Henry Freedman to Step Down as NCLEJ Executive Director

Henry FreedmanAfter more than four decades of extraordinary leadership as Executive Director of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Henry Freedman has announced that he will retire this summer. Henry is fully committed to helping find a successor who can ensure that NCLEJ will carry on the great work that he has begun.

“NCLEJ has thrived under Henry’s brilliant leadership, and his accomplishments in building this premier organization are nearly impossible to count,” says Jennifer Selendy, Chair of NCLEJ’s Board of Directors. “From his early work on the extraordinary victory in Goldberg v. Kelly to the present, no one has been a more stalwart advocate for income security, fair treatment, and access to justice for those who are most needy in our community. Henry’s leadership and vision, as well as the amazing talent he has recruited and cultivated on NCLEJ’s staff, and the stable financial foundation he has built for the organization, ensure NCLEJ’s future as a major advocate for the rights of low-income and disadvantaged people in this country.”

Under Henry’s tenure, NCLEJ not only set the legal landscape of statutory and constitutional rights for applicants and recipients of public benefits, but the organization has served as a pioneer, time and again — first as a model “national support center” for legal services lawyers, then launching a high impact litigation program to protect Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance for low-income families, and later introducing disability rights law into the area of public benefits. In the course of accomplishing all of this, NCLEJ was able to reinvent itself after a sudden loss of federal funding by attracting diverse private support.

Today’s NCLEJ is a true national leader in the fight for economic justice, collaborating with partners across the country in developing and using both litigation and advocacy to make sure that low-income people get the benefits they are entitled to, and that government agencies administer programs fairly. “Through the leadership of Henry and an amazing legal staff, NCLEJ has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable families and individuals,” says Cassandra Barham of the Benefits Rights Advocacy Group in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a Vice-Chair of NCLEJ.

In his remarks to NCLEJ’s Board, Henry said “The past four decades at NCLEJ have been incredibly rewarding. I am honored by my association with NCLEJ and the many dedicated lawyers, advocates, and community leaders I have had the pleasure to work with here in New York and all across the country. I will miss the daily contact with each of you dearly, but it’s time for me to step back, spend more time with my family, and explore other interests.”
NCLEJ’s Board of Directors is implementing a transition plan and will commence a national search for a new Executive Director. The Board has appointed a Transition Committee that is advised by the Support Center|Partnership in Philanthropy, a well-established leadership transition consultant for not-for-profit organizations. The search is being led by Laurie Becker, President of the national legal search firm E.P. Dine, Inc.

Henry will remain the dedicated leader of NCLEJ during the transition and is committed to a thorough and smooth process. NCLEJ’s Board and staff look forward to joining with Henry’s friends and colleagues to celebrate Henry and his wonderful leadership at NCLEJ’s annual dinner on May 22, 2014, through the launch of the Freedman Fund for Due Process, and at events throughout the year.