EJI will honor former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Elaine Jones and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield at its 2013 Benefit Dinner on March 11, 2013.
Elaine Jones joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund shortly after she graduated from the University of Virginia Law School as its first Black female graduate. She was counsel of record in Furman v. Georgia, the 1972 case in which the United States Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 37 states. She became LDF’s first female President and Director-Counsel, and led the organization from 1993-2004.
Ms. Jones holds thirteen honorary degrees and has received the recognition of many organizations, including the Mickey Leland Public Service Award of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ida B. Wells-Barnett Justice Award of the Metropolitan Bar Association in New York City, Brennan Legacy Award of the Brennan Center, American Lawyer Lifetime Achievement Award, National Newspaper Publishers Association’s First Public Service Award, and The American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession (Margaret Brent Award). In December 2000, President William Jefferson Clinton presented her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award.
Boyhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in an old gas station building in Burlington, Vermont, on May 5, 1978. From the beginning, they gave back to the community, sponsoring local concerts and film festivals and giving away tons of free ice cream at charity events. In 1985, they established Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which donates 7.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits to nonprofit organizations nationwide, as part of the company’s “progressive, nonpartisan social mission that seeks to meet human needs and eliminate injustices in our local, national and international communities by integrating these concerns into our day-to-day business activities.”
“By making humanitarianism and philanthropy integral parts of their business ethic,” as a 2008 Entrepreneur profile put it, “they found a way to combine profitability with social responsibility, created a progressive new approach to employee management, and built one of the largest ice cream empires in the world.”
Special musical guest Roberta Flack will perform at the benefit in New York. The Grammy Award-winning artist also is very active as a humanitarian and mentor. Ms. Flack founded the Roberta Flack School of Music at the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx to provide innovative and inspiring music education program to underprivileged students free of charge.