Alphonso David is a dynamic leader, accomplished advocate and trailblazer who has worked across the public, private, academic and not-for-profit sectors. David was raised in Liberia, West Africa and faced devastating personal losses at an early age. In 1980, the democratically elected Liberian government was overthrown in a bloody military coup d’é·tat. David’s father was arrested and incarcerated, his uncle was assassinated, and he and his family lost their freedom. Through these challenges, David solidified a strong personal conviction to fight for marginalized communities, which has resulted in groundbreaking achievements and progress over the past two decades. Transformational change is the heartbeat of David’s work.
David has a history of breaking down barriers, building systems and transforming institutions throughout his multifaceted career. As a business leader, he was instrumental in creating one of the most sought-after addiction treatment centers in the country. In public service, David helped to transform broken systems that impeded the lives of the most vulnerable including restructuring the workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance systems in the State of New York to reduce inefficiencies and deficits that had plagued these vital social safety nets for decades. As a non-profit leader, he created and expanded groundbreaking programs for marginalized communities, including an impact litigation program to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ people and an HIV & Health Equity Program to address the disproportionately high rates of HIV among black and brown communities throughout the nation.
David has served as a tireless legal advocate on issues relating to racial and economic justice, immigrants’ rights and LGBTQ+ equality. Notably, he and his team secured more than $23 million for immigrants who had been defrauded by illegitimate legal service providers, stopped a racially discriminatory rating system in broadcast radio from being implemented in the United States, and compelled all large pharmacy chain stores to provide language access services to customers.
Further, during his time in public service in the State of New York, David was instrumental in drafting and advancing landmark legislation which removed legal barriers allowing same-sex couples to marry, paving the way for the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality nationally. His work helped to actualize the Paid Family Leave Act, ensuring individuals receive paid leave to care for sick family members. His record of achievement also includes the Minority and Women Business Program which doubled contracting opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses throughout New York. Additionally, David worked on various critical criminal justice reforms, including solitary confinement litigation and legislation to curtail the use of isolation cells and practices, raise the age legislation to stop the practice of criminally prosecuting minors as adults, executive action to restore voting rights to parolees, and a re-entry program to provide employment opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals.
David has broken many barriers in his life and through his work. In 2004, he became the first Black lawyer in the nation to litigate the right to marriage for same-sex couples under both state and federal law. In 2015, he was appointed Counsel to the Governor for New York State and became the first Black man and first openly LGBTQ person to hold that position in the state’s 400-year history. In that role, he worked on groundbreaking legislation that affected and transformed both social and economic systems within the state from relationship rights to economic empowerment. In 2019, he became the first Black person and first person of color to serve as president of the Human Rights Campaign in the organization’s 40-year history. In that role, he created critical programs to meet the needs of underrepresented groups within the community and raised more funds than any other president in the organization’s history.