2020 Exemplar Award Virtual Gala

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Thank you so much for having joined us on September 16, 2020 to celebrate the incredible ingenuity and resiliency of the NLADA community and our tremendous efforts on behalf of access to justice.

Read our new publication celebrating the 2020 Beacon of Justice Awardees here.

Watch the entire Virtual Awards Program

To skip directly to the program's interview with Marcus Brown, click here. And for a fuller interview, click here

View the Virtual Gala Program Book


Co-Chairs | Clint Lyons, NLADA Insurance Program
Frank Jimenez, Raytheon Technologies
John Schultz, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Max Laun, Corporate Advisory Committee

Thank you to our generous supporters | Click here for a full list of those who make this event possible. 

We invite you to join us as we celebrate equal justice leaders who are employing creative solutions to eliminate barriers to justice for all. Make your contribution today! Learn about recognition opportunities here and download a pledge form here.

2020 Exemplar Award

Marcus V. Brown  is executive vice president and general counsel at Entergy Corporation. At Entergy, Marcus sees having a positive social impact and promoting sustainability as a core business strategy, leveraging increased commitment and resources in pursuit of equal justice.  As general counsel, he spearheaded an initiative designed to engage 100% of his team participating in pro bono work each year. Under his guidance, Entergy’s commitment to pro bono excellence has included hiring a fulltime pro bono counsel, as well as engaging in extensive and intensive partnerships with local clinics, providing direct legal services to low-income individuals, and representing community serving non-profit organizations. Learn more about Marcus here.

Enjoy this video message from Marcus here

Click to learn more about past Exemplar Honorees and Kutak-Dodds Prize Recipients

Social Justice Art Auction

By popular demand, NLADA is bringing back a highlight of 2019's event: a silent auction of social justice-themed art during the cocktail reception of the Exemplar Award Virtual Gala. Artwork depicts justice issues ranging from incarceration to political protest. All pieces are generously donated by artists from across the country, and funds raised will directly support NLADA's mission of expanding access to counsel and safeguarding justice for all. Please explore a full catalogue of this year's extraordinary pieces here.

Beacon of Justice Awards

The ongoing humanitarian crisis along the U.S. southern border impacts hundreds of thousands of migrant children, women, and men seeking asylum or hoping to immigrate to the United States. Ever changing federal policies and practices have exacerbated the already challenging situations for those desperately searching for safety and the American promise of the “Blessings of Liberty.” But they are not alone. The legal community has responded with their strong commitment to uphold the rule of law and safeguard the legal rights of these individuals.

The 2020 Beacon of Justice Award will recognize and honor law firms with pro bono programs serving vulnerable people fleeing to the U.S. border. These programs are both diverse and many, and they range from helping pro se individuals better represent themselves to providing direct legal representation for the individuals and families in family separation, detention, and immigration proceedings.


Previous Beacon of Justice themes include: 

  • Expanding opportunities for the underserved in areas such as education, health care, housing, and legal services
  • Have innovative Public-Private Partnerships that Protect Equal Justice for All through Appellate Litigation
  • Made a Significant Impact in the Area of Immigration
  • Represented Disadvantaged Families in Foreclosure Proceedings
  • Representation to People on Death Row
  • Representation to Detainees at Guantanamo Bay

Learn more about winners here

Kutak-Dodds Prizes

The Kutak-Dodds Prize, which honors the accomplishments of civil legal aid attorneys, public defenders, assigned counsel, or public interest lawyers who, through the practice of law, are significantly contributing to the enhancement of human dignity and quality of life of those individuals who are unable to afford legal representation. We are pleased to announce the 2020 Prize winners: Jennifer Bias and Adeola Ogunkeyede.

Adeola Ogunkeyede recently became the first-ever Chief Public Defender for Travis County, Texas, where she is tasked with building a holistic public defender’s office from the ground up. Through a genuine commitment to bridging the gap between civil and criminal legal systems and to ensuring that community lawyering and racial justice are at the core of her work, Adeola’s impact is truly transformative. 

