Nearly nine years after Massachusetts’ highest court legalized same sex marriage in the Bay State — an outcome the Boston Bar Association (BBA) urged in its amicus brief — the BBA today announced it will present its Beacon Award for Diversity + Inclusion to the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office for their efforts to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a statute that discriminates against legally married same-sex couples. That award will be presented on the evening of November 13, 2012 at the Liberty Hotel at a reception free and open to the entire legal community.
“GLAD in its own right exemplifies the values of the Beacon Award in constantly advancing the frontier in diversity and inclusion in our profession and society at large,” said Colin Owyang, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Grid USA, and chair of the selection committee that vetted the numerous nominees for this award. “Even more impressive than its daily heroic work was its success in enlisting the support of the Office of Attorney General of Massachusetts and others, both directly and indirectly affected by DOMA, as it continued our profession’s proud tradition of public service. Importantly, this coalition-building effort serves as a model for effective private-public partnerships that are necessary for all manner of important policy innovation, especially in the never ending advancement of diversity and inclusion.”
The effort being recognized by the BBA involved two parallel cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, one filed by GLAD and the other filed by the AG’s Office. In May of this year, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision covering both cases – ruling that DOMA violates the Constitution of the United States. Following an appeal by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, the case is expected to come before the Supreme Court of the United States later this year.
Both cases coming before the First Circuit involved the filing of numerous amicus briefs produced by lawyers at a number of distinguished law firms donating their time to fight discrimination. Among the many bar associations listed on a brief in support of the case brought by the AG was the Boston Bar Association.
The BBA established the Beacon Award for Diversity + Inclusion in 2010 to recognize exceptional leadership on diversity strategies that will have a lasting impact on the Greater Boston Legal profession. Previous winners include Massachusetts Mutual (2011) and Northeastern University School of Law (2012).
The following lawyers served on the Selection Committee for the BBA Beacon Award for Diversity + Inclusion:
Navjeet K. Bal
Navjeet is a member of Nixon Peabody’s Public Finance group and has extensive experience serving as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, and borrower’s counsel in publicly and privately placed debt financings for governmental, quasi-public, and nonprofit borrowers. She was formerly the Commissioner of Revenue for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a post she was appointed to in February 2008 by Governor Patrick. She is also a Board member of the Federation of Tax Administrators. Prior to her appointment, Navjeet practiced at Mintz Levin for 17 years in its public finance department, where she co-founded Mintz’s Domestic Violence Project. Navjeet is currently a Board member of the Legal Advocacy and Resource Center, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, and was appointed in February 2010 by Chief Justice Marshall to the Access to Justice Commission. Navjeet is a member of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston Advisory Board, and was a 2008 recipient of the National South Asian Bar Association’s Cornerstone Award. She is also a member of the BBA’s Public Policy Development Working Group.
Navjeet graduated from Williams College and Northeastern University School of Law.
Christina Ely Miller
Christina is Chief of District Courts and Community Prosecutions for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where she oversees the office’s operations in the Boston Municipal and District Courts, manages the hiring and training of Assistant District Attorneys, and supervises hate crime prosecutions. She has prosecuted criminal cases in the Appellate, Superior, and District Courts of the Commonwealth through her work in the Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex District Attorneys’ Offices. Christina is a member and former Co-Chair of the BBA’s Criminal Law Section, during which time she organized a number of BBA programs, represented the BBA on the Governor’s Anti-Crime Council, and contributed to the Boston Bar Journal. Christina is an Ex Officio Chair for the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association and served on its board for six years. In addition, she is currently serving as Co-Chair of the BBA Diversity & Inclusion Section’s Affinity Bar Relations Subcommittee.
Christina graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and Northeastern University School of Law.
Colin Owyang (Chair)
Colin Owyang is Senior Vice President and US General Counsel at National Grid. Prior to joining National Grid, Colin was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Boston, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, DC, a Trial Attorney in the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, an associate at Foley Hoag and a judicial clerk for three federal judges in Boston and Detroit, MI. Colin is a graduate of Yale College, Yale University and the University of Michigan Law School.
