In 2015, the Diversity Committee created the FMJA Diversity Award to recognize individuals or entities who “demonstrate a sustained and continuous contribution, or a single exceptional contribution, to promoting diversity and inclusion within the federal judiciary and the legal profession.” The first Diversity Award was presented at the 2016 San Francisco Annual Convention to Karen Roby, Eastern District of Louisiana.
Criteria for the Award
The award publicly recognizes an individual or entity that has demonstrated a strong commitment and has made a substantial contribution to promoting diversity and inclusion within the federal judiciary and the legal profession. Nominees should therefore demonstrate a sustained and continuous contribution, or a single exceptional contribution, to promoting diversity and inclusion within the federal judiciary and the legal profession. Nominations of individuals should be based upon their contributions to diversity and inclusion, and nominations of entities should be based upon programmatic activity.
Nuts and Bolts
Please submit nominations using the Nominations Form that can be accessed here. Once the time for submitting nominations closes, the Diversity Committee will review each nomination and make a selection recommendation to the FMJA executive board. If the board accepts the recommendation, the Committee will notify the recipient of his or her selection and will present the award to the recipient at the next annual FMJA Convention meeting. The award will be presented on an “as justified” basis, and highlights the FMJA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and informs the FMJA membership about the exceptional efforts being undertaken to advance diversity and inclusion in the federal judiciary and the legal community. We hope to inspire others to do the same.
Hon. Brian Tsuchida (2023)
In 2023, the FMJA honored Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida with the Diversity Award at the annual convention. From one of his nominators, “Judge Tsuchida exemplifies service to the Courts and the community through his many decades of work in striving for diversity, equity and inclusion. In December 2021 I attended the swearing-in ceremony for District Judge Lauren King. She is the first Native American District Judge in the Western District of Washington and only the fifth nationally. Strikingly, her very first comments were to thank Judge Tsuchida for his role in her pathway to the bench. Judge King has described how he supported her in that journey in the attached letter. Similarly, when I was an Assistant United States Attorney, Judge Tsuchida reached out to me to encourage me to consider service as a Magistrate Judge. Once I had decided to apply, he called me regularly to offer advice and support, as I know he did for many of the diverse candidates. Since I joined Judge Tsuchida on the bench in Seattle, I have become even more familiar with his unwavering dedication to diversity.”
Hon. Linda Anderson and Just the Beginning, A Pipeline Program (2022)
In 2022, the FMJA honored Magistrate Judge Linda Anderson with the Diversity Award at the annual convention. Long before Judge Anderson was appointed to the bench as a Magistrate Judge, she freely gave of her time to advance the mission of increasing diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. Whether serving as a mentor to countless college and law students from under-represented communities or visiting inner city schools in connection with career fairs and other programs, Judge Anderson has shared her story of humble beginnings so as to encourage students to rise above their conditions, and to help them better understand the path to law school and the legal profession.
The FMJA also honored Just The Beginning, A Pipeline Organization (JTB-APO) was founded in 1992 as Just the Beginning Foundation (JTB), a not-for-profit organization of judges, lawyers, and other citizens dedicated to inspiring students of color and from other underrepresented groups to pursue careers and leadership opportunities in the law. JTB envisioned legal field in which lawyers and judges reflect the backgrounds and perspectives of the populations they serve.
No awards were given in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Hon. Kristen Mix (2019)
In 2019, the FMJA honored Magistrate Judge Kristen Mix with the Diversity Award at the annual convention. Judge Mix exemplifies inclusiveness, from her plain spoken eloquence in advocating for women and minorities in the legal profession to her diligence and enthusiasm in both leaning in and reaching back to encourage and promote those who follow in her footsteps. She established “The Dream Team” in partnership with the Center for Legal Inclusiveness. The Dream Team strives to identify and empower a pipeline for young people from all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds to choose a career in law and to give them the tools and the connections necessary to carry out and succeed in that choice. Judge Mix also created a flourishing public service internship program for diverse second and third year law students. As a champion of that program, she recruits and supports both the student and employer participants in it. The program has successfully placed over 150 students in public sector and non-profit internships, including in federal and state agencies, federal and state judicial chambers, municipalities, and non-profit organizations. Many of these placements have led to full time jobs for the students after graduation.
Hon. Noel Franklin (2018)
Magistrate Judge Franklyn L. Noel, District of Minnesota was presented the 2018 Diversity Award at the Annual Convention in Denver. Judge Noel spearheaded the effort to bring the Freedom Riders traveling exhibit to Minnesota and personally tracked down the surviving Minnesotans who participated in the historic civil rights event. He also spearheaded his Court’s 2015 and 2016 Open Doors Programs; the former highlighted the life and career of Justice Thurgood Marshall, and the latter celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Reconstruction Amendment to the Constitution. And in 2017, Judge Noel organized a free showing of “American Denial,” the Emmy nominated documentary about social conditions in the Jim Crow South, served as the liaison to his district’s pro se project, and worked tirelessly recruiting volunteer lawyers to represent litigants without lawyers.
No award was given in 2017
Hon. Karen Roby (2016)
The first Diversity Award was presented at the 2016 San Francisco Annual Convention to Hon. Karen Roby, Eastern District of Louisiana, in recognition of her career-long national efforts to promote diversity among law firms, in government, on the bench, and with the ABA, and especially for her person-to-person mentoring, tutoring and encouragement of those outside the traditional path to becoming a judge. Judge Roby has broken through many barriers personally and has always displayed a commitment to reaching back and pulling up those who have come after her. Judge Roby worked to improve clerkship opportunities in the federal judiciary pipeline by securing an increase in the number of magistrate judges who volunteer to consider applicants from the Just the Beginning Foundation Diversity Internship Program, a program designed to increase the pipeline of underrepresented populations in clerkship opportunities. Judge Roby also served as the Co-Chair of the ABA Litigation Section’s Diversity Committee where she worked to secure the participation of racially and ethnically diverse attorneys in the ABA through the Diversity Leaders Academy. These are just a few of her many accomplishments, all of which exhibit her commitment to promoting diversity in the federal judiciary and the legal profession.