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E.E.O.C. Head Jacqueline Berrien Dead at 53

Jacqueline Berrien, a civil rights lawyer who served as President Obama’s chairwoman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has died.

She was 53.

Berrien, who passed away Monday from cancer, became ill in August during the N.A.A.C.P.’s Journey for Justice march from Selma to Washington.

“Her last act was doing what she loved: civil rights,”  her husband, Peter M. Williams told the New York Times.

During her tenure with the E.E.O.C., Berrien contributed to a number of successes for the Commission.

It promulgated rules against discrimination in employment and health-insurance enrollment on the basis of disability or genetic test results, and won a record $240 million jury verdict (reduced to $1.6 million because of a statutory cap on damages) against a company accused of abusing workers with disabilities in Iowa.

Jacqueline Ann Berrien was born on Nov. 28, 1961 in Washington. She graduated from Oberlin College and from Harvard Law School.

In 1994, she became an assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and focused on voting rights and school desegregation litigation.

She taught at Harvard Law School and New York Law School.

She is survived by her husband, Peter and a brother, Clifford Eric Berrien.

Our condolences go out to Ms. Berrien’s loved ones at this time.