WASHINGTON, D.C., December 4, 2020 – Alliance for Justice — a leader since 1979 in safeguarding equal justice, promoting nonprofit advocacy, and fighting for a fair and independent judiciary system — welcomes three new board members who will take their seats in December 2020.
These new members bring an extensive array of wisdom and experience that will helpful advance AFJ’s goals, both through our work on the courts and our Bolder Advocacy support for nonprofits and foundations. Akunna Cook, has served as a diplomat and as the founding executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, and advised former Attorney General Eric Holder on all aspects of his role as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee; Madeline (Maddy) deLone is the former Executive Director of the Innocence Project and has a wealth of experience in the social and criminal justice space; and Christopher Torres is Political Director of MoveOn.org and brings a broad background in campaigns and movement strategy.
Alliance for Justice founder and president Nan Aron issued the following statement:
“Today we welcome three new board members to Alliance for Justice. The leadership that Akunna, Maddy, and Christopher have shown exemplifies the values of justice that guide our organization and the power of nonprofits to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. I have no doubt that they will be stalwart advocates for a progressive judiciary and the rights and protections we all deserve.
Our new members are joining us at a critical moment in history. We have the opportunity to undo the damage that the Trump administration has done to our courts and the rule of law. We’ll also have an administration actually ready to listen to its constituents, so it will be as important as ever for organizations to speak out for their vital causes. These new board members model exactly the kind of change-making we pursue and encourage in others, and we can’t wait to hit the ground running with them.”
Akunna Cook, Senior Fellow, Third Way: Akunna Cook is an accomplished diplomat, policy advocate, and attorney. She is the founder and principal consultant at Drake Road Strategies where she advises individuals and organizations on public policy strategy and advocacy. Previously, Akunna served as the founding executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, a non-partisan organization focused on driving economic progress in the black community through policy development, advocacy, and supporting candidates for office. Akunna also practiced law at Covington & Burling LLP, where she advised former Attorney General Eric Holder on all aspects of his role as Chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Akunna managed a team of attorneys researching political and legal strategy on redistricting around the country. She also advised a variety of clients on public policy, government affairs, and corporate governance.
Before practicing law, Akunna served for ten years as a career diplomat with the Department of State where she focused on economic and political development. She served overseas in China, South Africa, and Iraq where she advised U.S. companies on trade, investment, and political risk. In Washington, Akunna served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of State responsible for African affairs, multilateral engagement, management, and legal issues. She received her law degree from the Yale Law School and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is also a summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration. Akunna is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Washington, DC Bar.
Madeline (Maddy) deLone, Non-profit consultant: Maddy deLone was Executive Director of the Innocence Project from March 2004 until January 2020, where she led the organization through a tremendous period of growth and activity, and grew the staff from 8 to 80. Before joining the Innocence Project, Maddy was an attorney with the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney with Children’s Rights, Inc., and a law clerk to the Honorable Robert W. Sweet, in the Southern District of New York. Prior to becoming a lawyer, she held various administrative and policy positions in New York City involving juvenile justice, public health, and the city jails, including as Deputy Director of the New York City Board of Correction, where she oversaw the creation and implementation of Health Standards for people confined in jail.
She is the editor of the American Public Health Association’s Standards for Health Services in Correctional Institutions. She also serves on the boards of Cicatelli Associates Inc. and JustLeadershipUSA. Maddy is a graduate of Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, holds a Masters in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health and is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Fellow. She has served on a number of boards, including the North Star Fund, the Hazen Foundation, Cicatelli Associations, Inc., and the Innocence Network.
Christopher Torres, Political Director, MoveOn.org: Chris’s experiences as an electoral campaigner, power organizer, and movement strategist for social movement organizations, issue campaigns, and elections make him an ideal candidate to serve on the board of Alliance for Justice.
Chris’s mother, a single mom who raised him and his four siblings in New York City, instilled in them the belief that an education was key to making a better life. He worked hard in high school and was afforded the opportunity to go to college at Brown University. While at Brown, he engaged in local political campaigns in Rhode Island and discovered his passion for building power through elections. After college, he joined his first campaign as a field organizer for Sheldon Whitehouse’s victorious Senate race. He continued working in Democratic Party politics on a Mayoral race in Philadelphia and for Senator Obama’s first Presidential campaign.
It was on the Obama campaign where Chris learned about Marshall Ganz’s community organizing framework and how to adapt it to electoral campaigns. When the election was over, he transitioned to community organizing and learned to build political power through leadership development, issue advocacy, large scale voter registration drives, and get out the vote campaigns.
Chris is dedicated to strengthening the progressive movement for the long term and is especially committed to racial and economic justice. He sees the work of the Alliance for Justice as supporting the larger movement by setting the legal terrain and playing field for future policy fights.