks recently led the effort to create the new five-year strategic plan for NJISJ, which effectively establishes new initiative areas expanding the work of the Institute into health care research and workforce development as well as initiatives related to the digital divide in urban regions. Since becoming the Executive Director, Mr. Brooks has expanded and diversified staff members by employing a variety of young professional fellows. Mr. Brooks had the honor to serve in Governor Christie’s transition team in 2010 in the committee on Homeland Security and Corrections. He currently serves as a member of the Board of the East Orange General Hospital and the NJN/Public Broadcasting Authority Board. In the last few years, Mr. Brooks delivered a number of speeches at Princeton and Rutgers Universities as well as sermons at local churches. In 2008, Mr. Brooks was given an award by Integrity House for NJISJ’s reentry work.

Mr. Brooks previously worked as a Senior Counsel with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), where he worked on legal and policy matters promoting small business and media ownership diversity and also directed the FCC’s Office of Communication Business Opportunities. Serving in this capacity, he led efforts to increase financing available to small, minority- and woman-owned businesses through regulatory and industry initiatives. Prior to his FCC service, as a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, Mr. Brooks secured the then largest government settlement for victims of housing discrimination based on testing and filed the government’s first law suit against a nursing home alleging housing discrimination based on race. His civil rights experience includes serving as Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. As the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council, Mr. Brooks oversaw a regional program of fair housing testing and public education in Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and metropolitan Maryland that served as the basis of impact litigation. In 1998, Mr. Brooks ran as the Democratic Nominee for U.S. Congress for the 10th District of Virginia. As a graduate of both Head Start and Yale, he campaigned as an advocate for public education, affordable healthcare, and fiscal responsibility.

A fourth-generation ordained minister, Mr. Brooks earned a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in political science from Jackson State University and a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology, with a concentration in social ethics and systematic theology. After seminary, Mr. Brooks earned a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School, where he served as a Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal and Member of the Yale Law and Policy Review. He served a judicial clerkship with then Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. While studying at Boston University as a Martin Luther King Scholar, Mr. Brooks was awarded both the Oxnam-Leibman Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and promoting racial harmony and the Jefferson Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and excellence in preaching.

As an attorney, activist, congressional candidate, and pastor, Mr. Brooks has spoken before congregations of diverse faiths, as well as the United Nations Sub-Committee on Discrimination, business organizations, bar associations, labor unions, civil rights groups, schools, and colleges in the U.S. and Europe. As a columnist, he has written for several newspapers on contemporary politics, ethics, and faith.