Alice L. Brown

Alice L. Brown

Alice L. Brown is a Visiting Research Fellow at the African Centre for the Study of the United States, which is located at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Trained as an attorney and with extensive experience in social justice philanthropy and civil rights litigation and advocacy, Ms Brown is committed to the use of the law for the public good. Currently, she advises, speaks and writes on a broad range of topics including philanthropic giving, non-profit organization governance, leadership development, organizational effectiveness, public interest law and transformation within the South African legal profession. She resides in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ms Brown is a graduate of the New York University School of Law, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow, and Dartmouth College, where she received a BA in History.

From 2013 - 2016, Ms Brown convened the annual Public Interest Law Gathering (PILG) ( and she currently serves on the boards of Section27, a highly respected South African public interest law centre, Corruption Watch, Jacana Literary Foundation and Keystone Accountability (UK). She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa. Her consultancy assignments have included work for, amongst others, the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa), TrustAfrica (Senegal), the International Senior Lawyers Project (NY/London) and the Medtronic Foundation (Minnesota).

Ms Brown served nearly 20 years of leadership at the Ford Foundation, as a human rights program officer in its New York headquarters and as a program officer, Deputy Representative and then as the Foundation’s Representative for the Office for Southern Africa based in Johannesburg. During this period, she engaged in grant making in support of crucial issues under the rubrics of, amongst others, promoting human rights, social justice, the rule of law and transformation and diversity.

Earlier in her career, Ms Brown spent five years as a litigator and advocate at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she addressed some of the most intractable civil rights problems in the U.S. Her work and publications addressed legal aspects of housing conditions and environmental degradation in African American communities. Prior to her tenure with LDF, Ms Brown had the honor of serving as a law clerk of the late Honorable A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., a prominent and distinguished U.S. federal court judge, historian and civil rights advocate.

She is a former board member of the South Africa - United States Fulbright Commission and an alumna of Common Purpose South Africa. In addition, Ms Brown has been a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, a Visiting Fellow of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, and a Visiting Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.