Rising for Justice Names Grace M. Lopes as Executive Director

Washington DC, October 4, 2019 – The Board of Directors for Rising for Justice, formerly known as Law Students in Court, today announced it has named Grace M. Lopes as Executive Director.  Lopes will succeed longtime Executive Director Moses Cook, who is relocating with his family abroad.    

“Grace is a widely respected leader in the fight for justice for all, and we’re excited that she’ll be bringing her passion and commitment to Rising for Justice,” said Don Ridings, Chair of the Board of Rising for Justice.  “As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary and look to a future of even greater impact, we know that Grace is the right leader for this moment in our organization.” 

The appointment marks Lopes’ return to Rising for Justice, where she previously served from 1986 through 1989 first as a Supervising Attorney and later as Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic.

Over the course of her career, Lopes has served as lead counsel for plaintiffs and defendants and also been appointed by the D.C. Superior Court, and U.S. District Courts in DC, Maryland and Mississippi as Special Master, Arbiter, and Monitor in a series of complex and contentious class action institutional reform cases related to child welfare, public education, mental health, juvenile justice, and adult corrections.  

Lopes also brings extensive non-profit and government leadership experience, having served as managing director of the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice; founding executive director of the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, Inc.; and General Counsel to District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams.  

Lopes is a graduate of Antioch School of Law, the innovative public interest law school that was the predecessor of the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia.  

“As Rising for Justice enters the next chapter in a long and distinguished history, I am very excited by this opportunity to work with its inspiring and talented staff, students, and Board, as well as with law school partners and other community stakeholders, to advance the organization’s social justice mission and train the next generation of advocates.”

Launched in 1969 by five D.C. area law schools as Law Students in Court, Rising for Justice is today a nationally recognized leader in training social justice advocates and representing clients in grave legal jeopardy.  The Rising for Justice Board of Directors engaged LeaderFit, an executive search firm for mission-driven organizations, to conduct a national search, which led to the selection of Lopes.  She is scheduled to start in her new role in December.