Professional Affiliations/CommunityService

Board of Advisors, 2009-2011
Institute of the Black World 21st Century

Board of Advisors, 2009-2012
Behind the Cycle

Commissioner, 2007-present

Chairperson, 2012-2015

District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights


Member, 1999-present

American Bar Association


Member, 1998-present

National Bar Association


Member, 1984-present

Member, Board of Directors, 1992-98

Co-Chairperson, Section on Criminal Justice, 1992-98

President, D.C. Chapter, 1988-91

National Conference of Black Lawyers


Member, Board of Directors, 1989-91

National Lawyers Guild


Honorary Board 2013-present

Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2008

Washington Council of Lawyers


Member, 1999-present

Washington Bar Association


Member, Board of Directors, 1998-2004

American Civil Liberties Union of National Capital Area


Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2001

D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program (FK Public Service Activities Comm)


Member, Board of Directors, 1999-2004

Bureau of Rehabilitation, Inc.


Member, Board of Directors, 1995-2001

D.C. Prisoners Legal Services, Inc.


Member, Board of Directors, 1993-95

Section Co-Chair, 1994-95

D.C. Bar Section on Criminal Law & Individual Rights


Member, 1989-present

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Member 2003-present

National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice


Chair, Legislative Commission 1995-2005

Founding Member

National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America


Member, Board of Directors, 1992-98

Center for Study and Harassment of African Americans


Advisory Board, 2000-2002

American Assoc. of  Law Schools Pro Bono Committee


Member, 1995-2002

Community and Alumni Affairs Committee

Howard University School of Law


Chair, Board of Trustees, academic year 1999-2000

Roots Public Charter School


Member, Board of Directors, 1993-present

African Freedom Fund Treasury


Member, Board of Directors, 1980-present

Kwanzaa Children's Party, Inc. Organizing Committee


Co-Chair, 1993-95

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights 

Steering Committee on D.C. Statehood


Member, 1991-93

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Steering Committee on Voting Rights


Coordinator and Trainer, 1995

Million Man March Legal Observer Committee


General Counsel, 1990-92

African American Writer's Guild


General Counsel, 1984-87

Republic of New Africa Ministry of Justice


Co-Counsel, 1992-96

Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign

As a catalyst in raising the visibility of issues involving unequal justice, she has testified, written, and spoken extensively on issues of civil/human rights, and criminal and civil justice reform, before the U.S. Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission, the District of Columbia City Council, and the American Bar Association Justice Kennedy Commission.  Ms. Taifa is a former Chairperson of the District of Columbia Commission on Human Rights, and has served on the boards of scores of public interest organizations, receiving numerous awards for her accomplishments in social justice.   Nkechi Taifa received her Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University.  

SCHOLARLY WRITINGS

Law Review Articles authored by Taifa:


​Interrelated Solutions to Integrative Issues:  A Multidisciplinary Look Behind the Cycle of Incarceration - Harvard Law and Policy Review, Vol 3:2 Summer 2009 (co-authored by Catherine Beane).   

Codification or Castration: The Applicability of the Intern'l Race Convention to the U.S. Criminal Justice System - 40:3 Howard Law Journal 641 (1997)

Cracked Justice:  A Critical Examination of Cocaine Sentencing - 27 University of   West Los Angeles Law Review 107 (1996). 


Civil Forfeiture vs. Civil Liberties - 39:1-2 New York Law School Law Review 95 (1994).

Three Strikes & You're Out: Mandatory Life Imprisonment for Third Time Felons - 20:2 University of Dayton Law Review 717 (1995)


Selected Articles/Blog Posts/Book Chapters/& Video Interviews 
authored by Taifa


  • ACS Guest Post, "My Brother's Keeper: How We Failed the Central Park 5,"   Bennett, Frazer & Taifa (March 14, 2014)

  • Article, "Righting Historical Wrongs Through Clemency," Washington Informer Newspaper, (February 28, 2014)

  • Blog Post, "Justice for Eight in Crack Cocaine Sentencing: Thousands More to Go," OSF Voices, (January 7, 2014)

  • Blog Post, "Judge Patricia Wald: A Chamption of Freedom," November 20, 2013, OSF Voices, (November 20, 2013)

  • Video of Panel, The Era of Mass Incarceration, American Constitution Society Convention, September 11, 2013

  • Blog Post, "How to Slash the Cost and Size of Overcrowded U.S. Prisons OSF Voices (November 7, 2013)

  • Taifa talks to American Constitution Society blog on mass incarceration.  ACS video , (August 21, 2013)

  • Guest Blog Post, "Holder Seeks to Reform Harsh Drug Sentencing, Incarceration Laws, ACSBlog (August 13, 2013) 

  • Blog Post, "Cracking the Disparities: The Ongoing Battle for Fairness in Crack Sentencing," Huffington Post, (June 26, 2012)

  • ACS Guest Blog Post: "Missing the Mark with Mandatory Minimums: 25 Years of a Flawed Strategy," (September 20, 2011)

  • Video of Taifa Interview:  25 Years of Injustice: Sentencing Disparities for Crack and Powder Cocaine,The Coffee House, hosted by Angela Jordan Davis, February 1, 2010. 

  • Video Blog, "taifa Calls for New Thinking on Criminal justice Policy, American Constitution Society (December 22, 2009)

  • Blog Post, "The Importance of an Integrative Approach to Justice," ACS Blog (December 4, 2009)

  • Moderator, "Reorienting Federal Criminal Justice Policy: An Opportunity for a More Integrative Approach?", featuring Senator Jim Webb, Congressman Bobby Scott, and White House Domestic Policy Counsel Florentino Mariano Cuellar, with panel of experts (December 9, 2009). 

