[special_heading4 title_content= ” About our Honorees” h_tag= “h3” title_color= “” caption_content= “2019 CLEO EDGE Award” caption_font= “special” caption_color= “” divider_style= “both” divider_color= “#efefef” hide_in= “” css_id= “” css_classes= “” animate= “1” animation_type= “none” animation_delay= “0” animation_duration= “300” padding= ‘{“d”:””}’ margin= ‘{“d”:””}’ border_style= ‘{“d”:”solid”,”l”:”solid”,”t”:”solid”,”m”:”solid”}’ border= ‘{“d”:””}’ border_color= “” border_radius= “” box_shadow= “0px 0px 0px 0px rgba(0,0,0,0)” key= “ryLH2ZEKS”][/special_heading4]

John C. Brittain

John C. Brittain
Olie W. Rauh Professor of Law
University of the District of Columbia,
Washington, DC

“A lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite to society.”— Charles Hamilton Houston

(John C. Brittain’s favorite quote)

John C. Brittain joined the faculty of the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law in 2009 as a tenured professor of law and served as acting dean from July 2018 to April 2019. He had previously served as Dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Professor Emeriti law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law (UConn Law School) after 22 years, and as Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC, a public interest law organization founded by President John F. Kennedy to enlist private lawyers in taking pro-bono cases in civil rights.

During his tenure at UConn Law School, Professor Brittain directed two CLEO Pre-Law Summer Institutes and taught at the University of Mississippi School of Law in a third institute. 

Professor Brittain writes and litigates on issues in civil and human rights, especially in education law. In 2013, he was named to the Charles Hamilton Houston Chair at North Carolina Central University School of Law, established to bring prominent civil rights law professors and litigators to the law school to teach constitutional and civil rights law for a year. Professor Brittain was one of the original counsel team in Sheff v. O’Neill, the landmark school desegregation case decided by the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1996, chronicled in Susan Eaton’s book, The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial, in which he is frequently mentioned. He is presently a part of a legal team in a case styled, Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education v. Maryland.  A federal court found the State of Maryland violated the constitutional and statutory rights of students attending the state’s historically black institutions of higher learning – Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and Maryland Eastern Shore University – by unnecessarily duplicating educational programs from the former de jure era of racial segregation. 

In 1993, the NAACP awarded Professor Brittain the prestigious William Robert Ming Advocacy Award for legal service to the NAACP without a fee.  Professor Brittain holds a B.A. from Howard University, 1966 and a J.D., from Howard University School of Law, 1969.

Leonard M. Baynes

Leonard M. Baynes
Dean and Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center,
Houston, Texas

“I am delighted and humbled to be the recipient of the CLEO Edge Award. CLEO is the premier organization ensuring that there is a steady pipeline of students from underrepresented backgrounds into the legal profession. Making sure that we pave the way forward for those who follow us is very important to me. So to receive this recognition from CLEO is quite an honor and means a lot to me.”

As the ninth dean of the University of Houston Law Center, Leonard M. Baynes brings a national reputation as a communications law scholar with specializations in business, media, and diversity issues. He manages more than 60 full-time faculty and oversees 12 centers and institutes, including the No. 6 ranked Health Law & Policy Institute and the No. 7 ranked Institute for Intellectual Property & Information Law as well as the No. 9 ranked Part-Time Program.

Baynes initiated an award-winning Pre-Law Pipeline Program designed to create more opportunities for first-generation, economically challenged, and under-represented college students who are considering law school. He instituted a voluntary “Community Service Day” during which incoming first-year students, faculty, and staff fan out across the city to work on public service projects. He also has increased the number of scholarships and opportunities for students to serve in school-funded, public service internships at home and abroad.

Baynes was inducted into the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council (MMTC) Hall of Fame, where former FCC Commissioner and MMTC Chair Henry Rivera described him as “a champion for diversity.” Baynes previously served as the inaugural director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law.

