Atlantic City’s Yolanda Melville Starts New Job with NJ Attorney General’s Office
BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
TRENTON — Nationally-recognized civil rights advocate Yolanda Melville, a former partner at the law firm Cooper Levenson and former executive with the Atlantic City branch of the NAACP, has started a new position with New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office as Senior Counsel and Director of Community Engagement.
Melville, who has won numerous awards and recognitions during her time in Atlantic City will be charged with serving as a liaison to community stakeholders across the state to connect with the Office’s initiatives.
“Each chapter of my professional life here in South Jersey has prepared me for right now,” Melville told Front Runner New Jersey. “I am grateful to have served as a partner in a prestigious South Jersey law firm (Cooper Levenson), which is exceptionally committed to community-centered lawyering.”
She served as vice president of the Atlantic City Branch NAACP and chair of its legal redress committee. She cohosted the branch’s weekly radio show with branch President Kaleem Shabazz, where they engaged local, state and national officials on topics that affected the African American community.
Melville said, though, she will operate out of Atlantic City in her new state role.
“The good news is this is not a goodbye to Atlantic City,” she said. “In this new role, I look forward to meeting new people and engaging with the many advocates with whom I once served. I will gain new perspectives and a newfound appreciation for the hardworking stakeholders and people who serve in communities across the state.
“I am honored to serve as a member of Attorney General Platkin’s team as the Office continues to effectuate meaningful and sustainable change.”
She served as a board member of the Atlantic County Coalition for a Safe Community, board of trustee member of the AtlantiCare Regional Health Services Board along with memberships in SoPro, AC, AtlantiCare Young Professionals, New Jersey Builders Association, New Jersey Apartment Association and the Greater Atlantic City Chamber.
“Yolanda Melville has been a brilliant and focused presence for civil rights and social justice in Atlantic City and the NAACP,” Shabazz, who also serves as and Third Ward city councilman, told Front Runner New Jersey about Melville.
“Additionally, she has been a trusted partner and community actor in several initiatives and programs. We wish her success in her next life endeavor.”
Nationally, she was one of the first graduates of the national NAACP NextGen Leadership program and served as the national Alumni Leadership Council president. She was appointed by NAACP Chairman Leon W. Russell to the NAACP National Board of Directors’ Legal Committee.
“I am thrilled to announce Yolanda Melville as senior counsel and director of community engagement,” New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement. “Yolanda brings with her a litigator’s sharp eye and an advocate’s deep knowledge of how to work with community partners and stakeholders – skills that will be critical as our office pursues initiatives designed to keep New Jerseyans safe.
“Her experience will help us build on our existing efforts to strengthen public trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve and help us more effectively serve our residents.”
A member of Front Runner New Jersey’s Class of 2023 30 Under 40 Top Young African American Leaders of SJ, Melville was honored as:
· New Jersey Super Lawyers* list as a Rising Star
· Top 40 Under 40 Honoree in 2018 by AC Weekly & Atlantic City Jaycees
· Black Girls Rock (Jersey Style) Award by the In My CARE Mentoring Program
· Resolution of Recognition by the City Council of the City of Atlantic City
· Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Champion for Justice” Honoree in 2019 by New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards
At Cooper Levenson, was a member of the firm’s Land Use, Zoning and Planning, Education/School Law, and Cannabis practice groups. She also assisted the Education Law Department in the defense of claims of violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, as well as federal litigation matters, including alleged civic rights and IDEA violations.
“My time there has been transformative, and most of all, I will miss my colleagues and amazing clients,” Melville said. “As an attorney and community advocate, l learned ‘Engagement 101’ from many mentors and leaders here in Atlantic City. We even made history,” she said.
Melville earned dual English and government degrees from The College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University. She went on to earn her law degree from the prestigious Howard University School of Law.
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