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Ms. JD is excited to announce the 2017 Ms. JD Honors Awardees!

Sharing Her Passion Award - To a woman who has practiced for more than ten years who is inspiring younger women lawyers through sponsorship, mentorship, and sharing her passion for the practice. Awardee: Jessica Brown

Women's Strength in Numbers Award - To two or more women who have partnered with one another to create a unique program, business, or organization. Awardees: Keli Knight, Yondi Morris & Jessica Reddick, the Founders, Owners and Partners of Knight, Morris & Reddick (KMR) Law Group and KMR Legal Staffing

Road Less Traveled Award - To a woman who is using her J.D. in a unique, non-traditional, way to pursue an issue or cause that she is passionate about. Awardee: Lieutenant General Flora Darpino

Law School Chapter Award – To a law school organization that champions the advancement of women law students through, for example, chapter initiatives (including pre-law initiatives), programming or recruitment. Awardee: University of Puerto Rico--NWLSO

Woman of Inspiration Award - To a woman who, regardless of her practice area or type of practice, inspires others by her commitment and passion to her work. Awardees: Gigi Parris, Lisa Horowitz, and Daissy Dominguez

Student of Inspiration Award – To a male or female law student who inspires others through their commitment and passion to their legal studies, extracurricular activities or to a particular cause. Awardee: Liani Balasuriya

TIM Initiative Award – To a man who is an active champion for women’s advancement in the legal profession. Ms. JD launched The Incredible Men (TIM) Initiative in 2014 to celebrate men who not only value equality and diversity in the profession, but earnestly and enthusiastically support women and women’s initiatives. Awardee: Alan Bryan

To celebrate the honorees, we are giving individuals and organizations the opportunity to congratulate one or all of the winners. 

Powerpoint slides, which will display throughout the cocktail hour portion of the awards ceremony, can be purchased for $250.  The slide should be designed by your organization, may congratulate one or all of the honorees, and will appear before over 150 guests who are expected to join Ms. JD at the awards ceremony.  Slides may be purchased by clicking here.   

Those wishing to offer a personal congratulations to an individual honoree may purchase congratulations cards.  Congratulations cards will be incorporated into the décor for the event and all cards that specifically mention a particular honoree's name will be presented to the her/him as a memento of their award.  Congratulations cards are $25 and may be purchased by clicking here.   

To purchase tickets and join us, in person, as we give these inspirational women and men their awards, please click here. 

Meet Our Awardees

Liani Balasuriya

Liani Balasuriya is a 3L at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Her 2L year, she served as President of Northwestern's Women's Leadership Coalition, one of the school's largest organizations that advances the professional development of female students through a variety of programs, mentorship activities, and events. Under her leadership, the organization continued to grow and included new efforts reaching out to male allies and female faculty.  

At Northwestern, Liani is a Student Officer of the Diversity Education & Outreach Office, member of Law Review, former teaching assistant, and co-chair of the Class Gift Committee. Last year, she received a leadership award from the Illinois Women's Bar Foundation and Northwestern Law's Student Body Association.  

Liani plans to stay in Chicago after graduation to practice general litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Prior to law school, Liani worked as a Scheduler for Governor, now Senator, Maggie Hassan and as a Field Director for a non-profit in DC. She is from Stamford, Connecticut.  

Jessica Brown

Jessica Brown is a partner in the Denver office of Gibson Dunn and a member of the firm's Labor and Employment, Class Action, and Electronic Discovery Practice Groups. She has been ranked by Chambers USA for twelve consecutive years as one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Labor and Employment." She also has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America®. The Denver Business Journal named Ms. Brown winner of the 2015 Outstanding Women in Business Award for the Law category.  She was previously named one of Denver’s “Forty Under 40.”

Ms. Brown has defended nationwide and state-wide class and collective action lawsuits, alleging gender discrimination under Title VII, failure to permit facility access under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. She participated as a member of the trial team in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which redefined the legal standard for class certification as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's watershed decision. She also has represented companies charged with fraud, breaches of fiduciary duty, and violations of securities and consumer protection laws on a class-wide basis.

In addition, Ms. Brown has tried and mediated non-class claims before federal judges and arbitrators across the country involving allegations of sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, violations of noncompete agreements, discrimination, and retaliation. Ms. Brown also conducts workplace investigations and advises corporate clients regarding wage-hour compliance, pay equity, privacy, and matters that intersect with intellectual property law, such as noncompete agreements and trade secrecy programs. She has successfully represented clients in connection with claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, trademark and trade dress infringement, breach of restrictive covenants, and unfair competition as well. In addition, Ms. Brown has experience assisting clients with global government investigations, including managing large-scale document collection, review, and production across continents. 

