The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) held its fifth annual UDC Law Gala on Nov. 17 at the University of the District of Columbia Student Center. The event, designed to support student scholarships and fellowships, also marked the culmination of a year-long celebration of UDC Law’s fiftieth anniversary.
More than 150 people gathered for the night’s events, centered on honoring the history and legacy of the law school. Regina Shaw ’97 and Freddie Mac received the 2022 Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champions for Justice Awards, and Karen Newton Cole ’87, Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas ’96, Saleema Snow ’97 and LaRuby May ’06 were inducted into the inaugural class of the UDC Law Alumni Hall of Fame.
The program featured remarks from Acting Dean Twinette Johnson, DC School of Law Foundation (DCSLF) Chair Jon Bouker, and 4LE Nija Bastfield. Donald Calloway (MSNBC, Pine Street Strategies) hosted the evening, and guests enjoyed musical performances from Yolanda F. Johnson, the UDC Chorale and Shawn Allen’s Choice Band.
Dean Johnson spoke to the history and future of the law school, acknowledging the impact of losing Dr. Edgar S. Cahn in January. Cahn was the co-founder – with his wife Jean Camper Cahn – of UDC Law’s predecessor school in 1972. Johnson noted members of the Cahn family were in attendance and then spoke to the strength of the Cahns’ impact, “For the first time in fifty years, we will have a class who have not had the opportunity to be imparted with his wisdom firsthand. Edgar and Jean taught us all, so it is the responsibility of all of us to share what we’ve learned.”
She then discussed the future of UDC Law. “This year, after enduring the pandemic, we have reopened our doors to 100% in person learning. We celebrated our 67 graduates as they entered the legal profession and welcomed one of our largest incoming classes to date,” she said, adding, “As one of only six Historically Black law schools in the country, we are essential participants in the effort to make this a more just and equitable society.”
Bouker also recognized the Cahn legacy and followed with recognition of the passing of B. Michael Rauh, whom Bouker described a staunch supporter of UDC Law. Rauh was a long-time member of the DCSLF Foundation Board. Bouker ended by saying, “We honor Mike and Edgar’s memory by remaining steadfastly committed to the mission of this great institution.”
In a surprise presentation, Bastfield presented University of the District of Columbia President Ronald Mason, Jr., with a suit jacket from SuitShop. In August, SuitShop provided each member of the incoming class a suit jacket to kickstart their legal career.
Dean Johnson returned to the spotlight after dinner to induct the inaugural class into the UDC Law Alumni Hall of Fame. To celebrate 50 Years, UDC Law established a Hall of Fame to honor alumni (living or deceased) whose exemplary careers, extraordinary service or outstanding contributions to UDC Law have significantly impacted our community and beyond. Inductees were nominated by members of the UDC Law community, and a selection committee carefully reviewed and chose Newton Cole, Hiligh-Thomas, Snow and May as the first four members of this new tradition. A virtual Hall of Fame has been established and will live permanently on the UDC Law website.
A reverse auction followed the Hall of Fame induction, adding to the over $108,000 raised for the night.
For the third year, the Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champions of Justice Awards were presented at the Gala. Barry Parsons accepted the award on behalf of Freddie Mac; Parsons is Associate General Counsel at Freddie Mac. Shaw was chosen for the award for her commitment to the public interest.
The Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champions of Justice Awards are presented to individuals who are using their position and platform to promote social justice and equality throughout the United States and abroad. “Named after one of the most prolific and influential social justice advocates of our time,” Calloway said as he invited the awardees to accept their awards, “the recipients of this award exemplify the same values embodied by Professor Ogletree and UDC Law’s commitment to public service.”
The UDC Law Gala celebrates leaders advancing the fight for justice and helps to provide students with an award-winning, social justice-focused legal education without the burden of unmanageable student debt.
UDC Law is committed to educating groups that are traditionally underrepresented at the Bar. Heralded as one of the best and most affordable schools for Black students, UDC Law is home to the largest female and one of the most diverse (law) student populations in the nation.
UDC Law’s clinical programs have provided life-saving legal services to the most vulnerable members of the broader DC community for the last 50 years. In the face of unprecedented challenges, in academic year 2021-22, UDC Law students consistently rose to meet the demands of a rigorous curriculum, adapted to a different style of life and learning and completed over 35,000 hours of clinical work and more than 4,400 hours of service to the D.C. community. UDC Law is steadfastly committed to community and dedicated to practicing law, promoting justice and changing lives.
The District of Columbia School of Law Foundation cordially invites you to the fifth annual
UDC Law Gala Thursday, November 17, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. UDC Student Center Ballroom 4200 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Get your tickets now and join us as we honor Regina H. Shaw, ’97, and Freddie Mac with the Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champions of Justice Award.
The UDC Law Gala is a culminating event that celebrates leaders advancing the fight for justice and helps us to provide UDC Law students with an award-winning, social justice-focused legal education without the burden of unmanageable student debt.
UDC Law is committed to educating groups that are traditionally underrepresented at the Bar. Heralded as one of the best and most affordable schools for Black students, UDC Law is home to the largest female and one of the most diverse law student populations in the nation.
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.”
The District of Columbia School of Law Foundation cordially invites you to the fourth annual
UDC Law Gala Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 6:30 p.m.
This will be a hybrid event taking place simultaneously in-person at the UDC Student Center Ballroom and virtually.
Get your tickets now and join us as we honor Renee Montgomery and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream withthe Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Champions of Justice Award.
Renee Montgomery is the first WNBA alumni to co-own a WNBA team – the Atlanta Dream. 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.
A leading voice of the harp today, performer, composer, educator and concert curator Brandee Younger defies genres and labels. Recently awarded Rising Star Harpist in Downbeat Magazine’s 2020 Critics Poll, she has performed and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Jack Dejohnette, Charlie Haden, Common, John Legend, The Roots, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill. In 2020, she released her fifth album Force Majeure and her original composition “Hortense” was featured in the Netflix Concert-Documentary, Beyoncé: Homecoming.
The event supports UDC Law’s mission to train the next generation of public service leaders.
Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in this joyful event supporting the District’s only public law school, one of only six accredited law schools at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). We look forward to celebrating with you virtually or in person!
Almost 400 guests attended the 2018 Annual Gala of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) on Wednesday, June 6th, held in the beautiful Independence Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel. The event raised over $500,000 to support UDC Law’s Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program and Scholarship Funds. The UDC Law community of alumni, supporters, faculty and students turned out in force to honor outgoing Dean Katherine “Shelley” Broderick and Tony West, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Uber Technologies, Inc., for their outstanding commitment and service to the public interest, diversity and justice.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) President Ronald Mason, Jr. , Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Senior Advisor to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Beverly L. Perry, Chair of the UDC Board of Trustees and Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP Christopher Bell, President of the Legal Services Corporation James Sandman, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, family of the late D.C. Councilmember and namesake of UDC Law David A. Clarke, Carole Clarke and son Jeffrey Clarke, and Jon Bouker, Board Chair of the D.C. School of Law Foundation and Partner at Arent Fox LLP, were among those in attendance to celebrate the District of Columbia’s only public law school and the extraordinary community of faculty, staff, students and alumni committed to the public interest. The event showcased the work of students and faculty in UDC Law’s Housing and Consumer Law Clinic and Community Development Law Clinic, part of UDC Law’s nationally-recognized clinical program, and the outsized impact that D.C.’s only public law school has on the community.
The Little Law School That Can
UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr. gave opening remarks praising Dean Shelley Broderick’s two decades of leadership and reflecting on the powerful impact UDC Law has had on the University community and to the people of the District. “We are all hard at work transforming UDC into an advanced system of higher learning where our students aspire, accomplish, and take on the world.”
Jon Bouker, D.C. School of Law Foundation Chair, then took the stage to welcome the crowd and describe the critical role of the Foundation in raising private funds to support UDC Law’s students and programs, saying “Your support makes it possible for students who could not otherwise afford to attend law school to get a law degree,” while “giving back to the community, by providing 400 hours over the summer to government agencies, judicial chambers, and non-profits serving poor and vulnerable people.” He then introduced a five-minute video depicting UDC Law‘s mission and featuring members of the law school community.
Dean Shelley Broderick stepped up to the podium and remarked that, no matter how many times she views the video, “I can’t get through it without weeping. I so hope that you see what I see—a special law school that enables our students to practice law, promote justice and change the lives of D.C. residents.” She brought the audience to its feet with a rousing speech on the journey of the “Little Law School that Can” over nearly five decades, as it has held fast to its core mission to graduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented at the bar and to provide legal services to low-income District residents through its clinical programs.
