Attorneys, military officers and judges who personify excellence in the legal profession are among the 2024 Spirit of Excellence Award honorees who will be recognized by the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession on Feb. 3, 2024, during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.
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 honorees include:
- Capt. Benes Z. Aldana is the first Asian Pacific American chief trial judge in the U.S. military, following roles as an appellate judge, trial judge and prosecutor. He once led legal services for Coast Guard operations across 26 states.
- Col. Jose A. Cora, an accomplished military officer and an advocate for the advancement and development of Hispanic and Latino judge advocates, is an attorney in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and an expert in government acquisitions and appropriations law. He currently serves as the Army’s chief of the Contract Litigation and Intellectual Property Division.
- Judge Dolly Gee, the first Chinese American woman to be nominated and confirmed as an Article III federal judge, has presided over a number of landmark cases protecting the rights of migrants.
- Sara Hill, recently confirmed as the first Native American woman to serve as a federal judge for the state of Oklahoma, has previously served as the first secretary of natural resources of the Cherokee Nation then as its attorney general.
- Juan R. Thomas, of counsel to Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., in Chicago and the founder and principal of The Thomas Law Group, is a former president of the National Bar Association and is listed as one of the Top 100 National Black Trial Lawyers.
- Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
- ABA Midyear Meeting
- ABA Journal: