Karen Baynes-Dunning, SPLC’s interim president and CEO; Bryan Fair, SPLC Board Chair
Following a tumultuous change in leadership, including the firing of its co-founder and the resignation of its president, the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation’s leading civil rights organizations, has two African Americans leading the Montgomery, Alabama-based organization.
Bryan Fair, Thomas E. Skinner Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law, is SPLC’s board chairman, and Karen Baynes-Dunning is the organization’s interim president and CEO, succeeding Richard Cohen, who resigned in May in the wake of a scandal precipitated by the ouster of Morris Dees, SPLC’s co-founder.
Baynes-Dunning, who will remain in her position until SPLC completes a nationwide search for a permanent president and CEO, is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Law School. She also served as a juvenile court judge and as a visiting professor at Emory University School of Law and as an associate professor at the University of Alabama.
After serving for 15 years as president and CEO, Cohen resigned in May. SPLC fired Dees in March.
In a front-page article published in SPLC Report, the organization’s newspaper, Fair said the past few months have been challenging, but he expects the organization to become stronger.