Public School, Public Interest
The dinner service transitioned into a video presentation featuring UDC Law students and faculty in the School’s Community Development Law and Housing and Consumer Law Clinics. The presentation highlighted the important work of UDC Law’s clinics on the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which was the subject of the School’s two-day symposium “FHA@50: Renewing Our Commitment to Housing Equity.”
Several of the UDC Law students featured in the video then took the stage. Jason Diggs (’18) spoke about his work in the Community Development Law Clinic providing transactional legal services to community organizations and small businesses to increase community control and ownership of District resources. “I was raised by a single mother with three pretty rambunctious boys in a public housing project in southeast Virginia. I saw her win, I saw her lose, but I never saw her quit,” said Mr. Diggs. “In that clinic, I met people just like my mom, people with amazing stories, but difficult challenges. But now I had the privilege to offer them support—and hope—for social justice.” Mr. Diggs, who took a well-deserved break for the evening from his preparation for the bar exam, plans to practice housing and community development law. During the summer of his first year, Mr. Diggs was awarded a Rauh Summer Fellowship to serve with the Virginia Legal Aid Society where he represented low-income clients in civil matters including eviction defense. He went on to receive a Freddie Mac Fellowship in the summer of his second year, working as a judicial law clerk in HUD’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. His last semester, Mr. Diggs was an extern at Manna, a non-profit, affordable housing developer in D.C., working alongside Director of Project Development Rozanne Look (’82).
LaNise Salley (’19), who spent last semester as a student attorney with the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, will continue on as a Rauh Summer Fellow at the clinic focusing on securing critical repairs for low-income D.C. renters. Ms. Salley emphasized the importance of UDC Law’s scholarship programs, saying “On behalf of myself and the family I’ve created here at UDC Law, thank you.” Last summer, Ms. Salley was selected as an Equal Justice America Summer Fellow and provided legal services to low-income D.C. residents in debt collection matters at Tzedek DC, an independent public interest center housed at UDC Law. Ms. Salley’s success as a summer fellow led Tzedek DC to retain her as an intern during the fall semester and feature her in a documentary highlighting the organization’s work.
Theo Wilhite (’19), a “double firebird” who served as student representative on the UDC Board of Trustees as an undergraduate, spoke powerfully about how he overcame a host of challenges to become a UDC Law student, saying “I got my life back and today I am not a victim. I am a victor, and I hope to take my lived experiences to continue to advocate for persons who find themselves in similar situations.” Mr. Wilhite spent his semester as a student attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, where he represented low-income District residents and advanced the clinic mission to preserve and expand quality affordable housing. Mr. Wilhite spent last summer as a Rauh Summer Fellow working in the office of D.C. Councilmember Robert White and the D.C. Office of Planning, assisting in community development matters. He is currently a District Leadership Program fellow, working at the D.C. Office of Planning exploring the intersection of equity and land use. Mr. Wilhite is the incoming President of the Student Bar Association for the 2018-19 academic year.
Keilah Roberts (’19) decided to come to law school after her family faced eviction from her childhood home when she was a teenager, having watched her family of seven struggle in the civil court system without legal representation. “Fortunately, this case was handled by none other than the first lawyer I knew, my mother. Our lawyer, my mother, doesn’t have a law degree, a college degree or even high school diploma. But nonetheless she is still the fiercest advocate I know. Armed with my mother’s courage to defend others, I applied to law school.” This past semester, Ms. Roberts was a student attorney with the Community Development Law Clinic, where she provided transactional legal services to D.C.-based housing cooperatives and other community organizations. Ms. Roberts was awarded a Rauh Summer Fellowship in the summer of her first year, interning with the Honorable Zuberi B. Williams of the Sixth District Court of Maryland. This summer, Ms. Roberts will join the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau as a student attorney.
Law As Justice
Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and a Partner at Covington & Burling LLP, then took the stage for the award presentation honoring his former colleague, Tony West, who was a senior official in the U.S. Department of Justice in the Obama Administration. Mr. Holder regaled the audience with tales of Mr. West’s time as head of the Civil Division and later Associate Attorney General, praising Mr. West’s relentless work ethic and deep commitment to serving the public interest. Mr. Holder described Mr. West’s many accomplishments, ranging from his leadership in the Obama Administration’s review of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and the ultimate decision not to defend that statute, to his leadership in the DOJ’s challenges to discriminatory immigration laws passed in states such as Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah.
