Awardee Bios

Loren D. Miller
Lawyer of the Year

Heather Anderson

Vice President, Original Content and Business Affairs
ESPN

Heather Anderson was named Vice President, Original Content and Business Affairs in June 2023.

She shifted from programming to content to lead business affairs and business operations within original content, applying her legal experience into the role. In this role, she will assist the creative teams that bring ESPN’s engaging content such as the 30 For 30’s, In the Arena series, and ESPN Films.

Anderson has worked as an entertainment and technology attorney for almost 25 years and joined ESPN in October 2021 as vice president, programming and acquisitions. In this role, she worked with Mike Morrison, vice president, sports betting and fantasy and is the primary point of contact between programming and original content and ESPN content strategy and the office of the chairman. This streamlines communication with the content strategy team related to large, multi-sport opportunities and audience expansion initiatives. She also played a similar role acting as a liaison between programming and original content and business development and innovation on ESPN Edge, sports betting, work on The Undefeated and more.

Anderson came to ESPN from The Walt Disney Company, which she joined in 2013 as associate principal counsel, serving as a digital media, product and technology attorney. As vice president and assistant chief counsel since January 2020, she led a team specializing in supporting products such as mobile apps, websites, vertical video games, and interactive connected and VR experiences. This includes supporting DMED Technology teams for Consumer Experiences and Platforms, Design, Studio Technology and Studio Operations. Her responsibilities included supporting 150 digital products ranging from the ABC, ABC News, ESPN, FX, Freeform, National Geographic and DisneyNow mobile apps and websites, to Disney.com, Starwars.com and technology for Disney+ and Hulu. She also has practiced as a Disney TV and short-form production attorney.

While at Disney, Anderson has been very active in DEI efforts. She is the co-founder, Chair Emeritus and Advisor of the Black Business and Employee Resource Group on Disney’s Glendale campus, leading a membership of approximately 500 employees. She also was a founding member and former steering committee member of the Disney Lawyers of Color (DLOC). In addition, she was the interim Executive Sponsor of CARE (TWDC’s Christian Employee Resource Group) and a founding member of WILD (Women in the Legal Department), as well as an executive advisor to Women@Disney and a member of Mas+ (the Hispanic Business and Employee Resource Group in Glendale). Anderson also serves on the Television Academy’s Diversity Council and the Council On Access and Fairness (COAF) for the State Bar of California.

Before Disney, Anderson was an attorney in the Business and Legal Affairs department of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, handling multi-million-dollar recording, production and license agreements for high profile IGA artists. Prior to joining Interscope, she was senior counsel in the Intellectual Property department at Fox, handling copyright and trademark issues for all of the Fox companies worldwide.

Consecutively with her time at Fox, Anderson owned and operated Good Girl Entertainment – her music law practice, artist management company and independent record label – stemming from her desire to assist other artists after her time as an aspiring singer and rapper in middle school, high school and college.

Anderson began her career as a litigator at Thelen Reid & Priest LLP.

Anderson received dual bachelor of arts degrees in political science and ethnic studies from the University of California at Berkeley and her law degree with a concentration in Intellectual Property and Entertainment law from the UCLA School of Law.

Bernard S. Jefferson
Judge of the Year

Hon. Bunmi Awoniyi

Presiding Judge
Sacramento Superior Court

Judge Bunmi Awoniyi is the first African American Presiding Judge for the unified Superior Court of Sacramento County. Awoniyi’s two-year term starts Jan. 1, 2024 and will continue through Dec. 31, 2025.

Awoniyi’s family immigrated from Nigeria to England, where she was born and raised. She attended the University of Essex School of Law in England, graduating with her Bachelor of Laws in 1986. In 1987, she received her Master of Laws from Leicester University School followed by her Juris Doctor from the Inns of the Court, School of Law in 1988.

Judge Awoniyi was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a Barrister at Law in 1988. After completing Pupilage, she served as a Crown Prosecutor in London. In 1990, Judge Awoniyi was a recipient of the Pegasus International Lawyer Scholarship founded by The Honorable Lord Goff in 1987 in conjunction with the American Inns of Court and the English Inns of Court. As a recipient, Judge Awoniyi came to Sacramento, Calif.

Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Awoniyi was certified by the California Board of Specialization as a Certified Family Law Specialist and maintained a family law practice in Sacramento for 18 years.

Awoniyi was appointed to the Sacramento Superior Court bench by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012.

Since her appointment, Awoniyi has served rotations in Family Law, Criminal Domestic Violence, Criminal Trials and Master Calendar for all Criminal assignments. She also served as the Supervising Judge for Family Law and Probate for four years before being elected as the court’s current Assistant Presiding Judge. In 2018, she was awarded Judge of the Year by the Wiley Manual Bar Association.

Awoniyi serves as faculty presenter for Center for Judicial Education and Research for judicial officers. She also teaches and mentors the next generation of lawyers as an adjunct professor at Lincoln Law School, where she teaches Family Law and Community Property. She has also held adjunct professor positions at McGeorge School of Law and UC Davis Extension College.