In 2010, Baynes received the Diversity Trailblazer Award from the New York State Bar Association. During his deanship, he was named one of the nation’s top 100 most influential lawyers of color, and he was awarded The Houston Lawyer Association’s Robert L. King Excellence in Education Award.

During Baynes’s deanship, the Law Center was recognized by Insight into Diversity Magazine for four years in a row with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award and for the past two years, the Law Center was the only ABA-accredited law school to receive this prestigious award. In 2019, he accepted the American Bar Association Alexander Award on behalf of the UHLC PreLaw Pipeline Program.

Baynes has written more than 25 law review articles on corporate law, communications law, and diversity. He received his B.S. from New York University; M.B.A., Columbia University;  and J.D., Columbia University School of Law.

The University of Chicago Law School

The University of Chicago Law School
homas J. Miles, Dean,
Chicago, Illinois

The University of Chicago Law School is honored to be recognized by CLEO with the EDGE Award for Education.  We are proud of the work we have done to increase the diversity of our student body, and we are proud of our partnership with CLEO that has helped us make progress toward our goals.  Our commitment to diversity is central to our mission of inquiry and exploring legal questions from multiple perspectives.  Our entering class this Autumn includes 40% students of color, our largest cohort to date.  When these students arrive on campus, we look forward to supporting them with resources and initiatives so that they can take full advantage of the rich educational opportunities at University of Chicago education and launch fulfilling and exciting careers.” – – Thomas J. Miles

The law school thrives on its passion for ideas, the belief that ideas matter and are worth discussing, and that our environment succeeds only when our community includes and welcomes people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Fostering an environment that unambiguously values diversity in all its dimensions-including racial, gender, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation/identity, cultural, lifestyle, and viewpoint – is an essential element to our success. To that end, our mission is to lead the school’s efforts to promote a learning environment that is welcoming and inclusive for all students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Located on a residential campus in one of America’s great cities, The University of Chicago Law School occupies a unique niche among this country’s premier law schools.  UChicago Law offers a rigorous and interdisciplinary professional education that blends the study of law with the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Students, faculty, and staff form a small, tightly knit community devoted to the life of the mind.  Learning is participatory. UChicago Law does not seek to impose a single viewpoint or style of thought on its students. Instead, its faculty exposes students to contrasting views, confident in students’ abilities to choose their own paths.

Adapted from “About the Law School,” The University of Chicago Law School Website


Justin Cruz

Justin Cruz
Assistant Dean of Admission and Diversity Initiatives
Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law,
Orange, California

“I am extremely humbled and honored to receive the 2019 CLEO EDGE Award in Diversity from an organization that changed my life. If it were not for CLEO, I would not be where I am today. I dedicate this award to the next generation of diverse law students out there who will change the world on the promise of hope.”

 Justin Cruz earned his BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering with honors from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia,  and his JD from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. While in law school, Dean Cruz was Managing Editor of the Washington University Law Review.   He received the CALI Excellence Award for his work in the Intellectual Property and Nonprofit Organization Clinics.

After graduating from Washington University Law, Dean Cruz worked in the area of intellectual property law as in-house counsel for a fortune 500 company. Prior to joining Chapman, he served as Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida, and as Assistant Director of Admission at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) in San Diego, California. In addition, Dean Cruz was an adjunct professor at TJSL where he taught the Intellectual Property Law Practicum course.   

Prior to his career in law, Dean Cruz worked as an engineer for Caterpillar, Inc.  He has also served in various capacities in the Law School Admission Council including as a member of the Diversity Committee, HBCU/HACU/TCU Initiatives Subcommittee, Finance and Legal Affairs Committee, and, currently, the Emerging Markets and Innovation Committee.  

In 2017, Dean Cruz received the “Be the Change” leadership award from the Orange County Bar Association for his work in diversity and inclusion in the Orange County Legal Community.  He continues to serve in many diversity leadership roles including as a standing executive committee member for the Annual Meeting of Law School Diversity Professionals (AMLSDP) and as a board member of the Thurgood Marshall Bar Association in Orange County, California.