Mr. Holder also noted how fitting it is that Mr. West, a public interest champion, was honored by the nation’s preeminent public interest law school at a gala highlighting the students’ clinical work in the housing and community development area on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, saying “There is no better man to be here for such an occasion than Tony, who brought lawsuits under the act and made fair and bias free housing a priority for the Justice Department.”
Mr. Holder also harkened back to his 2010 Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Lecture at UDC Law, when he called for law schools around the country to follow UDC Law’s model and adopt clinical and community services as a requirement of the law school curriculum. “Given the state of our country now, and the threats to Legal Services Corporation funding, we need lawyers trained in the UDC Law clinical model, now more than ever before,” said Mr. Holder. “I renew my call for other law schools to look to UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law for inspiration and consider adopting a serious clinic service requirement.”
Mr. Holder then introduced a video presentation which showcased Mr. West’s life and work and included congratulatory remarks from Mr. West’s sister-in-law U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), PepsiCo CEO and Chairman Indra K. Nooyi, founding partner of Kaplan & Company LLP and counsel to the Edith Windsor in the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, Roberta Kaplan, and Thomas Perrelli, former U.S. Associate Attorney General and partner at Jenner & Block. Mr. West also made prerecorded remarks, speaking about the support of his family and upbringing as the driving force for his life of public service and the importance of practicing law as a matter of justice. “I think about law as justice giving voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless. I think about law as justice helping us build a community of trust and a community of caring. That’s really the highest and best purpose of the law,” said Mr. West in the video.
Tony West, who personally donated $25,000, on top of Uber Technologies, Inc.’s $50,000 sponsorship of the event, then joined Mr. Holder on the stage and extended his thanks to his friend and mentor, saying “My onetime boss, my all-the-time brother in the pursuit of justice, thank you for your kind words, thank you for your friendship, and your guidance that you give to me every day.” Mr. West reflected on the truth of his statement, after leaving the Department of Justice in 2014, that “when the history of the Holder Justice Department is written,” history “would judge that period to be a high water mark of greatness because of Eric Holder’s unique and unflagging leadership.”
“I am very mindful on nights like this that I stand on a platform of progress built by others,” said Mr. West, noting that his success was only made possible by his family who came before him. Mr. West shared the inspiring story of his mother-in-law Dr. Shyamala Harris, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in the late 1950s to pursue breast cancer research at UC Berkeley. “When Mother Harris wasn’t making scientific strides in the lab or busy raising her two remarkable daughters as a single mother, Mother Harris was marching, and she was meeting, and she was organizing for civil rights.” Mr. West also credited his father, Franklin West, “whose birth in 1940 to a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia didn’t hold much of a future that was much different from his family’s past, but who discovered a freedom in education that would allow him to unlock opportunities into which he’d not been born.” Mr. West’s father became the first in his family to go to college, attending Talladega College, an HBCU. “Throughout our lives in both word and countless deeds, dad instilled in us an expectation of service as part of our obligation as citizens. And when I think about the all-too-short life journeys of both Mother Harris and my dad I can’t help but think about how they embody the best of America’s great story,” said Mr. West.
Mr. West went on to explain that being a UDC Law honoree “is so humbling, so special, because you, the UDC Law School community, your teachings, your faculty, your students, your alumni, you, like Mother Harris, like my dad, you embody the best of America’s great story. You remind us that America’s true character calls on each of us to rise above and to reach out. As Bobby Kennedy said on the night before he died fifty years ago today, “We are a great country, an unselfish country, a compassionate country.” And the work this law school makes real in the world reminds us of this basic truth even when our own leaders forget. Indeed, that is when your work is most important. And those moments when we lose our way, and we forget who we truly are. So thank you UDC Law not only for this great honor but for the work you must continue to do, and we must continue to support, the work of practicing law, of promoting justice, of changing lives, because that effort builds platforms of progress on which we all can stand tall.”
A Life of Service
UDC Law’s Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Chair of Public Interest Law Wade Henderson then stepped to the podium to present the second honor of the night, recognizing outgoing Dean Shelley Broderick for her many years of service. Professor Henderson, former CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, shared his first impressions of the “one-of-a-kind” Dean when she recruited him to teach at UDC Law, speaking to “her passion, her crackling energy, and her intensity all combined with her joie de vivre and her good humor.” He praised Dean Broderick for her many years of service to a law school “dedicated to opening the legal profession to underrepresented people and to serving those most in need.”
