Alice Brown

International human rights advocate

Alice L. Brown is an international human rights advocate and an expert on the use of the law for the public good.  Her distinguished career has focused on civil rights litigation and social justice philanthropy, with an emphasis on institution-building for NGOs.

She served nearly two decades 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 representative for the foundation's Southern African office, based in Johannesburg. During this time, she engaged in innovative grant making to support visionaries working on crucial global, regional and national issues in areas including human rights, social justice, constitutionalism and reconciliation, supervising funding programs with cumulative grant making of well over $US100-million.

Earlier in her career, she spent five years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where her work and publications addressed legal aspects of housing conditions and environmental degradation in African American communities. 

Brown is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of Section27 and also a member of the advisory committees of the Wits Justice Project and of Lawyers Against Abuse. She is a former board member of Human Rights Watch, the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights and the South Africa - United States Fulbright Commission, and an alumna of Common Purpose South Africa.

Brown graduated with a BA in History (honours) from Dartmouth College, and is a graduate of the New York University School of Law, where she was named an Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow based on academic performance and a commitment to civil rights and public interest law. She has been a visiting adjunct professor at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law, a fellow of the Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, and a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Currently she is called upon to advise and speak on a broad range of topics including philanthropic giving, NGO governance, leadership development, organisational effectiveness, public interest law, and transformation and diversity within the South African legal profession.