William F. Sinnott
Bill is Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston, where he oversees all legal matters for the City. Prior to his appointment as Corporation Counsel, Bill was a partner in a small litigation firm, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and an Assistant District Attorney. He has served on the BBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, as a mentor in its Group Mentoring Program, and on the BBA Summer Jobs Steering Committee. He also served as Chair of the BBA’s Committee on Legal Services for Military Personnel, Veterans and Families. Bill has been a speaker or panelist at a number of BBA programs, including the Public Interest Leaders Program, the Building Better Lawyers symposium and the BBA Leadership Retreat. A member of the Boston Lawyers Group Executive Committee, he also serves as a Trustee at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Bill is also a member of the BBA’s Audit Committee.
Bill is a graduate of Holy Cross College and Suffolk University Law School.
Anthony E. Hubbard
Anthony is a Member in the Corporate & Securities Section at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. where he provides general corporate law and business advice to public and private corporations with regard to financings, mergers and acquisitions, tender offers, corporate governance, public disclosure, and federal and state securities law compliance. Before joining the firm, Anthony served as General Counsel to Designs, Inc., a publicly traded apparel retailer. As in-house counsel, he advised senior executives and board members concerning corporate transactions, corporate governance, related party transactions, executive compensation matters, and public disclosure. In 2011 and 2012, Anthony has been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America for his expertise in non-profit/charities law.
Anthony is a graduate of Seattle University, Haas Graduate School of Business Administration and Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley (both in 1985).
Cristina E. Gonzalez
Cristina is Senior Company Counsel at Staples, Inc. She is responsible for all board and public company matters, corporate governance and securities compliance. In addition to her core responsibilities, Cristina serves as co-Chair of HOLA, Staples’ associate resource group for Hispanics and Latinos and serves as a member of Staples’ Global Diversity Council. In 2010, she served as founding co-Chair of Staples’ Legal Department’s Diversity Committee. Her efforts helped Staples’ Legal Department be recognized as a 2010 Employer of Choice by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. Prior to joining Staples, Cristina served in similar legal roles at two technology companies. She also worked in the corporate and securities department of the law firm, Bingham McCutchen, for approximately eight years Cristina currently serves as a mentor in the BBA Diversity and Inclusion Section’s Group Mentoring Program.
Cristina is a graduate of George Washington University and Georgetown University Law School.
E. Macey Russell
Macey is a Partner at Choate Hall & Stewart LLP where he represents financial institutions, banks, businesses and corporations in disputes involving contracts, securities, investments, and lending arrangements, and in class action matters in state court, federal court and in arbitrations. In addition, Macey co-chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee and is a member of the firm’s Hiring Committee. Macey serves on the Judicial Nominating Commission and was appointed Chairman of the Commission by the Governor in 2011. In 2011, the American Bar Foundation named him a Fellow, which is reserved for one third of one percent of attorneys in his jurisdiction. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the BBA’s Diversity and Inclusion Section. The Burton Foundation and Library of Congress honored Macey with a 2011 Burton Award for excellence in legal writing for his co-authored article “Developing Great Minority Lawyers for the Next Generation.” Since 1989, Mr. Russell has been a frequent advisor and contributor to Harvard University Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop. Macey currently serves on the board of several organizations including The Boston Lawyers Group, The Board of Trustees at Suffolk University, The Boston Bar Foundation Grants Committee, The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, Board of Overseers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Board of Fellows at Trinity College.
Macey is a graduate of Trinity College and Suffolk University Law School.
Renée M. Landers
Renée is a Professor of Health Law, Constitutional Law and Administrative Law at Suffolk University Law School and is faculty director of the school’s Health and Biomedical Law Concentration. Before joining the Law School faculty, Renée was with the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray. She previously had served as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. Before entering government service, Renée taught at Boston College Law School. She is a past president of the Boston Bar Association and immediate past Co-Chair of the BBA’s Diversity & Inclusion Section. Renée has served on the boards of many organizations including the Board of Directors at WGBH, the Boston Bar Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the Board of Overseers for the Dartmouth Medical School, and the Board of Trustees at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She is a former president of the Harvard Board of Overseers.
Renée is a graduate of Radcliffe College and Boston College Law School.