For the past three years, Adeola served as the inaugural director for the Legal Aid Justice Center’s (LAJC) Civil Rights and Racial Justice Program (CRRJ). As designed by Adeola, CRRJ works to reform the criminal legal system’s over-reliance on incarceration and perpetuation of racial inequity through a strategic mix of community organizing, local and statewide policy advocacy, and impact litigation. Resisting lawyer-driven advocacy, Adeola instead opted to let the communities in Charlottesville and Richmond identify their own priorities, which she then vigorously supported. 

Under Adeola’s leadership, CRRJ and its community partners secured significant victories. Here are just a few examples out of many: CCRJ helped organize the People’s Coalition in Charlottesville, which worked tireless for more than two years to get the Charlottesville City Counsel to pass an ordinance creating the third-ever Police Civilian Review Board in the state; CCRJ won a finding of non-compliance against the Virginia Department of Corrections in a class action challenging the medical care in a Virginia prison; CCRJ collaborated with the Richmond Public Defender’s office to remove Virginia’s “habitual drunkard” law, which criminalized homelessness and substance use disorder from the Virginia Code; and CCRJ worked to secure repeal of Virginia’s practice of automatically suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court debt. 

Motivated by her conviction that legal aid has a critical role to play in dismantling racial oppression in the criminal legal system, Adeola patiently worked with her colleagues and members of the Board at LAJC to pursue racial justice as a core, animating feature of LAJC’s work. In just three short years, Adeola established a legacy that has forever changed LAJC and the communities it serves.

Prior to her work in Virginia, Adeola was the director of staff development and litigation supervisor of the criminal practice at The Bronx Defenders, where she began her career as a staff attorney. Throughout her career, Adeola has stood astride the artificial chasm between the civil and defender worlds and made each one better by influencing the other.


Jennifer Bias is the Wisconsin State Public Defenders (SPD) Trial Division Director. For over 30 years, Jennifer has been a powerful voice on behalf of her clients, approaching the issues that low-income, justice-involved people face with a total grasp of the law and the utmost respect for each and every human life.

Overseeing a staff of more than 550 who provide representation in all 72 of Wisconsin’s counties, Jennifer is focused on serving clients with excellence, including tackling complex issues within the agency including racial disparities, juvenile issues, immigration, forensics, family defense, sexually violent persons commitments, and abusive head trauma. She was instrumental in putting in place practice groups to develop subject matter experts who could in turn be a resource for staff and private attorneys taking public defender appointments. Additionally, she provides consistent training and individual mentorship for both SPD staff, as well as outside partners in law enforcement, prosecution, and the judiciary.

Through Jennifer’s collaborative advocacy, the number of treatment courts in Wisconsin has risen to 85, with more than half of Wisconsin’s counties serviced. This allows for justice-involved individuals with substance abuse disorder to be treated for their underlying health issues and to avoid some of the collateral consequences that accompany traditional criminal prosecutions.

Jennifer has supported many OSPD statewide policy reforms that have had extensive impact on the quality and scope of indigent defense services in Wisonsin. She was instrumental in raising the eligibility guidelines in Wisconsin, once among the more prohibitive in the country,  so that more people qualify for a public defender. Jennifer also worked closely to obtain funding and authorization to provide representation for parents facing a child protection order. Recognizing that increased pay was essential to retaining and rewarding SPD attorneys for their work, Jennifer supported the leadership’s collaborative work with prosecutors and the legislature to increase staff pay.  In addition she worked closely with OSPD leadership to build the case to raise the lowest hourly rate in the nation for conflict counsel from $40 an hour to $70, which resulted in an almost 20% increase to the SPD budget.

Additionally, she has been asked by Governors of both parties to sit on high profile committees including the Pardon Advisory Board, the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities, and the Commission on Racial Profiling. 

Please contact [email protected] for more information.