Before joining Gibson Dunn in January 1995, Ms. Brown clerked for the Honorable Jim R. Carrigan, United States District Court for the District of Colorado. Since joining the firm, Ms. Brown has been a frequent author and lecturer on employment, social media, and gender, diversity, and leadership issues. She is also a member of the firm's Diversity Committee, and she served on the firmwide Professional Development Committee for 13 years. Before that, she was Denver Office Hiring Partner for many years, and prior to that she was co-chair of the firm-wide Associates Committee.

In addition, Ms. Brown is the Immediate Past President of the Colorado Women's Bar Association, an organization with more than 1200 members and growing. She is on the Board of the National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. She also served as the Chairman of the Board of the Legal Aid Foundation from 2013-2015 and was co-chair of the Denver Law Firm Campaign for Legal Aid in 2013. Ms. Brown has co-chaired the Barristers Benefit Ball twice previously, helping to raise funds for Metro Volunteer Lawyers. She also has been very active with the Mile High United Way, as a member of the Tocqueville Society and a founding member of the Pinstripe PJ Club, helping to raise money for the Mayor's homelessness initiative, Denver's Road Home. Ms. Brown is a member of the Colorado Bar Association's Committee for Balanced Legal Careers and has worked closely with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness on various programs and initiatives. In addition, she is actively involved in pro bono work in the local community and has given time to Denver's Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives Program and established a long-term relationship between Gibson Dunn and the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center.

Ms. Brown is one of the managing editors and contributing authors for "The Practitioner's Guide to Colorado Employment Law" and contributing authors to the Media Libel Resource Centers 50-State Survey on employment privacy law. Ms. Brown received her law degree in 1993 from the University of Texas School of Law, where she served as Executive Editor for the Texas Law Review, was a member of the Order of the Coif, and graduated with High Honors (top 2%). Ms. Brown received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she graduated with honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Alan Bryan

Alan Bryan is Senior Associate General Counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. where he leads the Office of Outside Counsel Management and Legal Operations, overseeing certain internal operations and processes, as well as the relationship with all company law firms throughout the United States.  Mr. Bryan previously managed litigation at the Fortune 1 company for many of its approximately 5,000 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs across the United States.  Before joining Walmart in 2011, he was a litigation partner with Arkansas’s largest law firm.   

The Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (“FDCC”), which limits international membership to approximately 1400 attorneys worldwide, initiated Mr. Bryan into membership in 2013.  He is a member of FDCC’s Diversity, Corporate Counsel, Premises & Security Liability, and Trial Tactics, Practice, & Procedure Committees.  He has served as Program Co-Chair and overall Co-Chair for FDCC’s Corporate Counsel Symposium.

In 2014, Mr. Bryan helped develop an “International Integration” program to incorporate best practices of Walmart’s U.S.-based legal department in its Latin American markets.  An extraordinary and simultaneous opportunity arose allowing Mr. Bryan and two colleagues to create a diversity initiative aimed at improving diversity for the legal profession in Latin America.  In October 2014, he helped Walmart announce a development program for underrepresented members of the Chilean legal community which was a direct result of these efforts.  The pilot program won Walmart’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Visionary Award and was nominated for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s 2015 George B. Vashon Innovator Award.

Also in 2014, Mr. Bryan joined the board of DirectWomen, a national non-profit organization that works to increase the representation of women lawyers on corporate boards.  He serves on its Advisory Council, as well as its Strategic Planning, Steering, and Development Committees.  He additionally supports the 30% Coalition through his work on its Chief Legal Officer initiative.

Over the course of 2015-16, Mr. Bryan served on the American Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion 360 Commission. Created by ABA President Paulette Brown, the Commission formulated methods, policy, standards, and practices to best advance Goal III of the ABA.  The Commission reviewed and analyzed diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, the judicial system, and the ABA, with a goal of developing sustainable action plans. Practical tools were produced that will help move the needle on diversity and inclusion in an impactful way, including through a Model Diversity Survey developed by its Economic Case Working Group.  Bryan served as Co-Chair of the 360 Commission’s Economic Working Group.  Continuing the 360 Commission’s mission, Mr. Bryan currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Sub-Committee to the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession.  Through this work, Bryan has led an effort that has seen dozens of Fortune 1000 companies agree to use the ABA’s Model Diversity Survey.

Mr. Bryan is an active member of the National Association of Women Lawyers (“NAWL”) and has served on its Annual Meeting and GCI Committees, as well as participating in its mentorship program.  He was a founder of the NAWL Challenge Club, designed to help meet the NAWL Challenge and increase to at least 30% the number of women equity partners in our nation’s law firms.  Mr. Bryan is an active participant in the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (“NAMWOLF”).  He serves on the NAMWOLF In-House Advisory Council, as a NAMWOLF Practice Area Committee liaison, and as a mentor in its Emerging Leaders Program. He also serves as his company’s representative in the Inclusion Initiative, a collaborative effort of companies committed to an immediate and measurable increase in the retention and utilization of minority and women owned law firms by America’s corporations.

