Executive Director

Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change

Daphene R. McFerren is the executive director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. The Hooks Institute programs promote social justice and the removal of disparities that limit the potential of marginalized groups through scholarship, social media, documentary films, and community engagement initiatives. Prior to joining the Hooks Institute, McFerren was in private practice in Washington, DC; was senior counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; was counsel to the late Attorney General Janet Reno; and was later Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland prosecuting, among other cases, forced labor and involuntary servitude cases involving foreign victims. 

McFerren is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker and is the is the executive producer of a documentary on the life of the late civil rights activist Benjamin L. Hooks. She is currently in production on a film on civil and women rights activist Ida B. Wells. She is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.