Dean Broderick joined Professor Henderson on the stage and gave stirring remarks as she reflected on her four decades of service at the law school, saying “leading UDC Law has been the honor of my life.” Dean Broderick was recruited in 1979 to lead the Criminal Defense Clinic at Antioch School of Law, UDC Law’s predecessor, and went on to earn her M.A.T. in clinical legal education from the school. She said, “The legendary Edgar and Jean Cahn hired me at Antioch School of Law on June 9, 1979. When I was hired, Jean told me she was assigning me to the admissions committee and she said, ‘your job is to bring in 150 of the worst troublemakers you can find who want to make social change.’”
She went on to do just that. Indeed, Dean Broderick highlighted in her remarks, above all, the strength of the student body, praising “the personal qualities our graduates bring to the table—grit, resilience, passion for justice, and the ability to relate to and communicate effectively with people in poverty, people in many cases very much like their own families and friends.” She noted that last year, 41% of UDC Law’s graduating class went into public interest and government service, compared to a national average of just 16%. The National Law Journal recently ranked UDC Law No. 2 in the nation for government and public interest job placement.
Ever gracious, Dean Broderick insisted that “UDC Law is no one-man band. It is a brilliant orchestra performing at the highest level and meeting its mission.” She asked the crowd to rally behind her successor and reflected that, contemplating her many happy years serving the cause of UDC Law, “I am filled with gratitude for all of those who have served on our Board, for the University community for its embrasure of the law school, for our students, and for the legal community here in D.C., which has stepped up to support our public law school financially.” Toward the end of her remarks, Dean Broderick invited D.C. Council to renew its 50% match on funds raised and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson indicated his support. With $400,000 raised for the evening, the D.C. Council’s match will add in nearly $100K, bringing the scholarship and fellowship funds raised to $500,000.
D.C. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson then took center stage. Councilmember Cheh then presented a resolution recognizing Dean Broderick’s exemplary twenty-year tenure as dean and many contributions to the people of the District, praising her for building an institution that will continue to serve students and communities in need well past her tenure as Dean of UDC Law.
Beverly L. Perry, Senior Advisor to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, then joined the members of the D.C. Council on the stage to congratulate Dean Broderick and present the Mayor’s Executive Proclamation recognizing her service to the city and its residents.
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) is committed to the public interest, providing more than 100,000 hours of legal services to thousands of D.C. residents each year through its nine legal clinics. With the largest clinical requirement of any U.S. law school, its top-ranked program provides students the opportunity to gain experience in both direct representation and effective community activism and policy advocacy. This commitment has led to a No. 2 ranking by The National Law Journal for government and public interest job placement and No. 8 for Best Clinical Training Program by U.S. News & World Report. The diverse student body at UDC Law boasts significant representation by women, people of color and older students.
Washington, DC—Each year, The Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation recognizes law students and other national and local heroes at an awards ceremony attended by a broad cross-section of the District’s legal and community leaders. This year, on November 29th at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Mr. Jack H. Olender presented the Earl H. Davis Award to six UDC David A. Clarke School of Law students for their outstanding service on behalf of clients in our clinical program.
This year, Dr. Robert Peter Gale, M.D. was honored with the Peacemaker Award for his lifelong service in international humanitarian crises, from his coordination of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident medical relief effort in the Ukraine to his similar efforts to aid the victims of the Japanese Fukushima power station accident in 2011.
Please join us in congratulating UDC Law students Tracy Hillhouse Price, Jason Barros, Oral John, John Blake, Dora Myles and Denisha Jones, each of whom received a $1,000 scholarship.
The DC Court of Appeals has re-appointed UDC Law Dean Shelley Broderick, alum Jonathan Smith, ’84, and three members of the DC School of Law Foundation Board, Sheldon Krantz, Andy Marks and Jon Bouker, to three-year Access to Justice Commission terms.
Dean Broderick said, “I am enormously proud to serve along side of four UDC Law Board members, an alum and other social justice warriors working to make real and measurable progress ending poverty and inequality. Just this month, we helped to ensure that $4.5 million was appropriated by the DC Council to support lawyers fighting eviction on behalf of people living in poverty. This first step toward Civil Gideon will change the lives of low income families for the better.”
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law hosted its first-ever annual Gala, in the University’s new LEED platinum Student Center ballroom on June 1, 2017. The event was a spectacular success – raising nearly half a million dollars for student scholarships and summer public interest fellowships. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 member Mary Cheh, judges, public interest and major law firm lawyers, alumni, faculty and law students — some 300 strong — came out to honor Leslie Thornton, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Washington Gas, and the Honorable William C. Pryor, Senior Judge, DC Court of Appeals and beloved UDC Law professor for 29 years.