Mr. Bryan is a frequent speaker, panelist, and moderator for his company, bar organizations, and affinity groups. The Association of Corporate Counsel, a global legal association representing more than 35,000 in-house counsel employed by over 10,000 organizations, named him one of its "Top Ten 30-Somethings."  In 2015, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal named Mr. Bryan one of its “40 Under Forty,” an annual honor for 40 individuals under the age of 40 who are nominated as best in class by their peers in all industries.  In July 2016, he received the Lead By Example Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a male lawyer by the National Association of Women Lawyers, for his role as a leader and advocate for the advancement of women in the profession.

In the past, he has served in the Arkansas Bar Association House of Delegates, as an officer of the Arkansas Association of Defense Counsel, as a committee member for the Defense Research Institute, and as a barrister of both the W.B. Putman and William Overton Inns of Court.  Mr. Bryan participates in Walmart’s Medical-Legal Pro Bono Partnership with Arkansas Children’s Hospital and is a past United States District Court pro bono attorney.

Mr. Bryan graduated cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law after serving as Managing Editor of the Arkansas Law Review.  He was a Phi Delta Theta International Graduate Fellow and a Charles Pearson Fellow while in law school.  Prior to law school, he graduated as a J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar and Phi Delta Theta International Fellow from the University of Arkansas.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Flora D. Darpino 

Flora Darpino serves as the 39th Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army and is the first woman to hold that position since the first Judge Advocate General was appointed by George Washington in 1775. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University in New Jersey, and a Master of Laws degree in Military Law from The Judge Advocate General’s School. Her military education includes the Senior Service College Fellowship (Department of Justice), the Army Command and General Staff College, the Judge Advocate Officer Graduate Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, and the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course.

On 3 September 2013, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and began serving as the U.S. Army’s senior military attorney. In that capacity, she leads over 10,000 legal professionals in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps at over 100 active and reserve Army legal offices across the U.S. and overseas. Lieutenant General Darpino has served with distinction in a variety of operational and staff assignments to include two tours to the combat theater of Iraq. She has also commanded the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, which is the only ABA accredited military law school with an LLM program.

Throughout her career, Lieutenant General Darpino has focused on mentorship and professional development. She now leads a Corps that takes pride in the character, competence, and commitment of its members.

Lieutenant General Darpino has been recognized for her professional leadership by numerous organizations, to include the Women’s Bar Association for the District of Columbia with the Woman Lawyer of the Year Award, 2016; the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Presidential Achievement Award, 2015; the American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Lawyers of Achievement Award, 2015; and the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship ‘First’ Award, 2015. Lieutenant General Darpino is married with two daughters. 

Daissy Dominguez

In 2010, Ms. Dominguez received her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Science with a major in Political Science from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2013, Ms. Dominguez received her Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School. Pursuing a legal career dedicated to social justice, Ms. Dominguez founded Dominguez Legal Justice Center, LLC (DLJC) with a focus on immigration and landlord/tenant disputes. DLJC operates with two principles:  affordability and social justice when it comes to their clients.   DLJC was founded under the mission to build a socially-conscious law practice that provides affordable legal services to low and moderate-income people. DLJC provides holistic representation by connecting clients with free counseling services and the necessary resources to assist them with their non-legal issues that are affecting their life and families. DLJC provides educational legal workshops in communities to educate residents about their legal rights and collaborates with community organizations to host free legal consultations and staff trainings at their local centers. 

DLJC believes that education is a key component in empowering our communities and therefore offers the DLJC Ibañez Scholarship to encourage and promote higher education for undocumented college students who aspire to make a positive difference. The DLJC Ibañez Scholarship is dedicated in memory of Ms. Dominguez's grandfather who unexpectedly passed away during her first year of law school. DLJC offers internship and a mentoring program for students interested in pursuing a legal career.  Ms. Dominguez is currently on the Board of Directors for The University of Illinois Latina Latino Alumni Association, the Korean American Community Services, and serves as an appointed committee member for The John Marshall Law School Board of Trustees Alumni Committee. Ms. Dominguez is the Founder of the John Marshall Law School Academic Enhancement Program, an academic retention program geared towards increasing the academic retention rates of first year minority law students. Ms. Dominguez has been featured in Latinas Uprising, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Newspaper. Ms. Dominguez has participated as a Leadership coach for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Leadership Center Imprint Program and was a panelist for the Chicago Bar Association “How Practicing Differently Can Improve Your Client Development” and the Hyatt Hotel “Successful Latinas from Chicago” events. 