Judge Awoniyi sits on the court’s Executive Committee and was appointed by the Chief Justice of California to the Judicial Council Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee and the Judicial Council Family Law Curriculum Committee.

In addition to her volunteerism in the legal community, Awoniyi is committed to serving vulnerable populations beyond the bench. She has volunteered in Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe, serving women and indigents, coordinating medical support, visiting schools and orphanages, and providing family counseling and services to adolescent youth, single mothers, and domestic violence victims.

David Cunningham
Corporate Community Service Awardee

Duane Morris is committed to being a law firm that includes people of diverse backgrounds and fully utilizes their talents to provide legal services of the highest quality.

The firm will employ effective methods of recruitment of a diverse array of talent, and we will support their success and advancement within the firm.

Duane Morris is committed to fostering understanding, communication and respect among all people in the firm, including people of different races, religions, ages, genders, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, national origins, sexual preferences or orientations, medical conditions or disabilities, and marital, veteran or family statuses. The firm believes it should capitalize on the strength emanating from these differences. Drawing on the talents of all of the firm’s personnel helps to create an optimum workplace, one which can attract and retain diverse personnel and clients, allowing it to enter and serve varying markets and approach services to its clients more creatively. Duane Morris has the ability to meet these challenges and recognizes the beneficial impact a successful diversity program will have on firm morale, productivity, strategies and success.

The Executive Committee of Duane Morris has appointed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to facilitate the implementation of this Mission Statement. Joseph K. West, Duane Morris Partner, is the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

Joseph K. West

Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and Partner
Duane Morris LLP

Joseph K. West is a partner in the firm’s Trial Practice Group and practices in the area of complex litigation, handling a variety of matters in areas including, but not limited to, class actions, insurance litigation, commercial litigation, zoning and land use, catastrophic injury, products liability that includes automotive, and labor and employment. Mr. West is also a member of the firm’s Partners Board and serves as the firm’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, in which capacity he manages Duane Morris’ comprehensive firm-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program and he chairs the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consulting Practice. Mr. West advises domestic and global companies on a wide array of legal issues, and also represents, trains and advises numerous associations and companies, including publicly traded companies and their boards and CEOs, on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion and the compliance, risk management and corporate strategies associated with these issues. He helped establish the first of its kind law firm diversity, equity and inclusion consulting practice at the firm, which has been cited for its innovative approach to crafting sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion programs and solutions for corporate entities. His clients range from startups to Fortune 500 companies and currently include Walmart Stores, Inc., Exxon Mobil, The Carolina Panthers, the Dubai-based Al Ahli Holding Group, Mercedes Benz-USA, Altria, Discover Financial Services, Inc. and Jabil Circuit, Inc.

Mr. West is an award-winning, nationally recognized subject matter authority in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion, having worked, lectured and written extensively on diversity, equity and inclusion issues impacting businesses and the legal profession. He has lectured at the George Mason Antonin Scalia School of Law on corporate leadership and diversity and was retained by the school to develop the first of its kind curriculum on corporate diversity, equity and inclusion.

Prior to joining Duane Morris, Mr. West spent almost five years focused on diversity, equity and inclusion within the legal profession as President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). Prior to MCCA, Mr. West was Associate General Counsel – Head of Global Outside Counsel Management at Walmart Stores Inc., where he was responsible for managing the company’s relationships with all of its outside counsel worldwide, including oversight of over 600 law firms and a budget of over $300 million. He was also a member of Walmart’s Class Action/Complex Litigation Group, where he helped manage and develop litigation strategies for several groundbreaking matters, including the largest class action matter in U.S. history. Before joining Walmart, he served as Assistant General Counsel in the Litigation Group of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy and current Fortune 500 company. There, he served as lead counsel on a number of high-profile jury and bench trials, appellate arguments and arbitrations on behalf of the company. Prior to Entergy, Mr. West spent over 13 years as a litigator and partner in law firms in Louisiana, representing clients in state and federal courts and in arbitration and mediation.

Mr. West developed his extensive knowledge in diversity, equity and inclusion matters working with companies and law firms to improve their diversity, equity and inclusion metrics, training and programs. At Walmart, Mr. West successfully leveraged his role as Head of Global Outside Counsel Management to establish and meet the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals through its outside counsel spend, for which he is recognized as being at the forefront of the business case for diversity, and to facilitate the company’s role as an initial signatory to the Inclusion Initiative with the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms. As President and CEO of MCCA, he tripled membership in the national advocacy group for corporate diversity, equity and inclusion issues and created programs focused on expanding opportunities for minority lawyers and women in corporate law departments and within member firms, enhancing legal skills for corporate lawyers and facilitating business development opportunities for corporate lawyers.

Mr. West was elected and currently serves on the board of directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He currently serves as a member of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which oversees the accreditation of the nation’s law schools, and is serving a one-year term as chair-elect of the council. Mr. West is also serving a three-year term as a member of the Xavier University of Louisiana Board of Trustees. He previously served on the ABA Commission on Diversity and Inclusion 360 via appointment by then-ABA President Paulette Brown. He was a member of the ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education, and has served on the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. Mr. West was also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee and has served on the Arts Council of New Orleans and the Walton Arts Center Corporate Leadership Council.

