Mary Day and Amrutha Jindal Win NLADA 2023 Kutak-Dodds Prizes  

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Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2023) - The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is pleased to announce that Mary V. Day, staff attorney at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc., and Amrutha N. Jindal, chief defender of the Operation Lone Star defense program at the Lubbock Private Defenders Office will be honored with the 2023 Kutak-Dodds Prizes.  

"We are thrilled to recognize two wonderful leaders in the civil legal aid and defender communities with the 2023 Kutak-Dodds Prizes," said April Frazier Camara, NLADA President & CEO. "Day and Jindal have gone above and beyond to improve the lives of people who cannot afford representation. They inspire the entire equal justice community and are so very deserving of this honor." 

The Kutak-Dodds prizes recognize extraordinary contributions to advancing access to justice and racial equity in both civil legal aid and public defense. 

Mary V. Day is a staff attorney at Southern Arizona Legal Aid, Inc. (SALA) in Tucson, Arizona.  She joined the immigration unit at SALA in 1999 where she represents immigrant survivors of domestic violence and other crimes on Violence Against Women Act self-petitions, U visas, T visas and other related immigration remedies.  She obtained her Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1997 (now James E. Rogers College of Law).   

“I am very touched by this honor from NLADA and grateful for the nomination by Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA),” said Day. “I could never have stuck with this work as long as I have without my amazing SALA colleagues – and I especially owe a debt of gratitude to Yolanda Figueroa, Maria Delgado and Valerie Hink.  We made each other better together.”   

Amrutha N. Jindal is the Chief Defender of the Operation Lone Star defense program at the Lubbock Private Defenders Office. In this role, she coordinates and oversees defense representation provided to indigent individuals prosecuted under Governor Abbott’s border security program and provides resources and support to attorneys taking these cases. For over ten years, Amrutha has worked on the criminal legal system’s front lines as a public defender, representing individuals in state and federal courts. Prior to her current role, Amrutha worked at a criminal justice nonprofit in Houston and was a federal public defender in San Diego. Amrutha is a graduate of Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center. She is based in Houston, Texas. 

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award. I share it with all Operation Lone Star defense program members who work tirelessly and passionately to advocate for individuals at the Texas/Mexico border impacted by the criminal legal system,” said Jindal. “This recognition is a reminder that everyone – regardless of background or charge – deserves zealous legal representation.” 

Both winners will be honored at the NLADA Exemplar Award Gala on Thursday, June 8, in Washington, D.C., along with 2023 NLADA Exemplar Award Honorees: Margaret Egan, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Nadine Jones, senior vice president and general counsel at Kuehne+Nagel Inc. 

Since 1989, the Kutak-Dodds Prizes have been awarded to attorneys who have significantly contributed to the human dignity and quality of life of individuals unable to afford legal representation. The prizes are jointly sponsored by The Robert J. Kutak Foundation and NLADA in memory of Robert J. Kutak and Kenneth R. Dodds.   

Each prize carries a cash award of $10,000.  

For more information about the Kutak-Dodds prizes, please contact Rabiah Burks at [email protected]


The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state, and local levels, playing a leadership role in the creation of public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training, and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.