November 07, 2018

Washington, D.C., social justice activist Mark Agrast to receive ABA Robert F. Drinan Award

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2018 — The American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice will honor Washington, D.C., social justice and human rights activist Mark Agrast with its Robert F. Drinan Award during a reception on Jan. 25 during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Las Vegas. 

The Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service is the highest award given for service by the section and honors those who have been loyal to the section and strengthen its mission to provide leadership to the legal profession. 

Agrast, executive vice president and executive director of the American Society of International Law, has a long history of working to advance social justice and human rights issues by way of the rule of law. He has long been a leader in the World Justice Project, where he played a key role in designing and implementing its Rule of Law Index and is currently vice president. Agrast also is a member of the board of governors of the Washington Foreign Law Society. 

Earlier in his career he served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice. There, he had responsibility for legislative initiatives and oversight in the areas of national security, immigration and criminal justice. 

Agrast has led numerous efforts at the ABA to adopt policy on issues that promote fairness and equality for immigrants and asylum seekers, LGBT individuals and persons with disabilities. 

He has chaired numerous ABA entities, including the Commission on Immigration, the Commission on Disability Rights and the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (now the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice). Currently, he is a member of the Council of the Section of International Law. He has served in the House of Delegates for many years and on the Board of Governors. He played a leading role in creating the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, and co-founded the LGBT Congressional Staff Association and the LGBT Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

“Mark Agrast is a hero,” said Wilson Schooley, chair of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. “He is one of those quite extraordinary quiet heroes of social justice work—those rare and remarkable souls of whom people remark: ‘No one is more committed. No one is more knowledgeable. No one is more effective. And no one is more helpful and gracious.’ And I can say without hesitation that no one is more deserving of the Drinan Award than Mark.”

A native of Cleveland, Agrast graduated summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He pursued his post-graduate studies as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, and received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal of International Law. Agrast is a member of the Supreme Court Bar and is admitted to practice in Ohio and the District of Columbia.

Click here for a photo of Agrast.

There is no charge for media covering this event. To register, please contact Betsy Adeboyejo at 202-662-1039 or 

The ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice provides leadership within the legal profession in protecting and advancing human rights, civil liberties and social justice. Representing nearly 10,000 members with a wide range of professional interests, the section keeps its members abreast of complex civil rights and civil liberties issues and ensures that the protection of individual rights remain a focus of legal and policy discussion.

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