Fmr. NOW Chief Terry O'Neill is Tulane Law Graduation Speaker

Terry O’Neill, former president of the National Association for Women (NOW) and an alumna and former faculty member of Tulane Law School, will be the 2018 law school commencement speaker.

Law School Dean David Meyer made the announcement Monday to students and faculty, lauding O’Neill’s reputation as one of the country’s leading advocates for equality and inclusion.

“O’Neill has been a strong national voice against discrimination and abuse of power,” Meyer said. “We are very excited to welcome Terry O’Neill back to campus and celebrate with the Class of 2018.”

Earlier this week, O’Neill, L’80, stepped down as the head of NOW and was named Executive Director of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), a leading organization dedicated to advancing the cause of equality and justice in the workplace.

O’Neill graduated from Northwestern University and from Tulane Law School magna cum laude in 1980.  After practicing corporate and securities law, O’Neill became a law professor at the University of California at Davis and Tulane University, teaching corporate law, legal ethics, and feminist legal theory.  Early in her 12-year tenure on Tulane’s faculty, O’Neill became politically galvanized while campaigning door-to-door against the campaign of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and served as president of the New Orleans and Louisiana chapters of the National Organization for Women. In 2009, O’Neill was elected President of NOW and led the 500,000-member organization for eight years, until this week.

As NOW president, O’Neill was a national leader on issues ranging from gender pay equity and reproductive rights to domestic violence in the National Football League.  She also led a drive to expand the organization’s focus to emphasize concerns relating to discrimination on grounds of race, sexual identity, and socioeconomic status.

At NELA, O’Neill will continue to play a key role in the unfolding national debate over sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination and abuses of power.

Graduation ceremonies for Tulane Law School are scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2018.