In 2019, Mr. West was the recipient of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award: Diversity & Equality from Chambers and Partners. Mr. West has been named to Savoy Magazine’s 2018 list of Most Influential Black Lawyers. He was awarded the Diversity Collaboration Award in 2016 by the JTB Pipeline Organization, the Beacon Diversity Award in 2014 by the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association, the Louis L. Redding Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 by the Delaware Barristers Association, and the 2014 Minority Business Leader Award by the Washington Business Journal. Each year since 2013, he has been named to the Power 100 list of the nation’s most influential minority attorneys by Lawyers of Color, Inc. Mr. West was named a CUP Catalyst by the Council of Urban Professionals in its 2012 inaugural list and in 2010 he was named In-House Counsel of the Year by the National Bar Association. His contributions beyond the legal community were recognized by ABC and NBC for the personal care he extended to patients stranded at Methodist Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, during and after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005.

Mr. West is a graduate of Tulane Law School, where he formerly served as Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy and, in 2024, will be inducted into the Tulane Law School Hall of Fame. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Southern University.

David Cunningham
Corporate Community Service Awardee

Duane Morris is committed to being a law firm that includes people of diverse backgrounds and fully utilizes their talents to provide legal services of the highest quality.

The firm will employ effective methods of recruitment of a diverse array of talent, and we will support their success and advancement within the firm.

Duane Morris is committed to fostering understanding, communication and respect among all people in the firm, including people of different races, religions, ages, genders, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, national origins, sexual preferences or orientations, medical conditions or disabilities, and marital, veteran or family statuses. The firm believes it should capitalize on the strength emanating from these differences. Drawing on the talents of all of the firm’s personnel helps to create an optimum workplace, one which can attract and retain diverse personnel and clients, allowing it to enter and serve varying markets and approach services to its clients more creatively. Duane Morris has the ability to meet these challenges and recognizes the beneficial impact a successful diversity program will have on firm morale, productivity, strategies and success.

The Executive Committee of Duane Morris has appointed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to facilitate the implementation of this Mission Statement. Joseph K. West, Duane Morris Partner, is the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

Terrance J. Evans

Partner, Co-Leader
Duane Morris LLP Banking and Finance Practice
Co-Chair
SF DEI Committee

Terrance J. Evans is a Partner in the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices of Duane Morris LLP, where he serves as the Co-Leader of the firm’s Banking and Financial Services Practice. Mr. Evans is also the Co-Chair of the Duane Morris San Francisco Diversity and Inclusion Committee. His practice is focused on representing clients in federal and state trial and appellate courts across the United States including the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Evans also regularly counsels clients regarding racial justice and diversity and inclusion issues. He has led dozens of diversity trainings for judges, lawyers, law students, and members of the community around the United States.

Mr. Evans is Director of Region IX of the National Bar Association, the largest Black Bar Association in the world.  Mr. Evans is Vice Chair-Elect of the California Lawyers Association, the largest voluntary state bar association in the United States. Mr. Evans is the Immediate Past President of the Charles Houston Bar Association, the oldest Black Bar Association in California. He is the Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the CLA Racial Justice Committee; Immediate Past Chair of the Litigation Section of the California Lawyers Association; Co-Chair of the American Bar Association ICLC Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Member of the Bar Association of San Francisco Judicial & Finance Committees; and he is the first Black man elected to serve as a statewide representative on the Board of the California Lawyers Association. Mr. Evans has spoken at more than 180 diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and civil rights programs in partnership with more than 65 law schools, bar associations, colleges, universities, high schools, law firms, churches, and other organizations. Mr. Evans also frequently appears on national and local television and radio discussing issues ranging from the United States Supreme Court and California courts to important legislation and civil rights issues.

In 2016, Mr. Evans was honored by the National Bar Association as one of the top African American attorneys in the USA under age 40.  In 2017, he was honored by the Charles Houston Bar Association for his work promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.  In 2018, Mr. Evans was honored by the Minority Bar Coalition for his contributions to promoting diversity and inclusion throughout California.  In 2019, Mr. Evans was honored by New Dawn Vallejo for his work promoting diversity and inclusion and pro bono legal services.  In 2020, Mr. Evans was recognized by Chambers for his efforts to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the United States.  In 2021, Mr. Evans was honored by the Bar Association of San Francisco and Justice and Diversity Center for his diversity and inclusion work in Northern California and throughout the United States. In 2021, Mr. Evans was also honored by American Lawyer Magazine as a Trail Blazer.

In 2022, Mr. Evans was honored by the Los Angeles Times as being one of the foremost leaders on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the State of California.  In 2022, Mr. Evans was also honored by the Minority Bar Coalition for a second time for his efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the United States. During his legal career, Mr. Evans has raised more than $500,000 for scholarships for underprivileged students.  Mr. Evans has also created five annual scholarships that have provided tens of thousands of dollars to underprivileged students in the Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, and LGBTQ Communities.

