The Leadership Conference Education Fund Board

William Robinson


William L. Robinson, the Olie W. Rauh Professor of Law, founding dean of the District of Columbia School of Law and the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, is an outstanding litigator, teacher, leader of the civil rights bar, and leader in the civil rights movement. He has chaired The Education Fund Board of Directors since October 2011, following the death of former chair, distinguished civil rights lawyer William L. Taylor.

In 2007, Robinson was honored with the University of the District of Columbia’s Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognizes members of the university community whose life’s work exemplifies outstanding leadership. Robinson currently team teaches Civil Rights in the 21st Century with the Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Professor of Public Interest Law Wade Henderson, and also teaches Labor & Employment Law, Appellate Advocacy, and Race in the Law. Robinson is also on the board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Carolyn Osolinik


Carolyn Osolinik is former partner Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, having retired in 2013, where she represented corporations and associations before the U.S. Congress and federal agencies, including preparing legislative strategies and analyzing pending or potential legislation for corporate clients. She has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors for more than two decades.

Osolinik understands the legislative and regulatory process from the inside out, having gained invaluable experience as a government lawyer for both the legislative and executive branches. Prior to joining Mayer Brown, she served as counsel (1981-1984) and chief counsel (1984-1992) to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee; trial attorney in the Land and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice (1979-1981); and staff attorney in the Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior (1977-1979).

Mary Frances Berry

Mary Frances Berry has been a Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania since 1987. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. She has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors for more than two decades.

Berry has had a distinguished career in public service. From 1980 to 2004, she was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and from 1993-2004 served as chair. Between 1977 and 1980, Berry served as the assistant secretary for education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She has also served as provost of the University of Maryland and chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. In recognition of her scholarship and public service, Berry has received 35 honorary doctoral degrees and many awards, including the NAACP’s Roy Wilkins Award, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Ebony Magazine Black Achievement Award.

Deepak Bhargava

Deepak Bhargava is executive director of the Center for Community Change (CCC), one of the country’s premier social justice and anti-poverty organizations, which builds the capacity of local community organizations and leaders to address issues facing low-income communities and communities of color, and links them together to take on major national issues. Bhargava has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors since January 2014.

Bhargava has led CCC since 2002, and during his tenure the organization has focused on strengthening community organizing and civic engagement in low-income communities, work on health care reform and retirement security and supporting the emergence of a vibrant immigrant rights movement through its work with the Fair Immigrant Rights Movement (FIRM). Bhargava also serves on the U.S. board of the Open Society Institute and the boards of The National Immigration Forum Action Fund, The Bauman Foundation, the Discount Foundation and The Nation editorial board.

Elizabeth Birch

Elizabeth Birch has had an extensive career that spans the corporate, legal, public policy, communications, and nonprofit worlds. Birch headed the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, for a decade. Prior to HRC, she headed litigation worldwide for Apple Computer, Inc. and served as General Counsel to Claris Corporation. Today Elizabeth is the President & CEO of Peris Birch Real Estate & Construction Advisory, which specializes in bringing brokerage and construction services to a variety of clients, including law firms, nonprofits, and associations. Peris Birch is a woman/LGBT owned and certified firm. Elizabeth has brought her corporate, legal, and NGO experience to advise presidents, members of Congress, corporate and nonprofit executive teams, and the U.S. military on issues related to diversity, inclusion, engagement, and leadership. From 1995 to 2004, as the president of the HRC, Elizabeth and her team brought fresh new branding, communications, and programming to the organization and brought the organization through a tremendous period of growth.

Elizabeth attended the University of Hawaii, where she majored in Oceanography and Political Science. She graduated from the University of Santa Clara School of Law in California and clerked through a Santa Clara program at the California Supreme Court. Later she was presented with a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Hawaii for her contributions to the civil rights movement in America. An innovative educator and gifted communicator, Elizabeth has achieved high visibility, with appearances on programs such as Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Good Morning America, the Today Show, 20/20, This Week, Face the Nation, Nightline, Crossfire, the Larry King Show, the NewsHour, and profiles in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Michael D. Calhoun

Michael D. Calhoun is president of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), which is the policy affiliate of Self-Help, the nation’s largest community development lender that has provided over $6.4 billion in financing for first time homeowner loans and small business loans. The Center for Responsible Lending is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and policy institute focusing on consumer lending issues. Calhoun has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors since September 2013.

Calhoun has been an active participant in consumer financial legislation and regulation, and he has more than 30 years’ experience in consumer lending. He has authored numerous papers on the subject and has testified often before Congress and many state legislatures. Prior to joining CRL, he led several lending divisions at Self-Help, including the secondary mortgage market program. He is a former member and chair of the Federal Reserve Consumer Advisory Committee. Calhoun received his B.A. degree in economics from Duke University, and his J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina.

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen is the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center and has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors since June 2015. Under his leadership, the SPLC litigates cases across the civil rights spectrum, alerts the public to the dangers of the radical right, and provides free anti-bias resources to every school in the country.

A graduate of Columbia University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Cohen joined SPLC in 1986 as its legal director after practicing law in Washington, D.C., for seven years.  He became the SPLC president in 2003.

Gara LaMarche

Gara LaMarche is president of the Democracy Alliance (DA), providing overall leadership, strategic vision and management capacity for the organization. Prior to joining the Alliance, LaMarche served as senior fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and previously, as president and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies. At Atlantic, he led the foundation’s efforts to embrace a social justice framework for grantmaking, and spearheaded the largest-ever grant made by a foundation for an advocacy campaign – more than $25 million to press for comprehensive health care reform in the U.S. LaMarche has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors since June 2015.

Before joining Atlantic in 2007, LaMarche served as vice president and director of U.S. programs for the Open Society Foundations (OSF), launching the organization’s pivotal work on challenges to social justice and democracy in the United States. A longtime advocate for human rights at home and abroad, he has held various positions with Human Rights Watch, PEN American Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A Westerly, Rhode Island native, he is a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University in New York.

John Relman

John Relman is the founder and director of Relman, Dane, and Colfax PLLC. Relman has represented scores of plaintiffs and public interest organizations in individual and class action discrimination cases in federal court. Relman has served on The Education Fund Board of Directors since March 2015.

Prior to the formation of the firm, Relman served as project director of the Fair Housing Project at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Under his leadership the project achieved national recognition, winning some of the largest housing, lending, and public accommodations discrimination jury verdicts and settlements in the country. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Relman worked as a staff attorney at the National Office of the Lawyers’ Committee.

The Education Fund President and CEO

Vanita Gupta
1620 L Street NW, 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202.466.3311
Fax: 202.466.3435