Meet your "Harvard Serves" Co-Chairs
Marilyn J. Holifield practices in the general litigation area, with a specific emphasis on representing corporate clients. Her practice includes employment, business litigation, corporate governance, trade secrets, covenants-not-to-compete, class action and intellectual property litigation. Ms. Holifield has represented corporate clients as lead counsel in jury and nonjury trials, arbitrations and administrative proceedings. She has co-authored an article on Florida’s covenant-not-to-compete statute.
Ms. Holifield practices labor and employment law and was named by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of America’s top employment lawyers. Ms. Holifield was also named one of South Florida’s 25 most successful and prominent black business women by Network Miami magazine.
For five years, Ms. Holifield was an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in New York City, where she was responsible for litigating class action employment and prison reform lawsuits before federal trial and appellate courts in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Illinois and New York. She was the General Counsel for the New York State Division for Youth and a law clerk for Judge Paul H. Roney of the United States (former) Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
When Ms. Holifield was named the 2000 Chesterfield Smith Lawyer, she received the outstanding lawyer of the year award, the highest honor the firm awards to a lawyer.
Ms. Holifield has served on the Directors Committee of Holland & Knight and the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College. She has also served as a member of the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, and Executive Council of Florida Bar Labor and Employment Section.
She has given continuing legal education lectures on alternative dispute resolution, employment law, trial practice, defamation law and corporate governance for the American Bar Association Litigation Section, The Florida Bar, National Bar Association, Caribbean Commercial Law Workshop and the American Law Institute.
The federal district judges of the Southern District of Florida selected Ms. Holifield to serve on the magistrate selection panel that pre-screened candidates for magistrate positions. She has served on the Ad Hoc Rules and Procedure Committee for the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida.
Ms. Holifield served two terms as chairperson of the ABA Conference of Minority Partners in Majority/Corporate Law Firms and as a member of the ABA Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in the Profession. The Governor of Florida appointed Ms. Holifield as a co-chair of the 1994 Summit of the Americas, which included historic meetings of the Heads of State of 34 countries in this hemisphere.
As an Elected Director of the Harvard Alumni Association from Los Angeles, Liz Ryan has enthusiastically worked to strengthen ties among alumni, and with their broader communities. When Harvard President Drew Faust announced in 2010 a new global initiative to engage the Harvard community in public service, Liz leapt at the chance to share that spirit with alumni in Los Angeles. Working with the Harvard Club of Southern California, she formulated a task force of local alumni, who organized volunteer opportunities in 19 organizations, in areas ranging from ecology, to education, to food delivery, to inner-city youth, to medical research, to art and music for the disadvantaged. During the April Month of Service, a record 150 Los Angeles area alumni volunteered.
When not working with the HAA, Liz works behind-the-scenes in film production. In 2008 she received the Frank Capra Award of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Guilds’ highest honor afforded to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager, in recognition of “career achievement in the industry and service to the DGA.” Her credits include over 70 productions around the world.
She has worked diligently to improve access to the arts for the economically disadvantaged, particularly for women and minorities in the film and television industry. Active on the boards of the DGA and its Training Program, she also volunteers with the Levitt Foundation, providing free live concerts in underserved communities, and with Peace4Kids, offering creative enrichment to foster children in greater Los Angeles.
At Harvard, scholarships allowed her entrée to a new realm of ideas. She wrote for The Crimson and The New York Times, was a student producer for WGBH TV’s “The Advocates,” and read for the blind. Upon graduation, she received the Captain Jonathan Fay Award.
Ever grateful for financial assistance from Harvard, Liz has since enthusiastically engaged in fundraising for the College. As the Los Angeles Regional Chair for her 25th Reunion, she helped her class set a still-standing, 25th reunion record for donations. She is a member of the Harvard Clubs of Southern California and New York and she welcomes input from all members of the alumni community.