2021 CLEO EDGE AWARD HONOREES

Join Us Thursday, November 18, 2021
6:00pm 7:30pm (EST)

2021 CLEO EDGE Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Heritage Award Honoree

CASSANDRA SNEED OGDEN

As the leader of the Council on Legal  Education Opportunity, Inc. (CLEO) for 25 years, Cassandra Sneed Ogden received consistent praise for her stewardship of the organization during her tenure from the CLEO Board of Directors, students, and industry peers alike. In 2013, she was recognized by “On Being a Black Lawyer” as a member of their “Power 100” list, which recognized the 100 most influential African-American lawyers in the country. Moreover, within that list, she was recognized as one of the nation’s “Pipeline Builders.”

In 2018, Ms. Ogden received one of the inaugural CLEO EDGE awards for her contributions to further Education, Diversity, and Greater Equality in the legal profession. Both awards speak to Ms. Sneed Ogden’s investment in the diversity pipeline throughout her career and guidance in preparing students at every level—from high school to post graduate school—to pursue their law school dreams. She also authored multiple articles addressing the importance of women and diversity in the industry. Because of her influence, hundreds of young women of color were inspired to matriculate law school.

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Throughout her extensive career, Ms. Ogden unceasingly used her position as CLEO’s head to advocate for diverse and underrepresented persons to join the legal profession. This was especially true with respect to her persistent encouragement of women to partake of CLEO’s various programs and service offerings. Since 2000, nearly 70% of CLEO participants have been female. Many CLEO alumnae have personally stated how instrumental and impactful the guidance they received from Ms. Ogden was to providing a successful path to the profession. Whenever speaking at select industry conferences and events, she often spoke of the importance of ensuring that aspiring female attorneys understood that the profession was in dire need of the unique and diverse viewpoints they brought to the table. Further, she implored them to look at their gender as an asset versus a detriment.

Ms. Sneed Ogden is an exemplary role model as she herself broke glass ceilings having been admitted to Georgetown Law Center when the law school population did not include many females, let alone females of color. In fact, in her own class section, she was only one of twelve minority women. In addition, she was balancing marriage and rearing two children, while still having to focus on her studies, not to mention working professionally as a Middle School teacher. Studying mostly at night and weekends, she has expressed gratitude for the support she received from her husband and her mother to make it all the way through to the end of law school. Though the road was a lonely and at times overwhelming one, through sheer hard work, self-motivation, and grit, she successfully completed her law school journey. She graduated Georgetown Law in 1981 and subsequently passed the District of Columbia bar that same year.  She completed the Maryland bar in 1982, on the first try. Through her own story and her work , she has impacted many future women attorneys, as well as men.

CLEO EDGE AWARDS EDUCATION HONOREE

Evangeline M. Mitchell is a social entrepreneur, author, lawyer, and documentary filmmaker. She is the founder of Hope’s Promise Publishing, the first niche publishing company dedicated to producing books geared to aspiring Black lawyers. She is the author or editor of several books including The African American Pre-Law School Advice Guide, Profiles & Essays of Successful African American Law School Applicants, The African American Law School Survival Guide, Conquering the Bar Exam, and Creating Your Personal Strategic Action Plan for Law School Admission Success. She is currently working on Race, Racial Trauma, and the Black Law Student: Real Stories of Racism Experienced in American Law Schools.

She is the founder of the National Black Pre-Law Conference and the National HBCU Pre-Law Summit, the country’s only major national information-sharing, networking and empowerment events created especially for aspiring Black lawyers, and for current HBCU students and alumni. She also launched The Bridge Builders Esq. Mentorship Program for Aspiring Black Lawyers with the goal of providing mentoring circles for prospective law students to enable them to have law student and lawyer mentors and peer pre-law accountability partners to support them in their journeys to law school. In addition, she is the founder of HBCUPRELAW.com and BLACKPRELAW.com informational resource websites.

