Karol V. Mason, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Asks, “What does it Mean to be a Citizen Today?” at the Fall Presidential Lecture Series

Published: November 27, 2017

Karol Mason, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, greeted an enthusiastic standing room only audience of students, faculty, staff and members of the local community at Queensborough’s Fall Presidential Lecture Series, held on November 8. She spoke on the topic, “Accepting the Responsibility of Citizenship”.

The first female and first person of color to serve as President of John Jay, Ms. Mason said, “I’m delighted to be here today as part of Queensborough’s speaker series to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and their journeys, and their triumphs.”

Among the issues she addressed were, “What are our responsibilities in ensuring that the next chapter of this great Democracy is one where everyone has an opportunity to succeed?”

Over the course of her distinguished career, Ms. Mason has been a legal pioneer and an exceptional voice for equality, fairness, and criminal justice reform. She was a leader in the Obama Administration on juvenile justice issues, bail reform and the challenges facing the formerly incarcerated when reentering society.

Ms. Mason spent almost three decades at Alston & Bird, LLP, where she was the first African American woman elected as chair of the management committee at any major national firm when she chaired the Public Finance Group. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina from 2001 to 2009, and Vice Chair of that Board from 2007 to 2009.

As United States Assistant Attorney General and head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Ms. Mason oversaw an annual budget of $4 billion in support an array of state and local criminal justice agencies, juvenile justice programs, and services for crime victims, and oversaw the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, among a wide range of other efforts.

She led the Department of Justice’s work to address the issue of community trust in the justice system through a variety of programs including the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice, a partnership with John Jay College and other academic institutions across the country designed to address bias in the criminal justice system. Previously, Ms. Mason served as Deputy Associate Attorney General from 2009 to 2012. She led the Office of Justice Programs from June 2013 to January 2017 after being nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“Queensborough, John Jay and CUNY’s mission as a whole is to provide a dynamic education that will propel students out into the world. It is grounded in the foundation of access to equity, fairness and justice, and places great value on the belief that America’s rich diversity is what makes it a success. During my career, I had the honor to serve as Deputy Associate General in the Obama administration, and I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to help make a difference in the world on a broader scale as an advocate for a just society. This is a positive message to carry forward because you, our students, are our leaders, and you will be achieving great things and guiding others. So I ask you: How will you use your voice?” ​

Currently, 1,500 Queensborough students are enrolled in one of three dual joint programs with John Jay College for Criminal Justice. The programs are: Criminal Justice, Accounting for Forensic Accounting, and Science for Forensics with John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Karol V. Mason received her A.B. in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina, and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.


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