(New York, New York — Oct. 27, 2022) The Innocence Project announced today that Brett Hart, the president of United Airlines, has been elected to its Board of Directors.
The first African American to be president of United in the airline’s 94-year history, Mr. Hart stepped into his current role in May 2020 just months after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global lockdown. An attorney by training, Mr. Hart oversees United’s global operations. Additionally, he leads the airline’s external-facing functions, which include the government affairs, regulatory, corporate communications, market and community innovation, legal, global community engagement, and environmental sustainability teams. He is also responsible for United’s business-critical functions, including the corporate real estate, human resources, and labor relations teams. He previously served as United’s executive vice president and chief administrative officer.
“I have long been a supporter and admirer of the powerful work of the Innocence Project, so it is an honor and a privilege to join the Board of Directors,” said Mr. Hart. “I am eager to contribute my time and energy to advancing their work correcting wrongful convictions and creating a fairer and more accurate legal system.”
“Brett Hart is a pioneer who has broken barriers throughout his career,” said Innocence Project’s Executive Director Christina Swarns. “His life’s work reflects a strong commitment to justice and fairness and echoes our mission of creating more equitable systems of justice for everyone.”
At United, Mr. Hart has made a commitment to promoting a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). He leads the airline’s partnership with historically Black colleges and universities. Just days after becoming United’s president, and in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, he spoke candidly at a town hall about racism in America and his personal experience as a Black man and a father to young sons. Under his stewardship, United has emerged as an industry leader in DEI. For example, the airline has set a goal of training more than 5,000 pilots by 2030, 50 percent of whom will be women or people of color at United’s Aviate Academy.
Prior to joining United in 2010, Mr. Hart spent six years at the Sara Lee Corporation, rising to become executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate counsel. Mr. Hart also previously served as a special assistant to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury in Washington, D.C. While in private practice at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Mr. Hart worked with author and attorney Scott Turow on death penalty cases.
“It is an honor to welcome Brett Hart to the Innocence Project Board of Directors,” said Innocence Project Board Chair Jack Taylor. “His background as a highly successful leader in corporate America who also has first-hand experience litigating death penalty cases makes him uniquely well-suited to make important contributions to the work and mission of our organization.”
Mr. Hart currently holds board positions at the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council, University of Chicago Board of Trustees, and the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Before receiving his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan.
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