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September 21, 2021

American Bar Association announces 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award recipients

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2021 — Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson and Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven C. González are among the five honorees announced today as recipients of the American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession’s 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award. The award recognizes commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the legal profession and will be presented during a ceremony on Feb. 12 at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Seattle, Feb. 9-14.

The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. The 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 law.

“I am inspired by the work of this year’s awardees and excited to be a part of the award ceremony that will highlight each awardee’s stellar work,” said Michelle Behnke, chair of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. “These awardees have blazed trails and have encouraged and supported others to succeed. Most importantly, these awardees highlight for the world that diversity, equity and inclusion is not mutually exclusive to excellence, grit and determination.” 


The 2022 award recipients (click on the honoree’s name for a photo):

Gabriel S. Galanda is an indigenous rights attorney and the founding and managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman PLLP in Seattle. His practice focuses on regulatory disputes for tribal governments, enterprises and citizens. Galanda is a recognized and respected voice in the field of federal Indian and tribal law. He speaks and writes frequently about tribal litigation sovereignty and Indian civil rights issues. Galanda has been named to Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Native American Law and Gaming Law from 2007 to 2021 and dubbed a Super Lawyer by his peers from 2013 to 2021.

Steven C. González was elected in January 2021 to a four-year term as chief justice of the Washington Supreme Court. Before joining the state Supreme Court in 2012, González served for 10 years as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court hearing criminal, civil, juvenile and family law cases. Prior to his election to the King County Superior Court, he practiced criminal and civil law. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Washington, a domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Seattle and in private practice at a Seattle law firm.

Kay H. Hodge is an equity partner at the Boston law firm of Stoneman, Chandler & Miller LLP. She has built a national reputation as a management-side employment lawyer while serving the legal profession as a bar leader. Her 2007 induction into the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel is a testament to her legal prowess and acumen. Hodge is frequently speaks to various attorney and human resources groups and provides training to managers and supervisors in all areas of labor and employment law and supervisory compliance issues.

Carlos E. Moore is managing partner of The Cochran Firm – Mississippi Delta, located in Grenada, Mississippi, and he currently serves as president of the National Bar Association. Moore has the distinction of being appointed the first Black Municipal Judge Pro Tem for the Mississippi cities of Clarksdale (2017) and Grenada (2020). He is active in several bar associations, including the ABA, American Association for Justice, The Mississippi Bar, Magnolia Bar Association, Mississippi Association for Justice and the Grenada County Bar Association.

Adrienne C. Nelson is Oregon’s first Black Supreme Court justice, appointed in January 2018.  Nelson, a former litigator, was appointed in 2006 to the Multnomah County Circuit Court, making her only the second Black woman judge in Oregon history. Currently, she is only one of eight Black women who are sitting justices in the country. Recently a high school was named in her honor in Happy Valley, Oregon.

The award ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 12, from noon to 2 p.m. PST at the Sheraton Seattle.

This event is open to members of the press. For media registration, please contact Robert Robinson at [email protected].

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 this through many initiatives, activities and programs, including the annual Spirit of Excellence Award.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.