March 24, 2023

Sherrilyn Ifill Receives the 2023 American Constitution Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Contact: Nancy Rodriguez,

Washington, DC – Sherrilyn Ifill, Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation and former President and Director-Counsel Emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc., will be honored as the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Constitution Society during its 2023 National Convention.

“ACS is pleased to recognize Sherrilyn Ifill with the ACS Lifetime Achievement Award,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “Throughout her career—as a civil rights lawyer, legal scholar, and activist—Sherrilyn has fought for racial equity, including in voting rights, education, and the criminal legal system. She is one of our country's most brilliant and passionate legal minds and has tirelessly used her voice, through legal scholarship and public commentary, to prioritize and protect marginalized communities and focus on the intersectionality between race, gender, and poverty. We are incredibly inspired and humbled by her work.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award is one of ACS’s most prestigious awards, given in recognition of a lifelong dedication to realizing the promise of the U.S. Constitution and defending the rights of all Americans.

Ifill served as the seventh President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) from 2013 to 2022. In that role, Ifill increased the visibility and engagement of LDF in addressing cutting-edge and urgent civil rights issues and elevating the organization’s leadership fighting voter suppression, inequity in education, housing and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Ifill is the second woman to ever lead LDF, providing courageous leadership and advancing justice during one of the most transformational moments in our nation’s history.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from the American Constitution Society. I have dedicated my life to working for racial justice and equality – which are core imperatives of our post-Civil War Constitution. Although I am receiving a ‘lifetime achievement award,’ I have not left the battlefield. I am grateful to ACS, which has been a critically important convener and partner for so many of us in the work, for this wonderful honor.”

For over 20 years, Ifill taught civil procedure and constitutional law to thousands of law students and pioneered a series of law clinics at the University of Maryland School of Law. Her highly acclaimed 2007 book “On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century,” is credited with laying the foundation for contemporary conversations about lynching and reconciliation.

Currently serving as a Senior Fellow for the Ford Foundation, Ifill is a social justice leader who serves with distinction in leadership roles at NGOs and public interest organizations in the United States and internationally.

Ifill is a recipient of the Brandeis Medal, the Radcliffe Medal, and the Gold Medal from the New York State Bar Association. Ifill has received numerous honorary doctorates, including from New York University, Bard College, Georgetown Law School, Fordham Law School and the Jewish Theological Seminary. In 2019, Ifill was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  In 2020, she was named Attorney of the Year by The American Lawyer. In 2021, Ifill was appointed to President Biden’s Commission on the Supreme Court. That same year she was named by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

The ACS National Convention brings together lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, activists, and policymakers to examine some of the most urgent and challenging issues confronting our nation. The premier progressive legal gathering of the year will take place on May 18-20 in Washington, D.C. Visit ACS’s National Convention webpage for speakers, panel, and registration information. Early bird registration rates end on March 31, 2023.


The American Constitution Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan legal organization. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, advocates, and many others, our mission is to support and advocate for laws and legal systems that strengthen our democratic legitimacy, uphold the rule of law, and redress the founding failures of our Constitution and enduring inequities in our laws in pursuit of realized equality. For more information, visit us at or on Twitter @acslaw.