Gerety turns to law and advocacy

Associated with the New York University School of Law, the Brennan Center is a public interest law firm that undertakes projects focusing on democracy, poverty and judicial independence, according to Gerety. “It tries to enlist academic expertise, and lawyering and advocacy … to actually change policy and make a difference,” he said.

Gerety is a lawyer with academic expertise in constitutional law.

Gerety will replace Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., the great-grandson of the famed toy store magnate. Schwarz currently serves as the Interim President of the organization. Gerety will take over in the same position but under the title of Executive Director.

Schwarz explained some of the duties of the position. “[One has] got to be a good judge of people and work well with people so you can make choices of what to do,” he said. “Our job is to help people who lack the means to fight for themselves.”

“[Gerety] will be the leader of the organization in the truest sense,” said Scott Schell, the director of public affairs at the Brennan Center. “[Tom is] someone who has the skills to make this place grow and become more prominent … [He will] help us become more effective, more powerful in changing laws and policy in a way that helps improve democracy and make [the world] a better place.”

Since his resignation last May, Gerety, who serves on the boards of the Save the Children Fund and International Rescue Committee, has demonstrated an interest in pursuing a path in public service. Though he said was anticipating taking a job with a more international focus and farther separated from academia, he expressed enthusiasm about the position he has accepted. “For me it’s a kind of return to the old ’60s kind of issues about the poor and those who are left out in American society,” he said.

The Brennan Center was founded in 1995 by former law clerks of Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. to celebrate his legacy. Among the Center’s most prominent work is defense of the McCain-Feingold law.