CONNIE RICE has received more than fifty major awards for her leadership and unorthodox
approaches to challenging brutality and reversing the raw deal for kids struggling to survive in the thin soil of poverty. She is a graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and New York University School of Law. At her organization, Advancement Project (www.AdvancementProjectca.org), she continues her crusade for basic rights with her Urban Peace team after the 2007 release of their seminal report on gang violence in Los Angeles—A Call To Action.
Rice’s race for excellence began at home: her father broke racial barriers as a U.S. Air Force major, and her mother, a teacher, imbued a passion for learning and culture into Connie and her brothers Phil and Norman, a zeal equal parts vigor and pride. Connie was raised to look up to women leaders of history: Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Frank, Representative Barbara Jordan. Her father’s career took them to 17 different homes during her childhood, including periods in England and Japan, but these heroines stayed with her as constant reminders of the high potential of her future. After college at Harvard and law school at NYU, where she spent summers working on high profile death penalty litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (including the far-reaching McKleskey v. Kemp case), Rice began the work that would win her national acclaim for its attention to civil rights.
Over the course of her career, the “Lady Lawyer,” as Rice would come to be known to the Los Angeles gang members with whom she struck a pioneering partnership, would take on the notoriously racist and sexist LAPD, a transit system that tried to ignore its poorest users, and a public school system that Rice and her cohorts deemed inadequate. Already a legend in Los Angeles based on these achievements alone, Connie Rice is perhaps best known for the report she co- wrote that has revolutionized the city’s law enforcement policies and outreach to gangs. I’ve attached a recent New York Times article about the transformation of the LAPD, which includes remarks from Rice, whose constant Involvement with the LAPD has yielded the consummate reward: her very own parking space at headquarters.