The American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice honored long-time Section leader and former Section Chair C. Elisia Frazier with its Father Robert F. Drinan Award during a virtual reception on February 19, 2021, during the ABA Midyear Meeting. Please see here for the press release.
The Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service honors those who have strengthened the Section’s mission to provide leadership to the legal profession.
Frazier currently serves as the Managing Deputy City Attorney for the City of Atlanta. She previously owned her own law firm, was the form in-house counsel for three Fortune 500 companies, and serviced individual clients, small legal departments, small businesses, and local governments, including serving as the chief of staff to a CEO of a large metropolitan county.
Section Chair Angela J. Scott describes the reasoning behind the selection of Frazier as the 2021 Father Drinan Recipient:
"Elisia practices what she preaches. I can attest to Elisia’s demonstrated commitment to civil rights, equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion because I have personally benefited from it," said Angela Jean Scott, Chair of the Section. "When I served as the YLD Liaison to the Section, Elisia gave me the opportunity to Chair the IRR Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Committee, which started my own leadership journey within the section during a time when our section leadership was not very diverse. I recognize the significance of her providing me with an opportunity that would not have otherwise been available. Elisia walks her talk. Over the years, I have observed Elisia’s strength, perseverance, and impeccable leadership under challenging circumstances and I continue to be inspired by her service, grateful for her mentorship and honored to follow in her footsteps."
Elisia walks her talk. Over the years, I have observed Elisia’s strength, perseverance, and impeccable leadership under challenging circumstances and I continue to be inspired by her service, grateful for her mentorship and honored to follow in her footsteps.
About the Recipient
At her firm, Frazier Law and Consulting Group, Frazier consulted with corporate legal departments, small business and government entities. Additionally, she provided legal services in the areas of estate planning and administration as well as elder law. Frazier was also a member of her firm's Pro Bono Committee and Scholarship Committee.
With over 32 years of legal experience, Frazier has served as vice president and associate general counsel to Kaplan Higher Education, senior counsel to International Paper Company and senior counsel to Lincoln National Corporation. Frazier also provided pro bono legal services to low income people and nonprofit organizations through the Georgia Legal Services office, the Georgia Truancy Project, and Memphis Area Legal Services.
Frazier graduated from Georgia State University in 1984 and received her J.D. from Howard University School of Law in 1988.
Frazier has been an active member of the American Bar Association for the past 30 years, including serving as Chair of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice from 2010-2011. From 1996-99, she served as a member of the ABA Board of Governors. While residing in Georgia, Frazier has served as a member of the ABA House of Delegates since 2018 and has also served as a member of the ABA Commission on the 19th Amendment. Frazier has been a Council member, Diversity and Minority Outreach Chair, and Chair of the Government Operations and Liability Committee for the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law. In July 2019, she received the Jefferson B. Fordham Advocacy Award from the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, presented in recognition of her outstanding legal advocacy within the area of state and local government law.
Read on for a Q&A with the 2021 Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service recipient, C. Elisia Frazier.
What does it mean to you to receive the 2021 Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service?
I met Father Drinan while serving as the Young Lawyers Representative on the ABA Board of Governors. I was just amazed by this guy. He would talk to me about his time in Congress and what he was doing as a professor in law school. And I was just amazed by his career, his courage to stand out and have his voice heard, and his willingness to be a champion for those who didn't have access. I am extremely honored to have been selected by the Section to receive this award because I actually got a chance to get to know him and then go back and study some of the things that he did. And so, to receive this reward is an honor and is very precious to me.
Why is the advancement of civil and human rights important to you?
Everybody should have a right and an expectation for basic humanity, education, housing, healthcare, and food; and those things are so interrelated that they are global. They are important issues that we have to continue to fight for. We have to fight for the opportunity for everyone to have an equal chance at just living a decent life. And you know as a result of the pandemic we're seeing the effects of not having access to these like health care. If you didn't have good health care and if you can't cope, you don't get to survive because you’re already compromised. And you've got all these other things that make you even more vulnerable. You’ve got kids at home, some without internet. And it’s not just inner-city kids. We’re talking about people out in the rural communities. The internet is not even out there. So, what's supposed to happen to those people? Are we just going to leave them behind?
What is your proudest achievement?
Picking myself back up and staying in the game. Life throws you curveballs and I almost let it take me out, and so my biggest achievement and proudest moment was leaning on some of the people I named earlier, my support network, to say, “Hey, I'm going to stay in because I've got work left to do and it's important for me to pick myself up and get back in the game”.
Who are your civil rights heroes?
I grew up as a kid, very interested in the civil rights movement. So, I read a lot as a kid, and became very intrigued by Fannie Lou Hamer. The strength that she must have had to survive in that environment, all the work they must have put in to get those seats at the convention in 1968, and the effort that went into creating their own party- it was just amazing. As a young person, all this told me that it didn't really matter what your educational level was, if you had a commitment to make change, it could happen, no matter who you were. The other person that really stood out to me was I'm Barbara Jordan. I remember being a young kid during the Watergate hearings and I heard her voice on the TV and it intrigued me, how unique and powerful her voice was. And when I looked at the TV and I saw an African American woman sitting there so eloquently. I was just like, wow. I was amazed and I continue to be amazed by her career, her courage, and her commitment to civil rights and social justice issues.