With respect to the insurance industry, Mr. Evans concentrates his practice in complex commercial litigation and policy interpretation and analysis. He has represented commercial primary, excess and umbrella insurers in a wide range of multimillion-dollar cases, including declaratory relief, bad faith, rescission, subrogation, indemnity, additional insurance, interpleader and reformation actions. Mr. Evans has served as national coordinating counsel and monitoring counsel for insurance companies evaluating multi-jurisdictional claims where the exposure was estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr. Evans has extensively advised commercial insurers and policy holders regarding primary, excess and additional insurance obligations in jurisdictions around the United States. His experience includes analyzing and advising clients regarding claims related to the construction industry, automobile industry, homeowners associations, real estate agents, accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, ministers, international religious organizations, intellectual property, trademarks, mobile home parks, international imports and exports, interstate commerce, livestock, retail chains, wineries, cemeteries and other commercial establishments. He has also advised insurers regarding issues related to national security and the U.S. military.

In relation to the banking industry, Mr. Evans has represented international, national and community banks and loan service companies in consumer lending litigation, complex commercial litigation and various secured transactions, including commercial and residential nonjudicial foreclosures; unified foreclosures; judicial foreclosures; creditors’ rights issues, which includes obtaining relief from stay in various bankruptcy courts; mechanics’ lien lawsuits; stop notice claims; abatement issues; priority contests; RESPA claims; forbearance agreements; municipality disputes; transfer tax disputes; property tax disputes; short sales; loan purchase and sale agreements; predatory lending claims; discriminatory lending claims; Fair Credit Reporting Act claims; Rosenthal Act claims; California Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act claims; Fair Debt Collection Practices Act claims; Claims related to the Automobile Sales Finance Act (ASFA), also known as the ReesLevering Motor Vehicle Sales and Finance Act (Civ. Code, § 2981 et seq.); California Ralph Act claims; California Tom Bane Act claims; and many other issues. Mr. Evans has extensive experience in representing banks and other financial institutions in title insurance coverage matters. In particular, Mr. Evans has analyzed coverage under title insurance policies, negotiated coverage with title insurance companies and successfully litigated numerous coverage disputes. Mr. Evans has also successfully represented financial institutions in discrimination cases in state courts, federal courts, and before the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Mr. Evans has negotiated settlements in dozens of multimillion-dollar cases, litigated in more than ten states, and has participated in more than 100 mediations, mandatory settlement conferences, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution for matters in both federal and state courts. Mr. Evans has also successfully represented clients in appellate matters, including matters before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mr. Evans has spoken at insurance coverage seminars, business development workshops, and diversity conferences around the country. Additionally, he has been very involved in the firm’s pro bono efforts.

Mr. Evans has been recognized both locally and nationally for his professional accomplishments. In 2016, he was appointed to the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s (MCCA) Next Generation (N-Gen) Advisory Board, formed of in-house and law firm attorneys to assist with MCCA’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the legal profession nationwide. In 2012, Mr. Evans was appointed as co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation, Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee. In 2010 and 2008, he was honored by the American Business Trial Lawyers of Northern California for his dedication and professionalism. In addition, he was named one of the top 100 minority associates in the United States for 2007 by the Stakeholder Organization. Mr. Evans has also received special honors from the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, the Young Black Scholars Program, the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, the American Legion and many other organizations.

Mr. Evans graduated from Cornell University, where he made multiple appearances on the Dean’s List, and was a Cornell Tradition Fellow. He also graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles with recognition, and he was ranked as the Third Best Oral Advocate in the United States at the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition.

CABL
Hall of Fame Inductee

Hon. Marguerite D. Downing

Superior Court of Los Angeles County

Judge Marguerite D. Downing serves on the Los Angeles Superior Court, presiding over a dependency calendar. She is a graduate of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Judge Downing worked as a Deputy Public Defender for 18 years with the Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender prior to her appointment to the bench.

Since its creation in 2009, Judge Downing has chaired the Incarcerated Parents Working Group for Los Angeles County at Edelman Children’s Court which was established to address barriers affecting incarcerated parents seeking to reunify with their children in foster care. She serves on the Judicial Diversity Committee and Special Events Committee for the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Judge Downing is the former chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Youth at Risk. She serves as a vice chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges Executive Committee for the ABA and chair of the Clerkship Program for the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. Judge Downing is a past chair of the Judicial Council for the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL).

She is a current advisor to the California Lawyers’Association Criminal Law Section Executive Committee, having previously chaired the committee. She is founding member of the Association of African American Judicial Officers (AAACJO). She serves as the Hospitality Chair for both CABL and Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (BWL) after having served as President of both organizations.

Long active in professional bar associations as an attorney, Judge Downing is also a past president of California Women Lawyers (2004-05) as well as their 2018 Joan Dempsey Klein Judge of the Year awardee. Judge Downing has been reappointed to CWL’s board as their Judicial Advisor South. In December, 2023, the National Judicial College named Judge Downing as one of their 60 Courageous Judges to mark their 60th Anniversary.

