WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2016 — The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession has selected four recipients of its 2017 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 Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami.
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 field of law.
“One of the ABA’s preeminent goals is eliminating bias and enhancing diversity in the Association, the legal profession and the justice system,” Section Chair Will Gunn said. “These four Spirit of Excellence Award recipients symbolize this goal as they have worked tirelessly and selflessly to provide opportunities for others while distinguishing themselves in their legal careers.”
The ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Luncheon will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, from noon to 2 p.m. at the JW Marriott Marquis, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way in Miami.
The 2017 award recipients are:
Thomas W. Fredericks graduated in 1972 from the University of Colorado School of Law in Boulder, where he began a long and distinguished mission to influence the field of Indian Law. While in law school, Fredericks was instrumental in developing the first Indian Law class and he was a charter member and first Treasurer of the Native American Law Students Association. During this time, he also helped form the Native American Rights Fund in Boulder. As a staff attorney, and later director, he was instrumental in bringing Indian Law to the forefront of the American legal system. He worked to improve the legal and political relationships that tribes have with both state and federal governments. On June 18, 1980, Tom was appointed by President Carter first as associate solicitor and then as assistant secretary of Indian Affairs for the Department of Interior. After leaving DOI, Fredericks founded his law firm in Colorado, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP, which has become the nation’s largest Indian Law firm. He manages the firm’s Colorado office’s day-to-day services, providing oversight on all cases and transactions.
Peggy A. Nagae founded the firm Peggy Nagae Consulting in 1988 in Portland, Ore. Nagae earned an A.B. from Vassar College in East Asian Studies, a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School, and an M.A. from the University of Santa Monica. She is also a graduate of Harvard’s Educational Management Program. Nagae was a trial attorney at Betts Patterson and Mines in Seattle, assistant dean at the University of Oregon Law School, a partner in Nagae, Nash and Hoarfrost, and senior trial attorney at the Urban Indian Council. She also served as president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, vice-chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, president of the Asian Bar Association of Washington, and board member for the Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Nagae represented Minoru Yasui to reopen his World War II Japanese American curfew case and ensure his conviction was vacated. In 2013, as co-founder of the Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee, Nagae spearheaded Yasui’s successful nomination for a Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama awarded posthumously in November 2015. Earlier this year, Nagae led the legislative/community effort to create a permanent Minoru Yasui Day (March 28, annually) in Oregon.
Kenneth G. Standard is a pathfinder whose leadership throughout his life as the “first” has created an array of opportunities for many. Standard inspired his colleagues in the New York State Bar Association Corporate Counsel Section to create an internship program to provide summer in-house internship positions for law students from a diverse range of backgrounds. That effort also led to his creation of the New York State Bar Association Youth Law Day programs that have provided thousands of inner city high school students with the opportunity to spend the day at a New York State law school taking mock classes and interacting with diverse lawyers, law students and law faculty. Standard and his late wife, Valerie, established an educational opportunity fund at the New York State Bar Foundation. Standard is featured in The HistoryMakers collection, a series of audio and video clips of African-Americans who have influenced history that is archived at the Library of Congress. He is a former member of Epstein Becker & Green PC (EBG), was the firm’s first general counsel, and is now General Counsel Emeritus. Standard also is Chair Emeritus of EBG’s National Diversity and Professional Development Committee, which includes members from each of its 13 offices nationwide. He also is a popular public speaker, both nationally and internationally, most recently in Paris, France, last October.
Stephen N. Zack is a partner with Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP in Miami. Zack is a Board certified trial lawyer and a widely recognized leader. He is a past president of the American Bar Association (2010-11) and was the first Hispanic American to become president of the ABA. He was also the first Hispanic American and youngest president of the Florida Bar. Zack has served as president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents and as the chair of the ABA House of Delegates. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Zack’s main practice as a civil trial lawyer is in the areas of products liability, class actions and federal multi-district litigation, complex commercial litigation, arbitration, international law and voting rights. He was nominated by President Barack Obama for the position of Alternate U.S. Representative to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and he served as senior advisor to the U.S. State Department. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Zack has represented former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham as general counsel, and he represented former Vice President Al Gore in the trial of Bush v. Gore that surrounded the 2000 presidential election.
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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