Prep on the Issues Returns with United States Attorney Damian Williams

The fireside chat featured a discussion about identity and public policy.

After a three-year hiatus, Prep for Prep’s Prep on the Issues series returned Thursday, November 10 with a conversation featuring special guest Damian Williams, the first Black US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The event, held at Chelsea Factory, began with introductory remarks from Gigi Parris (XVI), a judge in the New York State Unified Court System. The program proceeded with a lively discussion with Damian led by Esther Cajuste (P9 XI), Principal Law Clerk in the New York State Unified Court System.

Damian reflected on how his identity as a black man impacted his upbringing, higher education experience, and law career journey. He discussed the relationship between law enforcement representatives and the communities they serve, emphasizing that “communicating and showing up” and using “a non-biased approach” are critical to establishing trust between law enforcement representatives and their communities. These tactics  are what help him to stay focused as a leader. Other topics included navigating the global pandemic and the political uneasiness of the last presidential administration, guidance for constituents who want to address economic disparity within their district, and advice for students of color interested in public policy or a career as a prosecutor.

His main advice for students was to pursue a career even if the field doesn’t have many people who look like them, because “getting involved is vitally important and incredibly rewarding,” and stressed the importance of how valuable it is “to do your part in making the world a little bit better.”

Damian earned an A.B. in economics from Harvard University, a M.Phil. in international relations from the University of Cambridge, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Prior to his confirmation as United States Attorney, he served as Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force in the Southern District of New York. As an Assistant United States Attorney, he primarily investigated and prosecuted white collar cases involving corruption in financial markets and politics. Among other matters, he prosecuted Congressman Chris Collins for insider trading. He served as a law clerk to Judge Merrick B. Garland of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.

The Prep on the Issues series brings Prep alumni, students, supporters, and friends together to hear from experts on topics of pressing interest to our community. We are grateful to Chelsea Factory for hosting this event.
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