Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14

FEATURE

Fatima Goss Graves
By Stacy Julien

SAYING TIME'S UP ON GENDER INJUSTICE

W

ith earnestness in her voice, Fatima Goss Graves
chooses just the right words to describe her
work. You hang on to every eloquent word, too,
because everything she expresses, particularly
about the crises women face in this country, stirs up an
emotion and inspires action.

There's no doubt that Graves's conviction and ability to motivate helped
make her the perfect choice for president and CEO of the National
Women's Law Center (NWLC), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that
has been fighting since 1972 to improve the lives of women and girls in the
workplace and in school.
Graves took the helm in 2017, 12 years after coming on board as an attorney
and just a few months before the MeToo movement spread like wildfire.
She calls that time exciting but uneasy. "We were in the middle of serious
attacks on women's rights and their future," says Graves, a wife and mother
of two. "Though it was a tough time to take on this role, we were able to
drive change."
Count Graves among a slew of powerful women fighting against the
systemic harassment and abuse of women in the workplace. She's at the
forefront and quite visible, often speaking at conferences and forums as
well as testifying before Congress and federal agencies. Graves's legal perspective is frequently featured in print and on air, and she has authored
countless opinion pieces on reproductive rights, pay equity, campus sexual
assault, and other issues.
"It is honestly an honor to do this work as my day job. We dream of a different future for women and girls in this country, and the law is a powerful
tool to use," Graves says.
Born in Oakland, California, Graves says that she grew up understanding the
power and opportunity of the law. You might say fighting injustice is in her
blood. Graves's father and his siblings were the main plaintiffs in 1963's Goss
v. Board of Education, which charged that a provision in the school board's
desegregation plan perpetuated segregation of schools in Knoxville,
Tennessee. Her family's activism inspired her to become the first lawyer of
the bunch. "It was a big deal, and at graduation they showed up in honor
and appreciation for that," Graves recalls.
She describes her alma mater, Yale Law School, as a place that nurtured her
burgeoning interest in civil rights. Through clinics, volunteer opportunities
with the NAACP, and private sector internships, Graves easily found
pathways to work on the kinds of cases she cared about most. After graduation, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in
Chicago before working as a trial attorney for the global law firm Mayer

14

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MARCH/APRIL 2020

Brown LLP. Several years later, she began an upward climb to leadership at
NWLC, taking on a variety of roles along the way.
"She carries a lot of moral weight and authority," says Anna Chu, vice president for strategy and policy at NWLC. Chu was personally recruited by
Graves shortly after the two were featured guests at a women's conference.
"They respect her voice not just because it's legally accurate. There's also
such moral clarity. You know she's fighting for the right reason and the right
people."
Graves hopes to get to a point where she and her team do less fighting and
more building. "I wish 90 percent of our work was building toward a different future and focused on the leap ahead," she says. But the current
climate still needs warriors to battle in the areas of abortion rights, inequities in health care laws, inclusivity policies for women of color and LGBTQ
individuals, and sexual discrimination and harassment.



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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