Joel Motley, chairman emeritus of the board of Human Rights Watch and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, will be the featured speaker at the May 15, 2022, commencement at the UConn School of Law.
“UConn Law is honored that Mr. Motley will be our commencement speaker especially because this year’s commencement will occur during the law school’s year-long centennial celebration marking 100 years of progress, excellence, and impact.” Dean Eboni S. Nelson said. “Considering Mr. Motley’s and his family’s impactful legacy advancing equity and justice, I am confident that his remarks will serve as tremendous inspiration for our graduates as they begin their legal careers and for all in attendance as we advance our centennial theme of “Justice Starts Here.”
Motley served as the chairman of the board of Human Rights Watch, which investigates human rights abuses around the world, from 2013 to 2016. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on its Finance and Budget Committee. Motley also serves on the boards of the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, Historic Hudson Valley and as secretary of the board of the Greenwall Foundation.
A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Motley was inspired to join the legal profession by his mother, the civil rights leader Judge Constance Baker Motley. She was a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the first Black woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court and the first Black woman to become a federal judge.
In 2016, Joel Motley co-produced a short film about his late mother, ”The Trials of Constance Baker Motley,” to honor her impact on school desegregation.
Motley began his legal career in corporate law at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City. He subsequently served as an aide to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and as the senator’s chief of staff in New York City and surrounding counties before he entered investment banking. He co-founded Carmona Motley in 1992 and is currently an independent director of Invesco Mutual Funds and an independent director of the Office of Finance of the Federal Home Loan Bank System.