Lisa Horowitz

Lisa B. Horowitz is committed to and passionate about working with individual attorneys, law firms and legal departments to build their individual and organizational talent development strategies. This ranges from (i) individual career, leadership, management and business development coaching and planning to (ii) the strategic design and implementation of talent development systems that foster and facilitate the growth and advancement of all attorneys. Lisa has a unique combination of experience and expertise developed as a practicing attorney, senior talent development professional and national bar association leader. Taken together, they provide her with an in-depth and well-rounded perspective on the legal profession and have made her a leader in the field of legal talent management. Lisa spent the first two decades of her career practicing law in AMLAW 100 firms as an associate, counsel and partner. She then successfully transitioned to the talent management field obtaining her Masters in Organizational Development from Johns Hopkins University. Lisa spent the next 10 years as a senior talent development professional in a global AMLAW 100 law firm where she led the design and implementation of a state-of-the art competency-based talent development system. Lisa has been a leader in the area of diversity and inclusiveness. She is deeply committed to advancing diversity and to insuring that talent development systems are “inclusive about inclusion”—that is they make advancing diversity an integral part of their talent management systems. Lisa served on the Board and as President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and as a Commissioner on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. She received the Star of the Bar Award from the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia in 2012. Her article: Getting Inclusive About Inclusion: A Talent Management Strategy was published by NALP and ARK in their Managing Partner Report and recently republished by ARK. Lisa recently founded the Attorney Talent Strategy Group, LLC.  She regularly coaches and trains attorneys on career planning, navigating career transitions, business development, management skills and leadership development. Her Building Leadership Muscle Series includes core programs aimed at developing critical career planning, management, leadership and business development skills. She presents regularly to a cross-section of Bar and trade Associations. Lisa is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Tufts University and the National Law Center at George Washington University with Honors. She can be reached at lbhorowitz@gmail.com. 

Gigi Parris

Gigi Parris currently is a Supervising Attorney on the Family Defense Team at Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem ("NDS") in New York City.  In her role at NDS, Gigi provides vigorous representation to indigent parents and caretakers charged with neglect and abuse of children in Family Court.  She also supervises and mentors staff attorneys who represent constituents of upper Manhattan. 

Ms. Parris has litigated on behalf of parents for nearly a decade. Prior to joining Neighborhood Defender Service, she served as a family defense attorney at The Bronx Defenders, defending residents of the Bronx against allegations of child neglect and abuse.  Ms. Parris participated in the Know Her Truths conference for the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  Specifically, Ms. Parris served as a co-panelist for a discussion on "Take My Poverty, Not My Children: The Child Welfare System's Hidden but Pervasive Attack on Women and Girls of Color."  

In addition to her role as a family defense attorney, Ms. Parris serves as a member of the Board of Directors of New Heights Academy Charter School, located in Washington Heights, New York.  As a Board member, she lends her legal and advisory skills to support the academic success of middle and high school students at Manhattan's largest independent charter school. Prior to working in the world of public defense, Ms. Parris worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP as a corporate associate and was heavily centered around giving back through pro bono work.  Ms. Parris is a native New Yorker, hailing from the borough of Queens. She obtained her J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law and graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. 

University of Puerto Rico School of Law, NWLSO

The National Women Law Students' Organization (NWLSO) was founded in 2014 at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, the very first among the three law schools on the island. The Student Mentorship Program (SMP) was its pilot program, where incoming students would be paired with upper-level students for a year of networking and sharing tips on being a law student. For the past three years, NWLSO has recruited more than 230 students to participate in the SMP. Students are part of the Annual Kickoff Event, where mentees learn who their mentors are and listen to a speech delivered by the School's Dean on leadership and the adventure they are about to embark on. The SMP strives to connect students with similar interests and fosters networking beyond law school grounds to achieve professional and academic growth. 

Another part of NWLSO’s objectives consists of distributing information on Ms. JD’s programs and encouraging members to attend Ms. JD’s Conferences. More than 20 members have traveled from Puerto Rico to attend Ms. JD's Conferences and represent their NWLSO chapter. NWLSO continues to empower members by organizing high-quality activities that cater to the same students’ ideas, concerns, and interests. Activities include visits to law firms to learn about the daily tasks of attorneys from different areas of the law, workshops on résumé building and interviews, and conferences on professional advancement, gender equality, and networking.  NWLSO has also collaborated with other student organizations by sharing activities on discussing domestic violence and gay marriage. It promotes women's achievements through social media campaigns, such as the Women of UPR Law, where for a year students were encouraged to tell their stories, aspirations, and personal challenges. 

NWLSO has sparked conversations about women in the law and their role as attorneys in current worldwide issues. It encourages men to be part of the conversation too. Its members discuss careers both on the island and on the mainland, acknowledging the complex variety and needs of communities in both countries. Conversations not only happen in closed events, but also in hallways and classrooms.  NWLSO takes pride in celebrating women in the law and supporting Puerto Rican female attorneys by inviting them to be a part of our message. Most importantly, NWLSO believes in the idea of women helping one another to face shared challenges in and under the law. 

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