The Beacon Awards

The Beacon Awards for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion celebrates individuals, organizations and corporations who are forging innovative paths toward a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community and legal profession. The event recognizes the strides made by these exemplary honorees, how far we have come, and how much work there is still to be done.

Proceeds from the Beacon Awards support the diversity, equity and inclusion programs and initiatives of the BBA, including our partnerships with the affinity bars, our growing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Fellowship program, and our newly launched DEI Career Fair.

About the Event

The 2024 Beacon Awards took place on Thursday, January 18th at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in South Boston.  Over 300 guests joined us to honor leaders in our community who have illuminated the path towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive profession.




The Beacon Awards recognizes exceptional leadership in creating a lasting impact and illuminating a new path towards a more diverse and inclusive legal profession in Greater Boston.

Voice of Change Award

Angela Onwuachi-Willig
Dean and
Ryan Roth Gallo Professor of Law at Boston University School

The first Black woman dean of a Top 20 law school, Dean Onwuachi-Willig is a renowned legal scholar and expert in critical race theory, employment discrimination, and family law. She is one of five Black women law deans who started the Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project, an invaluable resource for law deans, faculty, and the public to access resources and information in an effort to address systemic racism, which earned her the Association of American Law Schools inaugural Impact Award. In addition, she created the ASPIRE program, which serves as an anti-racist scholarship program that “provides a full tuition scholarship for all three years to a select number of students who have demonstrated a commitment to antiracism, social justice, and racial equity.”  As the nation’s first endowed chair in critical race theory, Dean Onwuachi-Willig was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences this past spring. Read her full biography.

The Voice of Change Award is presented annually to a luminary leader in the legal community who has forged a new path and has played an extensive role in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the profession.

Empowerment Award

YW Boston and
Beth Chandler, President & CEO

Beth Chandler currently serves as the President and CEO of YW Boston, the pioneering YWCA in the nation and a leader in championing equity for over 150 years. Their impactful DEI Services, exemplified by initiatives like InclusionBoston and LeadBoston, coupled with dedicated advocacy work and the transformative F.Y.R.E. Initiative, empower individuals and organizations to instigate positive changes in policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors. Their overarching mission is to cultivate inclusive environments where success is not just a goal but a reality, with a particular emphasis on empowering women, people of color, and especially women of color.

Prior to her role at YW Boston, Beth served as the Chief Operating Officer at the Massachusetts Service Alliance, where she oversaw the administration of AmeriCorps programs, and Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development, where she led efforts to promote affordable housing and economic stability for women and families.

The Empowerment Award is given each year to a powerful advocate who works to create systemic change in the wider community by amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups and advancing civil rights, access to justice, and/or DEI.

Corporate Champion Award

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The Corporate Champion Award will be presented to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Part of the U.S. Central Bank, the Boston Fed pursues its vision of a vibrant economy that works for all, and values diverse backgrounds and perspectives in doing so – including on its board of directors and senior leadership team.

A focus on economic inclusion, participation, and opportunity runs through the bank’s work, which ranges from monetary policy to payments technology to bank supervision. Its community development activities include highlighting the extent and significance of racial wealth inequality in Boston and New England and supporting accessible economic growth for gateway cities and rural communities, and opportunity for low- and moderate-income households.

Recent key initiatives undertaken by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston include integrating DEI efforts across the organization through training and events; promoting a culture of listening with enhanced engagement surveys and communication strategies; supporting a wide range of employee resource groups; and regularly reviewing compensation structures to ensure equitable pay practices.

Additionally, 2022 marked eight years in a row that the Bank was recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” as part of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index.

The Corporate Champion Award is given each year to a company that has been a leader in internal or external projects and practices that promote a more inclusive legal profession or community.

Past Honorees

Voice of Change: Mayor Michelle Wu
Corporate Champion: Fidelity Investments
Empowerment Award: Citizens for Juvenile Justice

Voice of Change: Jennifer Levi – Western New England University Law School, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Corporate Champion: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Empowerment Award: La Colaborativa

Voice of Change: Ralph Martin
Corporate Champion: Boston Scientific
Empowerment Award: COVID-19 Relief Coalition

Voice of Change Award: Yalonda Howze
Corporate Champion Award: Liberty Mutual
Empowerment Award: A Partnership between Greater Boston Legal Service’s Asian Outreach Project and the Asian American Resource Workshop

Voice of Change Award: E. Macey Russell
Corporate Champion Award: Vertex
Empowerment Award: Yes on 3: Freedom for All Coalition

Voice of Change Award: Brent Henry
Corporate Champion Award: Biogen
Empowerment Award: Ivan Madrigal-Espinoza

Paulette Brown

Affinity Bars

Governor Deval Patrick

Paul Lee, Goodwin Procter LLP

GLAD and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office

Northeastern University School of Law


*Event format changed, three awards introduced

Steering Committee

Emily Sy
Takeda Pharmaceuticals

BJ Trach
Latham & Watkins

John Affuso

Sahar Basaria

John Chu
Prince Lobel

Jose DeMedeiros
Locke Lord

D’Andre Fernandez
Board of Bar Overseers

Bill Gabovitch

Yasmin Ghassab

Courtney Herndon

Raïna Jacques

Jameel Moore
Anderson & Kreiger

Dianne Phillips
Holland & Knight

Monica Shah
Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP

Michelle Yee
CPCS Mental Health Litigation Division

Emily Yu
Biomed Realty