Cleary Gottlieb

Cleary Gottlieb
An International Law Firm
Washington, DC

“Cleary Gottlieb is honored to receive the CLEO Edge Award for diversity.  At our firm, diversity and inclusion are not mere buzzwords, but are central aspects of our identity.  We are proud of our collegial values and culture of inclusion throughout our global legal practice.”

Michael Gerstenzang, Managing Partner

Cleary Gottlieb was established in 1946 by seven lawyers who had already built prestigious careers as partners in the Wall Street law firm of Root Clark Buckner and Howland and in post-war government service.

Founding partners George Cleary, Leo Gottlieb, Henry Friendly, Mel Steen, Hugh Cox, Fowler Hamilton, and George Ball had notably different backgrounds, diverse interests, and a range of skills, but shared three things in common:

  • Intellectual prowess
  • The highest professional standards
  • Progressive social values

Their overall objectives were to avoid internal competition to the fullest possible extent, to welcome like-minded peers of every stripe into their firm, and to function democratically.

Cleary Gottlieb is a vibrant and engaging community, home to an eclectic group of people of various backgrounds. Diversity and inclusion are in our DNA and are absolutely central to our firm’s founding principles and ongoing identity.

Our culture of inclusion reflects our global legal practice. We work daily with clients around the world on matters involving a broad array of legal, business, and social/cultural perspectives. To further ensure we remain an open and innovative workplace, we actively support community outreach and training programs focused on issues of diversity.

We believe all Cleary lawyers benefit from interacting with the creativity, talents, and perspectives contributed by people of different backgrounds and experiences, and that our firm-wide efforts to nurture diversity help us more effectively serve an even broader range of clients.

Cleary Gottlieb’s effort to increase the representation of diverse and female associates

in our senior ranks remains a priority and is supported by the entire leadership.  The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and the Committee on Retention and Promotion of

Women develop, organize, and host programs and workshops aimed at furthering the core principles of diversity and inclusion. These educational events are designed to foster dialogue throughout the firm and are open to all lawyers. The goal is to broaden perspectives on topics that relate to diversity and inclusion within Cleary, as well as outside the firm.

Today, we remain proudly rooted in the forward-looking vision, collegial values, and culture of inclusion of our founding partners.

Nitza Milagros Escalera

Nitza Milagros Escalera
Assistant Dean of Student Affairs
Fordham University School of Law,
New York, New York

“I am so honored to have been named as one of the recipients of CLEO’s Diversity Award and accept the award on behalf of my colleagues at Fordham Law School who have volunteered their time to be part of CLEO’s program at Fordham. 

CLEO is an organization I deeply respect.  One of the organization’s former Board Chairs, Buddy Blakey, was a mentor when I participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Fellowship program. From Buddy I learned the importance of diversity in all of the professions and how to serve as a mentor. I am grateful for having the opportunity to reflect on Buddy’s work and to celebrate CLEO’s great work.”

In addition to being the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, Nitza Milagros Escalera is the Assistant Dean of Diversity Initiatives. Escalera has long been committed to deepening connections and learning across cultures and diverse groups within the legal profession. At Fordham she taught a seminar titled, Negotiation and Mediation: A Cross-Cultural Perspective and worked with the Community Economic Development Clinic.  At John Jay College, she has taught courses on Race and Ethnicity, the Latinos/as and Social Justice, and Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Urban Latina/o Communities.  Currently Escalera teaches courses in Human Rights and Law in Latin America, as well as the LatinX Experience of Criminal Justice. She is a founder and member of the Board of Directors of Friends of PASOS: A Museum and Center for Peacebuilding, Inc. 

Escalera is a former fellow of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and of the Coro Fellow’s Leadership Program. As dean of student affairs and diversity initiatives, Escalera works with the Fordham Law school community to develop and implement initiatives and activities to enhance the School’s continuing commitment to foster a community that respects and prizes diversity. In addition, she is an advocate in promoting the participation, in all aspects of the law school, of students who are underrepresented in the legal profession because  their race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and gender.  Escalera’s mandate includes outreach to students at the primary, secondary, and college levels of education in order to expand the diversity of the legal profession in general and the Fordham Law community in particular.

