Nanzella Whitfield

Nanzella Whitfield is a candidate for First Vice President in NACDL's 2021 election.

My name is Nan Whitfield. I am currently the Second Vice President, and am the only black woman (and only the second black woman to serve in this capacity, for the history of the organization) on the Executive Committee of NACDL. I am a 35 year, career and lifelong, public defender. I have dutifully served on the Executive Committee, in the role of an Executive Officer, for nearly three years now.

I have served as both the co-chair, and now, Chair of the Public Defense Committee, for nearly three years, and I have recently been appointed to serve as the Chair of the Diversity Committee. In addition, I have served as both chair, and co-chair for the annual Race Matters conference, that was launched during the presidency of former NACDL President Rick Jones. I have both presented, and co-presented, at several NACDL CLE conferences and seminars.

On February 17, 2018, NACDL, in conjunction with the FCJ (adopted on February 15, 2018) by unanimous assent, adopted a Strategic Plan, which embraced many key initiatives aimed at eradicating structural racism, not only within the broader criminal legal system, but drilled down further, and closer to home. The strategic plan also trained the lens upon the organization itself, making a calculable commitment to increase the percentages of women, and persons of color, both within the NACDL membership, and more patently, within the NACDL leadership. In addition, the strategic plan envisions, and welcomes, an increase in participation, amongst the underrepresented members of the criminal defense bar, (also known as public defenders), within the organization.

See, what I did there? Here’s where I come in: Some may opine that I am the embodiment of the mission, and the aim of that objective. My leadership position demonstrates that NACDL is committed to ensuring that the success of the strategic plan shall go beyond an innovative idea. The dedicated call to action to implement such a robust and visionary plan, provides the proof, in the flesh, so to speak, that the strategic plan is so much more than mere words on a website.

It has been my honor and my privilege to serve as Second Vice President of NACDL. I have undertaken my fiduciary duty to heart, while also doing my absolute best, to embrace and engage, both the Board of Directors, and the membership at large. Although, I am devoted to the purpose and mission of this organization, and not merely position, nor for personal advancement; as First Vice President, be assured, that I will never do less.

The viability and the rewarding impact, of this organization are my top priorities. I will always speak truth to power, and I will never go along, just to get along, at the expense of harm, nor to the detriment, of the continued vitality of this premiere, and world renowned, criminal defense bar association. I am so proud to be both a member, and an Executive Officer of NACDL. Count upon me to be a change agent.

You have my word.

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