On Tuesday, Nov. 9, the District of Columbia School of Law Foundation hosted the Fourth Annual UDC Law Gala at the University of the District of Columbia Student Center Ballroom, raising $135,425 toward supporting students through tuition scholarships, fellowships and bar study programs. The funds raised at the gala came from sponsorships, ticket sales and a reverse auction held during the event. Overall, the amount raised at the gala contributes to a 2021 total of $ 718,706. Guests tuned in virtually from around the country, including Georgia, California, New York and Florida.
The Gala traditionally honors individuals who use their position and platform to promote social justice and equality throughout the United States and abroad with the Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champion of Justice Award. The recipients of the award exemplify the same values embodied by Professor Ogletree and UDC Law’s commitment to public service.
Renee Montgomery, Co-Owner and Vice President of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, received this year’s Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champion of Justice Award. At the gala, Montgomery’s sister Nicole Young accepted the award on her behalf. Montgomery and the Atlanta Dream have consistently used their platform to fight for real justice and equity for all, including efforts to negotiate for fair pay, leadership in the Black Lives Matters Movement and Say Her Name Movement and supporting voters in Georgia’s recent senatorial elections. Montgomery is the first WNBA alumni to co-own a WNBA team.
An estimated 200 guests participated in the evening’s program, with 100 guests participating in person and all others participating virtually. Aimed at expanding the geographic reach of the event and creating a parallel experience for in-person and virtual attendees alike, the Foundation enlisted District Graze to deliver custom charcuterie boxes to the homes of virtual participants located in the D.C. Metro area moments before the opening remarks.
Highlights of the evening’s program – which was stewarded by emcee Don Calloway, former member of the Missouri House of Representatives and CEO of Pine Street Strategies – included the moving vocal performance by the UDC Chorale led by Professor Johnny Butler and the stirring medley of popular and original works by celebrated harpist Brandee Younger.
Anchoring the purpose of the event, UDC Law students Jamal Bailey, Pearl Mansu and Yaman Shalabi shared with the crowd the many ways funds raised through DCSLF efforts have helped them pursue their legal education. Shalabi, a third year evening student, credited the school for inspiring her to go into public service after graduation. “UDC Law’s power lies within its ability to push you far past the edge of your limits only to discover you are capable of more. It ignites in its students a passion to live with purpose and to live for others.”
Bailey and Mansu, both slated to graduate in 2022, have already accepted positions at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Reid Smith LLP, respectively.
The DCSLF gives tens of thousands of dollars each year to support UDC Law students on their journey to becoming the country’s next generation of justice advocates. DCSLF Board Chair and Arent Fox Partner Jon Bouker emphasized the Foundation’s commitment to extend its reach to support more students in the future. “We cannot stop here. We will not stop here. We must ensure that our graduates are placed in positions where they can impact change. For the students, I want you to know that we believe in you and we are invested in your success because we know that the key to a future of a more just and equitable society is placed firmly within your capable hands.”