Constance L. "Connie" Rice
Former Co-Director of the LA NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund
Connie Rice is co-director of Advancement Project, a public policy and legal action group that supports organizations working to end community problems and address racial, class and other barriers to opportunity. Ms. Rice is renowned for her unconventional approaches to tackling problems of inequity and exclusion. For example, she has teamed up with conservatives on education issues and, as counsel to the leaders of the Watts gang truce, enlisted the support of Los Angeles Police Department officers.
Prior to co-founding Advancement Project, Ms. Rice was co-director of the Los Angeles office of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund; an associate at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster; and, a clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit. In her legal work, Ms. Rice has led multi-racial coalitions of lawyers and clients to win more than $10 billion in damages and policy changes, through traditional class action civil rights cases redressing police misconduct, race and sex discrimination, and unfair public policy in transportation, probation, public housing and the allocation of school construction funds.
In her policy work at Advancement Project, Ms. Rice and her colleagues have led campaigns that have directed over $25 billion to increase educational opportunity for low-income children by reducing school overcrowding. At the invitation of LAPD Chief William Bratton, Ms. Rice investigated the biggest police corruption scandal in Los Angeles history and obtained the commitment of the Chief to reform LAPD's training and incentives system through an internal commission that she co-chairs. She also conducted a landmark 18-month assessment of the City of Los Angeles' anti-gang programs and drew the blueprint to reduce gang violence through a regional, multi-jurisdictional comprehensive strategy to right the balance between suppression and prevention.
In 2006, Los Angeles Times West Magazine named Ms. Rice one of the 100 most powerful people in Southern California, and California Law Business twice named her one of the top 10 most influential lawyers in California. Ms. Rice serves on the boards of the Public Policy Institute of California and the public radio station KPCC.
Ms. Rice is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University School of Law. In May 2003, Ms. Rice was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Occidental College., Berkeley.