Ward Connerly, author of the autobiography, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences, is founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a national, not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the need to move beyond racial and gender preferences. Mr. Connerly has gained national attention and respect as an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, sex, or ethnic background.
As a member of the University of California Board of Regents, Mr. Connerly focused the attention of the nation on the University’s race-based system of preferences in its admissions policy. On July 20, 1995, following Mr. Connerly’s lead, a majority of the Regents voted to end the University’s use of race as a means for admissions. He was appointed to a 12-year term as UC Regent in March 1993.
In 1995, Mr. Connerly accepted chairmanship of the California Civil Rights Initiative (Proposition 209) campaign. He accepted this responsibility in December 1995 when he decided the campaign was in jeopardy. Under his leadership, the campaign successfully obtained more than 1 million signatures and qualified for the November 1996 ballot. California voters passed Proposition 209 by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin.
Mr. Connerly’s efforts have led to several honors and awards from supporters around the nation, including the Patrick Henry Award (1995) from The Center for the Study of Popular Culture and Individual Rights Foundation, the National Columbia Award (1996) from the Washington Institute for Public Policy Studies, the Lincoln Award for Leadership (1997) from the Independent Women’s Forum, the Courage in Leadership Award (1997) from Black America’s Political Action Committee, Lt. General Edward J. Bronars Defender of Freedom Award (1997) from the Freedom Alliance, the Spirit of Lincoln Award (1998) from the Log Cabin Republicans, the State Achievement Award (1998) from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Thomas Jefferson Award (1998) from the Council for National Policy, the Ronald Reagan Award (1998) from the California Republican Party, the Racial Harmony Hall of Fame Award (2000) from a Place For Us, the Black Students Association Award from the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga (2001), Individual Freedom Award from the Sovereign Fund (2001), and the George Washington Honor Award from the Freedom Foundation (2002).
Mr. Connerly has been profiled on 60 Minutes, the cover of Parade magazine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek magazine, and virtually every major news magazine in America. He has also appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, “Crossfire,” “Firing Line,” “Hannity & Colmes,” “The Crier Report,” “Meet the Press”, “Rivera Live,” “Dateline,” “Politically Incorrect,” “NBC Nightly News,” CNN, and C-SPAN.
Mr. Connerly is President and Chief Executive Officer of Connerly & Associates, Inc., a Sacramento-based association management and land development consulting firm founded in 1973 by him and his wife, Ilene. He is regarded as one of the housing industry’s top experts, possessing a comprehensive knowledge of housing and development issues. He has been inducted as a lifetime member into the California Building Industry Hall of Fame. Mr. Connerly currently is a member of the Rotary Club of Sacramento.