In a ceremony held February 11 at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the Law School presented the Sixth Annual Exemplary Alumni Public Service Awards. These awards recognize alumni who contribute to the public good through their work with public interest organizations, government agencies and law firm pro bono projects. In addition, Class of 2011 public interest prize winners were recognized for their contributions to public service during their three years of law school.
"By the breadth and depth of the work they do, these recipients exemplify Cornell's commitment to public service," said Andrea Mooney, Clinical Professor of Law and Chair of the faculty/student Public Service Committee, which selected the honorees. "By taking on clients who might not otherwise have counsel, they have demonstrated their commitment to justice. They've foregone what could have been lucrative careers in private practice to follow their passion, whether that means defending death row inmates, preserving the environment, assisting developing countries, or advocating for people with disabilities. To hear them talk about their work is awe-inspiring."
The 2011 award winners are U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Shane Cooper '03, who recently returned from a one-year assignment with the Multi-National Corps in Iraq as Deputy Chief, Rule of Law; Lawrence F. Gardella '75, who has represented over 7,500 clients in more than 30 years of work for Legal Services of Alabama; Mary Griffin '88, who has preserved thousands of acres of land as the first female Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game; Matthew D. Glasser '77, who has focused on international development for the past 18 years and currently serves as Lead Urban Specialist at the World Bank; Nancy Koppe '92, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Nevada, for her work in protecting children victimized by child pornographers (unable to attend because of a conflicting court appearance); and June L. Lorenzo '84, Attorney for the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico, who has dedicated her life to Native American affairs.
Two additional award winners were honored as "rising stars," a category of recognition for very accomplished recent graduates. These winners are the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund's Charlotte Lanvers '07, who successfully challenged the Social Security Administration, forcing them to provide notices and other critical benefits to recipients with visual impairment, and Marie-Pierre Py '05, an outspoken advocate for the rights of indigent clients charged with criminal offenses in rural Georgia and in Washington, DC. Also recognized was 2010 award winner Nicola Goren '92, who could not attend last year's awards event due to winter storms. She was honored for her work as acting CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, DC, where she implemented the largest expansion of national service in a generation.
"These are all people who have taken great risks," said Karen Comstock, Assistant Dean for Public Service. "They haven't sought the limelight, but have remained quietly committed to working for social justice. They are 'lawyers in the best sense,' whose whole lives embody the priorities that play out in their work."
The three student public interest prizes and their recipients are as follows. In addition to public recognition, each student received a cash prize.
The Freeman Award for Civil-Human Rights is awarded annually to the law student or students who have made the greatest contributions during his or her law school career to civil-human rights. The Class of 2011 prize winners are Sarah Chon, Adisada Dudic, Josiah Heidt, Kathy LaMotte, Michael Pillera, Sonali Shahi, and Rasika Teredesai.
The Stanley E. Gould Prize for Public Interest Law is awarded annually to a third year student or students who have shown outstanding dedication to serving public interest law and public interest groups. The Class of 2011 prize winner is Kara Noel.
The Seymour Herzog Memorial Prize is awarded annually to a student or students who demonstrate excellence in the law and commitment to public interest law, combined with a love of sports. The Class of 2011 prize winner is Samuel Farina-Henry.