University News

School of Law and Civil Rights and Fair Housing Advocates Present The 14th Annual Northeast Region Fair Housing & Civil Rights Virtual Conference

Published: September 29, 2020 | Categories: Law, All News

Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2

Close up of the American Flag

Organizers anticipate that hundreds of state and federal agency employees, attorneys, and community activists from throughout western Massachusetts will gather for a virtual conference on Thursday, October 1 and Friday, October 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the 14th Annual Northeast Region Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference. This event is free and open to the public with registration.

At a time when civil rights issues and racial equality are front and center in the United States, the annual Fair Housing and Civil Rights Conference is bringing together people who share a commitment to protecting and furthering the civil rights of all Americans, both regionally and nationwide. The conference provides an opportunity to hear speakers from a wide range of government and advocacy groups discuss the state of fair housing and civil rights in America today and share their ideas on how to effect change on both a local and national level.

Thursday (Oct. 1) Keynote Speaker will be Gillian Thomas. Thomas is a Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project, which was founded by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Attorney Thomas has represented victims of sex discrimination before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund). Thomas has published articles and reviews in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, and Slate, among others. She's a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Law School, and lives in Brooklyn.

Friday (Oct. 2) Keynote Speaker will be Chad Dion Lassiter. Lassiter is a nationally recognized expert on American race relations and violence prevention among African-American males. Lassiter has worked on race, peace and poverty-related issues in Africa, Canada, Haiti, Israel, and Norway and media outlets frequently seek his comments on race relations and violence prevention.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference will include morning and afternoon workshops on both days. Among the workshop topics are: Enforcing Civil Rights Remedies for Racist Police Misconduct, The Impact of the Covid Pandemic and Racial Inequality on Evictions and Access to Housing, Civil Rights Issues Facing Immigrants, and How to Provide Housing Opportunities for Victims of the Opiod Crisis.

Workshop speakers are leading attorneys and government representatives active in protecting civil rights and expanding fair housing from the ACLU, the EEOC, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, and other agencies and private law firms.

The conference is sponsored by Western New England University’s School of Law, Wayfinders, the Boston Housing Authority, the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

To register online, visit