On October 27, 2016, Equal Justice Works and 1,100 of our supporters celebrated three decades of tireless work in the fight against injustice. Our 30th Anniversary Dinner was a tribute to those who have made an extraordinary contribution to expanding access to justice for all – our Fellows and alumni, Board members past and present, sponsors, and this year’s Scales of Justice Awardee, Discover Financial Services Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Kelly McNamara Corley. The event also raised more than $3 million to mobilize the next generation of public interest lawyers.
Journalist David Gregory served as emcee for the dinner. The evening began with a special recognition of Greenberg Traurig for having sponsored 149 Fellows and contributing a record-breaking $10 million to Equal Justice Works since 1999. Cesar L. Alvarez, Senior Chairman of Greenberg Traurig, accepted the honor on the firm’s behalf. Guests then heard from 2016 Text to Give Fellow Heather Abraham, who is working to resolve rural homelessness in Northern Michigan; and from 2014 Fellow Sabrina Talukder, whose advocacy saves the lives of domestic abuse and sex trafficking survivors embroiled in the criminal justice system. A short video showed Sabrina at work at Rikers Island and reminded us why we must fight for the vulnerable among us.
Executive Director David Stern also presented a video tribute to Equal Justice Works’ three decades of service, which was followed by a keynote address by the Honorable Ann C. Williams. Surrounded by 25 Elder justice AmeriCorps Fellows, the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge spoke of her long history with Equal Justice Works and surprised attendees with a powerful a capella rendition of "The Impossible Dream."
Finally, in recognition of her unwavering commitment to justice and community service, the 2016 Scales of Justice Award was presented to Kelly McNamara Corley by David W. Nelms, Discover’s Chairman and CEO. The evening concluded with closing remarks by Equal Justice Works incoming Board Chair Randal S. Milch.
To each of those who made this successful event possible, particularly the 30th Anniversary Dinner Steering Committee, 30th Anniversary Honorary Committee, and our generous 2016 Dinner Sponsors, we thank you. At Equal Justice Works, we measure our impact by lives changed, struggles ended, systems that have become more responsive, and public policies that work for those who need them most. And with your help, we begin writing the next chapter.