Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund. (Photo/YouTube)

President Obama this week appointed noted education advocate Marian Wright Edelman and other luminaries to his Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

On May 25, the White House announced the appointments of Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund; Phyliss Craig-Taylor, dean of North Carolina Central School of Law; and Lillian Lowery, president and CEO of FutureReady Columbus.

“I am confident that these experienced and hardworking individuals will help us tackle the important challenges facing America, and I am grateful for their service,” the president said in a statement. “I look forward to working with them.”

Marian Wright helped co-found the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. For two years before that, she served as director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University. In 1968, she helped establish the Washington Research Project of the Southern Center for Public Policy and served there as a field foundation fellow until 1973. In 1968, Edelman served as a liaison between Congress, federal agencies and the Poor People’s Campaign, led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Earlier in her career, she also did stints at different offices of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Edelman received her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College, in Atlanta, and her law degree from Yale Law School. 

An attorney by profession, Phyllis Craig-Taylor served as an associate dean of academics at North Carolina Central School of Law before becoming dean. Her long career in education included stints at the University of Tennessee, the University of Florida, North Carolina Central University, the University of Warsaw Center for American Law. She is or has been a member of the Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Justice for the American Bar Association, Council for the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and the Ethics Advisory Committee of the North Carolina State Bar. She was appointed by the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to serve on the North Carolina Commission for the Administration of Law and Justice, and has served as a past vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association. Before entering academia, she spent several years in private practice and served as a law clerk to the Alabama Supreme Court. Craig- Taylor received bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Alabama and a master’s of law degree from Columbia University. 

In September 2015, Lillian Lowery assumed the helm of FutureReady Columbus, a public/private organization dedicated to nurturing students from “cradle to career.” President Obama previously tapped her to serve on his Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans from 2014 to 2015. Lowery has a long career in academic administration. She served as superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education from 2012 to 2015, secretary of education for the State of Delaware and from 2006 and 2009, superintendent of the Christina School District in New Castle County, Del., from 2009 to 2012, assistant superintendent of Cluster VII for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia from 2004 to 2006 and as area administrator for Fort Wayne Community Schools in Fort Wayne, Ind., from 2002 to 2004. Lowery began her career teaching middle school students in the North Carolina Public Schools. She also has held leadership positions on the Board of Directors of Boys and Girls Club of America and Stop Child Abuse and Neglect. Lowery received a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Central University, a master’s from The University of North Carolina, and a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), commended President Obama’s choices.

“I was happy to hear of the President’s plan to appoint three remarkable leaders to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” he said in a statement. “I am confident that each of these women will work to continually improve our institutions to produce future leaders and innovators who will propel America forward.”