For the second time, Missouri Lawyers Media honored attorneys and law firms from around the state with its Diversity & Inclusion Awards during an awards luncheon Aug. 9 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel St. Louis.
Launched in 2018, the Diversity & Inclusion Awards recognize attorneys, firms and organizations that are significantly advancing diversity, inclusion and the dignity of all people in Missouri’s legal profession and in communities in which exceptional legal work impacts justice for all.
More than 150 people attended the luncheon to recognize 19 honorees, including firm leaders, attorneys for nonprofit organizations, a judge and four firms.
“[These honorees] represent the epitome of ongoing work and exceptional achievement to encourage positive change,” Missouri Lawyers Media Publisher Liz Irwin said in her greeting to honorees and guests. “They are dedicated to the profession to ensure it represents the many facets of human diversity and to the application of justice overall.”
Judge Lawrence E. Mooney, who plans to retire Sept. 1 from the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District, was the featured speaker. Mooney, one of the state’s few openly gay judges, spoke of growing up in the 1950s and ’60s as a closeted teen and his realization — as a sad and lonely man at age 33 — that he needed to accept himself as a proud gay man.
“Being gay has made me a better judge,” Mooney said in remarks that drew frequent applause and a standing ovation from the audience. “It increased my capacity for empathy with others excluded by the law. And it has let me personally experience the profound effect that law can have on an individual’s life.”
The 2019 class of honorees:
J. Danielle Carr, former president, Mound City Bar Association/Polsinelli
Martha Charepoo, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice
Associate Judge Nicole Colbert-Botchway, St. Louis Circuit Court
Dan Cranshaw, Polsinelli
Lisa D’Souza, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
Sheena Hamilton, Dowd Bennett
Charlie Harris Jr., Seyferth Blumenthal & Harris
Luz Maria Henriquez, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri
Stephanie Hosler, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
Patricia Llanos, Brown & Crouppen
Pamela Meanes, Thompson Coburn
Narcisa Przulj, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard
Vincent D. Reese, Mickes O’Toole
Pete Woods, Haar & Woods
Teresa Young, Brown & James