Keynote Speaker Biography: U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. '76
Confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 2, 2009, Eric H. Holder, Jr., serves as the nation’s 82nd Attorney General and is the first African-American to hold that office. As Attorney General, Mr. Holder has begun to address important issues surrounding Guantanamo Bay, government surveillance, assault weapons, banking regulation, and the treatment of detainees.
The son of parents with roots in Barbados, Mr. Holder grew up in East Elmhurst, Queens. He attended public school until the age of 10, when he was selected to participate in a program for intellectually gifted students. He later attended Stuyvesant High School and received his B.A. in American history from Columbia College in 1973. While attending Columbia Law School, he interned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After graduation, Mr. Holder joined the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section, where he investigated and prosecuted corruption involving governmental officials. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan appointed Mr. Holder an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of D.C., where he presided over hundreds of criminal and civil trials. President William Clinton appointed him five years later to the position of U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, where he oversaw the conclusion of the corruption case against U.S. Representative Dan Rostenkowski in the Congressional Post Office scandal. In 1997, Mr. Holder was named U.S. Deputy Attorney General.
In 2001, he joined the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington & Burling LLP as a partner in the litigation practice group, representing clients such as Merck & Co., Inc., and the National Football League. Mr. Holder’s many civic commitments prior to being appointed include service on the boards of Columbia University, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Meyer Foundation, and the Save the Children Foundation.
He also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group. Mr. Holder has received numerous awards in recognition of his professional and civic contributions, including the Department of Justice’s Special Achievement Award, the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Beatrice Rosenberg Award, and George Washington University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in Human Rights.