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Shirley Jefferson

Shirley Jefferson

Vice President of Community Engagement and Government Relations
Professor of Law
Dean's Office

JD, Vermont Law School, South Royalton, Vermont

BS, Southeastern University, Washington, DC


Curriculum Vitae

Shirley Jefferson


Shirley A. Jefferson joined Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) in 1999. She currently serves as the vice president of community engagement and government relations and is the school’s first vice president of color. In this role, she reports directly to the VLGS president and provides strategic insight and advice to the school’s senior leadership regarding community issues; local, state, and federal government matters; and efforts for the enrichment of society and intercultural understanding.

Jefferson previously served as a special assistant to admissions, director of alumni affairs, associate dean for student affairs and diversity, and Title IX coordinator. She is also a professor of law and teaches a course on race and the law. In her role as associate dean, she advised and mentored the Student Bar Association and 35 other student organizations as they developed leadership abilities, planned student activities, and practiced life skills, self-governance, and organizational management. As associate dean, she also led the school’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

A nationally sought after speaker and adviser on matters relating to race and the law and equitable access to legal education, Jefferson is a member of the Vermont State College Board of Trustees and Vermont State Police Advisory Commission. She is a multiple-time winner of the Women’s Law Group Phenomenal Woman Award, a recipient of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) Edge Diversity Award, a recipient of the National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair Legal Education Access and Diversity Champion award, and a National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Pre-Law Hall of Fame Honoree, among many other honors.

Prior to joining VLGS, Jefferson served as general counsel for the United Black Fund, Inc., associate counsel in the law office of Wilhelmina J. Rolark, and a legislative assistant on the Committee on Judiciary to Council Member Wilhelmina J. Rolark. Jefferson is a member of Vermont Law School Class of 1986. While a student at Vermont Law School, she received the Alumni Association Award and was a Debevoise Family Scholarship recipient. She also founded the Minority Student Group at VLS, and the school’s Distinguished Service Award is named in her honor. A native of Selma, Alabama, she graduated summa cum laude from Southeastern University, where she was a dean’s list student.

On a more personal note, as a young girl, Vice President Jefferson met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama. At the age of 17, Jefferson integrated her high school in Selma, Alabama.

Awards & Accomplishments

Awards, Honors or Grants

The National Black Pre-Law Conference recognized Dean Jefferson with the Commitment to the Cause Service Award "in recognition for outstanding commitment and service to helping aspiring Black lawyers better understand what it takes to be successful applicants, law students and lawyers."

Vermont Law School Black Law Students Association Leadership Award 2018

2018 CLEO Edge Diversity Award Recipient

Black Pre-Law Conference Commitment to the Cause Award 2014

Michigan State University College of Law Facilitating Change Agent Award for “Voices from the Mountaintop” presentation, 2018

Student Bar Association Staff Award 2001-2002

15th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair Legal Education Access & Diversity Champion Award, 2019

 Windsor and Orange County Democratic Committee “Women Making a Difference” Award 2017

12th Annual Meeting of Law School Diversity Professionals Recognition Presentation Recognition Award for “Throwback Thursday: A Historical Analysis of Diversity”, 2018

Women’s Law Group Phenomenal Woman Award 2011 and 2013