Congratulations to the 2019 Access to Justice Board Award Recipients!

The Access to Justice Board honors colleagues and partners who promote access to justice through their leadership, courage, and innovation by presenting the Access to Justice Awards. The deserving individuals and organizations will be honored during an awards ceremony at the Access to Justice Conference on Sunday, June 16. Please join us in thanking the award recipients for their dedication and commitment to justice and equity!

Access to Justice Judicial Leadership Award

Judge LeRoy McCullough is recognized as a member of the judiciary who has shown significant leadership in improving access to the justice system. Judge McCullough has made it his life’s work to improve access to justice in both civil and criminal proceedings across Washington State and has been a mentor to individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. The individuals who nominated him for this award expressed their immense gratitude for his mentorship, which has allowed them to succeed in the legal profession. In addition to myriad leadership roles, Judge McCullough now serves on the Minority and Justice Commission and co-founded the Charles V. Johnson Youth and Law Forum. Judge McCullough has been with the King County Superior Court since 1989 is currently a Superior Court Judge at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.

Access to Justice Partnership Award

The WorkFirst Life Skills Program, led by Saada Hilts, is recognized as a community-based, grassroots organization that has collaborated with Alliance members and provided leadership in serving the needs of low-income people. WorkFirst is Washington State’s welfare reform program that helps people in low-income families find jobs, keep their jobs, find better jobs, and become self-sufficient. The students of the Everett Community College WorkFirst Life Skills class have played a critical role in shaping public policy and advocating for systemic change for Washington’s safety net by sharing their personal stories and heavily influencing the legislative priorities of the Statewide Poverty Action Network and Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance program. Saada Hilts, the WorkFirst Life Skills coach, has actively integrated this type of applied advocacy work into her curriculum and supports students in committing to advocacy to change the systems they engage with every day.

Access to Justice Partnership Award

The Racial Equity Committee (REC) of the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council is recognized as a community-based, grassroots organization that has collaborated with Alliance members and provided leadership in serving the needs of low-income people. The mission of the REC is to develop a clear and complete action plan to address the disproportionate impact on people of color within our regional criminal justice system as a matter of fairness and integrity. The REC members address the impact of poverty, incarceration, and the influence of bias and discrimination across our cultural experience. Bringing together a cross section of the criminal justice sector, the REC relies heavily on stakeholder and public member input to utilize a race equity lens in decision-making, address implicit bias in the courts, support the public in navigating the criminal justice system, and promulgate access to justice issues and solutions.

Access to Justice Advocacy Award

Columbia Legal Service’s Working Families Team is recognized for their outstanding work as advocates in furtherance of the promise of equal justice for those who face economic and other significant barriers. The team includes Lori Isley, Alfredo Gonzalez Benitez, Andrea Schmitt, Bernardo Rafael Cruz, Bonnie Linville, Cheli Bueno, Diana Garcia, Elvia Bueno, Joe Morrison, and Rachael Pashkowski. The Working Families team has achieved significant, lasting impacts for immigrant workers across Washington. These victories are at every level of the courts and government and are possible due to working side by side with farm workers and rural communities. The team has been instrumental in establishing the farm worker union Familias Unidas, leading work to limit the use of immigration status as evidence in court, and bringing successful large-scale cases challenging improper treatment of workers and increasing their rights.

Access to Justice Leadership Award

Jim Bamberger is recognized for his efforts in helping to build and promote a statewide, integrated, non-duplicative civil legal aid delivery system that is responsive to the needs of low-income Washingtonians. Serving as the Director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid for nearly 14 years, Jim has been a leader advocating for legal aid funding at the state and federal levels. Recently he tirelessly advocated to make crime victim funding available for civil legal aid throughout Washington, a model that is the first of its kind nationally. Jim has also been an ally to many who are working to integrate race equity principles in their legal aid work. Jim has raised the visibility of legal aid and its continued need through lobbying in Olympia and D.C. and through initiatives such as Washington’s Civil Legal Needs Study.

Access to Justice Community Leadership Award

Resolution Washington, which is the member association for Dispute Resolution Centers (DRCs) in Washington State, is recognized for playing a strategic, significant and courageous leadership role in improving access to the justice system. For over 30 years, Resolution Washington DRCs have provided low-cost and effective conflict resolution services and served as an access point for the courts. Prioritizing equity and serving marginalized communities, many DRCs offer bilingual services with Latinx residents and work with Native American tribes, providing services that are responsive to cultural norms. Many centers offer services in a variety of programs, including housing, landlord/tenant, family law, civic engagement, homelessness service provider training, parent-teen mediation, facilitating urban planning discussions, and supporting restorative practices in schools.

Norm Maleng Leadership Award

Coming soon! The Norm Maleng Leadership Award is given jointly by the Access to Justice Board and Washington State Bar Association. The award honors Norm Maleng’s legacy of innovative and optimistic leadership, love of the law, and commitment to diversity and mentorship. This year’s recipient will be announced after May 16, 2019.