Judge Downing is Immediate Past President of the Inglewood Pacific Chapter of the Links, Inc. and the current President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Chums, Inc. She is chapter treasurer for the Los Angeles Valley Chapter of the Circle-Lets, Inc., and also their immediate past National Parliamentarian and serves on the national executive team. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Judge Downing has lectured on juvenile justice issues, dependency law and courtroom civility in such far-flung places as Dubai, Beijing, Bangkok, Guam, Saipan, Huddersfield, U.K. and Washington, D.C. In her spare time, Judge Downing reads, travels and scrapbooks.

CABL
Hall of Fame Inductee

Phyllis Marshall

Chief Legislative Counsel
Office of the County
Counsel of Los Angeles

Phyllis Marshall, a graduate of UC Law San Francisco, (formerly, Hastings College of the Law) has enjoyed a legal career which spans over 30 years. She began her legal career as a Summer Intern at the San Francisco Law Firm of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran and Arnold, under the mentorship of Kaye Washington, then President of the Charles Houston Bar Association. After attending the CABL conference, and the National Bar Association convention in 1990 as a law student, Phyllis quickly developed a network with African American attorneys and judges. That network included: Justice Clinton White (deceased), Judge Brenda Harbin Forte, Judge Benjamin Travis (deceased), District Attorney Pamela Price, Judge Gordan Baranco, Robert Harris, Emma Pendergrass (deceased), Jim Cole, Kay Washington, and others. Developing relationships early on with African American attorneys and judges was instrumental in her upward trajectory as an attorney.

After having been offered an Associate position at the Law Firm of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran and Arnold, Phyllis decided to accept an offer with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough, a medium sized San Francisco law firm that was more diverse. In 1994, after giving birth to twin daughters, Phyllis moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento to raise her daughters with family support. With the Assistant of the Honorable Willie L. Brown Jr., and law school classmate Regina Evans, Phyllis secured a position as Vice President and General Counsel for the Personal Insurance Federation of California in Sacramento in 1994. The Personal Insurance Federation, a lobbying organization represented the governmental affairs interest of over 50% of the Personal Lines Insurance Carriers in California. During her tenure with the Personal Insurance Federation, she also served as the President of the California Association of Black Lawyers in 1997-98. Under her leadership and with the assistance of former CABL President Rodney Moore, CABL filed an amicus brief in Opposition to Proposition 209.

Phyllis joined the law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Philips in their Sacramento office as Counsel in 2001, representing clients on regulatory and legislative matters. While working at the Manatt Firm, Phyllis was appointed as the Chief of Staff to the National Bar Association President Rodney Moore in 2008. During her tenure as Chief of Staff to the President of the National Bar Association, Phyllis assisted in the restructuring of the National office and hosting NBA events for incoming President Barack Obama.

Phyllis currently works for the Los Angeles County Department of County Counsel where she serves on the Executive Leadership Team as the Chief Legislative Counsel. She also served in the role of Chief Legislative Advocate for the County, implementing the County’s legislative agenda. With a team of over 300 hundred attorneys, Ms. Marshall provides advice and strategic counsel on issues ranging from homelessness, immigration, public safety, health, mental health, public health, the environment, public works and local government. Phyllis’ work in government affairs, has given her the opportunity to play an instrumental role in supporting numerous local, state and federal candidates, including her classmate, and Soror, Vice President Kamala Harris. During her professional career Phyllis has volunteered her time, served on boards, or has been appointed to various positions including:

Federal Judicial Appointments Committee, Senator Kamala Harris. Diversity Task Force Advisory Committee, Insurance Commissioner Lara. Founder of the California African American Political Action Committee. Founder of California African American Advocacy Professional.
Board of Directors of the Charles Houston Bar Association.
President of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
Life Member, California Association of Black Lawyers.
National Bar Association, Chief of Staff to President.
National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Advocate of the Year. Women Escaping a Violent Environment, Board Member.
Roberts Family Development Center, Board Member.
California Black Chamber of Commerce, Pro Bono Counsel.
California Association of African American Superintendents and Administrators, Pro Bono Counsel.

Phyllis is the proud mother of twin daughters, Chelsea Crowder-Luke and Chaya Crowder and is the proud grandmother of August Cook and Langston Luke. In her spare time Phyllis enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, cooking and watching movies.

Lifetime Achievement
Awardee

Monica Montgomery Steppe

District 4 Supervisor
San Diego County

Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe is a dedicated community advocate, leader, and public servant whose work is rooted in a commitment to equity and empowerment. She was sworn in to serve San Diego County District Four on December 5, 2023, and became the County’s first Black woman elected to the Board. Born and raised in San Diego, California, she is honored to represent the vibrant neighborhoods and unincorporated areas of the Fourth District.

Monica received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Spelman College and earned her Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law. After passing the California Bar, she practiced in civil rights, consumer, real estate, and bankruptcy law. Monica later served at the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties as a Criminal Justice Advocate, leading the local campaign to reform the money bail system. 