She holds a B.A. from LeMoyne College, an M.S. from Syracuse University, an M.P.A. from New York University, a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, and an Ed.M. from Teachers College at Columbia University.


Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Tribal Law and Policy Institute
Jerry Gardner, Executive Director
West Hollywood, California

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) is very honored to receive a 2019 CLEO EDGE award [for] Greater Equality which is a concept that runs through all of TLPI’s programs and services”

Established in 1996, the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) is a Native American non-profit corporation organized to design and deliver education, research, training, and technical assistance programs that promote the enhancement of equal justice in Indian country and the health, well-being, and culture of Native peoples. TLPI’s mission is to enhance and strengthen tribal sovereignty and justice while honoring community values, protecting rights, and promoting well-being. The organization’s vision is to empower Native communities to create and control their own institutions for the benefit/welfare of all community members now and for future generations. TLPI has also developed a series of detailed objectives and guiding philosophies that provide more context for TLPI’s vision and mission.

TLPI seeks to facilitate the sharing of resources so that American Indian and Alaska Native (Native) Nations and tribal justice systems have access at no cost to resources that support tribal sovereignty and can be adapted to meet the needs of their individual communities. TLPI seeks to establish program and services that link Native Nations and tribal justice systems with other academic, legal, and judicial resources including law schools, Indian legal services programs, tribal colleges, tribal legal departments, and other relevant legal organizations. The underlying philosophy is that Native Nations, tribal justices systems, and Native communities are best served by equal access to a full range of legal resources that can be adapted to meet the needs of their individual communities in a culturally appropriate manner.   

When the organization began almost 23 years ago, there was only one staff member working from home and a three-person Board of Directors. Today, TLPI has since grown to 35 staff members and a seven-member Board of Directors with physical offices in Southern California, Minnesota, and on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.

Jennifer Chen

Jennifer Chen
ACC Foundation, Association of Corporate Counsel,
Washington, DC

“ I am so incredibly honored to be recognized by CLEO, an organization that I have worked with from the beginning of my career.  CLEO continues to make an impact in the legal profession and in advancing diversity, a passion close to my heart. I am humbled to be recognized alongside these amazing individuals and organizations who are truly making a difference in the legal community.”

Jennifer Chen is the Director of the ACC Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of the Association of Corporate Counsel.  As Director, she leads the Foundation’s efforts and programming in support of its mission to provide research, leadership and professional development opportunities, support of diversity and inclusion initiatives, and the promotion of pro bono in the legal community. Ms. Chen has more than 16 years of experience creating unique and engaging educational programs and fundraising events, as well as initiatives supporting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.  During the span of her career, Ms. Chen has built an impressive network of contacts, throughout which she is known for connecting people with valuable opportunities that support their professional and career development.

Jennifer is a graduate of the University of Maryland and is the proud parent of an Louisiana State University Tiger.

The University of Chicago Law School

Freddie Mac (Legal Department)
Ricardo Anzaldua, EVP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary,
McLean, Virginia

“Freddie Mac is honored to receive the CLEO Greater Equality Award. We embrace diversity, inclusion and equality because by doing so produces opportunity and innovation.” –Regina Shaw, Associate General Counsel

Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored enterprise chartered by the United States Congress to stabilize the nation’s mortgage markets and expand opportunities for homeownership and rental housing. The Legal Division plays a major role in fulfilling the company’s mission by providing quality, proactive, timely, and cost-effective legal advice responsive to client needs.  Freddie Mac leverages its leadership role in the housing and financial services industries to promote and enhance diversity, inclusion, and equality in the legal profession.

The Legal Division, through its Diversity and Inclusion Council, has positively impacted the legal profession by using resources to expand opportunities for individuals who are excluded due to injustices based on economic, social, gender, ethnic, race, LGBT, disability, and veteran status.

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Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.

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