Welcome and School of Law Video
Dean Shelley Broderick led off the evening by thanking the lead Gala sponsor, Washington Gas, and other funders and supporters as well as the 41 members of the event Steering Committee. She then introduced UDC Law‘s mission as depicted in a five-minute video featuring members of the law school community, community leaders and friends.
Eric Holder Takes the Stage
Eric Holder then joined Dean Broderick on the stage. He began by commending the UDC Law clinical model of legal education and the many millions of hours of additional legal services that would be generated if other law schools adopted a similar service requirement of 700 hours per student. Borrowing from Bobby Kennedy’s famous words, he spoke of the “millions of ripples of hope” such service would create, enough to form a powerful “current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” of justice, much needed particularly “in today’s troubling times of oppression and resistance.”
Mr. Holder then praised Leslie Thornton, who started her career at the DC Public Defender Service under the legendary Charles Ogletree. He observed and marveled at her commitment to service – to the public interest, to diversity, to mentoring – and wondered if she ever slept!
Mr. Holder also introduced a video in which Vernon Jordan, BET’s Debra Lee, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Washington College of Law Professor Angela Davis paid tribute to Ms. Thornton for her storied career and her devotion to serving those less fortunate.
A Surprise Scholarship Gift of $50K from Honoree Leslie Thornton!
Ms. Thornton was visibly moved as she accepted the award from Mr. Holder and Dean Broderick. She described Dean Broderick, another former criminal defense lawyer for many years, as “a sister from another mother” and gave thanks to her family, friends and colleagues in attendance. She then pledged to personally donate fifty thousand dollars for scholarships in honor of the DC Public Defender Service Class of 1983, which itself had contributed $10,000 for scholarships in her honor, and thanked them for coming together, so many years later, and for donating to UDC Law in support of her recognition.
Kind Words of Appreciation from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
After dinner, Mayor Bowser came bearing gifts – handsome “appreciation” plaques for each honoree. She extolled the importance and virtues of UDC Law, describing how students and graduates help to build the fabric of the DC Community. By way of example, she commended the Dean for her 2016 service in helping to draft a new constitution for the state of New Columbia. She referenced the UDC Law Review’s recent DC Democracy in the Time of Trump Symposium, which brought together District officials, nonprofit organizations, and the media to discuss strategies to protect, defend, and extend democracy under the Trump administration. She spoke of her many experiences as a DC Councilmember, and later as Mayor, with UDC Law students, faculty and alumni, so many of whom are hard at work in all walks of District government life and an integral part of the struggle for full democratic rights. We later learned that the Mayor had such a good time that she looks forward to coming back next year for the Second Annual UDC Law Gala!
Surprises Keep on Coming!
Dean Broderick returned to the stage and, wiping away tears, announced that longtime supporter, DC developer and philanthropist, Michele Hagans, had been so inspired by Ms. Thornton’s pledge that she also pledged $50,000 to fund four additional UDC Law scholarships, in honor of Dean Broderick, with the hope that other supporters would be similarly moved. Ms. Hagans and Dean Broderick later agreed to name one of the scholarships in honor of founding Dean, Bill Robinson.
The Dean also announced that Ms. Thornton had agreed to join the UDC Law’s Foundation Board and that DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson had just let her know the DC Council will, once again, match our fundraising – with the University and School of Law sharing one dollar for every two dollars raised over the next ten months!
Two Fabulous Law Students Share Service Experiences
Dean Broderick then described the UDC Law’s clinical and service-learning programs and introduced rising 3L law students Carmen Diaz Jones and John Blake.
Ms. Jones, who participated in the spring 2017 Service Learning Program, powerfully described an intense interaction she had with a young man named Rossell at a family detention center in Karnes, Texas. Rossell and his mother had fled Honduras after he had been threatened and pressed to join the MS-13 gang. Ms. Jones, herself an immigrant from Honduras, had met Rossell’s mother while helping to prepare her for a “credible fear” asylum interview. Upon hearing of Rossell’s interest in serving in the U.S. military, Ms. Jones told him of her own U.S. military and police service, giving him hope that he too could one day so serve. In the process of sharing a glimpse of the American Dream, she deepened her own confidence and commitment to serve others.
