WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2014 — The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession has selected four recipients for its 2015 Spirit of Excellence Award for their commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession. The awards will be presented during a ceremony on Feb. 7, 2015, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston.
The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. Awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession.
“Diversity is the most valuable assets among us as inclusion of different ideas and perspectives unites and strengthens us,” said Commission Chair F. John Garza. “The Commission is privileged to present the ABA Spirit of Excellence Award to these honorees who have expanded opportunities for so many while distinguishing themselves as legal professionals who bring unique and innovative solutions for their clients, communities and the profession.”
The 2015 award recipients:
Kim J. Askew is a partner specializing in complex commercial and employment litigation with K&L Gates LLP in Dallas. She also represents clients in significant employment matters involving claims of race, disability, gender and age discrimination, sexual harassment and in litigation involving business torts, trade secrets, noncompete and nonsolicitation and employment agreements. Askew is a longtime leader in the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas and Dallas Bar Association. She is a member of the ABA House of Delegates, past chair of the ABA Section of Litigation and is the first lawyer of color to serve as its chair.
Robert J. Grey, Jr., a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, Va., is a former president of the American Bar Association (2004-05). In January 2010, he was named executive director of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization created in 2009 to advance diversity in the legal profession. Grey’s practice focuses on regulatory, administrative and government-relations matters before state and local governments and their agencies. He serves as vice chair of the Hunton & Williams Community Service Committee.
Jacqueline H. Nguyen is a circuit judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, Calif. She was born in Dalat, Vietnam, and moved with her family to the United States when she was 10 years old, after the fall of the South Vietnamese government in 1975. Nguyen was nominated for the Ninth Circuit by President Obama in 2011 and confirmed by the Senate in May 2012. She is the first Asian-American female to serve as a federal appellate judge. She is also the first Vietnamese-American federal judge, and the first Asian-Pacific American female federal judge in California.
Kevin K. Washburn has been an assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., since October 2012. Prior to joining the administration, he was the dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law from June 2009 to October 2012. He is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, and is a well-known scholar of federal Indian law. Washburn has been a member of the American Law Institute since 2007, and is a member of the state bars of Minnesota and New Mexico.
The mission of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession is to promote racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion within the legal profession. The commission serves as a catalyst for change, so that the profession may more accurately reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of society and better serve society. The commission promotes the recruitment, hiring, promotion and advancement of attorneys of color and works to ensure equal membership and employment opportunities for diverse lawyers in the ABA. The commission accomplishes all this through many initiatives, activities and programs, including the annual Spirit of Excellence Award.
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