In 2018, Monica Montgomery Steppe achieved a significant milestone by being elected to the San Diego City Council, representing nearly 160,000 constituents of District 4. Her election marked a pivotal moment, as she became a powerful voice for her constituents, advocating for policies that prioritize equity, fairness, and inclusivity.

Throughout her tenure, Monica served as the Council President pro Tem and chaired the Budget & Government Efficiency Committee– overseeing the process for the City’s $5.2 billion budget. She also chaired the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, advocating for equitable government practices, better economic opportunities for people of color, and better relationships between community members and police officers.

By partnering with community organizations and city leaders, Monica established “The Peace Movement: Let’s Live, Let’s Love” in 2019 as a proactive and holistic approach to mitigate violence and ensure all communities are safe. As an integral component of The Peace Movement, Monica advocated for the No Shots Fired Pilot Intervention & Prevention Program, which implemented community-based public safety professionals responding to and intervening in gang-related gun violence. She also established the Office of Race & Equity at the City of San Diego with a $3 million Equity Fund.

With Monica’s vision for change in historically underserved communities, she became immersed in various initiatives. She is dedicated to working tirelessly to address systemic inequalities and amplify the voices of every San Diegan. For her leadership, Monica has received many notable accolades and awards, including 2018 Voice of San Diego Voice of the Year and the 2019 San Diego Democratic Party Making a Difference Award.

Monica is the eldest daughter of Clifford and Patricia Montgomery. She is a wife, sister, niece, and a proud aunt.

Awardee Bios

Judge

Christopher C. Hite

San Francisco Superior Court
San Francisco

The Honorable Christopher C. Hite served as a San Francisco Public Defender for seventeen years prior to being appointed to the bench in San Francisco on December 23, 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown. Judge Hite is a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, Santa Clara University Undergraduate Program, and has a master’s degree in psychology and a Certificate in Mediation and Dispute Resolution from Golden Gate University. He was initially assigned to the Traffic Division where he served as the Supervising Judge. He then moved to Felony Preliminary Hearings, Mandatory Felony Pre-trial Conferences, Misdemeanor Master Trial calendar, Felony Trials (where he handled serious and violent felonies, including three strikes cases and homicides), and then served as the Supervising Judge of the Criminal Division. He is currently assigned to Civil Trials handling a variety of different cases, including personal injury, unlawful detainer, contract disputes, and construction defects. He was selected by his peers to serve on the Executive Committee of the Superior Court, served two years on the Appellate Division of the Superior Court and has served as a member of the Civil Grand Jury and Pre-Trial Detention committees, as well as several Presiding Judge select committees, including the Judicial CMS Search committee, CEO Search committee, and the Court Commissioner Selection committee. He is currently the Chair of the Local Rules Committee. He has volunteered with several mentorship programs including the Judicial Council’s Judicial Mentorship Program, the Chief Justice’s Judge’s in the Classroom Program, and BASF’s Open Doors Shadowing Program. He has presented on criminal and racial justice issues with the Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) and USF’s Racial Justice Clinic. He has served on several California Judges Association (CJA) committees including the Response to Unfair Criticism Committee and is currently the Chair of the Criminal Law Committee. He recently served as the Vice-President of the Association of African American California Judicial Officers (AAACJO), and continues to serve on the Judicial Appointments Committees of AAACJO and the California Association of Black Lawyers, Judicial Council (CABL-JC).

Judge

Tilisha T. Martin

San Diego Superior Court
San Diego

Tilisha T. Martin, a certified child welfare law specialist and a San Diego Superior Court Judge was appointed to the bench by Governor Jerry Brown in November 2015. She currently sits as the Assistant Presiding Judge of Juvenile Court where she hears juvenile dependency and juvenile justice matters as well as handles several specialty courts. Judge Martin was previously assigned as the site supervising judge in a family law assignment at the San Diego Superior Court, East County Branch and her first judicial assignment was in misdemeanor arraignments.

Her experience, prior to becoming a judge, includes serving as adjunct teaching faculty at California Western School of Law and lecturer at San Diego State University. She also served as the supervisor for minor’s counsel in San Diego County and as a deputy public defender in the juvenile dependency and criminal divisions. Judge Martin was the coordinator for the first downtown community court in San Diego, a collaborative effort with the San Diego Superior Court, San Diego City Attorney, San Diego Public Defender, and Downtown San Diego Partnership. Prior to entering the legal field, she also worked as a protective services worker for San Diego County Health and Human Services.

Judge Martin earned a Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law, a Master of Justice Management degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, a Master of Social Work degree from San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

In her free time, Judge Martin volunteers at her former high school, Samuel F.B. Morse, and mentor attorneys and new judges as well as students in high school, college, and law school. She has also served as a mentor judge for the California Judicial Mentor Program launched by Governor Newsom.

