I am excited to announce that I will be stepping down as executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and moving to the newly created position of Senior Special Counsel when my successor as the executive director is selected. In my new position, I will return to litigation and advocacy and provide supervision and mentoring to members of the Committee staff, activities that I have not been able to fully pursue while leading the organization. After more than 30 years as an executive director or leader of a legal services or civil rights organization, I look forward to using my legal skills and experience directly on critical racial justice issues.
It is also a good time for the Committee to recruit new leadership. We have in place a strong team, effective legal, fundraising and operational leadership, have built up our infrastructure, are on solid financial footing, have an aggressive docket of cases and projects, and are adjusting to the new normal of running a law office with endemic COVID. We make this change at a moment of organizational strength.
I am incredibly proud of the work we have done together and I look forward to continuing to collaborate in my new role. I am humbled to look back on the work done by the Committee team and our partners during my tenure. We successfully challenged a move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program; pursued first of its kind litigation to protect the rights of tenants to organize in the District of Columbia; achieved sweeping reforms of the Prince George’s County Police Department employment practices; brought emergency litigation to protect the patients at the St Elizabeths Hospital and persons confined in the District’s federal halfway house at the outbreak of COVID; incorporated the Workers’ Rights Clinics into our practice; helped to secure representation for hundreds of people seeking compassionate release; sued to protect students with disabilities in Virginia schools; and achieved important results in cases to protect returning citizens from discrimination in housing, employment, and credit, and many other cases.
Your support and partnership with the Committee has been crucial to our success and ability to pursue our mission. Thank you for all you have done during my tenure, your support during this transition, and for the next executive director.
Jonathan M. Smith
PS: The hiring process is going to take a bit of time, so you can expect to hear from me about the exciting things happening at the Committee in the coming months.