  • Policy Report"Moving Toward a More Integrative Approach to Justice Reform, Behind the Cycle Project (February 2008). 

  • White Paper, The Crack/Powder Disparity: Can the International Race Convention PRovide a Basis for Relief?"  American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (2006)

  • "Social Policy Implications of Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System," published in Color of Social Policy, Chapter Six

  • "Emmett Till:  A New DOJ Investigation is Welcomed," Watching Justice (May 12, 2004)

  • "Roadblocked Reentry: The Prison After Imprisonment" (November 13, 2003)

  • Report, "Re-Enfranchisement! A Guide for Individual Restoration of Voting RIghts in States that Permanently Disenfranchisement Former Felons." Advancement Project (September 2002)

  • Script for Mock Trial, "Justice on Trial: Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System, written and produced for the National Bar Association 2001.

  • Panelist, "Racial Profiling: Good Police Tactic or Harassment?" CATO Institute (May 15, 2001)

  • Report Introduction, "The Impact of the Criminal Justice System on Women and Their Families,"  2.1 Center for Research on African American Women Journal 11 (2001)

  • "Reflections From the Frontlines - An Insider's Perspective on the Crack Cocaine Controversy," 10:4 Federal Sentencing Reporter 200 (1998).

  • "Beyond Institutionalized Racism: The Genocidal Impact of Executive, Legislative, & Judicial Decision-Making in the Crack Cocaine Fiasco," National Bar Association Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 5 (1996).

  • Drug Laws 100 Times Harder on Blacks, Focus Magazine, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (April 1995).

  • "Laying Down the Law, Race by Race: Criminal Sentencing Falls Disproportionately Harsh on Blacks and Latinos" Legal Times (October 10, 1994).

  • "The Crime Bill: A Civil Liberties Perspective," National Bar Association Magazine (Sept/Oct 1994).

  • ACLU Analysis of Major Civil Liberties Abuses in Senate Crime Bill (principal drafter) January 7, 1994.

  • "Race + Three Strikes = Injustice," National Law Journal (March 2, 1994)

  • "Mandatory Minimum Sentences Open Up a Pandora's Box," National Prison Project Journal (July 1993).

  • Contributing author to Reparations Yes: The Legal and Political Reasons Why Blacks Should be Paid for the Enslavement of Our Ancestors.

The ATTORNEY...


Nkechi Taifa has served as Senior Policy Analyst for the Open Society Foundations and Open Society Policy Center since 2002 covering issues of criminal, civil and racial justice reform. She is the founder and convener of the Justice Roundtable coalition. She served as Founding Director of the Howard University School of Law's award-winning Equal Justice Program from 1995-2002, and as an adjunct professor at Howard Law and American University Washington College of Law.  Throughout her career she has served as legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Office; policy counsel for the Women's Legal Defense Fund; staff attorney for the National Prison Project and Network Organizer for the Washington Office on Africa.  In her private law practice from 1987-1991, Taifa represented indigent adult and juvenile clients, and specialized in employment discrimination law.  

"Looking Back to Soar Forward!"

Legacy Empowerment

The fabled Sankofa bird moves forward while looking backwards, 
symbolizing the significance of empowering the future by summoning the strengths of the past ...
WEBSITE OF NKECHI TAIFA, Esq.

RECOGNITION & AWARDS

  • Marcus Garvey Outstanding Community Service Award, Universal Negro Improvement Assn,

         December 2015


  • Cornelius "Neil" Alexander Humanitarian Award from the DC Commission on Human Rights, December 2015


  • Wiley Branton Award from Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs,  

          June 2014


  • Award from Congresswoman Maxine Waters
    September 2011

  • Recognition Award from "Crack the Disparity" Working Group
    September 2010 

  • President's Award
    Washington Council of Lawyers
    December 2005

  • African Consciousness Award (Kwanzaa)
    United Black Community 
    December 2003


  • Featured in WCL News Forum, official newsletter of Washington Council of Lawyers
    August 21, 2001

  • Distinguished Faculty Award, from President and Provost of Howard University
    April 17, 2001

  • Certificade De Participacion, Universidad de la Habana, "Sociedad y Derecho en Cuba"
    March 23, 2001

  • Warren Rosmarian Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service, presented by Howard University School of Law
    May 2000

  • "Professor of the Year," presented by Howard Law School Student Bar Association
    May 2000

  • "Walking the Walk" Award, presented by Black Law Students Association Legislative Watch
    May 1999

  • Certificate of Appreciation
    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    February 1999

  • Certificate of Appreciation 
    ABA Law Students Division
    1998-99

  • "Who's Who in American Law"
    9th Edition, 1996-97

  • "Outstanding Social Engineer Award for Invaluable Assistance and Tireless Dedication of Continuing the Legacy of Howard University School of Law," presented by the H.U. Law Student Bar Association'
    April 3, 1996

  • "Pro Bono Publico Award" for outstanding performance of H.U.'s Public Service Program, presented by Pro Bono Students America at the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Conference
    April 13, 1996

  • Profiled in Legal Times, "Guide to Key Lobbyists - Criminal Justice Scorecard: An Insider's Guide to the Major Players"
    August 9, 1993

  • "Motor Voter" Coalition Award for Enactment of the National Voter Regisgtration Act of 1993
    May 25, 1993

  • "Hobson, King, Parks, Dougla, Heutte" Award for Legislative Advocacy on Behalf of D.C. Statehood
    December 1, 1993

  • Profiled in National Journal, "Interest Groups"
    ​October 26, 1991