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Further, she is a documentary filmmaker, and is the creator and executive producer of the docu-series/web series “Becoming Black Lawyers: African Americans and the Law School Experience.” Through her self-initiated grassroots programming and other efforts and her ability to bring people together around a common cause, she has helped thousands of Black people across the country with law school aspirations better understand what it takes to get into law school and succeed while there. Additionally, she mentors numerous prospective law students across the country.

Evangeline is the recipient of several awards including the Leadership Empowerment Award from the National Black MBA Association-Houston Chapter, the Roberson L. King Excellence in Education Award from the Houston Lawyers Association, the Sadie T.M. Alexander Service Award from the National Black Law Students Association, the Nation’s Best Advocates – 40 Lawyers Under 40 from IMPACT and the National Bar Association, the Top 50 Black Lawyers of Houston and the Trailblazer Award from D-Mars.com, Who’s Who in Black Houston, the Houston Bar Association’s Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program Equal Access Champion Award, the Legacy of NBLSA Award, the CLEO Edge Award for Education, Ms. JD’s Road Less Traveled Award, The National Black Lawyers – Top 100, the National Black Law Students Association Pre-Law Division Honoree Award, and the Lawyers of Color Power List 2020.

Evangeline is a graduate of HBCU Prairie View A&M University, the University of Iowa College of Law, and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is working on a distance Certificate in Documentary Arts from the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Houston, Texas, she currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband Michael and two children Nyla and Michael II.

Evangeline M. Mitchell
Evangeline M. Mitchell

EDUCATION HONOREE

CLEO EDGE AWARDS DIVERSITY HONOREE

Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista
Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista

DIVERSITY HONOREE

Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista served as Co-Vice-Chair of the Legal Division’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Yolanda served as a strong advocate for diversity within the company, in the legal industry, and in the mortgage finance industry as a whole. She is not afraid to push the envelope with senior executives and has earned the respect and praise of her Legal Division colleagues, business clients, and people throughout the legal industry.

One of the most successful programs at Freddie Mac to advance diversity in the legal profession is our Engage Excellence program. Yolanda worked with one of her former colleagues to design a program to expand opportunities for diverse-owned law firms and diverse partners at majority-owned law firms to do work for Freddie Mac. The program requires our attorneys to identify and consider diverse outside counsel for all new matters and seek approval before hiring outside counsel; specifies that, at our direction, majority-owned law firms must work with diverse-owned law firms for Freddie Mac matters; mandates that diverse partners hired for Freddie Mac matters be given law firm origination credit; helps ensure diversity in staffing our matters;

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gives preferences to the use of certain under-represented diverse outside counsel; and sets annual targets for retention of diverse outside counsel for each department within the Legal Division.

Once the Engage Excellence program that she designed was in place, Yolanda worked with another colleague to design an extensive assessment of the diversity programs at Freddie Mac’s top law firms. They extensively analyze their programming and demographic information and meet in person with law firm management for each firm for 90 minutes to 2 hours. During those meetings, she would summarize our diversity programs and numbers, give them feedback on their diversity work, and tell them whether they are meeting the expectations or not. The conversations are frank and multiple diversity professionals at the law firms privately reported they have been immensely helpful in advancing diversity at their firms. Yolanda’s leadership and creativity has been critical to the success of this program.

During Yolanda’s tenure as Vice-Chairperson of the DEI Council, there was increased hiring and retention of diverse lawyers and professional staff, greatly expanding financial and other support for national organizations promoting diversity in the legal profession, and pushed law firms to track and promote their own supplier diversity efforts.

The fact that Yolanda was able to balance her diversity work at Freddie Mac, her legal work, her work in the community, and her role as a wife, mother, and valued support for elderly relatives speaks volumes about Yolanda’s commitment to diversity, her abilities as a lawyer, her organization skills, and her caring approach to those in need.

Yolanda has advocated for a broad range of diverse communities, but particularly for women and African-Americans. Yolanda, however, does not only advocate for her communities, she has also been a strong ally for other diverse communities such as her recognition that the LGBT community is underrepresented in the partnership ranks at large law firms and pushing to have the LGBT community, as well as racial minorities receive a special emphasis in our hiring of diverse outside counsel.

