Tom Williamson And Marian Wright Edelman Honored At Legal Aid Awards Dinner
Legal Aid's largest awards evening recently raised $1.2M, one-fifth of its annual budget. More than 700 guests attended the 27th Annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, including former AG Eric Holder and 20 members of the judiciary.
The evening's Servant of Justice Awards went to Covington senior counsel Tom Williamson and Children's Defense Fund founder and president Marian Wright Edelman (above). Past honorees include John Payton, Brooksley Born and Seth Waxman.
We snapped Tom (second from left) flanked by one of his three children, Tommy, and his wife, Shelley Brazier. Fellow Covington lawyer and former Attorney General Eric Holder (right), presented Tom with his award. Holder is a past Servant of Justice honoree. Tommy, who's an actor on The Fosters produced by Jennifer Lopez for ABC Family, surprised his dad by coming into town for the event.
Tom is a "quiet warrior for justice," said Eric Holder in his remarks. Tom has spent 42 years at Covington, including heading the firm's labor and employment practice. He's also been the Department of Labor Solicitor of Labor, the Deputy IG at the Department of Energy, and helped develop the NFL's "Rooney Rule" to increase opportunities for minorities to become head coaches.
A DC Access to Justice commissioner, Tom's a former DC Bar president and board member of the DC Bar Foundation and DC Judicial Nominations Commission. He did pro bono work throughout his career, including heading a team that helped defend DC's same-sex marriage law, and working on a nationwide class action to get improvements for ASL interpreter services for deaf USPS employees and compensatory damages of $3.5M.
Hon. Patricia Wald (second from left) presented Marian with her award.
Marian holds a Presidential Medal of Freedom and MacArthur Fellowship among the many honors she's received. A Spelman College and Yale Law grad, she was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She started as the head of an NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Mississippi, counseled the Poor People's Campaign founded by MLK, and founded the Children's Defense Fund in '73 to give a voice to disadvantaged children, and has headed it since. She's still tirelessly working on issues such as gun control, shutting down the school-to-prison pipeline and childcare funding.
The greatest threat to America isn't an outside force, said Marian in her remarks, it's not sufficiently investing in children.
Marian's motto, says Judge Wald, is "Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?" Judge Wald, a 20-year veteran of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and its first female chief judge, is a fellow Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree.
We snapped Judge Wald with DC Access to Justice Commission chair Peter Edelman (Marian's husband and another past Servant of Justice recipient), DC Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric Washington and DC Superior Court Judge Hiram Puig- Lugo.
Legal Aid is DC's largest and oldest general legal services program. Here's Legal Aid executive director Eric Angel (right) with Legal Services Corporation president Jim Sandman.
The US has a greater inequality gap than any other industrialized nation, Eric said, and that gap is growing. As a city, DC has the fourth worst income inequality in the country. If the District were a state, it would have the worst income inequality of any state in the country. Legal Aid fights to "make justice real" for low-income residents of the District, from advocacy on domestic violence to affordable housing and eviction prevention.
The JW Marriott hosted the Servant of Justice Awards Dinner. We spotted DC Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan catching up with Equal Justice Works executive director David Stern.
Alston & Bird senior associate Brendan Carroll (second from left) was awarded the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence for his pro bono work with Legal Aid. He started volunteering within months of joining the law firm as a first year associate in '11. He also led Legal Aid's Generous Associates Campaign as a city-wide co-chair in '15 and '16. Last year, it raised a record $1.3M.
Brendan's with dinner co-chair Mike Nannes, a Blank Rome senior counsel and former Dickstein chair (left), and his parents, Joan and Steve Carroll, who came into town from Connecticut.
BuckleySandler partner Jonice Gray Tucker--here with BuckleySandler chairman Andy Sandler--was a dinner co-chair. As a biglaw associate more than a decade ago, she had a six month secondment to Legal Aid, and says it was one of the most impactful experiences in her legal career.
A 2015 Top 40 Attorneys Under 40 honoree, Jonice's work includes repping clients on supervision and enforcement matters before the CFPB and State AGs.
Here's US District Court for DC Judge Emmet Sullivan between Covington government contracts co-chair Alan Pemberton and Legal Aid development director Gregg Kelley.
DC Superior Court Judge Robert Rigsby smiles alongside DC Bar president-elect Annamaria Steward and United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Judge Robert Wilkins.
After the dinner, awards and heartfelt speeches, the evening wrapped up with a dessert reception. Before they headed out, we snapped Holland & Knight executive partner Paul Kiernan, US District Court for DC Judge Amit Mehta, H&K litigation and compliance partner Jason Klitenic and H&K energy industry team co-chair Mike Cavanagh.