Law student John Blake described in detail some of his own Housing Clinic work on behalf of tenants whose right to organize and right to adequate notice of eviction had been routinely violated. Referencing his own upbringing in public housing, he challenged those in attendance to work with the UDC Law to end such abuses.
Broderick and Alum James King Introduce Judge Pryor
Dean Broderick and alum James King then shared an introduction of Judge Pryor. The Dean, who in 1988 served as Administrator of the then-DC School of Law, described interviewing the Judge for a faculty position just after he stepped down as Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals. The interview took place during the chaos of building renovations. Judge Pryor explained his desire to teach at the new public school where students who could not otherwise afford to attend would have the chance for a legal education. It was then, the Dean reported that, she “fell in love” with him (apologizing to the Judge’s wife Elaine seated nearby).
Dean Broderick then introduced James King. She told the crowd that after being signed by the Cleveland Browns, Mr. King had been arrested in connection with a college bar fight and charged with second degree murder and manslaughter. While incarcerated pre-trial, his jailer gave him an LSAT preparation book and his focus changed from football to justice. Mr. King described his countless tutoring sessions with Judge/Professor Pryor whose refrain was “this is easy.” Ultimately, this built his confidence and helped him and countless other students to succeed in law school. Mr. King, who is now 14 and 0 as a trial lawyer at the DC Public Defender Service, teased the judge, a former prosecutor, that thanks to his training, the government had yet to beat him!
A Most Magical Night
It was a magical night. Leslie Thornton emailed the dean the next day saying,
“I’ve gotten the most incredible feedback you could possibly hope for. Literally scores of people have reached out about the special energy and feel in the room. There is a really interesting and clear theme – that folks felt like they’d never been to an event like that where there was so much genuine kindness, and purity and importance of purpose, and a very special energy. Shelley – you and I have the privilege of really knowing and understanding what that thing is – I’m so glad it came across so clearly.”
With nearly $400K raised for the evening, the D.C. Council’s match will add in nearly $100K, bringing the scholarship and fellowship funds raised to nearly $500K! 52 alumni donated or helped to orchestrate the donations for more than $57,000 of those dollars, many specifically in honor of Judge Pryor. Dean Broderick personally contributed at the Advocate for Change ($5,000) level and the UDC Law faculty also kicked in at the Partner for Change ($2,500) level.
Comments from Alumni
Miguel Santiago, a 1981 Antioch School of Law grad, traveled from the Bronx to attend the Gala said, “What an awesome event! It is so inspiring to see, nearly 40 years after I started at Antioch, that we remain the vanguard of clinical law schools. Those who haven’t taken a close look at this wonderful institution lately – you have to visit it, see it for yourself. You’ll be amazed and you will want to find a way to contribute and serve.”
Perhaps our outgoing Student Bar Association President Jonathan Newton summed it up best when he wrote afterward, “Bravo! The Gala was OUTSTANDING!!! It instantly created a tradition I hope will last forever. I’m a broke man right now, but I’ll be making a donation on my first paycheck!”
Thanks to all those in attendance and all our donors – and “hats off” to our new development director Mizue Suito, development consultant David Simmons, and to Dean Shelley Broderick for one of the best first Gala events ever seen in this town!
On May 1, 2017, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs presented a Certificate of Appreciation to UDC David a Clarke School of Law for its advocacy in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in matters related to guardianships for patients at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center during 2016 – 2017.
The advocacy cited was provided by students in Professor Faith Mullen’s General Practice Clinic who worked with VA social workers and physicians to obtain court-appointed guardians for incapacitated veterans. Professor Mullen thanked the students in attendance for their willingness to fearlessly jump in to represent their clients in these cases. Students who handled the cases expressed appreciation for the trust the clients placed in their litigation and problem solving abilities and for the opportunity to do this important work.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs presented Professor Mullen with a letter of recognition signed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (see photo of letter, below.)
Chief Justice Robert’s letter reads:
“In Recognition of Professor Faith Mullen and Her Students at the University of the District of Columbia David Clarke School of Law
Thank you for this opportunity to share my appreciation for the outstanding work of Professor Faith Mullen and her students at the University of the District of Columbia David Clark School of Law on behalf of this country’s veterans.
By volunteering to help obtain guardians for incapacitated veterans who lack family or resources to appear in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Professor Mullen and her students have demonstrated their commitment to the legal profession and to the duty we all share to engage in public service.
It is fitting that we honor them at today’s ceremony. I join in congratulating the Professor and her students for their pro bono work.”