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November 07, 2022

ABA names recipients of 2023 Stonewall Award honoring LGBT advancements in legal profession

CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2022 — Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its 10th annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 4, 2023, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans.

Named after the New York City Stonewall Inn police raid and riot of June 28, 1969, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement, the award recognizes lawyers who have considerably advanced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the legal profession and successfully championed LGBT legal causes. 

The 2023 award recipients:  

Judge Pamela K. Chen of the Eastern District of New York started her legal career at Arnold & Porter in 1986, then worked at the boutique law firm of Asbill, Junkin, Myers & Buffone from 1989-91, both in Washington, D.C. From 1991-98, she was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Beginning in 1998, she served as a criminal assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Chen was elevated to chief of that office’s Civil Rights Section in 2002, where she oversaw the development of its anti-human trafficking program, resulting in the investigation and prosecution of scores of traffickers and the identification, rescue and restoration of hundreds of trafficking survivors, including transgender victims of sexual exploitation and violence. In 2012, President Barack Obama nominated Chen to serve as a U.S. District Judge in the Eastern District of New York. Receiving her commission in 2013, Chen is the first openly LGBTQ+ Asian-American person to serve on the federal bench. She is the board chair of the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program, a pipeline organization that places high school, college and law school students from diverse and underserved communities in judicial internships in state and federal courts in New York City, and she mentors students through the Henry Hank Fellowship, a judicial internship program specifically for LGBTQ law students. Chen has a B.A. from University of Michigan and J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Ellie Krug is a transgender activist, author and lawyer. She was the first Iowa lawyer to transition genders — in 2009 at the age of 52 — and one of the first attorneys nationally to try jury cases in separate genders. Krug lost her law practice in Cedar Rapids as a result of transitioning, and moved to the Twin Cities, where she was hired as the founding director of Call for Justice LLC, which connected low-income people with Minnesota legal resources. It was there that Krug began to speak and train on transgender rights. In 2016 she founded a consulting and training company, Human Inspiration Works LLC. Krug is also the author of “Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change” and the host of Ellie 2.0, a radio show and podcast out of the Twin Cities. In 2016, Advocate Magazine named her one of “25 Legal Advocates Fighting for Trans Rights.” OutFront Minnesota, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, honored Krug with its 2019 Legacy Award. She has a B.A. from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a J.D. from the Boston College Law School.  

Jennifer C. Pizer is the chief legal officer of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest legal organization working to achieve full civil rights for LGBTQ people and people living with HIV in the United States. She leads Lambda Legal’s nationwide team of 44 legal professionals who litigate impact cases, develop legislation and partner with lawmakers and community advocates to advance nondiscrimination protections. Pizer joined Lambda Legal’s staff in 1996 and since then has been a leading voice for domestic partner recognition and the freedom to marry for same-sex couples; for welcoming LGBTQ refugees; and for stopping the misuse of religious and free speech rights as licenses to discriminate in public life. She has taught law school courses, given presentations for the U.S. State Department and advised those seeking protections for LGBTQ people in other countries. She also currently serves as board co-chair of Outright International, which conducts research, movement resourcing and advocacy to secure human rights for LGBTIQ people globally. From 2011-12, Pizer served as legal director of the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, and before joining Lambda Legal she worked for a San Francisco firm, was legal director of the National Abortion Rights Action League and clerked for Judge Ann Aldrich of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Pizer has a B.A. from Harvard College and J.D. from the NYU School of Law.

The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity leads the ABA’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and full and equal participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the ABA, the legal profession and society. Created in 2007, the commission seeks to secure equal treatment in the ABA, the legal profession and the justice system without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

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.