Paula L. Ettelbrick Award Past Honorees
MCCA Paula L. Ettelbrick Award recognizes the outstanding unparalleled achievement of our past honorees who have a commitment to and succed in advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender attorneys.
2017 | Evan Wolfson
Evan Wolfson is an internationally recognized civil rights lawyer and strategist. He was the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, the pioneering campaign which drove the successful strategy that won same-sex couples the right to marry throughout the United States. Widely acknowledged as the architect of the marriage equality movement, Evan has been an advocate for human rights around the world since 1983, when he wrote his Harvard Law School thesis on gay people and the freedom to marry. During the 1990s he served as co-counsel in the historic Hawaii marriage case that launched the ongoing global freedom to marry conversation, and has participated in numerous gay rights and HIV/AIDS cases. Evan is the author of the landmark work Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry (Simon & Schuster, 2004), and was named one of “the 100 most influential lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal and Time Magazine named him one of “the 100 most influential people in the world.”
Based in New York City, Wolfson has been named a Distinguished Visitor from Practice at Georgetown Law Center, where he teaches law and social change, and Senior Counsel at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, with 125+ offices in 50+ countries.
2016 | Lisa A. Linsky
Lisa A. Linsky is a partner in the New York office of international law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP. As a member of the Trial Group, she focuses her practice on complex litigation, including commercial,products liability, trusts and estates and civil rights litigation with a focus on LGBT issues, and business-related investigations. Lisa is a frequent public speaker, published author and creator of The Huffington Post blog, “Out and About: LGBT Legal”.
2015 | Out Leadership
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has named Todd G. Sears, Founder and Principal of Out Leadership, a recognized LGBT global strategic advising firm, as the 2015 recipient of the esteemed Paula L. Ettelbrick Award. Sears will receive the award at the MCCA Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference Opening Plenary on Monday, June 29, 2015 at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel, in Washington, D.C.
Out Leadership works at the intersection of LGBT and business, developing initiatives that build business opportunity, cultivate talent, and drive LGBT equality forward around the world. Out Leadership’s initiatives include Out on the Street, Out in Law, OutNEXT and Quorum.
“Todd’s lifelong innovation and insight on inclusion has allowed for many major companies to benefit from diversity,” said MCCA President and CEO Joseph K. West. “I believe Todd is very much deserving of this recognition”.
“I thank MCCA for this tremendous honor,” said Sears. “I had the privilege to personally know Paula Ettelbrick, and I learned a great deal from her work and her example. I am personally very moved to accept this award, while noting that there’s still a tremendous amount of work to be done to achieve true LGBT equality around the world.”
Before founding Out Leadership, Sears was an investment banker and wealth manager. He created the first national team of financial advisors on Wall Street focused on the LGBT community at Merrill Lynch, before moving into diversity leadership at that firm and then at Credit Suisse. At Out Leadership, Todd works closely with the C-suite leadership of some of the world’s most influential companies to build business opportunity through diversity innovation.
2014 | Jennifer L. Levi, Esq.
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) has named Jennifer L. Levi, Esq., director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project and a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues, as the 2014 recipient of the esteemed Paula L. Ettelbrick Award. Ms. Levi will receive award at the MCCA Creating Pathways to Diversity Conference Opening Plenary on July 24, 2014 at the Washington Hilton.
“Jennifer has shown remarkable grace and leadership in promoting transgender human rights in the field of law,” said MCCA President and CEO Joseph K. West. “Not only does the award honor Jennifer, but she honors the award itself through her unfettered passion and dedication.”
Ms. Levi is the director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project and a nationally recognized expert on transgender legal issues. She co-edited Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy, the first book to address legal issues facing transgender people in the family law context and provide practitioners the tools to effectively represent transgender clients.
She has served as counsel on a number of precedent-setting cases establishing basic rights for transgender people including: O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, which established that medical care relating to gender transition qualifies as a medical deduction for federal income tax purposes; Doe v. Yunits, in which she represented a transgender student denied the right to attend school because of the clothing she wore; and Adams v. Bureau of Prisons, which successfully challenged a federal prison policy excluding medical care for transgender inmates who came into the system without a transition-related medical plan, among many others. She also has worked on a number of high profile family law cases including the Miller-Jenkins case establishing full parental rights for a Vermont civil union spouse and cases in Connecticut and Massachusetts that established the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Ms. Levi is a law professor at Western New England University. She serves on the Legal Committee of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and is a founding member of both the Transgender Law & Policy Institute and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.
She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Michael Boudin at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
2013 | Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is receiving the award for its work promoting equality for all Americans. Among its many outreaches, the HRC has championed marriage equality, and has worked to create a support network for LGBT teens and to prevent bullying. HRC promotes LGBT workers rights and seeks to prevent transgender discrimination.
“The Human Rights Campaign is at the forefront of the march toward equal rights, and their work has inspired many others to join the struggle” said Joseph K. West, MCCA’s President and CEO. “MCCA is proud to honor their efforts with this year’s Paula L. Ettelbrick Award.”
About the Human Rights Campaign
As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide — all committed to making HRC’s vision a reality. Founded in 1980, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office, and educates the public about LGBT issues.
2012 | D’Arcy Kemnitz
D’Arcy Kemnitz has more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit arena and the social justice movement. In her present position as Executive Director of the LGBT Bar association, she organizes the only national, annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) law student Career Fair and Continuing Legal Education Conference. Additionally, Ms. Kemnitz orchestrates collaboration between over 25 affiliated local, state, and regional voluntary LGBT bar associations and dozens of LGBT law student associations.
Ms. Kemnitz has published in the University of Baltimore Journal of Environmental Law, MCCA’s Diversity & the Bar magazine, various ABA publications and, most recently, the GP/Solo Magazine on LGBT issues. She has appeared in the media presenting issues of LGBT diversity in the profession at ABC News, The Advocate Magazine, and Time Magazine, among others. Ms. Kemnitz is a distinguished graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Hamline University School of Law.