President and CEO of the NAACP Cornell William Brooks to Serve as 2015 Commencement Speaker

Jersey City, N.J. – April 8, 2015 – Saint Peter’s University today announced that Cornell W. Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), will address the Class of 2015 at the 124th commencement exercises for the University on May 18, 2015. Brooks will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa. In addition, the University will also bestow an honorary degree upon Dan A. Altilio, president and CPO of United Way of Hudson County (UWHC).

In May 2014 Brooks became the 18th president of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely respected grassroots-based civil rights organization. A longtime lawyer and human rights activist, Brooks previously served as president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, based in Newark. During his time with the Institute, he led successful efforts to win the passage of three landmark prisoner reentry bills in 2010, which were hailed by The New York Times as “a model for the rest of the nation.” Brooks is also a fourth-generation ordained minister, who has successfully pushed for state legislation to reduce the effects of widespread foreclosures and has worked to develop social impact investing tools to employ more people in higher wage work.

Brooks served as senior counsel for the Federal Communications Commission, executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and as a trial attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He has also campaigned tirelessly as an advocate for public education, affordable healthcare and fiscal responsibility. He earned a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, in political science from Jackson State University and a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. Brooks went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from Yale Law School.

The second honorary degree recipient, Altilio, has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the most vulnerable residents in Jersey City and the surrounding communities for nearly 19 years with the United Way of Hudson County (UWHC), a community-based non-profit organization that serves the basic needs of economically insufficient individuals. Presently, UWHC serves the women, men, and children residing in the communities of Bayonne, Guttenberg, Hoboken, Jersey City, North Bergen, Secaucus, Union City, Weehawken and West New York. UWHC is dedicated to ending homelessness in Hudson County by supporting effective programs that change the lives of our working poor and their families.

The commencement ceremony for Saint Peter’s University will be held at the PNC Bank Arts Center at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 18, 2015.

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Saint Peter’s University, inspired by its Jesuit, Catholic identity, commitment to individual attention and grounding in the liberal arts, educates a diverse community of learners in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional programs to excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment.


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