Jamil Jivani

Jamil Jivani

Award-Winning Activist | Lawyer

Jamil Jivani tackles some of the biggest challenges in the world as a lawyer, community organizer, and teacher. With research and teaching appointments at Yale Law School and Osgoode Hall Law School, Jamil focuses on issues that impact youth, immigrants, and low-income families. He is also the founder of the Citizen Empowerment Project, a public education organization leading initiatives related to policing, racial profiling, democratic participation, voter turnout and economic development.

Jamil’s change leadership is informed by his personal journey of empowerment from being a failing high school student and working as a dishwasher, to attending the most exclusive law school in the world. Coming from a single parent household, as a youth he nearly fell into many of the traps that send young men on a detour away from success. It is this experience that propelled him into activism, focusing on issues such as bridging the gap between police and communities, overcoming the radicalization of youth, and encouraging young people to achieve success. His TEDx Toronto talk, How Racial Profiling Hurts Everyone, Including the Police, has been viewed over 110,000 times.

Jamil is the director of law and policy at Our Ohio Renewal, a nonprofit organization founded to develop solutions to the issues raised in J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy. He has also served as Vice Chair of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, and has  volunteered with youth organizations in Kenya, Egypt, and Belgium.

Jamil’s work in disadvantaged neighborhoods in North America and Europe has led him to appear on BBC, CBC, CTV and TVO. His writing has been published by The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post and Huffington Post.

Jamil graduated from Yale Law School in 2013, and formerly served as President of the Yale Black Law Students Association. While at Yale, Jamil worked for Senator Cory Booker in New Jersey, as a Connecticut high school teacher, and as a Manhattan corporate lawyer. Since graduating, he has practiced corporate law in Toronto at Torys LLP, and was named the 2015 Young Lawyer of the Year by the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers. He was also a 2016 recipient of th eThompson Reuters’ Lexpert Zenith Award for Diversity and Inclusion.

Jamil’s first book, Why Young Men, was published in April, 2018.


Learning How to Dream

We think of dreaming as something that comes naturally to us all. But our imagination and creativity in thinking about the future is often limited by what we’ve already seen.

Jamil’s journey from a troubled teen pushed along by a single mother to lawyer and law professor is a story about how to navigate through the unknown and see beyond the world immediately in front of you.

Jamil will share his story about learning how to dream, and how to connect those dreams to tangible actions toward a better life for yourself and the people you care about.

Bridging the Gap Between Police and Community

Based on Jamil’s TED Talk, this is a look at what is happening on the ground, in urban communities and police departments, that has contributed to the growing gap between police and diverse communities.

Jamil has worked with community groups and police departments across North America to better understand why there is a crisis of distrust, and how cities can move toward a better future.

Roots of Radicalization

Jamil traveled to Belgium in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels attacks to learn about what was making young people vulnerable to radicalization. He then traveled to Egypt and Kenya to learn about other communities combatting radicalization.

The main thing he learned is that this problem is not a religious one and it can’t be solved by building walls and closing borders. He learned that it’s about young people needing to find a place their society, to give them a sense of belonging and purpose.

We are all at risk if we don’t learn from what’s going on in other places and support our young people.

Jamil will share what he learned on his travels and what we can do locally to address the roots of radicalization.

Tackling the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis ripping its way through North America requires more than just money to solve – it requires dynamic leadership that can rally government agencies and others around a shared strategy to combat it on multiple fronts.

Jamil Jivani works to fight the opioid crisis with Our Ohio Renewal, an advocacy and policy research organization based in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio is one of the states hit hardest by opioid abuse in the U.S.  In Canada, Ontario alone saw a 19% increase in opioid overdose from 2015 to 2016.

Jamil takes audiences through his research, combing stories he’s learned from being on the frontlines of fighting the crisis, and proposes solutions leaders can undertake to tackle the complex issues of addition and ultimately help stem the fatalities.

Student Success

At the age of 15, Jamil was labeled illiterate by the public school system because he refused to put any effort into his education. Seven years later he was admitted to Yale Law School. His transformations through high school, community college, university and law school are lessons for all students on how to make the most out of your opportunities, persevere through failure and build a skillset that can carry you as far as your imagination can take you.