Judge Martin is a lifetime member of the African American Association California Judicial Officers (AAACJO) where she serves as a member at large on the Executive Board and is co-chair of the Community Relations and Outreach Committee. She is a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Bar Foundation Fellows (ABF). She is a lifetime member of the California Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) – Judicial Division. She is the District 12 representative in San Diego for the California Judges Association (CJA) and serves as the liaison for CJA’s Juvenile Court Judges of California (JCJC) Legislative Committee and the Elimination of Bias and Inequality Committee. She is also a lifetime member of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association (EBGBA) and created, along with her mentees, Black Educated Women Excelling in Law, and Life (B.E. W.E.L.L.) to provide mental health and wellness support to Black women lawyers and judges. She is a member of the Lawyers Club of San Diego and a member of the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC). She is also a member of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) where she participates in the NAWJ book club at Las Colinas, the NAWJ Color of Justice program focused on under-privileged high school students. Additionally, she presents at the NAWJ Inside and Out program at Las Colinas, providing guidance for incarcerated women on ways to re-connect with their children after an absence. She is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), the San Diego County Bar Association (SDCBA) and the San Diego County Judges Association (SDCJA). At the San Diego Superior Court, she has served on the Anti-Bias and Legal Equality (ABLE) Committee, Juvenile Policy Committee and on the Court-Clergy Committee.

The former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court selected Judge Martin to serve on the California Judicial Council Secure Youth Track Facility (SYTF) workgroup to help develop the disposition matrix for juveniles sentenced to long-term custody. She also sits on statewide committees such as the California Child Welfare Council (CWC) as a board member and Center for Excellence in Family Finding and Engagement as an advisory committee member. These organizations focus on policies related to servicing juveniles in the court system and in their community. Locally, she supports the San Diego Juvenile Probation Department Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) workgroup and the Ending Girls Incarceration Task Force.

In addition to her current assignment in Juvenile Court, Judge Martin trains judges statewide through the Judicial Council of California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER) for Juvenile Justice Primary Assignment Orientation and the Introduction to Juvenile Law at the New Judges College. She has also sat on the planning committee as a liaison and presenter for the Juvenile Law Institute which developed a three-day training program statewide for juvenile judges. She also enjoys representing the San Diego Superior Court in the community through her participation in the Judges in the Classroom (JIC) program where she speaks to youth about civics and careers in the law. She also presents at the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) program at her high school alma mater where she inspires high school students in careers in law and the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association’s neighborhood law school series where she engages with the community about family and juvenile court processes. Judge Martin has collaborated on a series of juvenile court virtual town halls for the San Diego community about what happens in juvenile dependency court and will be working with the San Diego Chief of Probation to develop a series of community town halls about juvenile justice youth.

In December 2022, Judge Martin received the Thurgood Marshall Legal Professional of the Year award from the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association. In April of 2023, she was the commencement speaker for California Western School of Law. In October 2023, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award from California Western School of Law. In addition, in November 2023 she assisted the California Judges Association Judicial Fairness Coalition in planning an Independence in the Judiciary event at her alma mater.

She relies on her faith, family, and friends to lift her up to be the change that others want to see, to do her part to help make the world a better place and to support access to justice for all.

Judge

Troy L. Nunley

U.S. District Court, Eastern District
Sacramento

Judge Troy L. Nunley is a native San Franciscan who graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1982. Judge Nunley attended Saint Mary’s College where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in English. After working for one year at the California State Bar, Judge Nunley went to UC Hastings College of where he graduated in 1990.

Judge Nunley worked as a prosecutor for the Alameda County District’s Attorney’s Office, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and the California State Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. Judge Nunley also worked as a sole practitioner.

In July of 2002, Judge Nunley was appointed by the governor as a judge to the Sacramento County Superior Court.

In 2007, Judge Nunley accepted a position as a law school professor at Lincoln Law School of Sacramento where he currently teaches Business Associations and Partnerships.

In March of 2013, Judge Nunley was appointed by President Barack Obama to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. He currently sits as a Federal District Court Judge in Sacramento, CA.

Judge Nunley has previously been recognized as a state expert in criminal street gangs, he has served on the Hate Crimes Task Force and the Diocesan Anti Racism Task Group. He continues to serve on various boards throughout the community including the State-Federal Judicial Council Board. In addition, Judge Nunley has received many awards for his contributions to the community in the area of juvenile justice and his commitment to the community speaking to elementary through college-aged students throughout the year, including the CA DOJ, CalEPA Interns, the DA’s Office Informal Diversity Talk and at UC Davis Culture Week and participating yearly in the OPD Dialog on America Program. Judge Nunley is also an annual speaker for the SCBA Diversity Fellowship and SLSA Federal Day in Court Programs. In addition, Judge Nunley participated as the final judge in the UC Davis School of Law Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Trial Competition. He has sat on the Chief Probation Officer Interview Panel and was a panelist on the 2021 Civic Forum for the Asian American History Leadership and Political Participation Program. Judge Nunley has administered the State Bar oath to numerous aspiring attorneys and professionals, including interim United States Marshal Lasha Boyden, former Sacramento/Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn and Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper. Judge Nunley is also an emeritus member of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court. In 2013 Judge Nunley was the commencement speaker at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary. He was also the commencement speaker at UC Davis School of Law in 2019.