In addition to all her efforts to promote diversity in the legal industry, Yolanda has also made valuable contributions to the community at large, which will no doubt benefit diverse communities. She is Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Housing Authority for Prince George’s County where she provides oversight of the Authority’s rehab and development projects, housing programs, commercial structures, and policies, in addition to other issues. She has also held key positions for several diverse candidates for political office, including Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In addition, in her substantive legal work at Freddie Mac, Yolanda has also pushed for changes in the company’s practices that will help ensure better access to housing and employment for diverse individuals.

CLEO EDGE AWARDS GREATER EQUALITY HONOREE

Cuong Quy Huynh has dedicated his life assisting populations that many leaders would avoid. Cuong founded two nonprofit organizations Enlightened Initiative (EI) whose mission is to work with immigrant and low-income youth training them in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) plus servant leadership skills. EI aims to train the next generation of refugee and immigrant youth to be leaders to help their communities and families across the American society. The non-profit is based in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

Another success for Cuong is co-founding Rende Progress Capital (RPC). His organization has deployed 27 loans to the Excluded Entrepreneurs. RPC has created 13 new jobs and has retained close to 150 jobs for the Excluded Entrepreneurs to assist them and their families to get out of poverty and to build wealth in order to sustain inter-generational wealth creation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for so many. Hence, to deal with the pandemic, Rende Progress Capital (RPC) has innovatively created the Race4Progress Fund.

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The RACE4Progress is a COVID- 19 relief loan with features of a 1% rate, accommodating terms such as 90-day grace period before paying the principal and interest, five-year loan term, abridged application and review process along with progressive conditions such as being open to undocumented immigrant business owners. RPC has deployed over $375,000 to the Excluded Entrepreneurs, and RPC has provided innovative small business technical assistance services to the minority, women, and immigrant-owned business owners.

As a former refugee from Vietnam, Cuong has dedicated his life to training, empowering and supporting refugee and immigrant youth from low-wealth backgrounds across the nation. He has authored a book outlining this life and experience working with refugee and immigrant youth. “God’s crucible: We Who Dream of a Better life.” He is currently working on a second book “Leading Youth with a Servant’s Heart” to assist mentors and youth advisors working with young people. One of Cuong’s greatest successes is training young adults, especially refugee and DACA student to give them a voice.

Cuong exemplifies a great quality as a mentor to young people by sharing his journey as a refugee into this country. He outlines his story to give hope to those who dream a better life in these United States. When many people demonized minorities Cuong mentors them to see their full potential and pride in their own cultural origin. His two nonprofits trains, works with and mentors minority students and businesses. He helps them navigate through the challenges and obstacles getting out of poverty. Cuong practices the best of servant-leadership that the people he serves will “become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servant leaders.”

Cuong Quy Huynh
Cuong Quy Huynh

GREATER EQUALITY


Thank you to all our 2021 event sponsors:

Gold & Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

University of Iowa College of Law
Mayer Brown
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
National Conference of Bar Examiners
University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Tong Tejani, PLLC
Association of Corporate Counsel – National Capital Region
Melanie Bates Consulting, LLC

Benefactors

Elizabeth Campbell
Angela Birch Cox
Wilhelm Joseph

Bob & Denise Owens
Pamela Rothenberg

Reflections from our previous CLEO EDGE Honorees

I very much appreciate the honor and the outstanding work CLEO does on behalf of the legal community!

Reyes Aguilar
Associate Dean, University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law

We are honored to be an inaugural CLEO EDGE Honoree in the area of Diversity. We also congratulate CLEO on celebrating its 50thAnniversary of brining greater diversity to the legal profession!

Brent McCune, M.S., J.D.
Patricia and Paul Yetter Law School Preparation Institute, The University of Texas at El Paso

We are honored to be an inaugural CLEO EDGE Honoree in the area of Diversity. We also congratulate CLEO on celebrating its 50thAnniversary of brining greater diversity to the legal profession!

Roderick (“Rick”) Palmore
Senior Counsel, Dentons US, LLP
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Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc.

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