Professor Onwuachi-Willig was the inaugural Charles and Marion Kierscht Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. She joined the Iowa Law faculty in 2006 after three years on the tenure track at the University of California, Davis School of Law. She graduated from Grinnell College, Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in American Studies, and received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a Clarence Darrow Scholar and a Note Editor on the Michigan Law Review and an Associate Editor of the founding issue of the Michigan Journal of Race and Law. After law school, she clerked for Judge Solomon Oliver, now Chief U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, and Judge Karen Nelson Moore, U.S. Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit. She also worked as a labor and employment associate at Jones Day in Cleveland, Ohio and Foley Hoag in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 2006, Professor Onwuachi-Willig was honored by the Minority Groups Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) with the Derrick A. Bell Award, which is given to a junior faculty member who has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system, or social justice. In December of 2010, Professor Onwuachi-Willig was elected to the American Law Institute and she was selected as a finalist for the Iowa Supreme Court. In 2011, she was named one of America’s top young legal professionals by the National Law Journal, which placed her on its “Minority 40 under 40” list. In 2012, she won the Marion Huit Award, a University award given to a tenured faculty member in recognition of outstanding teaching and assistance to students, exceptional research and writing, and dedicated service to the University and the surrounding community. In 2015, she received the AALS Minority Groups Section Clyde S. Ferguson Award, becoming (along with her co-author Mario Barnes) the first person to receive both the Section’s Bell Award and Clyde Ferguson Award. In 2015, she also received the law school’s Collegiate Teaching Award.
Professor Onwuachi-Willig is a past Chair of the AALS Minority Groups Section, the AALS Law and Humanities Section, the AALS Employment Discrimination Section, and the Planning Committee for the 2015 AALS Mid-Year Conference on Gender Equality. She also is a past Chair of the AALS Committee for the Recruitment and Retention of Minorities, a former member of the Board of Governors for the Society of American Law Teachers, and a former member of the Common Cause Board and the LatCrit Board. She has held several offices on the Grinnell College Alumni Council, including President.