Judge

Yvette D. Roland

State Bar Court of California
Los Angeles

On August 25, 2014, California Assembly Speaker Emeritus, Toni G. Atkins, appointed Yvette D. Roland to the California State Bar Court’s Hearing Department in Los Angeles. November 1, 2018, Judge Roland started her second term with the State Bar Court of California when she was appointed by Governor Edmund Brown, Jr. and sworn in by California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. From 2017-2020, she served as the Supervising Judge of the State Bar Court.

Before joining the bench, she was a partner at Duane Morris LLP and Hancock, Rothert and Bunshoft LLP, practicing in the areas of complex civil and commercial litigation, insurance coverage and employment law. While practicing law, she served as lead trial counsel on an array of cases including copyright infringement, trademark infringement, defamation, employment, environmental coverage and products liability.

Judge Roland has served on various boards, including the National Council of Lawyer Disciplinary Boards (NCLDB, 2022-present), Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Inc. (President 2008-2009), the California Association of Black Lawyers (Chair-Legislative Day Committee, Co-chair of the Judicial Evaluations Committee), Southern California Education Fund (Chair), ONE LA and the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Foundation (Treasurer). Her extensive pro bono and community service activities have included presenting at and conducting workshops on legal ethics, foreclosure prevention, sentence reduction clinics, the Affordable Care Act and healthcare enrollment programs.

Judge Roland earned a Master of Arts degree from Stanford University and she is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. After graduating from law school, she clerked for the Honorable Terry J. Hatter, Jr., in the United States District Court, Central District of California.

Chief Magistrate Judge

Karen L. Stevenson

U.S. District Court, Central District
Los Angeles

Hon. Karen L. Stevenson is the Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the Central District of California. Appointed to the federal bench in 2015, she is member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a Judicial Advisory Council member for the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, Los Angeles. She is a co-author of the Rutter Group’s Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial. She has served for the past 8 years as a steering committee member for Just The Beginning a Summer Legal Institute, Los Angeles, a week-long program that introduces under-represented high school students from across Los Angeles to opportunities for careers in the law. Before being appointed to the Bench, Judge Stevenson was Of Counsel with the Buchalter Law firm in Los Angeles, where she specialized in complex commercial litigation.

Judge Stevenson earned her J.D. with distinction at Stanford Law School. She earned an M.A. in European History at Magdalen College, Oxford University, England as a Rhodes Scholar and received her B.A. in History (Phi Beta Kappa) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholar.

She is mom to twin adults sons, Keenan and Brennan, loves the outdoors and travel. In 2023, Judge Stevenson completed the 34.5 mile 5-day Milford Track hike on the South Island of New Zealand.

Justice

Monique S. Langhorne Wilson

Court of Appeals, First Appellate District
San Francisco

Justice Monique S. Langhorne Wilson was appointed to the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division One in December 2023 by Governor Gavin Newsom. The Commission on Judicial Appointments confirmed her appointment in January 2024.

Before joining the First Appellate District, Justice Langhorne Wilson served as a Judge of the Napa Superior Court. She was the first African American, appointed in 2018 by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., to serve on the Napa Bench. Langhorne Wilson would later retain her seat in a contested election in Napa County in 2020 with over 80% of the vote. In early 2023, during her last year as a Superior Court Judge, Justice Langhorne Wilson served as a Justice Pro Tem for three months with the Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Five.

Prior to her appointment as a Judge, Justice Langhorne Wilson was as a Commissioner for the Napa Superior Court for over twelve years until her appointment in 2018. During her tenure as a judge and a commissioner, Justice Langhorne Wilson served in a variety of judicial assignments.

Immediately preceding her appointment to the bench as a Court Commissioner in 2006, Justice Monique Langhorne Wilson worked as a Deputy District Attorney. She was the first African American to serve in this capacity in Napa County.

Justice Langhorne Wilson was faculty for New Judges Orientation (NJO) 2017-2023 and a host of other educational courses offered through the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER). She also served on the 2012-2013, B.E. Witkin Judicial College Steering Committee and the Ethics and Fairness Curriculum Committee, 2008-2011. Justice Langhorne Wilson was appointed to serve on the Executive Committee for the California Judicial Mentorship Program (CJMP) and prior to her elevation to the Court of Appeal, sat as the liaison for the North Bay Regional Committee for CJMP.

Justice Langhorne Wilson received her B.A. in 1996 from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in Rhetoric and African American Studies. She earned her J.D. from Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall) in May of 1999.

Justice Langhorne Wilson is a member of the California Association of Black lawyers, (CABL), Association of African American California Judicial Officers, Inc. (AAACJO), Charles Houston Bar Association, (CHBA), and a board member with the newly formed California Women Judges (CWJ).

In her spare time, Justice Langhorne Wilson loves spending time with family and working with children.  She is a mentor with the Jesse Bethel High School Law Academy in Vallejo and the Presiding Judicial Officer for American Canyon Peer Court.